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Sexuality, religion, and spirituality; a study of the role of religion in the oppression of women Kaufman, Howard James Ruben 1972

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i SEXUALITY, RELIGION, AMD SPIRITUALITY A Study of the Role of Religion i n the Oppression of Women by HOWARD JAMES (RUBEN) KAUFMAN B.S., Union College, 1967 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN-' PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of ANTHROPOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1972 In present ing th is thes is in p a r t i a l f u 1 f i l m e n t . o f the.requirements fo r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y sha l l make it f r ee ly a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I fu r ther agree that permission for extensive copying o f th is t h e s i s for s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h is representa t ives . It i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of th is thes is f o r f i n a n c i a l gain sha l l not be allowed without my wr i t ten permiss ion . Howard J. Kaufman Department of Anthropology and Sociology The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date May 8, 1972. i i ABSTRACT; This thesis i s an examination of the relations between sexuality, religion and s p i r i t u a l i t y . The use of these terms i s not conventional, and my introductory chapter i s to a large extent concerned with elucidating what I mean "by each of them. This unconventionality i s i t s e l f crucial to the thesis: I am calling into question some of the basic assumptions behind traditional anthropological questions. H); I am using Burridge's definition of religion from his New. Heaven New Earth; The redemptive^ process indicated by the acti v i t i e s , moral rules, and assumptions about power which, pertinent to the moral order and taken on faith, not only enable a people to perceive the truth of things, hut guarantee that they are indeed per-ceiving the truth of things (1969:6-7). rexamine how religion, insofar as i t s assumptions about the truth of things are to he taken on faith, i s at odds with sp i r i t u a l i t y , which i s the essential quality of a l i f e which i s lived to experience the truth for oneself. Religion, which upholds the moral order of society, i s static; s p i r i t u a l i t y i s dynamic i t implies change and growth. Sexuality i s defined as "... the biological differences i i i between female and male, and the r e a l or assumed psycho-l o g i c a l differences dependent on these". It i s shown that the only such difference i s the fac t that women are able to bear children, and men are not. There are no innate psycho-l o g i c a l differences between the sexes. However, people are d i f f e r e n t l y s o c i a l i z e d on the basis of the one b i o l o g i c a l difference mentioned above, so that the s o c i a l p e r s o n a l i t i e s of women and men may, on the average, be d i f f e r e n t . My understanding of the causes of t h i s difference i n s o c i a l i -zation rests on Simone de Beauvoir's approach to the prob-lem i n The Second Sex. Cultural assumptions about what i t means to be female or male are discussed as being oppressive to s p i r i t u a l i t y . Insofar as the r e l i g i o n of a culture i s i t s r a t i o n a l e , r e l i g i o n i s focused on here as the arena where the sexual d i v i s i o n of society takes place. 'Cultural d e f i n i t i o n s of sexuality are seen as the major c u l t u r a l obstacle to s p i -r i t u a l growth. The p a r t i c u l a r r e l i g i o n s examined are 1) those of the Australian Aborigines and the BaMbuti Pygmies; 2) that of Hindu., c i v i l i z a t i o n as manifested i n the Kama Sutra ( I explain why I f e e l i t i s legitimate to consider the Kama  Sutra a r e l i g i o u s work); and 3) Buddhism. I discuss how anthropologists avoid questioning the morality of sexual oppression, and why they are concerned i v only w i t h examining i t s e f f e c t s upon the members of s o c i e t y . $fy b a s i c o c o n e l u s i o n i s that a l l d e f i n i t i o n s of s e x u a l i t y which a t t r i b u t e : more to females and males than the f a c t t h a t the .former can "ibear c h i l d r e n while the l a t t e r cannot are s e x i s t : they are a k i n to r e l i g i o n and i n i m i c a l to s p i r i t u a l i t y . V CONTENTS page CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER 2 THE ISSUE OF BIOLOGICAL 19 DETERMINISM (i) The Sexual Division of Labour 24 CHAPTER 3 SEXUALITY AND MYTH 29 (i) The Basis of Sexual Myth-making: The Female as the Other 30 ( i i ) Child/bearing and Childbirth 47 ( i i i ) Myths Concerning the Origin of Sexual Divisions i n Social Life 54 C ^ v > (a) North-eastern Arnhem Land 54 (b) The BaMbuti Pygmies 63 (iv) Further Reflections 66 CHAPTER 4 THE POSITION OF:.WOMEN AMONG THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES 73 (i) Women as Objects i n the Social Relationships of Men 78 ( i i ) The Relation of Spirit-Children Beliefs to Social Life 83 ( i i i ) Religious Activities 87 (iv) Technology, Economic Functions, and the Position of Women 95 v i page CHAPTER 5 THE KAMA SUTRA 98 ( i ) I n t r o d u c t i o n 98 ( i i ) Sex Roles: Wives and Lovers 103 ( i i i ) Sex Roles: Myth and J u s t i f i -c a t i o n of S e x u a l i t y 113 ( i v ) The S t r u c t u r i n g and D e s t r u c t i o n of Experience 119 CHAPTER 6 ENLIGHTENMENT, LIBERATION AND SEXISM 124 CHAPTER 7 SEXUALITY AND SEXISM 137 ( i ) Towards a Tr u l y Humanist (Non-sexist) Anthropology 137 ( i i ) S t a r t Here 149 BIBLIOGRAPHY 152 v i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Kehelm Burridge, Dorothy Smith and Meredith K i m b a l l have been most appreciated guides on the path. The U.B.C. Women's Studies course, 1971-2, has provided a continuous source of energy f o r the s o u l . Thanks to a l l f o r a most enjoyable game of s p i r i t u a l l e a p f r o g which i s s t i l l very much i n progress. R.K. 1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION This t h e s i s , or at l e a s t the o r i g i n a l thoughts and reading behind i t , s t a r t e d out w i t h myself. This may sound obvious; but I f e e l i t i s something which should be s a i d . The questions I am concerned w i t h are not j u s t something out there i n the o b j e c t i v e world. They are not academic problems which can be approached i n a manner f r e e of per-sonal b i a s . This too may sound obvious — the i n f l u e n c e of the observer on the s i t u a t i o n being examined i s i t s e l f a subject of concern i n the s o c i a l and other s c i e n c e s . But even f o r me to speak of " b i a s " puts an u n n e c e s s a r i l y negative value on the personal, whereas to recognize that opinions are deeply personal should be enough: they are expressions of r e a l f e e l i n g s . T h i s , I f e e l , i s o f t e n not 2 obvious, or again, too obvious to be recognized. It often carries over into looking at people as anything but real persons. The concern here i s something which affects a l l of us, and each of us i n a very personal way. I am more than intellectually interested i n religion, sexuality, and sp i r i t u a l i t y . I am i n part a reflection of religion and sexuality; sexuality and sp i r i t u a l i t y are in part reflections of me. To give meaning to that state-ment, I must f i r s t explain what I mean by each of those three words, which make up the t i t l e of this thesis. In approaching religion, I am using as a guide Burridge*s definition of religion from his New Heaven New Earth (1969): The redemptive process indioated by the acti v i t i e s , moral rules, and assumptions about power which, pertinent to the moral order and taken on faith, not only enable a people to perceive the truth of things, but guarantee that they are indeed per-ceiving the truth of things(1969:6-7). To summarize by way of selection from the relevant textual material: ... there i s no human activity which can-not assume religious significance (1969:4). [ A l l religions] are concerned with the discovery, identification, moral rele-vance and ordering of different kinds of power... (1969:5): [e.g., "thunder", "untrammelled desire", "apparitions", 3 "persuasive words".] R e l i g i o n s , l e t us say, are concerned w i t h the systematic ordering of d i f f e r e n t kinds of power, p a r t i c u l a r l y those seen as s i g -n i f i c a n t l y b e n e f i c i a l or dangerous. This e n t a i l s a s p e c i f i c framework of r u l e s (1969:5). As experience widens and deepens, some of the r u l e s and assumptions w i l l be q u a l i f i e d , and others abandoned a l t o g e t h e r . . . . These assumptions are community t r u t h s , t r u t h s which command a consensus (1969:5). S o c i e t y , moreover, p r e s c r i b e s the a t t i t u d e s and a c t i v i t i e s by which i t s members can pay back or redeem the debt i n c u r r e d i n being nurtured, made morally aware, and enabled t o excert and r e a l i z e t h e i r poten-t i a l . . . . But t h i s , the payment of the debt i n f u l l , can only be r e a l i z e d when a human being becomes i n h i m s e l f completely un-o b l i g e d , without any o b l i g a t i o n whatsoever — a freemover i n heaven, enjoying n i r v a n a , or joined w i t h the ancestors (1969:6). What I value most i n t h i s approach to r e l i g i o n i s that i t takes i n t o account both i n d i v i d u a l and c o l l e c t i v e exper-ience . S e x u a l i t y can be very confusing; p a r a d o x i c a l l y perhaps, because sex d i f f e r e n c e s are so r i g i d l y d e f i n e d . By s e x u a l i t y I mean the b i o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s between female and male and the r e a l o r assumed p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s dependent on these. I am not using the word i n the sense of sexual s e n s u a l i t y . I n Chapter 2 I show why I f e e l the only b i o -l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e between the sexes i s that women alone are able to hear c h i l d r e n . I n f a c t , i t i s on the b a s i s of the k i n d of g e n i t a l s which a newborn c h i l d has — i n d i c a t i n g 4 whether or not t h a t c h i l d w i l l be able to bear c h i l d r e n as an a d u l t — that i t i s o r i g i n a l l y defined as female or male. This may seem to be a t r u i s m , and thus not to warrant e x p l i -c a t i o n . But truisms, as the s u f f i x on the word i m p l i e s , are not t r u t h s : they i n v o l v e assumptions, j u s t as does r e l i g i o n , which u n d e r l i e the moral order of s o c i e t y . As s o c i a l beings, we h a r d l y ever recognize that these assumptions are not "the t r u t h of t h i n g s " . The assumptions about what i t means to be female or male are, f o r the most p a r t , only c u l t u r a l f a c t s ; and as such they are h i g h l y oppressive to i n d i v i d u a l people. I say t h a t because, as I continue to d i s c u s s i n Chapter 2, I f e e l there are a l s o no innate ( b i o l o g i c a l l y - b a s e d ) p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s between the sexes. Rather, any such d i f f e r e n c e s as may e x i s t — and t h i s would s t i l l be on the average — are the product of c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n i n g . I n d i v i d u a l s are stereotyped according to the c u l t u r a l person-a l i t y patterns d e s i r e d of females and males, so that they w i l l conform to the way i n which s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n deals w i t h the one b i o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e . The f a c t that female and male p s y c h o l o g i c a l c h a r a c t e r -i s t i c s d i f f e r from c u l t u r e to c u l t u r e shows that c u l t u r a l patterns do not merely develop innate p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r -ences between the sexes. These patterns are oppressive not only i n denying each sex group the e x p l o r a t i o n of p o s s i b i l i t i e s 5 of the other group, hut furthermore, i n t r e a t i n g i n d i v i d u a l s as members of groups to which they are, i n a very r e a l way, c u l t u r a l l y assigned. I t i s not considered, f o r example, that some women may not want to have c h i l d r e n , and / Or e x h i b i t the p e r s o n a l i t i e s r e q u i r e d of them i n a r o l e as mother; nor that some men may not want t o be aggressive, or even be phy-s i c a l l y capable of the aggression d e s i r e d by s o c i e t y of the average male. C u l t u r a l d e f i n i t i o n s of s e x u a l i t y — of sex d i f f e r e n c e s and r e l a t e d p e r s o n a l i t y d i f f e r e n c e s — are sex r o l e s . They are a k i n to dogma. S e x u a l i t y i s , to my mind, b e t t e r c a l l e d "sexism" (Chapter 9 ) . I see sexism as part of r e l i g i o n , i n the sense of Burridge's d e f i n i t i o n . I t i n v o l v e s o r d e r i n g a k i n d of power, woman's c h i l d b e a r i n g c a p a c i t y , i n a way which i s morally r e l e v a n t to s o c i e t y , which a f f e c t s s o c i a l a c t i o n . I t p r e s c r i b e s how the members of s o c i e t y can pay back the debt i n c u r r e d i n being s o c i a l i z e d according to sex r o l e s : that i s , f o r example, a woman must f u l f i l l t h a t r o l e by being a mother. This i s a double-bind: r e l i g i o n can be i n s i d i o u s . Inasmuch as I am a product of my c u l t u r e , I am a r e f l e c -t i o n of r e l i g i o n and s e x u a l i t y . Yet i n s o f a r as I can t r a n -scend s e x u a l i t y as r e l i g i o n , my s e x u a l i t y i s a r e f l e c t i o n of myself. I t i s not f e l t as male or female f o r me, but only as i t happens to co i n c i d e w i t h those c u l t u r a l v a l u e s . I t i s an expression of an i n d i v i d u a l , not a m a n i f e s t a t i o n of 6 r o l e - p l a y i n g . The process of transcending one's c u l t u r e i s a s p i r i t u a l one* I define s p i r i t u a l i t y as the e s s e n t i a l q u a l i t y of a l i f e which i s l i v e d p r i m a r i l y as a process of l e a r n i n g , f r e e from the a r b i t r a r i n e s s of c u l t u r a l v a l u e s . S p i r i t u a l i t y i s something conscious: i t i n v o l v e s an awareness not j u s t t h a t c u l t u r a l values are a r b i t r a r y , but tha t i t i s one's moral o b l i g a t i o n to act a c c o r d i n g l y . I t i s thus i n t e n t i o n a l . That does not mean i t has anything to do w i t h what we o f t e n c a l l h o l i n e s s , which i s g e n e r a l l y , i n my o p i n i o n , a pretense to being s p i r i t u a l . R e l i g i o n as s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n g e n e r a l l y cannot t o l e r a t e s p i r i t u a l i t y . I t i s at odds w i t h i n d i v i d u a l s wanting to f i n d the t r u t h f o r themselves. I t only accepts i n d i v i d u a l exper-ience i f t h a t experience can be used as evidence t h a t the r e l i g i o n i s indeed guaranteeing perception of the t r u t h of t h i n g s . I do not mean to say tha t r e l i g i o n and s p i r i t u a l i t y must be i n c o n f l i c t , though I am convinced they almost always are. Por there to be a synthesis between the two, r e l i g i o n would a l l o w f o r i n d i v i d u a l s p i r i t u a l growth, and would con-t r o l t h i s only i f one person's path impinged upon the f r e e -dom of others. That i s , the redemptive process f o r an i n d i v i -dual would i n v o l v e r her o r h i s f r e e s e l f - d i s c o v e r y . I f I do not accept my c u l t u r e ' s i d e a of proper masculine behavior and a t t i t u d e , i t i s more than l i k e l y t hat I w i l l be 7 confronted w i t h negative r e a c t i o n s on the part of other people. This leads to what I see as the most fundamental moral i s s u e f o r any person: to he o n e s e l f , or what others want of one. The f i r s t i s a p o s i t i v e c h o ice: i t allows f o r growth and enables one to make her ( h i s ) own d e c i s i o n s . The second i s negative i n that i t i s passive or r e a l l y l a c k i n g the element of choice; i t i s s t a t i c and l i f e l e s s — c o n t r o l leaves no p o s s i b i l i t y f o r mistakes, discovery and l e a r n i n g . (This i s close to Simone de Beauvoir's view of e x i s t e n t i a l i s t e t h i c s , which I dis c u s s i n Chapter 3.) R e l i g i o n , inasmuch as i t denies s p i r i t u a l s t r i v i n g , i s s t a t i c dogma: accepting i t means accepting an a u t h o r i t y outside the realm of one's d i r e c t experience. S p i r i t u a l i t y , on the other hand, e n t a i l s accepting change: the only t h i n g that doesn't change i s the r e a l i t y of change, of l i f e as personal experience. Perhaps i t seems I am overlooking m y s t i c a l experiences which are not a matter of personal choice. Are they not s p i r i t u a l , nonetheless? I would say t h a t t h i s depends upon one's d e f i n i t i o n of s p i r i t u a l i t y . According to the one I have presented, a p a r t i c u l a r m y s t i c a l experience may or may not be s p i r i t u a l . F i r s t of a l l , I take " m y s t i c a l " to imply a transcendence of c u l t u r e , as i n the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n of shamanism and s p i r i t possession from I.M.lewis' E c s t a t i c  R e l i g i o n : In both cases ... the i n i t i a l experience 8 withdraws the v i c t i m from the secure world of s o c i e t y , and exposes him d i r e c t l y to those f o r c e s which, though they may he h e l d to uphold the s o c i a l order, a l s o u l t i m a t e l y threaten i t (1971:188). The s o c i a l order i s a s t r u c t u r e created out of chaos, and i t i s i n t o t h i s chaos t h a t one i s l e d through a m y s t i c a l experience. I f such an experience were s p i r i t u a l , i t would i n v o l v e understanding the a r b i t r a r i n e s s of one's c u l t u r e , and a c t i n g i n a way which transcends i t . But, i n r e f e r r i n g to the s p i r i t s of shamans, Lewis says: On the one hand, they c h a s t i s e those who i n f r i n g e t h e i r neighbours' r i g h t s ; and on the other, they i n s p i r e shamans to act as trouble-shooters and law-givers i n community r e l a t i o n s . . . . I f they have not been invented by men i n order to tame and c a n a l i z e a n t i - s o c i a l a s p i r a t i o n s and impulses, to a s i g n i f i c a n t extent they act as though they have been (1971:163). This s t r i k e s me as being c l o s e r to r e l i g i o n than s p i r i t u a l i t y ; or at l e a s t i t i s ambiguous: there i s the p o t e n t i a l here f o r a w i e l d i n g of power which i n f r i n g e s on the s p i r i t u a l s t r i v i n g of o t h e r s . I can only say that each shaman would have to be judged on h i s or her own m e r i t s . However, i t should be pointed out that the m y s t i c a l experience of the l i k e s of shamans are to a great extent guided by c u l t u r e . Even i f the experience transcends c u l t u r e , i t i s a r e l i g i o u s i n i t i a t i o n i n t o a s o c i a l r o l e , and t h i s would a f f e c t the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the experience along the l i n e s of c u l t u r a l m o r a l i t y . 