Are the women of Kung oppressed or controlled by men? Are men "dominated" by the women? Why?
In her book Nisa, anthropologist Marjorie Shostak studies the life of the !Kung, one of the last remaining tribes to subsist on hunting and gathering, rather than agriculture. In her interviews with members of this tribe, who live in the Kalahari Desert, Shostak found that the women did the majority of gathering food, which constituted most of what the people ate, while the men did the hunting. The women were considered important to the tribe's survival, and there was a great deal of equality between men and women. For example, men helped the women with gathering, and members of both genders carried out child-rearing tasks.
It is more difficult to figure out whether women are considered equal in marriage and sexual relationships among the !Kung. Nisa, the subject of the book, tells Shostak about her many lovers and affairs outside of marriage, and taking lovers seems widespread in the tribe. Nisa is unrepentant about having lovers. However, men are also allowed to beat their wives for taking lovers. One of Nisa's daughters is killed for having an affair. Therefore, while there is some equality between men and women, women in the tribe are also subjected to great violence. In some ways, the women of the tribe are oppressed by the men, but women also are able to show freedom of choice (though they do not dominate the men).
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