Private-Public Dichotomy, Essay Example

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Essay

Private-public dichotomy refers to a strong contrast between the outside world and the home environment. Home means operating within the domestic while the outside world refers to trade, politics, work, or warfare. Public activities often have greater prestige than domestic ones when domestic and public spheres become separated. Private-public dichotomy can enhance stratification of gender as men, in the domain of the public, are more likely to be active than women. In many cultures, the activities of women are closer to home than that of the men.

Private-public dichotomy occurs in foraging societies, fishers and those who depend on hunting. Gender stratification was prominent in foraging societies when men contributed a lot than women to the diet. This happened in the Inuit and other northern fishers and hunters. Men are strong and thus carrying of hunting tools suits them. Although women can fish, they do not contribute much and can only hunt small animals in certain communities. This dichotomy or gender stratification does not occur in societies that depend much on gathering. In gathering communities, the status of gender becomes equal than in fishing and hunting societies. Among the semitropical and tropical foragers hunting and fishing, supply little food than gathering. Women are more of gatherers as compared to men who are more of hunters and fishers. When domestic and public spheres do not have a sharp separation, gender status tend to be equal.

The factors contributing to the presence of private-public dichotomy include sex-linked gender roles. In this case, we find that men are usually warriors and hunters. They are stronger and bigger than women are and, therefore, carrying of weapons including bows, spears and knives is easy for them. The role of women in childbearing and nursing is also another factor contributing to the private-public dichotomy. As societies abandon gathering for activities involving a lot of travelling, gender stratification occurs and thus private-public dichotomy.

However, private-public dichotomy can be absent due to factors such as lack of gender stratification. For instance in the Ju/’hoansi, there was a general sharing ethos which dictated that women share the fruits from gathering and men to distribute meat from hunting. Again, there was nothing wrong for men to participate in doing women work. When a society depends on gathering more than hunting and fishing, the private-public dichotomy also fades.  Private-public dichotomy has an effect of defining gender roles making men more prominent in the public domain than women. This is because the resultant gender role for women involves working in the home more than in the public.

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