9 But I s t i l l have not touched on the i s s u e of choice. R e f e r r i n g to C h r i s t i a n mysticism, Lewis w r i t e s : ... the experience, which the would-be mystic c l a i m s , i s a l l the more convincing i f i t can be shown to be contrary to h i s own wishes, and cannot then be dismissed simply as a d i r e c t w i s h - f u l f i l l m e n t (1971:23). There are, i n my o p i n i o n , two ways to look at t h i s . F i r s t of a l l , such an experience may be genuinely s p i r i t u a l : i t may represent the s t r u g g l e towards freedom from the c u l t u r a l d e f i n i t i o n of o n e s e l f . I n s o f a r as one has taken t h i s d e f i n i -t i o n to be t r u e , the s t r u g g l e may be a p a i n f u l one, and the s t r e n g t h of one's new consciousness may be f e l t as an e x t e r n a l f o r c e . Secondly, on the c o n t r a r y , the s t r u g g l e may be an attempt to conform to a s o c i a l r o l e : The i n i t i a l experience of possession, p a r t i c u l a r l y , i s o f t e n a d i s t u r b i n g , even traumatic experience, and not un-commonly a response to personal a f f l i c -t i o n and a d v e r s i t y . Up to a p o i n t , t h i s i s even the case i n those s o c i e t i e s where the p o s i t i o n of shaman-priest has become f i r m l y i n s t i t u t e d and passes more or l e s s a u t o m a t i c a l l y to the appropriate h i e r by t i t l e r a t h e r than by personal attainment ....Where the successor shows rel u c t a n c e i n assuming h i s onerous d u t i e s , the s p i r i t s remind him f o r c e f u l l y of h i s o b l i g a t i o n s by badgering him w i t h t r i a l s and t r i b u l a -t i o n s u n t i l he acknowledges defeat and accepts t h e i r i n s i s t e n t prodding. We f i n d examples of t h i s s p i r i t u a l b l a c k m a i l i n a l l those s o c i e t i e s where, as among the Tungus, the p o s i t i o n of shaman i s regarded as an i n h e r i t e d o f f i c e (1971:66). I would c a l l s p i r i t u a l b l a c k m a i l " r e l i g i o u s " b l a c k m a i l 10 The r e l a t i o n s between c u l t u r e and m y s t i c a l experience are thus complex. A m y s t i c a l experience may or may not be s p i r i t u a l . And a s p i r i t u a l experience need not be m y s t i c a l : i t need not i n v o l v e a complete transcendence of the s o c i a l order i n a moment. S p i r i t u a l i t y , r a t h e r , i n v o l v e s a process of attempting to become f r e e of a r b i t r a r y c u l t u r a l v a l u e s . There i s a great paradox c e n t r a l to the human c o n d i t i o n which I deal w i t h i n Chapter 2 and r e f e r to i n subsequent chapters: what d i s t i n g u i s h e s humans from animals i s c u l t u r e . The experience of c u l t u r e i s a p r e c o n d i t i o n f o r i t s transcen-dence: the a r b i t r a r i n e s s of such d i s t i n c t i o n s ss female v s . male must be known before one can go beyond i t . Culture i s thus a necessary c o n d i t i o n f o r s p i r i t u a l growth. However, not only i s i t not a s u f f i c i e n t c o n d i t i o n ; i f i t s b a s i c assumptions remain one's u l t i m a t e t r u t h s , then i t makes such growth impossible. I f , f o r example, a man and woman r e l a t e to each other merely as m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of s o c i a l r o l e s , then the r o l e s are l i k e l y to be of the order of s e l f - f u l f i l -l i n g prophecies about the nature of men and women. Even i f one of the two has transcended the r o l e and does not, i n t u r n , t r e a t the other as a m a n i f e s t a t i o n of one, she or he may be seen by the other as abnormal, as the exception which proves the r u l e . This i s of course not always the case: a person may have doubts as to the v a l i d i t y of sex r o l e s and need only the encounter w i t h another who has transcended them i n order to confirm t h i s e x p e r i e n t i a l l y . 11 Simone de Beauvoir, i n The Second Sex, deals w i t h the d u a l i t y i n human consciousness which i s behind such c u l t u r a l d i s t i n c t i o n s . She i s p a r t i c u l a r l y concerned w i t h the dicho-tomy of S e l f vs. Other: i n human s o c i e t y , woman has come to be the Other. In Chapter 3» I discuss t h i s concept of de Beauvoir'B, which i s c r u c i a l to my own approach throughout the t h e s i s ; and I examine c u l t u r a l myths which seem to me to be manifestations of t h i s dichotomy. These myths —-those of the A u s t r a l i a n Aborigines and the BaMbuti Pygmies — are i n a sense c h a r t e r s f o r the e x i s t i n g sexual d i v i s i o n s i n t h e - r e s p e c t i v e s o c i e t i e s . In Chapter 4 I examine the r e l i g i o n and other aspects of s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n of the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s . A couple of years ago, before c o n c e p t u a l i z i n g t h i s t h e s i s , I had read W.L. Warner's A Black C i v i l i z a t i o n (1958). He says of the Murngin people of A u s t r a l i a : The f i r s t l i f e c r i s i s occurs when the Murngin s o u l , through the f a t h e r ' s mystic experience, leaves the totemic w e l l and enters the womb of the mother. By c i r -cumcision around the age of s i x to ei g h t years the i n d i v i d u a l passes from the s o c i a l s t a t u s of a woman to that of a man. When at about the age of eighteen he achieves parenthood and i s shown h i s totems f o r the f i r s t time he goes to another, higher s t a t u s ; and to a s t i l l h i gher when, at about t h i r t y - f i v e , he sees the high totems. At death he passes through a very elaborate mortuary r i t e , returns to h i s totemic w e l l , and the c i r c l e i s complete. The p e r s o n a l i t y before b i r t h i s purely s p i r i t u a l ; i t becomes almost completely profane or 12 u n s p i r i t u a l i n the e a r l i e r period of i t s l i f e when i t i s classed s o c i a l l y w i t h the females, g r a d u a l l y becomes more and more r i t u a l i z e d and sacred as the i n d i v i d u a l grows o l d e r and approaches death, and at death once more becomes completely s p i r i -t u a l or sacred. This i s the l i f e of a l l Mumgin men. A woman, on the other hand passes out of the sacred existence of the unborn to the profane existence of the born and l i v i n g , and back again t o the sacred existence of the dead; but l i t t l e sacred progress i s made during her l i f e t i m e (1958:5-6). I wondered why women made l i t t l e s p i r i t u a l progress during t h e i r l i v e s , why the Murngin saw i t that way, but f o r some time I had no sense of a d i r e c t i o n which would lead me to any understanding here. I f i n a l l y r e a l i z e d that these r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s about s p i r i t u a l i t y r e f l e c t the experience of the males, and began to t h i n k that s o c i a l l i f e i n most i f not a l l s o c i e t i e s i s l a r g e l y an expression of a male view of l i f e . Murngin r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s about s p i r i t u a l i t y a l l o w f o r growth i n a man's experience, but do not do the same f o r women. They j u s t i f y the s i t u a t i o n and perpetuate the s t a t u s quo. The\ freedom to develop s p i r i t u a l l y f o r men i s com-plemented by a l a c k of that freedom f o r women. I t i m p l i e s that men do not accept women as r e a l people. This u n w i l l i n g -ness to accept the experience of women and l e t i t touch one's own, to avoid i t or what i t has come to mean f o r men, i n d i c a t e s an element of f e a r i n that same r e l i g i o u s expression which at f i r s t glance seems to be one of a f f i r m a t i o n of l i f e as 13 change. I t i s s t a t i c dogma, a d e n i a l of woman, and of the woman i n man. This c r i t i c i s m i s not enough: i n s o f a r as any freedom r e s t s on s l a v e r y i t i s a sham1 — the men aren't f r e e . But my u l t i m a t e concern i s that h a l f the p o t e n t i a l people i n Murngin or other s o c i e t i e s are denied experience and there-f o r e denied l i f e . I t may he argued that t h i s s o c i a l expres-s i o n of r e l i g i o n does not prevent women from u l t i m a t e l y s t r i v i n g to r e a l i z e themselves s p i r i t u a l l y , that they have hopes and d e s i r e s regardless of what men say and do. This i s c e r t a i n l y so, and i t i s why the s i t u a t i o n i s one of s l a v e r y . I f the r e a l i z a t i o n of one's hopes and d e s i r e s i s denied, these f e e l i n g s themselves become r e a c t i o n s i n part to some-t h i n g e l s e , r a t h e r than expressions of ones e l f . Real moral choice, choice which can be acted upon f r e e l y , i s not pos-s i b l e . The s o c i a l m o r a l i t y of the redemptive process i s i n c o n f l i c t w i t h s e l f r e a l i z a t i o n and freedom from o b l i g a t i o n s , w i t h the attainment of that moral s t a t e which i s a c t u a l l y a transcendence of m o r a l i t y . I do not know i f t h i s p a t t e r n i s u n i v e r s a l i n human s o c i e t y . I suspect that i t always e x i s t s at l e a s t to some degree. I see i t among the BaMbuti Pygmies, who have been pointed to by C o l i n T u r n b u l l (The Forest People, 1962) as being close to a s o c i a l s t a t e i n which there i s no oppres-s i o n on the b a s i s of sex. In Chapter 5 I look at the Kama Sutra, a l i t e r a r y work 14 from a s o c i e t y very d i f f e r e n t from that of the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s , whose r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n i s an o r a l one. A b o r i g i n a l s o c i e t y i s a nomadic one based on hunting and gather i n g . Hindu s o c i e t y , the s e t t i n g f o r the Kama Sutr a , was at the time the work was w r i t t e n a mercantile s o c i e t y and a considerably urbanized one. While s c h o l a r s may not t h i n k the Kama Sutra to be a r e l i g i o u s book, I f e e l j u s t i f i e d i n t r e a t i n g i t as one. F i r s t of a l l , i t r e f l e c t s the ethos of Hindu s o c i e t y , and thus conforms t o Burridge's d e f i n i t i o n of r e l i g i o n . Secondly, i t i s pop u l a r l y r e f e r r e d to as a book which, although concerned w i t h sex, i s u l t i m a t e l y s p i r i t u a l i n i n t e n t : I would say " r e l i g i o u s " i n i n t e n t , as the popular meaning of the word " s p i r i t u a l " seems to me to confuse i t w i t h " r e l i g i o u s " — as I have s a i d , I mean by " s p i r i t u a l i t y " something very d i f f e r e n t from r e l i g i o n . T h i r d l y , Vatsyayana, the author of the Kama Sutr a , h i m s e l f gives an u l t i m a t e l y r e l i g i o u s j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r h i s book; and he f r e q u e n t l y r e f e r s to more standard r e l i g i o u s works such as the Laws of Manu. I discuss how the Kama Sutra r e f l e c t s and encourages among men a p a t t e r n of s o c i a l l i f e which i s oppressive to the s p i r i t u a l development of women, as do the myths and r i t u a l s of the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s . Chapter 6 i s p r i m a r i l y a d i s c u s s i o n of Buddhism. I have 1 5 chosen to look at t h i s r e l i g i o n because, while on the one hand i t appears to be p o s i t i v e l y concerned w i t h s p i r i t u a l i t y as I define i t , on the other i t i n v o l v e s s e x i s t a t t i t u d e s which make i t s own s p i r i t u a l goals more d i f f i c u l t f o r women to a t t a i n than f o r men. In Chapter 7 I make e x p l i c i t my c r i t i c i s m of anthro-pology which i s at l e a s t i m p l i c i t i n much of the preceding m a t e r i a l . My main poin t here i s that a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s do not c r i t i c i z e the c u l t u r e s they study on moral grounds because t h i s would e n t a i l l o o k i n g at t h e i r own i n a s i m i l a r manner, a s e l f - e x a m i n a t i o n which would l i k e l y be d i f f i c u l t and pa i n -f u l . I am i n a sense encouraging a " s p i r i t u a l anthropology" which transcends c u l t u r e . Such an anthropology would not accept sexism as axiomatic to the human c o n d i t i o n . I conclude Chapter 7 (and w i t h i t the t h e s i s ) w i t h a r e i t e r a t i o n and f u r t h e r e x p l i c a t i o n of what i s f o r me the under l y i n g assumption of t h i s t h e s i s : there are no innate d i f f e r e n c e s between females and males other than the f a c t that only the former can bear c h i l d r e n , and to t r e a t people as i f there are d i f f e r e n c e s other than that one f a c t i s to oppress t h e i r s p i r i t u a l development. The s t r u g g l e w i t h the s o c i a l i l l u s t i o n t h a t male and female are separate and mutually e x c l u s i v e i s a s p i r i t u a l one. I t i s an experience of d i s c o v e r i n g a s e l f which i s not n e c e s s a r i l y e i t h e r one o r the other. As long as such an 16 i l l u s i o n i s taken f o r r e a l i t y , then, i f personal experience does not conform to i t , i t hecomes always harder to accept ones e l f , and to see oneself as the source of p o s s i b i l i t i e s i n l i f e . But I w r i t e t h a t as a man. The r e l i g i o n of my s o c i e t y sees men and women d i f f e r e n t l y . ( I mean r e l i g i o n i n the sense of Burridge's d e f i n i t i o n . I am not r e f e r r i n g t o any church or s i m i l a r i n s t i t u t i o n . ) The s o c i e t y t r e a t s men and women d i f f e r e n t l y i n very concrete ways. I may choose not t o conform to a r o l e imposed from outside myself, and I may encounter h o s t i l i t y or other negative r e a c t i o n s from people who f e a r t h i s d e v i a t i o n from an e s t a b l i s h e d order. Because the p o s s i b i l i t i e s allowed me as a man are g r e a t e r than those allowed a woman i n the s o c i e t y i n which I am l i v i n g , the p o s s i b i l i t i e s I see f o r myself are more l i k e l y to be r e a l i z e d than they would i f I were a woman. I may be seen as crazy f o r g i v i n g up what i s seen by many as an advantage. I t h i n k , though, t h a t a woman r e j e c t i n g her r o l e i s more l i k e l y to be seen as an a c t u a l t h r e a t ^ .to the estab-l i s h e d order, and to be reacted to i n a way t h a t even f u r t h e r decreases the l i k e l i h o o d t h a t she can be who she wants. I can pretend to conform, to my advantage: my i n n e r p o s s i b i l i t i e s can then s t i l l make the most of those allowed me from o u t s i d e . I f a woman so pretends, however, she gets nowhere; she i s back where she s t a r t e d , because she continues 17 to be treated as women are commonly treated — what i s allowed her i s much more limited. In a sense, then, can I keep my integrity and s t i l l l i v e i n society as i s expected of me i n a male social role? No. Again, this freedom is a sham. There i s nothing spiritual about any realization I may have i f i t i s not one which affects my actions. This thesis i s a discussion of the conflict between religion and spir i t u a l i t y , and male and female. This i s not to say that females are more spiritual than males. (Actually, men have often seen i t as just the opposite, most l i k e l y i n conjunction with mistaking religion for s p i r i t u a l -i t y . ) Rather, religion has generally been male-dominated, and the social issue of female liberation i s an individual, spiritual issue for everyone, i n that i t i s one of human freedom. This paper, then, i s an attempt to see why religion has been largely a male expression, and to look at how i t reflects and perpetuates the oppression of women, which I see as a denial of free spiritual expression. 18 FOOTNOTES 1 I a n t i c i p a t e that my use of the word " s l a v e r y " may seem u n j u s t i f i e d to the reader. I t h i n k i t i s not: i t has been used i n many ways.to describe the p o s i t i o n of women. J.S. M i l l , i n The Subjection of Women, says, "Men do not want s o l e l y the obedience of women, they want t h e i r s e n t i -ments. ...They have the r e f o r e put everything i n p r a c t i c e to enslave t h e i r minds" (1869/1970: 141). M i l l says the s u b j e c t i o n of women i s the most l a s t i n g form of s l a v e r y , as i t would r e q u i r e that h a l f of humanity give up i t s power (1869/1970:136). Simone de Beauvoir, i n The Second Sex, speaks of women as enslaved to the demands of .the s p e c i e s . She a l s o p o i n t s out tha t Hegel's ideas about the master-slave r e l a t i o n s h i p apply b e t t e r to the man-woman r e l a t i o n s h i p (1961: 59). 