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The Subordination Of Women In Comparative Perspective

Laura Nader
Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development
Vol. 15, No. 3/4, Women in the Americas: Relationships, Work and Power (FALL-WINTER, 1986), pp. 377-397
Published by: The Institute, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40553088
Page Count: 21
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The Subordination Of Women In Comparative Perspective
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Abstract

Different structures of male domination are bound to result in different forms of female subordination and to generate different types of adaptation or resistance by women. A cross-cultural comparison of male dominance structures enables us to unravel some intellectual disagreements about feminist strategies in relation to motherhood. This paper contrasts Latin American women's emphasis on motherhood as a political strategy with the anti-motherhood position of many U.S. feminists to show how both positions reflect different sociocultural conditions and patterns of male domination. The ideal of motherhood in the U.S. has isolated women and weakened their position in the family and society. In Mexico, motherhood is the basis of successful female political action. First and Third World women enhance their subordination when each argue that they are better off than the other, because they merely express prevailing dominant male ideologies in their respective societies. A different approach to the problem of universal female subordination is one in which anthropology can make an important contribution.

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