The goals of feminist studies and anthropology are different – anthropology’s quest for the internal logic and beauty of a society vs. women and development studies’ search for the sources of inequality and oppression and possible solutions to address these social ills. Anthropological research and analysis about the other compels one to look inward and contemplate one’s own cultural and societal practices. Feminism, on the other hand, begins with the contemplation of one’s own cultural and social practices – one’s own realities – and then outward to other cultures and societies, searching for common though variant sources of inequality, threads of oppression, bones of contention, congruent or opposing declarations vs. practices.
It is the marriage of these two areas that I will employ as the framework of this paper, where I shall attempt to glean and describe the male-female dynamic of three Philippine social groups through the congruency of or conflict between each one’s conceptual foundations and its gender practices.
This paper shall focus on three indigenous Philippine societies known for their cultures of violence and non-violence, delving into the rationales, contexts, and principles upon which their practices are based. My analysis of the male-female dynamic, as with all feminist analyses, will rest in human rights particularly the right to life, to self-determination, “to realization of human dignity and development of human personality”, “to freely enjoy culture and the arts, and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”.
Though there continue to be debates within anthropology about universalizing women’s subordination and oppression, my view is that a feminist analysis framed by the human rights will not detract from the acknowledgement and appreciation of a particular culture’s validity, beauty, and contributions to humanity – these actually contextualize the male-female dynamic operating within it and allow us to gain insight on a social group’s internal logic, self-evident truths, and contradictions with regard to gender. There is no question about our appreciation and respect for cultures; however, a rights-based perspective situates us on the same side of the table by providing reference points upon which to anchor and view the critique of the male-female dynamic.
Thus, through this analysis, I intend to: (1) specify gender-marked or gender-equal cultural views and practices; (2) label them for what they are, without euphemism; and (3) stripped bare of internalized structures of acceptance, identify and describe the underlying objectives and concepts within which these practices are enshrined.
Amaryllis Torres, “Chapter 7: Equality, Equity, Entitlement, and Human Rights,” Gender and Empowerment (pre-publication document, undated), p5.
- What it means to be a scientist and feminist: three generations, three views (guardian.co.uk)
- Where Are All The Feminists? (westcoastatheist.wordpress.com)
- Against Patriarchy: Tools for Men to Further Feminist Revolution by Chris Crass (zcommunications.org)
- On Autonomy and the Role of Men in Feminism, and Wom*n Only Spaces or Events (nuswomens.wordpress.com)