19 CHAPTER 2 THE ISSUE OP BIOLOGICAL DETERMINISM I s a i d i n the i n t r o d u c t o r y chapter that a l l of the b i o l o g i c a l f a c t o r s involved i n a d i s c u s s i o n of the p o s i t i o n of women are r e l a t e d to the f a c t that i t i s women who bear c h i l d r e n . I w i l l t r y to develop two b a s i c p o i n t s i n t h i s chapter: f i r s t , that t h i s b i o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e i s not a v a l i d b a s i s f o r making a p r i o r i judgments about the p h y s i c a l a b i l i t i e s of i n d i v i d u a l women and men (In the next chapter I w i l l t r y to show why the same may apply to e m p i r i c a l judgments as w e l l . ) ; and second, that t h i s b i o l o g i c a l f a c t , important as i t may be, does not mean that there are any innate p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s between females and males (assuming that such d i f f e r e n c e s might have a bearing on s p i r i t u a l or other p r o c l i v i t i e s ) . I t i s true of course that not a l l women have c h i l d r e n , so perhaps to be more accurate, the one f a c t should be seen as that of d i f f e r e n t 20 e x t e r n a l and i n t e r n a l organs enabling one sex only, or almost a l l of i t s members, to bear c h i l d r e n . There are some such as Freud who do a c t u a l l y b e l i e v e that these d i f -ferences imply innate p s y c h o l o g i c a l ones — Preud even goes so f a r as to say that a woman i s c o n t r a d i c t i n g her t r u e , b i o l o g i c a l l y - b a s e d nature i f she does not want to 1 have c h i l d r e n . G e n i t a l sexual c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , on the b a s i s of which s o c i e t y i n i t i a l l y considers people to be female or male, i n d i c a t e l i t t l e , i f anything, about the other p h y s i c a l sexual c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of an i n d i v i d u a l , be these such s o - c a l l e d "secondary sexual c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s " as amount and d i s t r i b u t i o n of body h a i r , or such matters as height and weight. Taking averages of any measured p h y s i c a l t r a i t s of men or women i n a given pop u l a t i o n , at l e a s t h a l f of each sex would be e i t h e r above or below average on any given t r a i t . But furthermore, there would be a high degree of overlapping of the females and males when measured f o r height, heaviness of bone s t r u c t u r e , e t c . . We are then back at the d i f f e r e n c e on which b a s i s people are s a i d to be e i t h e r female or male at b i r t h : the k i n d of reproductive organs. Added to t h i s i s the co m p l i c a t i o n that what are, f o r example, some of the p h y s i c a l c h a r a c t e r -i s t i c s of males i n one et h n i c group may correspond more c l o s e l y to those of the females than of the males i n another (Mead, 1968: 132 - 3). 21 Let us consider then the question of psychologically-s i g n i f i c a n t biochemical d i f f e r e n c e s between the sexes. I know next to nothing about body chemistry, and to do enough research on i t to make i t worthwhile would have been beyond the scope of t h i s paper. But I venture the f o l l o w i n g points regarding the i d e a that there may be s e x - l i n k e d biochemical a f f e c t s on moods, a t t i t u d e s , i n -t e l l e c t , emotions or any capacity f o r l e a r n i n g , s p i r i t u a l or otherwise. F i r s t , the problem of averages and o v e r l a p -ping between the sexes would s t i l l apply. Second, we cannot assume that a person's biochemical makeup i s un-a f f e c t e d by the human environment (as, f o r i n s t a n c e , i s the case w i t h u l c e r s ) ; and that t h i s environment may i n v o l v e d i f f e r e n t p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t r e s s e s on females and males. In Male and Female, Margaret Mead says: Is t h i s apparent range to be set down to d i f f e r e n c e s i n endocrine balance, set against our r e c o g n i t i o n that each sex depends f o r f u l l f u n c t i o n i n g upon both male and female hormones and the i n t e r a c t i o n between these hormones and other endocrines? Has every i n d i v i d u a l a b i s e x u a l p o t e n t i a l t h a t may be p h y s i -o l o g i c a l l y evoked by hormone d e f i c i t or s u r p l u s , which may be p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y evoked by abnormalities i n the process of i n d i v i d u a l maturation, which may be s o c i o l o g i c a l l y invoked by r e a r i n g boys wit h women only, or segregating boys away from women e n t i r e l y , or by pre-s c r i b i n g and encouraging various forms of s o c i a l i n v e r s i o n ? ... At f i r s t b l u s h , i t seems exceedingly l i k e l y that we have to advance some such hypothesis. ... Yet the e x i s t i n g data makes us pause. The most c a r e f u l research has f a i l e d to t i e up endocrine balance w i t h a c t u a l homo-sexual behaviour (1968: 130 - 1 ) . 22 F i n a l l y , there are great d i f f e r e n c e s between c u l t u r e s as to the desired p e r s o n a l i t i e s of females and males (See f o r examples chapter 4 i n Mead's Male and Female,), pat-terns which begin to be learned by a person v i r t u a l l y from the time of b i r t h . I do not mean that there are no r e l a t i o n s between the b i o l o g i c a l and p s y c h o l o g i c a l makeup of i n d i v i d u a l s . The i s s u e i s that sex r o l e s are assigned on the b a s i s of the g e n i t a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c only. What the c u l t u r e defines as normal, b i o l o g i c a l l y or p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y , f o r a male or female i s thus l i k e l y to be i n some degree of c o n f l i c t w i t h the manner and d i r e c t i o n of experiencing l i f e which comes n a t u r a l l y to and from a unique i n d i v i d u a l , female or male. " So the c h i l d , experiencing i t s e l f , i s forced to r e j e c t such parts of i t s p a r t i c u l a r b i o l o g i c a l i n h e r -i t a n c e as c o n f l i c t sharply w i t h the sex stereotype of i t s c u l t u r e " (Mead, 1968: 137). In r e j e c t i n g part of the whole a person cannot grow i n a n a t u r a l way, i n s o f a r as 2 t h e i r experiencing w i l l not be completely a f f i r m a t i v e . The path w i l l always be i n part a r e a c t i o n to the s o c i a l stereotype of her- or hi m s e l f . Granted, such i s the nature of s o c i a l l i f e , of the o b l i g a t i o n s involved i n the redemptive process. I f we were never s o c i a l i z e d , however a r b i t r a r i l y , would we ever develop a consciousness that enabled us to have the s p i -r i t u a l experience of transcending that s o c i a l r e a l i t y ? 23 Awareness that things need not he as they are, or that they are not what they seem, i s i n the nature of our consciousness, one of d u a l i t y . Anything i m p l i e s i t s opposite or complement, l i f e cannot be conceived of w i t h -out death. I t i s on the b a s i s of t h i s consciousness that we commonly d i s t i n g u i s h ourselves from animals, but tha t there are no animals who are not g i f t e d w i t h t h i s p o s s i b l e awareness, no animals who are i n t h i s sense not animals, we r e a l l y cannot say f o r sure. The point remains, though, that such i s the c o n d i t i o n of our being. We can be aware that any c o n d i t i o n , such as a c u l t u r a l d e f i n i t i o n of r i g h t and wrong a c t i o n i n a c e r t a i n s i t u a t i o n , may be a r b i t r a r y only a f t e r l i v i n g according to t h i s c o n d i t i o n . I t i s only then p o s s i b l e to experience co n s c i o u s l y t h a t the separateness and mutual exclusiveness of r i g h t and wrong or good and e v i l i s i l l u s o r y . The paradox then i s that the recovery of the whole, the s p i r i t u a l r e b i r t h , i s only p o s s i b l e a f t e r the i n t e g r i t y of the whole has f i r s t been shattered. This process may be made e x p l i c i t 3 by r e l i g i o n i t s e l f i n i n i t i a t i o n ceremonies — b u t t h i s does not mean that i t i s grasped f u l l y by the consciousness of each p a r t i c i p a n t . 24 (i)The Sexual D i v i s i o n of Labour How i s the sexual d i v i s i o n of labour r e l a t e d to the f a c t that women bear c h i l d r e n and men do not? And how i s t h i s s o c i a l d i v i s i o n i t s e l f o f t e n taken to imply innate p s y c h o l o g i c a l or temperamental d i f f e r e n c e s between the sexes, as w e l l as p h y s i c a l ones other than the b a s i c one mentioned? (The second question i s p r i m a r i l y a matter f o r the next chapter.) I t seems from my experience that most people i n our s o c i e t y who t h i n k about the matter, i n c l u d i n g students of anthropology, f e e l i t i s n a t u r a l that men are hunters, and women are not, i n a s o c i e t y which depends upon hunt-i n g . Women are gatherers of f o o d s t u f f s which do not run very f a s t . What i s meant by " n a t u r a l " i s tha t men have the p h y s i c a l c a p a c i t y to be b e t t e r hunters: they can run f a s t e r , are more a g i l e , stronger, e t c . . Ashley Montagu seems to take t h i s view i n The Human Revolution (1965: 102 -3). He suggests that there was a s e l e c t i v e process f o r the e v o l u t i o n of men who could hunt more e f f i c i e n t l y . That would be hard to r e f u t e , nor does there seem to be any reason to make the attempt. But how r e l e v a n t i s i t ? No doubt there has a l s o been a s i m i l a r s e l e c t i v e process at work f o r women who could s u c c e s s f u l l y bear c h i l d r e n , and I suggest that such women would have to be s u f f i c i e n t -l y healthy to a point which n u l l i f i e s any argument that 25 men are b e t t e r hunters by v i r t u e of physique. Granted, there are separate events f o r men and wo-men i n competitive a t h l e t i c s , and the f a s t e s t man i s l i k e l y to be f a s t e r than the f a s t e s t woman i n the same event. But we are back again at the same i s s u e of aver-ages and overlapping, and how misleading the non-existent normal can be. Is there not l i k e l y to be a percentage of women i n a hunting s o c i e t y who are more a g i l e , and so i n the end f a s t e r , than men who may w e l l have longer l e g s ? This a g i l i t y , though, would not be encouraged and dev e l -oped, because of the d i v i s i o n of labour. This i s only one of s e v e r a l such p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Or what about Murdock's informat i o n that women are the burdenbearers i n seventy per cent of the cases where t h i s labour i s in v o l v e d (1937: 551)? Burdenbearing would r e q u i r e both s t r e n g t h and endurance. But Montagu goes so f a r as to suggest that because they were bigger and stronger, and th e r e f o r e b e t t e r hunt-er s , men i n s p i r e d i n women a n a t u r a l awe. This i m p l i e s that women did not see t h e i r own work i n a very p o s i t i v e l i g h t . I imagine that to be a man's r a t h e r than a woman's view (though such a view could conceivably i n f l u e n c e a woman's view of h e r s e l f ) . P h y l l i s Kaberry says of the Lunga of Western A u s t r a l i a : In a c t u a l q u a n t i t y , the woman probably provides more over a f i x e d period than 26 the man, since hunting i s not always s u c c e s s f u l . She always manages to b r i n g home something, and hence the f a m i l y i s dependent on her e f f o r t s to a gr e a t e r degree than on those of the husband (1939: 25). But i t i s s t i l l commonly accepted i n our s o c i e t y that "a woman's place i s i n the home", that breadwinning hap-pens away from the home, and that men are the breadwinners because i t has always been so due to innate sexual d i f f e r -ences. The above quotation i s an example of how i t has not always been so. Why, then, do men see i t t h i s way? Do women see the s i t u a t i o n at a l l as men see i t ? Simone de Beauvoir suggests an answer to t h i s ques-t i o n which I w i l l look at i n the next chapter, as i t i s at the root of myths about sex d i f f e r e n c e s and t h e i r im-p l i c a t i o n s f o r the experience of l i f e . She says t h a t as hunting and the adventures i n v o l v e d i n the p u r s u i t and k i l l are p o t e n t i a l l y dangerous a c t i v i t i e s : The v/orst curse that was l a i d upon woman was that she should be excluded from these w a r l i k e f o r a y s . Por i t i s not i n g i v i n g l i f e but i n r i s k i n g i t th a t man i s r a i s e d above the animal; that i s why s u p e r i o r i t y has been ac-corded i n humanity not to the sex that brings f o r t h but to that which k i l l s (1961: 58). And i t i s the f a c t that women are the sex which br i n g s f o r t h which i s why they are not the hunters i n s o c i e t i e s dependent upon t h i s a c t i v i t y . J u d i t h Brown gets to the core of t h i s c o n d i t i o n i n "A Note on the D i v i s i o n of 27 Labour by Sex M J A n t h r o p o l o g i s t s have long noted the narrow range of subsistence a c t i v i t i e s i n which women make a s u b s t a n t i a l con-t r i b u t i o n : g a t h e r i n g , hoe a g r i c u l t u r e , and trade* Although men do gather, c a r r y on hoe c u l t i v a t i o n and trade , no s o c i e t y depends on i t s women f o r the herding of l a r g e animals, the hunting of l a r g e game, deep-sea f i s h i n g , or plow a g r i c u l t u r e . That women can be p r o f i c i e n t at these a c t i v i t i e s (Jenness (1923) r e p o r t s women s e a l hunters among the Copper Eskimo*-; porde (1934) reports t h a t women herd rei n d e e r f g r parts of the year among the Tungus?) i s evidence that the d i v i s i o n of la b o u r by sex i s not based e n t i r e l y on im-mutable p h y s i o l o g i c a l f a c t s of g r e a t e r male s t r e n g t h and endurance. However, i t i s easy to see that a l l these a c t i -v i t i e s are incompatible w i t h s i m u l -taneous c h i l d w a t c h i n g . They r e q u i r e rapt concentration, cannot be i n t e r -rrup*$d and resumed, are p o t e n t i a l l y dangerous, and r e q u i r e t h a t the p a r t i -cipant range f a r from home (1970:1075-6). 28 FOOTNOTES i "Freud finds i t typical that 'the constitution w i l l not adapt i t s e l f to i t s function without a struggle.' And so i t i s that while the regenerate female seeks f u l f i l l -ment i n a l i f e devoted to reproduction, others persist i n the error of aspiring to an existence beyond the biological level of confinement to maternity and reproduction — f a l l i n g into the error Freud calls 'the masculinity complex.' This i s how one i s to account for the many deviant women, both those who renounce sexuality or divert i t to members of their own sex, as well as those who pursue 'masculine aims.' The l a t t e r group do not seek the penis openly and honestly i n maternity, but instead desire to enter universities, pursue an autonomous or independent course i n l i f e , take up with feminism, or grow restless and require treatment as •neurorfcio.' Freud's method was to castigate such 'immature' women as 'regressive' or incomplete persons, c l i n i c a l cases of arrested development' "(Kate Millett, 1970:186). Millett's references are to Sigmund Freud, Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex, trans. A.A. B r i l l (New York: Button, * I have often chosen to use the plural form of a pronoun or pronominal adjective i n order to avoid, for example, such sexist words as "he" when I am referring to people i n general. ^ For a discussion of this possibility i n r i t u a l , see Victor Turner's The Forest of Symbols (1967:94-111). 4 D. Jenness, The Copper Eskimo: Eeport of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, T9T3-18, 12 ^Ottawa:Aeland, 1923). ^ C. Daryll Forde, Habitat, Economy and Society (1934; rpt. New York: Dutton, 1963J. 29 CHAPTER 3 SEXUALITY AND MYTH I am using the word "myth" here i n a f l e x i b l e way. My concern i s with c l a r i f y i n g what are probably u n i v e r s a l a t t i t u d e s toward l i f e and toward women which may or may not f i n d e x p l i c i t expression i n a t r a d i t i o n a l myth of a c u l t u r e , but are nevertheless at work deep i n the i n d i v -i d u a l psyche, and have very b a s i c e f f e c t s on s o c i a l l i f e . This i n v o l v e s l o o k i n g at the minds of both women and men. Although I have discussed why I don't b e l i e v e i n any i n -nate p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s between female and male people, I do not f e e l t h i s i m p l i e s there are no common ps y c h o l o g i c a l r e a c t i o n s i n females and males to the f a c t that they do o r do not bear c h i l d r e n , and to the nature of s o c i a l l i f e as i t has been conditioned by t h i s f a c t . In the course of t h i s d i s c u s s i o n , I w i l l be f u r t h e r developing 30 some of the points which seem perhaps to have been g i v e n somewhat cursory treatment i n the preceding chapter. I begin here w i t h some of the b a s i c ideas presented by Simone de Beauvoir i n The Second Sex, and w i t h my i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n of, and r e a c t i o n to them. ( i ) The Basis of Sexual Myth-making: The Female as the Other There are two concepts which Simone de Beauvoir presents e a r l y i n t h i s book which are e s s e n t i a l to the development of the whole. The f i r s t i s that of e x i s t e n t i a l i s t e t h i c s ; There i s no j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r present existence other than i t s expansion i n t o an I n d e f i n i t e l y open f u t u r e . Every time transcendence f a l l s back i n t o immanence, sta g n a t i o n , there i s a degradation of existence i n t o the "en-soi" — - t h e b r u t i s h l i f e of s u j e c t i o n to given c o n d i t i o n s —-and of l i b e r t y i n t o c o n s t r a i n t and con-tingence. This downfall represents a moral f a u l t i f the subject consents to i t ; i f i t i s i n f l i c t e d upon him, i t s p e l l s f r u s t r a t i o n and oppression. In both cases i t i s an absolute e v i l . Every i n d i v i d u a l concerned to j u s t i f y h i s existence i n -volves an undefined need to transcend him-s e l f , to engage i n f r e e l y chosen p r o j e c t s . Now, what p e c u l i a r l y s i g n a l i z e s the s i t u a t i o n of woman i s t h a t she — a f r e e and autonomous being l i k e a l l human creatures — nevertheless f i n d s h e r s e l f l i v i n g i n a world where men compel her to assume the s t a t u s of the Other. They propose to s t a b i l i z e her as object and to doom her to immanence since her transcendence i s to be overshadowed 31 and f o r e v e r transcended "by another ego (conscience) which i s e s s e n t i a l and sovereign (1961: x x v i i i ) . This concept of woman as the Other i s the second important p o i n t . The s i t u a t i o n r e s t s on the f a c t of d u a l i t y i n human consciousness, a d u a l i t y which f i n d s i t s most p r i m i t i v e expression as S e l f vs. Other. Gen-e r a l l y the Other a l s o sets i t s e l f up as the S e l f , and the r e l a t i v i t y of the concept i s manifested: " i n d i v i -duals and groups are forced to recognize the r e c i p r o -c i t y of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s " (1961: x x v i i ) . But woman has never put forward t h i s r e c i p r o c a l c l aim, and i n under-standing why t h i s i s so, we must f i r s t look at how i t came to be tha t woman and not man became the Other. Why should not both of them have developed as S e l f , as opposed to animals as the Other? This r e l a t e s back to the f a c t that the human s i t -u a t i o n i s an e x i s t e n t i a l one. What makes f o r the l a c k of r e c i p r o c i t y i s that the transcendence of i n d i v i d u a l women i s f r u s t r a t e d by t h e i r being enslaved to the de-mands of the species as a whole to a f a r g r e a t e r degree than are men. This does not mean that men are l e s s a product of t h e i r animal nature than are women, but r a t h e r that the demands of the species are not i n c o n f l i c t w i t h t h e i r development as i n d i v i d u a l s . A sexual experience which may i t s e l f be transcendental may i n t e r f e r e w i t h the subsequent urge to transcendence i n a woman. I f she 32 conceives, she must ca r r y the c h i l d f o r nine months before g i v i n g b i r t h to i t . Many of the ovarian s e c r e t i o n s func-t i o n f o r the b e n e f i t of the egg, promoting i t s maturation and adapt-i n g the uterus to i t s requirements* i n respect to the organism as a whole, they make f o r d i s e q u i l i b r a t i o n r a t h e r than f o r r e g u l a t i o n — the woman i s adapted to the needs of the egg r a t h e r than to her own requirements ( 1 9 6 1 : 2 4 ) . De Beauvoir says that important as they are, these b i o l o g i c a l f a c t s do not i n themselves e x p l a i n why woman i s the Other: ... the body being the instrument of our grasp upon the world, the world i s bound to seem a very d i f f e r e n t t h i n g when apprehended i n one manner of another.