I choose to write acritical evaluation of this reading by Henrietta Moore through my interest infeminism, which is viewed in the perspective of identity and anthropology. Theemphasis of the importance of feminism and gender equality as a basis ofanthropological research gains my attention to this piece of writing as Moorepresents both male and female anthropological views on women through the feministcritique of anthropology. By looking at how women and gender is studiedwithin anthropology, Moore refers to many different ideas on the notion of the ‘anthropologyof women’, constructing a substantial argument between feminism and anthropology.Moore presents the studyof women within anthropology through the ‘male bias’ that consists of levels oftiers. The first presents the assumptions, expectations and significance of relationshipsbetween women and men that anthropologists use to understand the wider society.The second consists of the idea that “women are considered as subordinate tomen in many societies”.
The third assumes “asymmetrical relations between womenand men in other cultures” through the adoption of Western cultures. Here Moore starts her piece bystating the main idea of the ‘male bias’ in regards to the levels of tiers thatit holds allowing her readers to grips and understand her main ideas of thetopic. Feminist anthropologists have focused on presenting females to readersin their true form rather than what androcentric ideas have stereotyped womenin all cultures to be like. Moore refersto Edwin Ardeners views on the ‘male bias’; he suggested that indeed dominantgroups in society could “generate and control” ‘muted groups’ in the sense that”sub-dominant groups in society” expressed themselves through “dominant modesof expression” rather than there own form of expression, using critics in orderto back up her own points. Moore argues that it is not just male anthropologistswho conform to the ‘male bias’ but indeed women anthropologists. This is due toeither men or women being “trained in a male-orientated discipline” meaningthat all conform to the “male idiom”.Moore touches on the ideaof ethnocentrism and racism within the study of women in anthropology by stating,”ethnocentrism underlines anthropology’s critique of anthropology”.
It isargued through the notion of “women studying other women” and refers to studiesbeing evaluated through the views and customs of ones own culture.Furthermore, Moore uses many critics and differentideas in order to present a fully balanced argument and verify her claims. Shetends to argue against some of her ideas in order to show both sides of theargument. For example, she later references the “Western culture” assumptionthat is mentioned at the start of her writing. Moore argues that the”theoretical proposition” has the assumptions that “anthropologists come fromWestern cultures” and are white.
However, she argues that coming from a”Western culture does not mean that it is also assumed that they are white”.Moore also references many critics such as Rogers (1975), Ardener (1975a:5) andthe view of “theoretical frameworks, such as Marxism” and structuralism.By reading ‘The socialanthropology of women and feminist anthropology’ Ardener, like Moore, suggests,”projects specializing in topics relating to women, are to some extentprejudged”. Ardener also presents the idea that some “feminists doubt whether aman could ever be classified as a (good) feminist scholar”, Moore, on the otherhand, argues that both men and women find it difficult writing about womenwithout prejudice due to the ‘male bias’.
Ardener then goes on to argue “recentdiscussion on women by social anthropology (has) tended to emphasize certainpositive evaluation of women’s lives”, something Moore failed to pick up on.The topic of identifywithin social studies is defined as something that is “attributed to bothindividuals and groups, and can be used to refer to the religious, political,private, cultural or ethnic realism” (Griffiths 2015) Moore refers to identitythroughout her writing in the terms of women being a “sub-dominant” group.”Identity is considered a source of both cohesion and violence, and canalternately represent sameness or difference” (Griffiths 2015). Moore presents”sameness” within women yet the differences of women between cultures.
One thing that Moore could’veimproved is the depth of the historical context of the ‘male bias’, and how ithas changed and adapted over generations. Moore at the beginning of the piecerefers to the ‘anthropology of women’ and the start of the ‘male bias’ asbeginning in the early 1970’s but fails to mention or make clear a possible’male bias’ before the 70’s or a changing ‘male bias’ after the 70’s.The discipline of Anthropologyis used within this piece in order to present her findings of the relationshipthat feminism has within anthropology.
Anthropology is defined as the study ofhumans and their societies. Moorerefers to ethnographers in order to present both cultures and sub-cultures ofwomen and anthropologists. In doing so she uses anthropological researchmethods within herstudy To conclude, Moore presents a contrasting view ofthe feminist critique of anthropology. This piece succeeds in being able todistinguish between different critical interpretations in order to present abalanced argument that covers all bases of feminism and anthropology that isable to come to a conclusion. One thing that Moore did extremely well is thedepth and clarity that went into the description and analysis of the ‘malebias’ as the main influencer of unintentional oppression towards womenthroughout anthropology.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading and analysingthis piece of writing and to some extent was able to