anthro sex - Jacqueline Chang Take Home Exam 3. Is kinship...

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Jacqueline Chang Take Home Exam 3. Is kinship central to understandings of gender and if so, why? Use at least two ethnographic examples to support your answer. (Lecture 3). Kinship is more closely related to the understanding of gender than it should. Older schools of anthropology, as well as other social science and science fields regard kinship in the context of sanguine descents and marriage. Through this slightly more dated view of kinship, it is highly necessary to understand gender. Looking from a Western standpoint, Di Leonardo’s study on women doing most of, if not all, of a nuclear family’s kin work shows that kinship does affect gender roles. There is an expectation for women to fulfil nurturing duties, interfamilial communications, as well as other nonpaid housework in addition to her actual paid employment. She makes a good point that kin contact and holidays rely heavily on an adult woman in the family (De Leonardo 1987). Loss, divorce, or any absence of this woman/ mother figure results in family ties suffering as well. Di Leonardo observes one particular family’s situation where the mother dies and holidays and such are never the same until a new addition is introduced to the family: a new wife to fill same gendered role as the last one. It is her job to single handily cooks Christmas meals. This view is however very reliant in structuralizing kin and gender to always appear a certain way. However, this is all dependent on the Western nuclear model of family and kin. Kinship can define gender but it depends on the context because kinship is constructed differently in different cultures and societies. Patriarchal societies’ kinship values and matriarchal societies’ kinship values differ in how they shape gender. Yan’s study was undoubtedly shaped by the patriarchal nature of the Chinese kinship system. It took power away from women in deciding a husband, where they would live, how they would live, etc. This contrasts greatly from a Native American society where some use the matriarchal framework in kin connections. In this respect, kinship does have an affect on gender roles in society. However, newer studies on kinship and gender show that kinship is not as easily defined as in the past. The addition of fictive kin changes things a bit. Fictive kin accounts for people who hold the same close relational bonds without necessarily being blood relatives or married. Kinship and gender deviates from a structuralist view. In Weston’s study on fictive kin and the gay community, she uncovers that kin is not just blood ties. Members of the gay community, who have been banished from their sanguine families, create fictive kinship that holds the same value as any other traditional family (Weston 1997). These fictive kin groups can still fulfil the same roles as Di Leonardo’s Western nuclear family does: nurturer, protector, etc. However; members can fill these roles without having them
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anthro sex - Jacqueline Chang Take Home Exam 3. Is kinship...

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