•.. But I deny that [the b i o l o g i c a l f a c t s ] e s t a b l i s h f o r her a f i x e d and i n -e v i t a b l e d e s t i n y . They are i n s u f f i -c i e n t f o r s e t t i n g up a h e i r a r c h y of the sexes: they f a i l to e x p l a i n why woman i s the Other... ( 1 9 6 1 : 2 9 ) . I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g that de Beauvoir makes t h i s p o i n t even though she subscribes to c e r t a i n views as to what con-s t i t u t e s woman's innate nature which are hard to see, I b e l i e v e , as anything other than myths, or as the behavioural products of c u l t u r a l myths. She says: I r r e g u l a r i t i e s i n the endocrine secre-t i o n s r e act on the sympathetic nervous system, and nervous and muscular c o n t r o l i s u n c e r t a i n . This l a c k i n s t a b i l i t y and c o n t r o l u n d e r l i e s woman's emotional-ism, which i s bound up w i t h c i r c u l a t o r y 33 f l u c t u a t i o n s — p a l p i t a t i o n of the heart, b l u s h i n g , and so f o r t h — and on t h i s account women are subject to such d i s p l a y s of a g i t a t i o n as t e a r s , h y s t e r i c a l l a u g h t e r , and nervous c r i s e s (1961:28). Now even i f these r e a c t i o n s do have biochemical s t i m u l i , how can we ©ay that these s t i m u l i themselves are not responses to d i f f e r e n t s o c i a l pressures on females and males? Some of them seem to be so c l e a r l y p a r ts of the c i r c l e of s e l f - f u l f i l l i n g prophecy about women. Por inst a n c e , a g i r l may want to i n v o l v e h e r s e l f i n what i s regarded by her c u l t u r e as a masculine a c t i v i t y . She i s discouraged from doing so, and her f r u s t r a t i o n manifests i t s e l f i n various "nervous c r i s e s " which are pointed to as evidence t h a t the b e l i e f she was u n f i t f o r the de s i r e d p u r s u i t was a well-founded one. As John Stuart M i l l says i n The Su b j e c t i o n of Women, r e f e r r i n g to the supposed "nervous temperament of females: "Much of a l l t h i s i s the mere overflow of nervous energy run to waste" (1869:194). De Beauvoir continues: Woman i s weaker than man: she has l e s s muscular st r e n g t h , fewer red blood corpuscles, l e s s lung c a p a c i t y ; she runs more s l o w l y , can l i f t l e s s heavy weights, can compete w i t h man i n hardly any s p o r t ; she cannot stand up to him i n a f i g h t . To a l l t h i s weakness must be added the i n s t a b i l i t y , the l a c k of c o n t r o l , and the f r a g i l i t y 34 already d i s c u s s e d : these are the f a c t s . Her grasp on the world i s thus more r e s t r i c t e d ; she has l e s s firmness and l e s s steadiness a v a i l a b l e f o r p r o j e c t s that i n general she i s l e s s capable of c a r r y i n g out. In other words, her i n d i v i d u a l l i f e i s l e s s r i c h than man's (1961:30-1). Again, i t seems r a t h e r that her grasp has been more r e s t r i c t e d , by_ s o c i e t y . She i s therefore made weaker. I t i s important that even w i t h such views as to what the b i o l o g i c a l f a c t s are, de Beauvoir s t i l l does not see them as s u f f i c i e n t l y exBlaining woman's r o l e as the Other. An understanding of t h i s s t a t e comes r a t h e r from l o o k i n g a t human h i s t o r y i n the l i g h t of the nature of female and male people, both e x i s t e n t i a l c r e a t u r e s , who, u n l i k e animals, are n a t u r a l l y s t r i v i n g f o r constant s e l f transcendence: Woman i s not a completed r e a l i t y , but r a t h e r a becoming, and i t i s i n her becoming that she should be compared w i t h man; that i s to say, her p o s s i b i l i t i e s should be defined . ...the f a c t i s a l s o t h a t when we have to do w i t h a being whose nature i s transcendent ac-t i o n , we can never close the books (1961:30). To r e t u r n to the core of de Beauvoir*s e x p l a n a t i o n as to how woman could have become the Other: what p r i m a r i l y d i s t i n g u i s h e s people from animals i s t h e i r e x i s t e n t i a l consciousness and s t r i v i n g f o r self-transcendence. 35 The s t r i v i n g found f u l f i l l m e n t i n the c r e a t i o n and use of t o o l s which, even i n the e a r l i e s t hunting s o c i e t i e s , f r e e d people from many of the contingencies of the na^ tural world; and began, I b e l i e v e , by t h i s very f a c t a process of a c t u a l l y attempting to c o n t r o l that world. But although woman was capable i n h e r s e l f of sharing i n t h i s transcendence of the n a t u r a l world, although she was p e r f e c t l y able as an i n d i v i d u a l to w i e l d spears, s a i l canoes, or p a r t i c i p a t e i n whatever adventures, she was not f r e e to be such an i n d i v i d u a l because of the c h i l d r e n whom she had to nurse and p r o t e c t . Her misfortune was to have been b i o l o g i c a l l y destined f o r the r e p e t i t i o n of L i f e , when even i n her own view L i f e does not carr y w i t h i n i t s e l f i t s r e a -sons f o r being, reasons t h a t are more important than the l i f e i t s e l f (1961: 59). The more then that man achieved s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n by t r a n -scending the s i t u a t i o n of animals, the more would woman have f e l t the f r u s t r a t i o n of the c o n f l i c t between species and s e l f . And the more would man have come to see woman as a m a n i f e s t a t i o n of nature r a t h e r than humanity, as the distance between nature and humanity grew i n h i s con-sciousness. De Beauvoir continues from her d i s c u s s i o n of e a r l y hunters to focus on the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the development of a g r i c u l t u r e . In the e a r l i e s t s o c i e t i e s i n which i t 36 was i n v o l v e d , she says, " a g r i c u l t u r a l l a bour was entrusted to women" (1961:62). But woman's r e l a t i o n to the work i s p r i m a r i l y a magical r a t h e r than a c r e a t i v e one: ... the husbandman marvelled at the mystery of the f e c u n d i t y that burgeoned i n h i s furrows and i n the maternal body; ... able to summon a n c e s t r a l s p i r i t s i n t o her body, she would a l s o have the power to cause f r u i t s and g r a i n to s p r i n g up from planted f i e l d s . I n both cases there was no question of a c r e a t i v e a c t , but of a magic c o n j u r a t i o n (1961:62). The process i s s t i l l e s s e n t i a l l y a mysterious one, subject to the whims of nature, and the labour may or may not be f r u i t f u l . Now, I have to take issue w i t h t h i s . I n the Trobriand I s l a n d s , f o r example, where gardening i s c e n t r a l to l i v e l i -hood, i t i s not entrusted to women: ... garden work i s done i n the Trobriands by everybody, man and woman, c h i e f and commoner.••. The most important d i s t i n c t i o n i s that between a man's and woman's part i n gardening. A woman never gardens i n her own r i g h t . She i s never s t y l e d "owner of a garden" or " owner of a p l o t " ... The man cuts the scrub; man and woman c l e a r the ground and prepare i t f o r p l a n t -i n g ; the woman weeds. ... h a r v e s t i n g i s done by men and women together. The reknown of good gardening, the pr a i s e and other emoluments of ambition, go to the man and not to the woman (Malinowski,1935:78-9). 37 But furthermore, the garden magician (a hereditary pos-ition) i s male, either the Chief (head-man) or someone in his lineage (1935: 64). The problem with de Beauvoir 1s view arises from the fact that Bhe is dealing with such a vast problem, a long historical process much of which w i l l probably be forever obscure. In generalizing to simplify the picture, much of i t is distorted. She says, for instance, that st e r i l e women have often been, or are, considered dangerous to a garden, whereas the opposite applies to pregnant women (1961: 63). I think that i s a valid point to back up what she wants to get across; and while I do not agree with her argument, I do with her conclusions: the crucial point she makes being that woman has value in man's eyes only insofar as she is representative of the mysterious process of nature: To be sure, [man] realized more or less clearly the effectiveness of the sexual act and of the techni-ques by which he brought the land under cultivation. Yet children and crops seemed none the less to be gifts of the gods, and the mys-terious emanations from the female body were believed to bring into this world the riches latent in the mysterious sources of l i f e (1961: 63). So even i f her s t e r i l i t y or f e r t i l i t y is important, she herself as a person i s not. Man's relation to her is essentially one of fear 38 r a t h e r than l o v e . A woman i s not recognized p e r s o n a l l y f o r her c o n t r i b u t i o n to the garden as i s a man. She i s not accepted f o r what she i s or can do, which i s essen-t i a l l y what I mean by using the word " l o v e " . What she i s l e f t w i t h , then, i s a r o l e as mother — — as a member of the species r a t h e r than an i n d i v i d u a l . Through her there occurs i n the human realm a u n i v e r s a l n a t u r a l pro-cess. I n s o f a r as man's r e l a t i o n s h i p to nature i s one of de a l i n g w i t h the power of t h i s process to tame and tap i t f o r human b e n e f i t , h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p to woman has been one of f e a r . Woman i s an i n c a r n a t i o n of nature i n that she main-t a i n s , r a t h e r than creates, as de Beauvoir f r e q u e n t l y puts i t , i n her c o n t r i b u t i o n to the s o c i a l l i f e . She remained doomed to immanence, i n c a r n a t i n g only the s t a t i c aspect of s o c i e t y , closed i n upon i t s e l f . Whereas man went on monopolizing the f u n c t i o n s which threw open that s o c i e t y toward nature and toward the r e s t of humanity (1961: 68). De Beauvoir goes on to suggest how b e t t e r t o o l s and a g r i c u l t u r a l techniques might have developed which freed humanity to such a point from f e e l i n g at nature's mercy that the s t r u c t u r e of s o c i e t y i t s e l f began to change: p a t r i a r c h a l s o c i e t i e s were born. Formerly [man] was possessed by the mana, by the la n d ; now he has a s o u l , 39 owns c e r t a i n lands; freed from Woman, he now demands f o r hi m s e l f a woman and a p o s t e r i t y (1961:72). Woman became valuable as a source of h e i r s , i n terms of property, as property. Man's necessary part i n p r o c r e a t i o n was r e a l i z e d , but beyond t h i s i t was affirmed that only the f a t h e r engenders, the mother merely nourishes the germ received i n t o her body, as Aeschylus says i n the Eumenides. A r i s t o t l e s t a t e s that woman i s only matter, whereas move-ment, the male p r i n c i p l e , i s " b e t t e r and more d i v i n e " . In making p o s t e r i t y wholly h i s , man achieved domination of the world and subjugation of woman (1961:73). Again, we see tha t woman i s " doomed to immanence". De Beauvoir sketches the r e f l e c t i o n of t h i s process i n the myths of the Mediterranean area, w i t h the mother-goddess everywhere being replaced by a supreme o r at l e a s t s u p e r i o r male d e i t y . The "God" of the B i b l e i s of course a p a t r i a r c h . But i t i s important to keep i n mind that even as mother-goddess woman was not valued as an equal i n a r e c i p r o c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p . The female was an object of f e a r i n r e l i g i o u s worship. This f e a r i s most d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to our e x i s t e n -t i a l consciousness. I have touched on self-transcendence as i n v o l v i n g an i n c r e a s i n g freedom from the n a t u r a l world i n which animals l i v e , b a s i c a l l y at the mercy of t h e i r 40 environment. Such i s the way i n which de Beauvoir approaches transcendence. This i s to her mind the most obvious way f o r a person to seek s e t t i n g h e r s e l f or him-s e l f up as S e l f . The most s i g n i f i c a n t n a t u r a l con-tingency i s of course the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of the death of the i n d i v i d u a l s e l f . The f e a r of woman p a r a l l e l s a f e a r of t h i s i n e v i t a b l e n a t u r a l course of t h i n g s , of the Other which threatens the ego. The mother dooms her son to death i n g i v i n g him l i f e . ... Born of the f l e s h , the man i n love f i n d s f u l -f i l l m e n t as f l e s h , and the f l e s h i s d estined to the tomb (de Beauvoir,1961:154). This, then, i s the reason why woman has a double and deceptive v i s a g e : she i s a l l that man d e s i r e s and a l l that he does not a t t a i n . She i s the good m e d i a t r i x between p r o p i t i o u s Nature and man; and she i s the temptation of uncon-quered Nature, counter to a l l goodness (1961:184-5). I w i l l be e x p l o r i n g t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p i n the context of A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n a l c u l t u r e i n the next s e c t i o n of t h i s chapter. A c t u a l l y , I i n t e r p r e t woman as seen i n t h a t s i t u a t i o n to be an ambiguous r a t h e r than good m e d i a t r i x between man and nature, because of what makes woman, as the immediate source of human l i f e , synonymous w i t h nature. Because of the u n c e r t a i n t y a r i s i n g from t h i s connection, woman i s v i r t u a l l y excluded from r e l i g i o u s 41 activity, which i s concerned w i t h d i r e c t i n g the power of nature to ends of b e n e f i t to humans. In Chapter 7 I a l s o r e f e r to t h i s p a t t e r n as i t appears i n the context of Buddhism which emphasizes l i f e as s u f f e r i n g . Woman, seen as the source of l i f e , i s thereby made the source of s u f f e r i n g . The f e a r of woman i s man's f e a r inasmuch as she has become i d e n t i f i e d f o r him w i t h the Other. But the urge to transcendence, the s t r i v i n g f o r s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n , be-longs j u s t as much to the so u l of woman as i t does to man. Soul i s androgynous, or s e x l e s s — — depending upon the importance of the body i n one's choice of s p i r i t u a l path. In the course of the h i s t o r y of Western c u l t u r e s e s p e c i a l l y , man l e f t woman behind, i n a sense, because she could not keep up w i t h the " c r e a t i v e " developments which opened up f o r him: she was busy "maintaining" — — bearing and r e a r i n g the next generation. Given de Beau-v o i r 's view of transcendence as the urge to extend one's grasp upon the world — - i n Western c u l t u r e s t h i s has been manifested i n a d i s t i n c t l y m a t e r i a l i s t i c manner then woman, i n maintaining, has been i n a v i r t u a l l y im-p o s s i b l e s i t u a t i o n as a s o c i a l being. She could not d i r e c t l y p a r t i c i p a t e i n the essence of c u l t u r e . What t r o u b l e s me about t h i s k i n d of transcendence i s t hat i t hardly seems a s p i r i t u a l k i n d of s t r i v i n g . I t 42 s t r i k e s me as being very s e l f i s h , very negative. I t i s a running away from something that we are p a r t of, a running away by attempting to separate from and c o n t r o l that whole, and the u l t i m a t e consequences of t h i s now appear to be a meddling w i t h the balance of nature which may b r i n g about the demise of our s p e c i e s , as i t already has others. Granted t h a t a l l c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n s to at l e a s t some extent use t o o l s which f r e e them from some of the u n c e r t a i n t i e s of nature, and that many of these t r a d i -t i o n s s t i l l recognize very c l e a r l y and b e a u t i f u l l y that we are merely part of a whole, and t h a t we must give to balance what we take. But i t i s obvious that there are others, p r i m a r i l y our own, which have developed i n such a way that our place has been f o r g o t t e n . There has been t h i s most fundamental weakness i n our t r a d i t i o n , one of ego preventing us from accepting the g i f t of l i f e on i t s own terms, because of the f e a r of t h i s ego aware of i t s own t r a n s i e n c e . I am not saying that Simone de Beauvoir i s wrong i n her idea of what transcendence has been f o r that p a r t of humanity which has so g r e a t l y changed the world i n which we l i v e . I f e e l compelled to agree w i t h her about t h a t . But I do most s t r o n g l y disagree w i t h her apparent assump-t i o n that our western t r a d i t i o n i s a m a n i f e s t a t i o n of the only way i n which such transcendence could be f u l f i l l e d 43 on the i n d i v i d u a l and c u l t u r a l l e v e l s . I t s t r i k e s me that much of what she says i s , i r o n i c a l l y , an expression of the male-oriented values of her c u l t u r e . She h e r s e l f of course deals w i t h t h i s i s s u e , t h a t the only way i n which a woman can approach s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n i s o f t e n to accept what men have defined as worthwhile, and what they w i l l grant to women who grant them the favours they want. As I have already quoted: "He i t i s who opens up the f u t u r e to which she a l s o reaches out" (1961: 59). And de Beauvoir appears to value as s e l f - f u l f i l l i n g those very e g o - f o r t i f y i n g p u r s u i t s through which men have scarred the world, e.g. : "Today he s t i l l manifests t h i s p r i d e when he has b u i l t a dam or a skyscraper or an atomic p i l e " (1961: 58). Here i s a very complicated i s s u e . I f the focus of what i s d i s t i n c t l y human about our s o c i a l l i f e i s p r i -marily an expression of male o r i e n t a t i o n i n the world, then t h i s focus c o n s t i t u t e s an oppression of women. I do not mean to imply t h a t women's p s y c h o l o g i c a l o r i e n t a -t i o n i s d i f f e r e n t . Perhaps i f they were not t i e d to maintaining the spe c i e s , women would have indulged i n those p u r s u i t s which enlarged the t e r r i t o r y of man at war w i t h nature. Given that a s o c i e t y sees transcendence i n t h i s way, then the b i o l o g i c a l f a c t that they bear c h i l -dren i s an oppressive f o r c e f o r women. That s o c i e t y may define woman's r o l e as n a t u r a l l y d i f f e r e n t from man's 44 does not at a l l change the s i t u a t i o n , because the s o c i a l d e f i n i t i o n i s at odds w i t h nature, and women are defined as destined f o r a d i f f e r e n t l i f e because they are t i e d more d i r e c t l y to nature. The d e f i n i t i o n s are made by men, not women. Soci e t y i s male. Now here we can see the d i f f e r e n c e between de Beau-v o i r ' s view of transcendence and what I see as s p i r i t u a l -i t y . I n her view the oppression of women c o n s i s t s fund-amentally i n the f a c t that t h e i r transcendence as people i s f r u s t r a t e d by male s o c i e t y ' s f e a r f u l view of n a t u r a l process. I would add to t h i s an oppression of the s p i -r i t u a l consciousness of both women and men. For men t h i s i s a moral f a i l i n g : t h e i r c o n s c i o u s l y perceived r e l a t i o n to the world i s conditioned by f e a r r a t h e r than acceptance. Their d e s i r e to grow i s f a l s e i n that i t i n v o l v e s a part (ego) growing cancerously a t the expense of the whole (true e c o l o g i c a l awareness, which i n c l u d e s acceptance of t h e i r f e l l o w b e i n g s ) . I have discussed how i n d i v i d u a l s p i r i t u a l f u l f i l l m e n t p a r a d o x i c a l l y depends upon f i r s t experiencing the a r b i t r a r y values of s o c i e t y . There i s a twofold oppression of women i n t h a t i t i s not even p o s s i b l e , i n the s i t u a t i o n I have been sketching, to abdicate t h e i r s p i r i t u a l search by t h e i r own r i g h t , as men i n our t r a d i t i o n , as a sex, have done. Because i f s o c i a l l i f e i s oppressive to a l l i n d i v i -duals i n i t s a r b i t r a r i n e s s , i t i s a l s o d i v i d e d w i t h i n 45 i t s e l f so that a woman cannot even f u l l y experience what i t a r b i t r a r i l y values most as b e f i t t i n g humans, l e t alone transcend i t . T ruly s p i r i t u a l transcendence i s only pos-s i b l e of something which has been f u l l y experienced. This i s not to say that women have to experience the male r o l e , or men the female one; j u s t that e i t h e r must be able to understand the l i m i t a t i o n s of being s e x u a l l y stereotyped. But a r e l i g i o u s r i t u a l , f o r i n s t a n c e , o f t e n provides an experience of seeing that sex r o l e s are a c u l -t u r a l a f f a i r , and yet women may be excluded from that r i t -u a l , thus being denied at l e a s t that means of the e x p e r i -ence. But then the question a r i s e s as to whether t h i s s t a t e of a f f a i r s by i t s e l f could not be an experience of t h i s a r b i t r a r i n e s s . I t h i n k i t could to a c e r t a i n e xtent: the oppression might make an awareness which transcends s o c i a l values more a c c e s s i b l e to women, but I am do u b t f u l as to i t s s p i r i t u a l p o t e n t i a l . L i f e i s s t i l l l i v e d i n s o c i e t y , and such awareness, c o n s t a n t l y confronted by s o c i a l r e a l -i t i e s , and i t s own r e l a t e d personal s u f f e r i n g , would very l i k e l y become one of c y n i c a l detachment r a t h e r than a f f i r -mation and compassion f o r others i n t h e i r s u f f e r i n g . I thi n k i t would e n t a i l a d e f i n i t i o n of oneself as opposed to an other: us again s t them; female against male. While t h i s would, i n a sense, t u r n the t a b l e s on men, i t would s t i l l be a very t r y i n g s t a t e of mind to maintain i n a male-46 dominated s o c i e t y , where one's s e l f - a s s e r t i o n could not be r e a l i z e d i n s o c i a l l i f e . As I have s a i d , f o r a consciousness to be s p i r i t u a l , i t must be v i a b l e i n the sense of being f u l f i l l e d i n a c t i o n . At t h i s p o i n t , I b e l i e v e i t becomes c l e a r e r that the s i t u a t i o n of women as opposed to men i s an oppressive one; f o r i n a male-dominated s o c i e t y the p o s s i -b i l i t i e s f o r a c t i o n , f o r making d e c i s i o n s which a f f e c t one's l i f e and the l i v e s of others, are gre a t e r f o r men. Of course, the l i n e where s p i r i t u a l oppression begins can be drawn e a r l i e r , i f i t i s f e l t t h a t s o c i a l oppression — e x c l u s i o n from r e l i g i o u s a c t i v i t i e s , f o r example — i s not conducive to a c u l t u r e - t r a n s c e n d i n g awareness, l e t alone to s p i r i t u a l growth. And I do t h i n k t h i s i s probably true i n most cases: i t would take an e x c e p t i o n a l l y s t r o n g person to become aware by being oppressed. I t must be remembered th a t hardly a l l s o c i e t i e s are as much i n f l u x , or as aware of other c u l t u r e s , as i s our own. In such s o c i e t i e s i t would be exceedingly d i f f i c u l t to imagine a l t e r n a t i v e s to one's s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n . But the s i t u a t i o n of men, while i t may be l e s s oppres-s i v e than that of women, i s not an open s p i r i t u a l road. F i r s t of a l l , as lo n g as a man def i n e s himself by v i r t u e of not being a woman, he cannot progress very f a r : he i s exclud i n g a l l those p o s s i b i l i t i e s f o r h i m s e l f which h i s s o c i e t y sees as female. Secondly, even i f he ceases to 47 define himself i n this manner, he cannot ultimately realize his awareness i n action; unless, i n the end, he challenges the entire nature of sex roles fundamental to the organiza-tion of his society. ( i i ) Childbearing and Childbirth I have discussed de Beauvoir's ideas on the s i g n i f i -cance, for women and for society as a whole, of woman as childbearer; but I have not really focused on the actual experience of bearing and giving birlbh to children. To consider this i s d i f f i c u l t for me, because even i f I am prepared to discard a l l of our cultural definitions of male and female, there i s here a very real experience which I simply cannot have as a woman can. But for reasons I hope w i l l become evident in my following discussion, I wil l try to express my related feelings. De Beauvoir writes: ... giving birth and suckling are not activ i t i e s , they are natural functions: no project i s involved; and that i s why woman found in them no reason for a lofty affirmation of her existence —— she submitted passively to her biologic fate ( 1 9 6 1 : 5 7 ) . Now I do not think she i s suggesting that no women should 48 have c h i l d r e n . Rather that the d e c i s i o n should be t h e i r ' s alone; and t h a t , f a t e d w i t h t h i s burden, they should nevertheless (to put i t m i l d l y ) have the same o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r i n d i v i d u a l expression open to them as do men. But again, I see her view of c h i l d b e a r i n g and g i v i n g b i r t h i n the same way I r e l a t e t o her view of what c o n s t i t u t e s transcendence. I t seems so negative — what i s valued i n l i f e i s divorced from the source of a l l l i f e , of p o s s i b i l i t y . I t t h erefore becomes an i m p o s s i b i l i t y i n t h a t the p u r s u i t destroys, as we are w i t n e s s i n g , the universe from which the process began. But i t may be that n a t u r a l f u n c t i o n s are not " l o f t y " only i f s o c i e t y sees i t that way. I f males had an a p p r e c i a -t i o n f o r c h i l d b i r t h , not j u s t because i t can be a source of h e i r s , but as an experience b e a u t i f u l i n i t s e l f , and i f they took an a c t i v e part i n c h i l d care, would such negative a t t i t u d e s be as l i k e l y to be expressed? P a r a l l e l to the s e p a r a t i o n from nature among us i s the view of c r e a t i v i t y as something coming e n t i r e l y from the ego, r a t h e r than as the i n d i v i d u a l s e l f being a p a r t i c u l a r instrument of expression, a medium, f o r the energy of nature. Again, some of de Beauvoir's ideas seem to me an expression of the very values she i s c r i t i c i z i n g . (Perhaps i t seems I am asking an awful l o t of someone. I am aware th a t i t i s a l l too easy to c r i t i c i z e people who c o n t r i b u t e g r e a t l y to our understanding, when they open our eyes and we do not 49 see e x a c t l y what they see. I hope i t i s understood t h a t my c r i t i c i s m i s based on a profound o v e r a l l a p p r e c i a t i o n , otherwise I would not be so concerned w i t h de Beauvoir's ideas.) Shulamith F i r e s t o n e would probably see the preceding paragraph as a m a n i f e s t a t i o n of the " r e a c t i o n a r y h i p p i e -Rousseauean Return-to-Nature"• In The D i a l e c t i c of Sex she says: Pregnancy i s b a r b a r i c : I do not b e l i e v e , as many women are now saying, that the reason pregnancy i s viewed as not b e a u t i f u l i s due s t r i c t l y to a c u l t u r a l p e r v e r s i o n . ...Pregnancy i s the temporary deformation of the body f o r the sake of the sp e c i e s . Moreover, c h i l d b i r t h h u r t s . And i t i s n ' t good f o r you. ...Natural c h i l d b i r t h i s only one more part of the r e a c t i o n a r y hippie-Rousseauean Return-to-Nature, and j u s t as s e l f -conscious (1971 : 1 9 9 ) . I do i n a sense b e l i e v e very s t r o n g l y i n the n e c e s s i t y of a r e t u r n to nature: c l e a r l y , our technology, whatever b e n e f i t s i t may have brought us, threatens t o destroy the very b a s i s of our l i v e s ; at the same time i t keeps us so divorced from that b a s i s that we are not aware of the danger. There are people who are aware of t h i s who want to r e t u r n to "nature" i n a r e a c t i o n a r y way, f o l l o w i n g a dogma which i s so cons c i o u s l y the obverse of tha t of our urban s o c i e t y that i t i s probably j u s t as r e s t r i c t i n g . I t can i n v o l v e a r e t u r n to bad as w e l l as good, that i s , 50 to some i d e a of the i d e a l p r i m i t i v e s o c i e t y where women have babies and cook, men hunt, e t c . . This i s not what I mean. I am t a l k i n g about being r e c e p t i v e r a t h e r than aggressive toward ourselves and our world — r e c e p t i v i t y i s not at a l l a n t i t h e t i c a l to c r e a t i v i t y . Getting back to the matter of pregnancy and c h i l d -b i r t h : F i r e s t o n e quotes a negative c h i l d b i r t h experience of a woman she knows (1971:199). While I have no reason to question t h i s , I know women who have enjoyed having c h i l d r e n . A f r i e n d who i s a mother Bays that to her knowledge de Beauvoir was not w r i t i n g from the personal experience of being a mother; and since Fi r e s t o n e does not speak of g i v i n g b i r t h h e r s e l f , I assume the same a p p l i e s to her. My f r i e n d says she knows i t can be b e a u t i f u l , r e g a r d l e s s of the a t t i t u d e s and degree of involvement of other people, and tha t even the pain i s not n e c e s s a r i l y experienced i n a negative way. I would imagine t h a t the l a s t p o i n t depends t o an extent on the degree to which one has or has not transcended c u l t u r a l v a l u e s : someone who b e l i e v e s i n the Book of Genesis, where i t i s s a i d t h a t c h i l d b i r t h e n t a i l s p a i n as punishment f o r Eve's a c t i o n s , i s not l i k e l y to f e e l that pain as anything but negative (Genesis 3*16). Again, the c r u c i a l point i s that i t be a matter of choice. But i n a s o c i e t y where being a mother i s seen as a woman's d e s t i n y , i t i s r e a l l y d i f f i c u l t , i f not impo s s i b l e , 5 1 to speak of choice — even i f there were, as there are not yet , completely safe and r e l i a b l e methods of b i r t h c o n t r o l . The c u l t u r a l value of motherhood i s a r e l i g i o u s value, and i t i s s p i r i t u a l l y oppressive. Inasmuch as there i s danger and p a i n i n v o l v e d i n bearing c h i l d r e n , i t i s of course p h y s i c a l l y oppressive as w e l l . That a b i r t h c o n t r o l p i l l was developed f o r women f i r s t perhaps r e v e a l s much about the sexism i n our c u l t u r e , and i n human s o c i e t y g e n e r a l l y . 1 I do not know i f there are good s c i e n t i f i c reasons f o r t h i s , and would probably be unable to judge them i f there were. But as f o r the argument that t h i s was the obvious place to begin, because women are the ones who become pregnant, I do not f i n d i t completely s a t i s f a c t o r y . I t s t r u t h may be a deceptive one, which b e l i e s our a t t i t u d e , going back to Eve, that the woman should be held r e s p o n s i b l e . Given the growing awareness of the h e a l t h hazards of the p i l l , and of the frequent incompetence and l a c k of concern of the predominantly male doctors who p r e s c r i b e i t , i t seems to me tha t women are used as guinea p i g s , thereby given only the i l l u s i o n of choice, while men are tha t much more freed from r e s p o n s i -b i l i t y . I have suggested a r e l a t i o n s h i p between the pa i n i n -volved i n c h i l d b i r t h and c u l t u r a l a t t i t u d e s , a p o i n t which i s f r e q u e n t l y made i n a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l l i t e r a t u r e . Of the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s , R. and C. Berndt have w r i t t e n : 52 As a r u l e c h i l d b i r t h i s f a i r l y easy, although o f t e n women experience d i f f i c u l t y w i t h t h e i r f i r s t c h i l d , and there are cases of a woman being i n l a bour f o r a long p e r i o d . Ashley-Montagu^ ... on the evidence of se v e r a l w r i t e r s . . . s t a t e s c a t e g o r i -c a l l y that c h i l d b i r t h i s a compara-t i v e l y l i g h t a f f a i r f o r the woman, "who i s u s u a l l y up and about her re g u l a r d u t i e s w i t h i n a few hours a f t e r the d e l i v e r y of the c h i l d " . I t i s true that c h i l d b i r t h , e s p e c i a l l y f o r the second or subsequent c h i l d r e n , may not be such a traumatic experience as f o r many Western European women: but i t i s not such an easy business as Ashley-Montagu i m p l i e s (1964:126). Perhaps then, as a g e n e r a l i z a t i o n , we could say that the ease or d i f f i c u l t y of c h i l d b i r t h v a r i e s from one c u l t u r e to another, and that we must not romanticize c u l t u r e s where i t i s g e n e r a l l y e a s i e r than i n our own.^ S i m i l a r l y , could the uncomfortable or p a i n f u l symptoms that may accompany menstruation be r e l a t e d to c u l t u r a l a t t i t u d e s ? Some might f e e l i t to be one of nature's drags on t h e i r l i v i n g , as a curse; but others might f e e l good at the signs of being t i e d i n w i t h the c y c l i c a l processes of nature. Compare these two s i t u a t i o n s . P i r s t , t h i s statement of a Viennese g i r l as quoted by de Beauvoir from Stekel's F r i g i d i t y i n Woman: When I f i n a l l y began to menstruate and my f a t h e r came across the blood-stained c l o t h e s on one occasion, there was a t e r r i b l e scene. How d i d i t happen th a t he, so c l e a n a man, had to l i v e among such d i r t y females (de Beauvoir,H961:305). 53 Second, on the other hand, the a t t i t u d e of the BaMbuti Pygmies to a g i r l ' s f i r s t menstruation, as described by C o l i n T u r n b u l l i n The Forest People: The whole a f f a i r i s r a t h e r shameful i n the eyes of the v i l l a g e r s , as w e l l as a dangerous one* I t i s something best concealed and not t a l k e d about i n p u b l i c . The g i r l i s an object of s u s p i c i o n , scorn, r e p u l s i o n , and anger. I t i s not a happy coming of age. For the Pygmies, the people of the f o r e s t , i t i s a very d i f f e r e n t t h i n g . To them blood, i n the usual context i n which they see i t , i s equ a l l y d r e a d f u l . But they recognize i t as being the symbol not only of death, but a l s o of l i f e . And menstrual blood to them means l i f e . Even between a husband and a wife i t i s not a f r i g h t e n i n g t h i n g , though there are c e r t a i n r e s t r i c t i o n s connected w i t h i t . In f a c t , the Pygmies consider that any couple that r e a l l y wants to have c h i l d r e n should "sleep w i t h the moon'.' So when a yourg Pygmy g i r l begins to f l o w e r i n t o m a t u r i t y , and blood comes to her f o r the f i r s t time, i t comes to her as a g i f t , received w i t h g r a t i t u d e and r e j o i c i n g — r e j o i c i n g t hat the g i r l i s now a p o t e n t i a l mother, that she can now proudly and r i g h t f u l l y take a husband. There i s no question of f e a r or s u p e r s t i t u t i o n , and everyone i s t o l d the good news (1962s186-7). I do not mean to imply, of course, t h a t bad pregnancy and c h i l d b i r t h experiences are any where near as l i k e l y to be c u l t u r a l l y conditioned as bad menstruation experiences appear to be, or t h a t these experiences are comparable i n t h e i r magnitude. The f a c t remains t h a t c h i l d b i r t h can be f a t a l . 54 What I am t r y i n g to suggest, i n summary, i s t h a t while the d e c i s i o n to have c h i l d r e n should of course be up to the i n d i v i d u a l woman i n v o l v e d , the f a c t o r s on which t h a t d e c i s i o n i s based may themselves be confused by c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n i n g . This process of i n f l u e n c e must be examined and understood so that what i s not u n i v e r s a l l y true may be recognized f o r the a r b i t r a r y set of values i t i s . I t i s r e a l l y only then that the choice can be a f r e e one. ( i i i ) Myths Concerning the O r i g i n of Sexual D i v i s i o n s i n S o c i a l LTfe There are two c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n s I w i l l touch on b r i e f l y here, those of the Aborigines of North-eastern Arahem land i n northern A u s t r a l i a , and the BaMbuti Pygmies of the I t u r i Forest i n the Congo. (a) North-eastern Arnhem Land Reading R. Berndt's Kunapipi and W. L. Warner's A Black C i v i l i z a t i o n , i t seems that there are s e v e r a l myths e x p l a i n i n g s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l o r i g i n s which co-e x i s t i n t h i s area (and elsewhere i n A u s t r a l i a ) , each w i t h i t s own r e l a t e d r i t u a l c u l t . Myths and r i t u a l s are 55 grouped i n c o n s t e l l a t i o n s , s e v e r a l around a s i n g l e core myth, as i t were. The core i s i t s e l f a k i n d of r a t i o n a l e f o r the others, which o f t e n appear to have been introduced (at l e a s t according to the myths themselves) from d i f f e r e n t places and at d i f f e r e n t times (Berndt, 1951:xxv; Warner, 1958:248ff). According to Berndt, a myth recognized by the people as introduced from outside i s a l t e r e d i f necessary so as to be amenable to i n t e g r a t i o n w i t h the e x i s t i n g body of mythology ( I 9 5 1 * x x i x ) . I am assuming then, keeping Burridge's d e f i n i t i o n of r e l i g i o n i n mind, th a t a myth can be looked at as expressing i n some way a s o c i a l r e a l i t y which i s e x i s t e n t i a l l y v a l i d f o r at l e a s t that p a r t of s o c i e t y i n v o l v e d i n the r e l a t e d r e l i g i o u s a c t i v i t i e s . There are two main c o n s t e l l a t i o n s of c y c l e s of myth and r e l a t e d ceremony i n North-eastern Arnhem Land, the Wauwalak and Bjangawul — as w r i t t e n by Berndt; Warner r e f e r s to the Wawilak and Djungkao. Warner and Berndt de a l w i t h neighbouring peoples whom, says Berndt, have other contacts w i t h d i f f e r e n t areas r e s p e c t i v e l y (1951:2). According to Berndt, the Wauwalak c o n s t e l l a t i o n centres around the Great Mother of F e r t i l i t y Mother (1951:xxv), while the Dijangawul i s the i n s p i r a t i o n of a " v i r i l e " c u l t ( 1 9 5 1 : x x v i i i ) and i s concerned w i t h "higher" r e l i g i o u s thought (1951:8). The Djangawul myth concerns f o u r A n c e s t r a l Beings from the mythic time or Dreaming: a man, Djangawul; h i s two s i s t e r s ; and a male companion of minor importance. They landed on the Arnhem Land coast and t r a v e l l e d about popu-l a t i n g the land w i t h the ancestors of the present people, Djangawul had an elongated penis and the c l i t o r i s of each of h i s s i s t e r s dragged on the ground. He kept them per-p e t u a l l y pregnant and would remove by hand from i n s i d e them the c h i l d r e n who are the ancestors, l e a v i n g them at camps they made along the way. The song c y c l e [the myth i s comprised of s e v e r a l hundred lengthy songsj f e a -tures the perpetual pregnancy of the two s i s t e r s , t h e i r u t e r i being l i k e n e d to the ngainmara mats which they brought wi t h them, while the people who are r e -moved from them i n c h i l d b i r t h are the rangga. I t i s s a i d that a person's bones are l i k e rangga, i n h e r i t e d from both the f a t h e r and moiher, who i n t u r n i n h e r i t e d t h e i r s through the generations of ances-t o r s , r i g h t back to the E t e r n a l Times of Djangawul and the c r e a t i v e heroes. Therefore, at death, a person's m a t e r i a l remains, as w e l l as h i s s p i r i t u a l sub-stance, must be tr e a t e d w i t h respect, and surrounded by r i t u a l . An important aspect of t h i s myth, second only to the theme of f e r t i l i t y , concerns the i n s t i t u t i o n of sacred r i t u a l . In the beginning, so i t r e l a t e s , the Djangawul s i s t e r s themselves were the sole guardians of the r e l i g i o u s o bjects and a s s o c i a t e d ceremonies. They were w e l l acquainted w i t h a l l the sacred r i t u a l and d o c t r i n e , because t h i s u l t i -mately concerned them; the symbols they used, and t h e i r a c t i o n s i n dancing, made reference to the sexual a c t , to pregnancy and b i r t h . A b o r i g i n a l men today speak d e f i n i t e l y on t h i s p o i n t : "Then we had nothing? no sacred o b j e c t s , no sacred ceremonies, the women had everything." So one day, the myth continues, the men s t o l e the women's objects while they 57 were out c o l l e c t i n g mussels; they took them hack to t h e i r own camp, and there performed the s p e c i a l sacred dancing. The Djangawul s i s t e r s , coming hack w i t h t h e i r s h e l l f i s h , found t h a t t h e i r rangga had disappeared. They heard, i n the d i s t a n c e , the s i n g i n g of the men; and f i n a l l y they decided t h a t perhaps i t was j u s t as w e l l that the men had taken t h e i r rangga. I t would save them a l o t of t r o u b l e ^ they agreed; now the men could c a r r y out most of the r i t u a l f o r them, while they busied themselves c h i e f l y w i t h r a i s i n g f a m i l i e s and c o l -l e c t i n g food. In t h i s way, t h e i r true f u n c t i o n as F e r t i l i t y Mothers became e s t a b l i s h e d . Such an a t t i t u d e i s not confined to north-eastern Arnhem l a n d , but appears i n the mythology of other A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n a l t r i b e s . However, women s t i l l p l ay an important part i n sacred r i t u a l , f o r instance i n the Kunapipi (Berndty°l951:7-8). There i s them, i n t h i s " v i r i l e " c u l t , a r a t i o n a l e f o r the e x c l u s i o n of women from the core of r e l i g i o u s l i f e and f o r t h e i r being relegated to what are e s s e n t i a l l y a c t i v i t i e s which "maintain". The myth suggests t h a t women accept t h i sexual d i v i s i o n of s o c i a l f u n c t i o n s , yet i t i s a r e l i g i o u s expression of the men. I w i l l deal i n the next chapter w i t h why I t h i n k t h i s r e f l e c t s a s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n which i s oppressive to women i n the senses I have already discussed Several a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s (anthro-apologists?) d e a l i n g w i t h A u s t r a l i a t r y to point out tha t women are not t o t a l l y excluded from r i t u a l s and knowledge of the myths, th a t t h e i r r o l e i s recognized by the men, and tha t t h e i r r e l i -gious status i s t h e r e f o r e p r e t t y w e l l equal to tha t of the 58 m e n — t h e y perform r e c i p r o c a l f u n c t i o n s . I f i n d myself doubtful about t h i s : the statements to t h i s e f f e c t are too o f t e n of the order of "even though women are excluded from, they share i n ...", which seems to me a k i n d of p a r a l l e l i n i n t e l l e c t u a l terms to the very r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n i n v o l v e d i n the myths themselves. This gets us nowhere. The f o l l o w i n g quotation from Berndt i s a case i n p o i n t : Indeed, men s t r e s s that i n the Dreaming Period women i n i t i a l l y possessed a l l sacred r i t u a l , and l o s t i t only through the men's d u p l i c i t y . ...Merely because they do not j o i n i n c e r t a i n of the most sacred mysteries, women do not f e e l " l e f t out" of t h i n g s , or pushed aside i n t o what has been termed by some w r i t e r s a profane e x i s t e n c e , w i t h attendant f e e l i n g s of i n f e r i o r i t y . On the c o ntrary, they r e a l i z e they have a supplementary f u n c t i o n i n maintaining camp dancing, and answering the men's r i t u a l i s t i c c a l l s from the sacred ground. I t i s necessary, f o r i n s t a n c e , that they prepare food f o r the men a t such times, and observe c e r t a i n tabus. ...This i s simply a normal extension of the sexual d i v i s i o n of labour and a c t i v i t y (1951:18-19). Yes, i t c e r t a i n l y i s . To t u r n to the Wauwalak c y c l e , which according to Berndt has a " f a r more general a p p l i c a t i o n " than the Djangawul (1951:9): the Djangawul myth expresses mostly what appears to be indigenous d o c t r i n e f o r the Y i r r k a l l a (those Aborigines Berndt i s concerned w i t h ) , and the Wauwalak S i s t e r s are c h i l d r e n of the Djangawul. (The 59 Kunapipi myth and r i t u a l i s a s t i l l l a t e r i n t r o d u c t i o n to the area.) The Wauwalak S i s t e r s are s a i d to have l e f t t h e i r Dreaming home a f t e r committing c l a n i n c e s t . At some point during .their t r a v e l s towards Arnhem Land — i t depends on which v e r s i o n , from which area, i s followed (Warner, 1958:250-59; Berndt, 1951:19-27) they have c h i l d r e n , or one of them has a c h i l d . The a f t e r b i r t h blood and/or menstrual blood p o l l u t e s the sacred w e l l where l i v e s the great Rainbow Serpent, the impregnating or male symbol (Bemdt, 1951:12 and 21), who devours them and the c h i l d ( c h i l d r e n ) . But t h e i r s p i r i t s r e l a t e the sacred r i t u a l knowledge to two Dreaming men. This i n c l u d e s the o r i g i n of c i r c u m c i s i o n (Warner, 1958:258). Among the Y i r r k a l l a , the Wauwalak are s a i d to be the daughters of the Great Mother, Kunapipi. She i s s a i d to be r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the constant f e r t i l i t y of human beings and other n a t u r a l species, and the c o n t i n u -i n g sequence of the seasons, as w e l l as f o r the general s i m i l a r i t y of her r i t u a l , emblems and songs (Berndt, 1951:xxv). Throughout the g r e a t e r part of the Northern T e r r i t o r y the concept of a F e r t i l i t y Mother i s found. She i s the d i r e c t or i n d i r e c t i n s p i r a t i o n of a l l r e l i g i o u s thought and a c t i v i t y . She i s the c e n t r a l theme of the Kunapipi ceremonies. Indeed, Kunapipi i s one of her sacred names. Her " e t e r n a l " pre-sence throws new l i g h t on the p h i l o -of totemism i n t h i s r e g i o n , f o r i t was she, h e r s e l f without a totem, who brought the totems i n t o being ( 1 9 5 1 : x x v i i ) . 60 Keeping i n mind what de Beauvoir says about why woman's place i n r e l i g i o n as a f e r t i l i t y goddess does not at a l l mean that she has a s i m i l a r l y high status i n s o c i a l l i f e , i t becomes understandable that Aboriginal women do not part i c i p a t e equally with the men i n the Kunapipi and other cul t s centred around the Wauwalak myth, l e t alone i n the " v i r i l e " Djangawul c u l t . I f women were excluded from the "inside" ( i . e . , from the sacred) because of men"s d u p l i c i t y , then t h i s d u p l i c i t y continues with s o c i a l practice. Berndt's and others' attempts to stress an essen t i a l equality seem to me rather to be almost apologies f o r f a i l i n g to come to grips with the basic question of sexual separation — of men as sacred and women as profane. The profanity of women seems to be implied i n the Wauwalak myth i t s e l f : By leaving the women i n t h i s way, [the animals] t r i e d to indicate that the well was tabu, and that i t was against the r e l i g i o u s code to Oook or s i t near i t . But the women did not r e a l i z e the mistake they were making (Berndt, 1951:21). I understand these myths, then, as j u s t i f y i n g the s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n by explaining i t as derived from origins i n the Dreaming. The explanation, the mythical knowledge, i s primarily the prerogative of the males, and the i n i t i a t e s into the f e r t i l i t y c u l t are male. This c i r c l e 61 of r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n leaves the oppressors g u i l t l e s s i n terms of the s o c i a l context. I t i s noteworthy t h a t the s u b i n c i s i o n of the penis i n the Kunapipi ceremony i s seen as a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the uterus (Berndt 1951:16). Does the male come to s y m b o l i c a l l y perform the one f u n c t i o n which i s otherwise granted to women as thsir domain?4^ How does a l l t h i s t i e i n w i t h the conception of woman as the Other? Perhaps at f i r s t the i d e a of woman as the Other as a r e s u l t of her not sharing i n man's e x i s t i n g as over against nature does not seem to hold up here. A f t e r a l l , the Aborigines are h i g h l y conscious of the i n t e r -relatedness of a l l forms of l i f e . T h e i r myths can even be seen as maps of the a c t u a l p h y s i c a l geography i n which they l i v e , e x p l a i n i n g the existence of the precious watgr-h o l e s , f o r example, and the c y c l e of the seasons and r e -l a t e d supply of food. The food s i t u a t i o n i n Arnhem Land, l a r g e l y a c o a s t a l area, i s n ' t a d i f f i c u l t one, and i t would be hard to imagine the people f e e l i n g at the mercy of a c r u e l nature(Berndt, 1951:2). Yet i n p e r c e i v i n g the r e l a t i o n s h i p s , Aborigines seem to say a l s o that they may cease to work f o r the b e n e f i t of people i f people do not express t h e i r d i s t i n c t l y human part i n the whole i n a d i s t i n c t l y human way. The cosmos i s turned i n , as i t were, on man. I t s transforming energy i s 62 threaded on to the l i v e s of i n d i v i d u a l s so that nothing happens i n the way of storms, sickness, bl i g h t s or droughts except i n virtue of these personal l i n k s . So the universe i s man-centred i n the sense that i t must be interpreted by reference to humans (Mary Douglas,1966:103-4). Perhaps de Beauvoir's view of transcendence may be too Western to apply i t here i n a l i t e r a l way, but I w i l l s t i l l use i t as a reference point. The p o s i t i o n of humans with respect to the rest of nature i s mediated by symbols as well as by manual to o l s . Por the Aborigines, there i s s t i l l a f e e l i n g of a p o t e n t i a l l y uncertain outcome of the natural process. The purpose of r i t u a l i s ... primarily, to ensure the continuation of the human specieBj the increase of a l l other animals, birds, f i s h , vegetable matter, and so on, i s only an adjunct to the main theme (Berndt, 1951:6). Is t h i s why women are so much excluded from r e l i g i o u s knowledge and a c t i v i t y ? The emphasis on woman i s as a f e r t i l e source, without which s o c i a l l i f e would be impossible, but from which i t i s quite d i s t i n c t ( — " i t was she, herself without a totem, who brought the totems into being"). Woman i s i d e n t i f i e d then more with nature than with human-kind as d i s t i n c t from nature. It i s the f e r t i l i t y of t h e i r women, too, which men want to increase by t h e i r ceremonies. Perhaps subincision as referred to indicates a mistrust that women's f e r t i l i t y would work f o r the benefit of society 63 i f l e f t up to them. Contact w i t h the source of power, of f e r t i l i t y , can only be made by the men because women are seen by men as too i d e n t i f i e d w i t h that very source. (The "mistake" of the Wauwalak S i s t e r s comes to mind.) When the realm of nature was a l l there was, i n the Dreaming, woman possessed the sacred knowledge and o b j e c t s ; but, according to t h i s r e l i g i o n , i f s o c i e t y i s to f u n c t i o n , the sacred must be the prerogative of man. (b) The BaMbuti Pygmies The woman i s not d i s c r i m i n a t e d a g a i n s t i n BaMbuti s o c i e t y as she i s i n some A f r i c a n s o c i e t i e s . She has a f u l l and important r o l e to p l a y . There i s r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e s o c i a l i z a t i o n according to sex. Even the hunt i s a j o i n t e f f o r t . A man i s not ashamed to p i c k mushrooms and nuts i f he f i n d s them, or to wash and c l e a n a baby. A woman i s f r e e to take part i n the d i s c u s s i o n s of men, i f she has something r e l e v a n t to say ( T u r a b u l l , 1962:154). The nature of BaMbuti hunting i n the I t u r i Forest i s such that c h i l d r e n can be i n c l u d e d . T u r n b u l l mentions a nine-year-old on one hunt. The women and younger c h i l d r e n a c t as beaters and noisemakers to d r i v e the game i n t o the men's J i e t s (1962:99-102). The huts which they share w i t h t h e i r husbands are women's property, and they can break up a marriage by t a k i n g down the hut (1962:132-3). 64 Yet there are some points i n The Forest People which seem to me to i n d i c a t e t h a t male-female r e l a t i o n s h i p s are not t o t a l l y r e c i p r o c a l . Marriage i s by s i s t e r exchange. Not t a k i n g t h i s to imply i n e v i t a b l e i n e q u a l i t y , there i s s t i l l a suggestion that women are not as f r e e as men regard-i n g marriage. While they may not i n the end be forced i n t o a r e l a t i o n s h i p against t h e i r w i l l , i t appears t h a t there can be heavy o p p o s i t i o n i n the form of c o l l e c t i v e o p i n i o n and even r a t h e r b r u t a l beatings (1962:204;207ff.). And there i s an instance described by Turn b u l l of a s i t u a t i o n where the women seem to be seen p a r t l y as o b j e c t s , i n the sense of being means f o r the men of saying something to each other: Amabosu countered by smacking [his wife] f i r m l y across the f a c e . Normally Ekianga would have approved of such manly asser-t i o n of a u t h o r i t y over a d i s l o y a l w i f e , but as the wife was h i s s i s t e r he r e t a l i a t e d by going i n t o h i s hut and dragging out Kamaikan [Amabosu's s i s t e r , Ekianga's wife} whom he i n t u r n p u b l i c l y smacked across her face (1962:122-3). To t u r n to the sphere of r e l i g i o n : ... when something b i g goes wrong, l i k e i l l n e s s or bad hunting o r death, i t must be because the f o r e s t i s s l e e p i n g and not l o o k i n g a f t e r i t s c h i l d r e n . So what. do we do? We wake i t up. We wake i t up by s i n g i n g to i t , and we do t h i s because we want i t to awaken happy. Then every-t h i n g w i l l be w e l l and good again (1962:92). 65 The Pygmies c a l l out the molimo on such occasions. It i s a trumpet-like thing, made of anything from wood to rusty drainpipes, through which they sing and make animal sounds. The molimo seemed to Turnbull to he the one aspect of social l i f e which was exclusively male. When the men come clamour-ing through the camp with the molimo, the women and children must he inside, or risk their lives — so i t i s said. The women supposedly believe that the molimo sounds are those of some great animal or s p i r i t of the forest which only the men can control. Yet Turnbull found out that this i s a l l pretense — the women know i t i s a trumpet, and the men know the women know ... . Por on the occasion of the particular molimo ceremony coinciding with the period of i n i t i a t i o n for several of the g i r l s , the g i r l s sing, and lead the singing of, the sacred molimo songs around the sacred hearth. But what i s more, the very old and respected woman who has come from a neighbouring group to teach and guide the g i r l i nitiates goes through through a r i t u a l struggle with the men. She scatters and almost puts out the sacred f i r e , with her kicks; the men pile i t up again. The process i s repeated twice more, before the old woman desists. She then ties a l l the men to each other around their necks. One of the^men, Moke, says: "This woman has tied us up. She has bound the men, bound the hunt, and bound the molimo. We can do nothing" (1962:155). They give the woman 66 something as a token of t h e i r defeat, and are then f r e e d (I962:150ff.). There i s an o l d legend that once i t was the women who "owned" the molimo, hut the men s t o l e i t from them and ever since the women have been f o r -bidden to see i t (1962:154). Turn b u l l continues by asking whether the o l d woman, i n k i c k i n g the f i r e of l i f e i n a l l d i r e c t i o n s , i s destroy-i n g i t or g i v i n g i t to the men. I t seems to me tha t her power to do both i s i m p l i e d . The p a r a l l e l s between t h i s and the A u s t r a l i a n s i t u a t i o n are s t r i k i n g indeed. What de Beauvoir says about "mankind" .vs.. nature goes to the depths and o r i g i n s of human con-sciousness i t s e l f . The power of woman, l i k e the power of nature, i s ambiguous as f a r as i t concerns human s o c i e t y . To assure that the f o r e s t keeps the good of people i n mind, the communion w i t h the power of the f o r e s t i s e f f e c t e d through the man. ( i v ) Further R e f l e c t i o n s This s e c t i o n i s an attempt to t i e i n the preceding d i s c u s s i o n on p a r t i c u l a r myths and r e l a t e d r i t u a l s w i t h some of the b a s i c ideas I have put forward so f a r i n the 67 paper — to do t h i s i n a more e x p l i c i t way than was, I t r u s t , i m p l i c i t i n the d i s c u s s i o n i t s e l f . Here I work w i t h and through some of the fundamental ideas presented by Mary Douglas i n P u r i t y and Danger, and I should mention that much of what I am expressing came together f o r me as a r e s u l t of reading t h i s book a couple of years ago. I c e r t a i n l y remember the f e e l i n g then of communication w i t h a kindred s p i r i t . As I quoted her i n the previous d i s c u s s i o n on the A b o r i g i n e s , "... the universe i s man-centred i n the sense that i t must be i n t e r p r e t e d w i t h reference to humans". I have been saying, i n reference to the Arnhem Landers and the BaMbuti, why I t h i n k that i n order to ensure that the universe i s man*centred, using "man" to mean human s o c i e t y , then i t must be man-centred i n r i t u a l , "man" meaning "male". At l e a s t t h i s i s seen so i n these r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s , perhaps more so i n the case of the Arnhem Landers. Why i s i t that these c u l t u r e s have myths and r i t u a l s i n which t h e i r everyday r e l i g i o u s expressions of the r e l a -t i o n s h i p between themselves and the universe are put i n such a l i g h t of r e l a t i v i t y ? These seem to be examples of ... c u l t s which i n v i t e t h e i r i n i t i a t e s to t u r n round and confront the cat e g o r i e s on which t h e i r whole surrounding c u l t u r e has been b u i l t up and to recognize them f o r the f i c t i v e , man-made a r b i t r a r y ; c r e a t i o n s that they are (Douglas,1966:200) . 68 The way i n which t h i s happens i n r i t u a l i n v o l v e s an accept-i n g i n t o a c t u a l experience ( i n the r i t u a l context) of some-t h i n g which i n any other s i t u a t i o n would be u t t e r l y con-t r a r y to s o c i a l p r a c t i c e , and p o l l u t i n g i n the sense of t h r e a t e n i n g the order which r e l i g i o n guarantees as the t r u t h of t h i n g s . Such i s the nature of the pangolin c u l t among the Lele people, w i t h whom Douglas l i v e d (1966:199-201). The pangolin i s a s c a l y anteater which climbs t r e e s and suckles i t s young, which i t bears, u n l i k e other animals, one at a time. I t i s an anomaly — i t i s contrary to the whole conceptual order according to which animal species are d i s t i n g u i s h e d from each other. No one may eat i t , except i n the pangolin c u l t i n i t i a t i o n s , as i t d e f i e s the s t r u c t u r e of the Lele world. S i m i l a r l y , V i c t o r Turner says of the i n i t i a t e s among the neighbouring Ndembu that they are secluded i n the bush or di s g u i s e d w i t h masks or p a i n t , "... since i t i s a paradox, a scandal, to see what ought not to be there!" (1967:98) The i n i t i a t e s , by v i r t u e of being i n a t r a n s i t i o n a l s t a t e , are not i n the s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e . Now i t i s these very things which do not f i t i n t o the s t r u c t u r e which are the source of the power i n terms of which i t f u n c t i o n s : the f e r t i l e v o i d , so to speak. Douglas says these r i t u a l s are i n a sense t u r n i n g weeds and c u t t i n g s i n t o compost (1966:193). Outside of the s t r u c t u r e , one i s i n the realm of danger, yet i t i s a l s o 69 the "... realm of pure p o s s i b i l i t y whence novel c o n f i g u r a -t i o n s of ideas and r e l a t i o n s may a r i s e " ( T u r n e r , 1967:97). Order can only come out of i n i t i a l chaos: I t i s only by exaggerating the d i f f e r e n c e between w i t h i n and w i t h -out, above and below, male and female, w i t h and a g a i n s t , that a semblance of order i s created (Douglas,1966:15). Back again at the fundamental d u a l i t y i n human consciousness. Now, I s a i d i n Chapter 2 t h a t , although the process of e s t a b l i s h i n g these d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n s i s made e x p l i c i t , and thereby transcended, i n some r i t u a l s , t h i s does not mean that the s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s i s f u l l y grasped by each p a r t i -c i p a n t . Well, perhaps i n the BaMbuti s i t u a t i o n i t i s grasped; but i n a very r e a l sense, only i n the r i t u a l con-t e x t — because i n l i f e as i t i s l i v e d every day the d i s c r i m i n a tions are s t i l l o perative and they have very r e a l e f f e c t s on what i n d i v i d u a l s experience. And a c t u a l l y , i n the A u s t r a l i a n s i t u a t i o n , given t h a t women do not even p a r t i c i p a t e q u a l l y , or r e c i p r o c a l l y , i n the very r i t u a l s i n which the female p r i n c i p l e i s appreciated, there i s not what can l e g i t i m a t e l y be c a l l e d a c o n f r o n t a t i o n w i t h "the categories on which t h e i r whole surrounding c u l t u r e has been b u i l t up". Because t h i s c o n f r o n t a t i o n i s denied to the women. While on the one hand the men may recognize these c a t e g o r i e s f o r the " f i c t i v e , man-made a r b i t r a r y c r e a t i o n s t h a t they are", even to the extent of r e a l i z i n g that t h i s means they are not 70 "woman-made", on the other hand they continue t o perpetuate the same deception w i t h which the myth c r e d i t s t h e i r male ancestors. Douglas says: ... as l i f e must be a f f i r m e d , the most complete p h i l o s o p h i e s , as W i l l i a m James put i t , must f i n d some u l t i m a t e way of a f f i r m i n g that which has been r e j e c t e d (1966:193). I cannot see the philosophy of the Arnhem Landers as being complete, as being s p i r i t u a l . There i s no a f f i r m a t i o n at a l l , because a f f i r m a t i o n of what has been r e j e c t e d i s denied to those who have been r e j e c t e d . In both t h i s and the BaMbuti s i t u a t i o n , there i s nothing s p i r i t u a l about whatever r e a l i z a t i o n s e x p l i c i t l y occur, as they are not put i n t o p r a c t i c e — they are not moral d e c i s i o n s . I would say f u r t h e r , then, that i f the r i t u a l exper-ience of the a r b i t r a r y nature of the s o c i a l order i s i t s e l f d i f f e r e n t i a t e d from s o c i a l l i f e , then there has been no true a f f i r m a t i o n of what has been r e j e c t e d — there i s s t i l l a hanging on to the ego. Perhaps i t seems I am asking the impossible of human beings; but I do not th i n k i t strange to pursue some s o r t of m i l l e n a r i a n v i s i o n . Our s o c i e t y i s i n such a s t a t e of chaos — the c a p i t a l i s t Protestant e t h i c i s no longer f e l t by many to guarantee perception of the t r u t h of th i n g s — t h a t , while p e r c e i v i n g our misfortune, we are a l s o able to perceive the "realm of pure p o s s i b i l i t y " . And however 71 c y n i c a l we may be about the r e a l i z a t i o n of t h i s p e r c e p t i o n , our l i v e s can have no growth and no meaning i f our experience i s n ' t open to f u l f i l l i n g the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of our v i s i o n , however p a i n f u l t h i s may be. P u r i t y i s the enemy of change, of ambiguity and compromise. ... The f i n a l paradox of the search f o r p u r i t y i s that i t i s an attempt to for c e experience i n t o l o g i c a l categories of non-contra-d i c t i o n . But experience i s not amenable and those who make the attempt f i n d themselves l e d i n t o c o n t r a d i c t i o n (Douglas, 1966:192). 72 FOOTNOTES 1 Although the condom i s now manufactured as a cont r a -c e p t i v e , i t was o r i g i n a l l y developed as a p r o p h y l a c t i c , to prevent men from catching venereal diseases. Ashley-Montagu, M.F., Coming Into Being Among the A u s t r a l i a n Aborigines (London: Rou-fcledge, 1937), pp772-3. Kenelm Burridge has pointed out to me t h a t i n no c u l t u r e i s there what can r i g h t l y be c a l l e d "natural" c h i l d -b i r t h : the p o s i t i d n of the woman's body i s always p r e s c r i b e d i n some way. This seems to be the s i t u a t i o n i n our own Western c u l t u r e : Freudian l o g i c has succeeded i n con-v e r t i n g c h i l d b i r t h , an impressive f e -male accomplishment, and the only func-t i o n i t s r a t i o n a l e permits her, i n t o no-t h i n g more than a hunt f o r a male organ. I t somehow becomes the male prerogative even to give b i r t h , as babies are but surrogate penises. The female i s bested at the only f u n c t i o n Freudian theory recommends f o r her, reproduction ( M i l l e t t , 1 9 7 0 : 185). 73 CHAPTER 4 THE POSITION OP WOMEN AMONG THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES In this chapter I continue to refer to the information and ideas presented by Warner and Berndt, but I am also largely concerned with discussing Phyllis Kaberry's book, Aboriginal Woman: Sacred and Profane (1939). (Kaberry's research was done among the natives of the Kimberly area to the west of North-eastern Arnhem Land.) Kaberry contests the assertion made by many anthropologists that women in Australia represent the profane element of society, that their social personalities are not at a l l sacred (e.g., 1939:xi). It i s my contention that she indulges i n the same kinds of apologies for Aboriginal society's view and treatment of women as I pointed out, for instance, i n the writing of Berndt. She says: • • • though perhaps [the women] have only a minor role i n some of the ceremonies, s t i l l , nevertheless, like the men, they 74 have a d i r e c t l i n k w i t h the s p i r i t u a l f o r c e s on which existence depends . . . ( 1 9 3 9 : 1 9 1 ) . And f u r t h e r : ... the o l d women o f t e n attended to the ceremonies f o r l i l y - r o o t s , f i s h , w i l d -honey, yams, and f r u i t — i n f a c t , most of the foods f o r which they forage, ... The po i n t i s an important one i n cons i d e r i n g the p o s i t i o n of women i n r e l i g i o n , f o r they not only b e n e f i t w i t h the r e s t of the community from the r e s u l t s of these ceremonies, but i n old age they take part i n them (1939:204) . Now, to say tha t women a l s o b e n e f i t from food increase ceremonies and are thereby included i n r e l i g i o u s l i f e i s to my mind a meaningless argument. I f they d i d not eat then there would be no people to consider i n the f i r s t p l a c e . Well then, to play the d e v i l ' s advocate, suppose there must be a reason f o r these foods not being taboo t o women, before r e j e c t i n g t h i s p o i n t of Kaberry's, But she says elsewhere, "... the women supply the bulk of the food and t h e i r work i s more important than that of the men because i t i s c o n s i s t e n t l y more productive" (1939:270-71) . Por women to be forbidden the bulk of the food seems to me an impossible b a s i s f o r the s u r v i v a l of s o c i e t y . As f o r the matter of the p a r t i c i p a t i o n of o l d women: I take t h i s point as a c t u a l l y undermining Kaberry's argument, f o r , as Warner says of the Murngin: 75 The women's group remains r i t u a l l y undifferentiated i n a status sense except for a tendency to give women near or i n the menopause preference over younger women in those ceremonies in which women participate. ...This corresponds with the l i f t i n g of part of the feeling of taboo around the mother-in-law after she loses many of her secondary sexual character-i s t i c s and"gets to be an old woman and looks a l l the same as a man" (Warner,1958:152). The old women are no longer f e r t i l e . Looking back to my point about religion being a prerogative of males, because women are seen as too close to nature to be trusted with channelling i t s energy for the benefit of society, this would not apply, at least so strongly, to women who can no longer bear children. Perhaps this i s also why i t i s an old woman who plays such an important role i n the BaMbuti ri t u a l discussed earlier. As regards the division of labour, Kaberry again traps herself by the very arguments she uses to justify woman's situation, to say that i t i s not really so bad. She says, for instance, that once the evening meal with her family i s finished, a woman must get firewood and water, and see ••• to a l l that pertains to the hearth; but i f this i s to be considered humilia-ting drudgery, i t i s a fate that she shares with many a European woman (1939:34-5). I would say, putting i t mildly, that the universality of 76 oppression i n no way j u s t i f i e s t hat oppression. I f , being a woman, Kaberry was able t o experience the woman's s i t u a t i o n and p o i n t of view more d i r e c t l y than were male a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s , t h i s does not n e c e s s a r i l y mean t h a t what she understands of t h e i r s i t u a t i o n i s the most v a l u -able i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of i t . This may seem to the reader to be a male c h a u v i n i s t a t t i t u d e on my p a r t . I t h i n k , on the c o n t r a r y , that Kaberry i s caught up, as are A u s t r a l i a n and European women a l i k e , i n having to make the most (which i s n ' t much) of l i v i n g i n a male-oriented world. R e f e r r i n g to disputes between people of d i f f e r e n t hordes, and to the f a c t that women do not take part i n a d i r e c t way, but are more l i k e s p e c t a t o r s , she w r i t e s : unless a woman has had a q u a r r e l w i t h her husband, she looks to him f o r p r o t e c t i o n and f e e l s h e r s e l f to be i n a l a r g e measure i d e n t i f i e d w i t h h i s i n t e r e s t s (1939:177). I s i m i l a r l y see Ronald Berndt's opinions as a j u s t i f i c a -t i o n on h i s p a r t f o r h i s own more favourable p o s i t i o n i n the same male-oriented world. I would c r i t i c i z e I s o b e l White's " A b o r i g i n a l Women's Sta t u s : A Paradox Resolved" i n the same manner as I do the work of Kaberry and Berndt. White says: ... A b o r i g i n a l women are partners r a t h e r than pawns or c h a t t e l s of the men, but ... t h e i r s t a t u s i s 77 .everywhere th a t of j u n i o r p a r t n e r . In the conjugal f a m i l y , the k i n s h i p group, and the community, women's r i g h t s and d u t i e s are c l e a r -l y defined and accepted. However the r i g h t s may he harder to enforce than those of the man and i f a woman f a i l s i n her o b l i g a t i o n s , punishment i s l i k e l y to be more severe and more c e r t a i n than f o r a male delinquent, due perhaps t o male s o l i d a r i t y s e l -dom countered by female s o l i d a r i t y (1970:21), The general p i c t u r e I g a i n from the l i t e r a t u r e and from my own personal observation i s t h a t women accept t h i s j u n i o r s t a t u s . They Occasion-a l l y grumble, p a r t i c u l a r l y to other women, and may berate t h e i r husbands, but seldom take any p o s i t i v e combined a c t i o n (1970:23). Although White does poin t out tha t women have a harder time e n f o r c i n g t h e i r r i g h t s , the i d e a of a j u n i o r p a r t n e r seems to ignore her awareness of t h i s s t a t e of a f f a i r s . I t h i n k the a n t h r o p o l o g i s t should ask why women "Seldom take any p o s i t i v e combined a c t i o n " , and not merely i n f e r t h a t because they don't, t h i s means they wouldn't l i k e t o . Is i s , r a t h e r , p r e c i s e l y because women are " j u n i o r p a r t n e r s " , as White describes the paradox of women's s t a t u s ? I do not see i t as a paradox, but as a r e a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n which has only been resolved i n the mind of the anthropo-l o g i s t . I f women were t r u l y partners of any s o r t w i t h men, would combined a c t i o n on t h e i r part be necessary? I suggest, f u r t h e r , that i t seldom occurs because they are not partners but r a t h e r j u n i o r s , and thus do not have the 78 power to make sueh action worthwhile. Power i s i n the hands, of men — as White has said, even women's"rights" do not seem to have the status of men's. I think that may he a reason why, as Kaberry says, women are identified with their husbands' interests: that i s , i t i s the closest they can come to ensuring self-protection. (i) Women as Objects i n the Social Relationships of Men I do not mean to imply that every man treats his wife as a slave, and that whatever she has i n l i f e she has through him. Distinctions must be made between the s i t u -ation of individuals and the social milieu. A woman may be happy with her husband — they may even have eloped i n a marriage which goes against the socially desired pattern of who should marry whom. If a married woman persists i n running away from an arranged marriage (residence being patrilocal) she has her way (Kaberry, 1939:149). If her husband i s too promiscuous for her, she can leave him (1939:144). According to Kaberry, though men may beat their wives for not collecting enough food, a, woman may react the same way to her husband, and bystanders would make sure she was not seriously hurt i n such a quarrel (1939:26;142-43). Warner, however, gives what i s to my 79 mind a l e s s b r i g h t p i c t u r e of the Murngin: Fathers and brothers t r e a t a daughter and s i s t e r a l i k e i n tha t (1) they de-cide to which of her dues f i . e . , o t e n t i a l husbands} she w i l l belong; 2) they stand r e s p o n s i b l e f o r her l o s s by runaway marriage, et c e t e r a ; (3) they beat her f o r misconduct; (4; they supply another daughter and s i s t e r to her dud i f she d i e s or i s s t e r i l e ; and (5)) they come to her as s i s t a n c e i f 8he i s e x c e s s i v e l y mis-t r e a t e d by dud (Warner, 1958:110). Although some of the above i s s i m i l a r to po i n t s made by Kaberry, i t a l s o makes i t c l e a r t h a t the s i t u a t i o n of wives as a whole i s not as favourable as tha t of an i n d i v i d u a l woman may happen to be. Women seem to be obj e c t s mediating the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between men] Warner continues: ... a brother c a l l s h i s s i s t e r "wakinu," i . e . , without r e l a t i v e s , and i f her husband o r anyone e l s e swears at her i n her brother's presence the l a t t e r throws spears at her and at a l l h i s other s i s t e r s , even though they are not i n v o l v e d i n the q u a r r e l (1958:110). I f he attacked her husband, her b r o t h e r would be r i s k i n g a wholesale f i g h t between c l a n s , which i s only seen as worth-while i f the mistreatment of h i s s i s t e r has r e a l l y been b r u t a l . I r o n i c a l l y , to keep the a f f r o n t from touching h i m s e l f and h i s l i n e , the a t t a c k on h i s s i s t e r i s seen as 80 the only way out of the dilemma. Reading Warner, then, i t appears t h a t s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s between men, which concern women, are by no means a l s o con-cerned w i t h women's w e l l b e i n g . They work so as to keep o v e r a l l r e l a t i o n s between p a - t r i l i n e a l groups f u n c t i o n i n g w i t h the l e a s t amount of c o n f l i c t . Kaberry too mentions s i t u a t i o n s where women seem to me to be used as objects mediating male r e l a t i o n s h i p s ' ! For example: The husband would appear t o possess the r i g h t to send h i s w i f e to the group of men who are i n t e n t on p u t t i n g him to death f o r some breach of t r i b a l law. They have i n t e r c o u r s e w i t h her, and r e t u r n home without t a k i n g f u r t h e r steps against him. Some of the women seemed to regard t h i s p a r t i c u l a r p r a c t i c e w i t h d i s l i k e and d i s g u s t (1939:152). I see some of the points she makes to the e f f e c t t h a t there i s a "high value placed upon women" (1939:74) i n the same way. She gives as evidence of t h i s the f a c t s t h a t a husband-to-be must prove h i m s e l f a competent hunter, t h a t he must make g i f t s to h i s a f f i n a l r e l a t i v e s , and tha t he must undergo hardships i n i n i t i a t i o n ceremonies. Again, I cannot see t h i s as i n d i c a t i n g woman's i n t r i n s i c value as a person, recognized by men and s o c i e t y , so much assher economic and p o l i t i c a l value i n i n t e r g r o u p r e l a t i o n s . The o p e r a t i o n of t h i s k i n d of value i s c l e a r among the T i w i of North A u s t r a l i a , as described by Hart and 81 P i l l i n g , who see marriage among these people as a p o l i t i c a l a f f a i r (1960:28). In many n o n l i t e r a t e s o c i e t i e s , i n c l u d i n g most, i f not a l l of the mainland A u s t r a l i a n t r i b e s , there i s a tendency to b e l i e v e t h a t the main purpose i n l i f e f o r a female i s to get married.- The T i w i sub-s c r i b e d t o t h i s i d e a , but f i r m l y c a r r i e d i t to i t s l o g i c a l c o n c l u -s i o n ; namely, t h a t a l l females must get married, re g a r d l e s s of age, c o n d i t i o n , or i n c l i n a t i o n . ... Since any female was l i a b l e to be impregnated by a s p i r i t at any time fsee s e c t i o n ( i i ) of t h i s c h a p t e r ] , the s e n s i b l e step was t o i n s i s t t h a t every female have a husband a l l the time so t h a t i f she d i d become pregnant, the c h i l d would always have a f a t h e r . ... I t can r e a d i l y be seen t h a t these r u l e s — p r e n a t a l b e t r o t h a l of female i n f a n t s and immediate remarriage of a l l widows — e f f e c t i v e l y e l i m i n a t e d a l l p o s s i b i l i t y of an unmarried female from T i w i s o c i e t y (1960:14). ... The r u l e of p r e n a t a l b e t r o t h a l obviously gave a great de a l of power to the person w i t h the r i g h t to be-t r o t h , and i n T i w i t h i s r i g h t be-longed to the husband of the preg-nant woman. ... Put b l u n t l y , i n T i w i c u l t u r e daughters were an asset t o t h e i r f a t h e r , and he i n v e s t e d these assets i n h i s own w e l f a r e . He t h e r e -f o r e bestowed h i s newly b o m daughter on a f r i e n d o r an a l l y , o r someone he wanted as a f r i e n d or an a l l y (1960:14-15). This g e n e r a l l y meant bestowal upon a man of power and i n f l u e n c e , ana o l d e r man, g i v i n g some such men upwards of twenty wives (1960:17). Such extreme polygamy was p o s s i b l e 82 because males, u n l i k e females, d i d not have to marry; and younger men, even up to age f o r t y , were thus u n l i k e l y t o rec e i v e wives. An exception might occur i f a f a t h e r wanted to use h i s daughter as "old-age insurance", ... i n which case he s e l e c t e d as her fu t u r e husband not one of the o l d e r a d u l t men who would be o l d when he him s e l f was o l d , but a l i k e l y l o o k i n g youngster "with promise"... (1960:15)• Granted, s o c i a l value does not n e c e s s a r i l y preclude acceptance as a person. But I t h i n k nevertheless that the s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n does a f f e c t very much the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s s i t u a t i o n . Whatever freedom a person of e i t h e r sex may have, the l i m i t s are always t h e r e , and they are not l i m i t s set by common agreement. One i s born i n t o the game and the r u l e s are s e t . As such they are oppressive to men as w e l l as to women. Yet i t seems c l e a r to me tha t w i t h i n the game women are much l e s s l i k e l y to be able t o make the moves, and that the obstacles to t h e i r f u l f i l l m e n t as i n d i v i d u a l people,are t h e r e f o r e much g r e a t e r . I do not doubt th a t the mysteriousness which i s o f t e n a t t r i b u t e d to women i n our own and other c u l t u r e s (see Chapter 5, s e c t i o n ( i i i ) ) i s to some extent a very r e a l t h i n g : the su b t l e w i e l d i n g of i n f l u e n c e i s an absolute n e c e s s i t y f o r s u r v i v a l i n a game i n which one cannot ex-p l i c i t l y make the moves o n e s e l f . 83 ( i i ) ; T h e R e l a t i o n of S p i r i t # C h i l d r e n B e l i e f s to S o c i a l L i f e In the qu o t a t i o n from Warner i n my i n t r o d u c t o r y chap-t e r , he says: The f i r s t l i f e c r i s e s occurs when the Murngin s o u l , through the f a t h e r ' s mystic experience, leaves the totemic w e l l and enters the womb of the mother (1958:5-6). Such s p i r i t - c h i l d r e n b e l i e f s e x i s t throughout A u s t r a l i a , •5 t h e i r exact form v a r y i n g from place to p l a c e . The question of whether the Aborigines are aware of p h y s i o l o g i c a l p a t e r -n i t y has long been of concern i n a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l l i t e r a t u r e . Ronald and Catherine Berndt, i n The World of the F i r s t  A u s t r a l i a n s , say that there i s an "impressive a r r a y of evidence" from v a r i o u s researchers to support Ashley-Montagu's con t e n t i o n t h a t the Aborigines ... r e a l i z e sexual i n t e r c o u r s e i s necessary f o r conception but do not consider i t to be of major importance: t h a t i t i s not i n i t s e l f a p r e r e q u i s i t e f o r c h i l d b i r t h , but merely prepares the 4 way f o r the entry of a s p i r i t c h i l d (1964:120). But they add that from t h e i r own experience the i s s u e i s no mystery to the people, that the f u n c t i o n of semen i s recog-n i z e d ( i f not a b s o l u t e l y c o r r e c t l y according to u s ) . Warner says t h a t r i t u a l i n t e r c o u r s e i n the Gunabibi (Kunapipi) ceremony •.• completely demonstrates the f a c t t h a t the Murngin r e a l i z e the n e c e s s i t y 84 of sexual intercourse as part of- the reproductive cycle (1958:398), Kaberry says she i s i n agreement with Ashley-Montagu (Ka-herry, 1939:43). It appears to me that these differences of opinion are more as to importance, for conception, of intercourse, rather than as to whether i t i s seen as relevant at a l l , as I think i t can always he said to he. I see the issue as being, more fundamentally, that of the emphasis on the spiritual nature of conception, and the father's leading role i n this spiritual experience. ( I am here using the word '^spiritual" i n the sense that Warner does; that i s , having to do with B p i r i t s ) . Warner writes: The s p i r i t comes to the father who i s to be* and asks for i t s mother so that i t may be born (1958:21) • The Murngin baby comes from the totem well through a religious experience of the father, since i t i s the father who i s i n touch with the totem world of which the mother i s supposed to have no knowledge. The father's mystical dream experience i s i t s e l f a kind of r i t e of passage of the unborn and begins the child's socialization. The father's announcement to the mother of the child's arrival (frequently, i t must be admitted, after she has reported her pregnancy to the father, who has kept silent, he says to test the validity of his experience; changes the father's age-grade status. It removes certain r i t u a l i s t i c food taboos and definitely establishes his place i n the older men's group (1958:159). 85 Why should the father's role be so emphasized? It is thought of i n such a way that the father i s the parent who legitimizes the child: he i s the one whose experience places i t i n the social scheme of things. Kaberry, refer-ring to W. Stanner's research on the .Daly. River tribes, says that "... for a woman who conceives after the death of her husband ahdjrdoes not remarry there i s always a mother's brother to give the child social status". (Kaberry, 1939:105).^ Of the Kimberley beliefs, she writes: Conception occurs when one of these {spirit-children] enters a woman. Its presence i n the food given her by her husband makes her vomit, and later he dreams of i t or else of some animal which he associates with i t . It enters his wife by the foot and she becomes pregnant (1939:42). In her discussion of pregnancy and childbirth, she attempts to show that the mother i s not thought of as having no part i n the child's development. For instance: The observance of taboos after child-birth, bound up with the conception that the activities of the mother influence the child, reaffirms the e-ds existence of a physical t i e , rather than minimizes i t (1939:57). And i n the concluding paragraph of this discussion, she says: [Spirit-children beliefs] can be re-garded as providing an explanation 86 of p r o c r e a t i o n r a t h e r than as d e f i n i n g the f u n c t i o n of women i n the a b o r i g i n a l cosmogony (1939:60). Now, i f the p h y s i c a l t i e between mother and c h i l d i s emphasized, then I do not see how s p i r i t - c h i l d r e n b e l i e f s can be s a i d not to define the place of women i n the cosmo-gony. Rather, I t h i n k t h i s i s p r e c i s e l y t h e i r main func-t i o n — d e f i n i n g woman's place r e l a t i v e to man. Kaberry's c o n c l u s i o n does of course make sense c o n s i d e r i n g her s t a t e -ment tha t the people are ignorant of the true nature of i p h y s i o l o g i c a l p a t e r n i t y . But I doubt the t r u t h of t h a t statement: f i r s t , because s p i r i t - c h i l d r e n b e l i e f s e x i s t throughout A u s t r a l i a , which i n c l u d e s many groups i n which the f a t h e r ' s p h y s i o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n i s understood? second, because r i t u a l i n t e r c o u r s e i n f e r t i l i t y ceremonies i s p r a c t i s e d i n the Kimberley area, and as Warner says, t h i s p r a c t i c e i n d i c a t e s an awareness of the f a t h e r ' s p h y s i o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n . The f a c t t h a t the c h i l d ' s existence as a s o c i a l being depends upon the f a t h e r defines woman's place i n . s o c i a l l i f e as p e r i p h e r a l , j u s t as i t i s r e f l e c t e d (and re-defined) i n the sphere of r i t u a l . 87 ( i i i ) R e l i g i o u s A c t i v i t i e s S everal fundamental myths organize the conceptual scheme of the s o c i a l l i f e and of the outside world which surrounds i t . E laborate community r i t u a l s a l l o w the i n d i v i d u a l by means of symbolic dances, songs, and r i t u a l speech to p a r t i c i p a t e p h y s i c a l l y i n the expression of the group's conceptions of the absolute.(Warner,1958;10). This q u o t a t i o n from Warner s t r i k e s me as a d e s c r i p t i o n of r e l i g i o n as an e x i s t e n t i a l phenomenon, very much as Burridge has d e f i n e d i t . Keeping i n mind t h a t , through p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the r e l i g i o n , one can then transcend i t (having understood the source of the mystery), what then i s the s i t u a t i o n of woman, who, as I discussed to some extent i n the l a s t chap-t e r , d e f i n i t e l y does not p a r t i c i p a t e so i n such expression? I f there i s something going on which she does not know about — except t h a t i t i s going on, and t h a t i t does a f f e c t her — then t h i s i s h a r d l y a favourable p o s i t i o n f o r an understand-i n g of her s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n . To grow s p i r i t u a l l y r e q u i r e s l o o k i n g a t oneself w i t h a q u e s t i o n i n g frame of mind, and a w i l l i n g n e s s to change. This would be exceedingly d i f f i c u l t i f the b a s i s on which one's a r b i t r a r y s o c i a l " s e l f " was c o n s t i t u t e d could not be confronted o u t r i g h t . This i s very c l e a r l y put by Warner: The superordinate male group, made sacred through the r i t u a l i n i t i a t i o n of i t s i n d i v i d u a l members i n t o the 88 sacred group, and maintained as a u n i t by c o n t i n u a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the r i t u a l s , subordinates the female group which i s u n i f i e d by v i r t u e of e x c l u s i o n from the ceremonies and of r i t u a l u n c l e a n l i n e s s . The s u p e r o r d i n a t i o n of the male i s made a mystery by the nexus of m a s c u l i n i t y , sacredness, and the seasonal reproductive c y c l e . W i t h i n t h i s mystery l i e s one of the strongest and most e f f e c t i v e sanctions found i n Murngin s o c i e t y . The male sacredness becomes more sacrosanct and holy as i t progresses i n t o the graded deeper mysteries through the age-graded i n i t i a t i o n s , and t h i s sacredness c o n t r o l s the profane and l e s s sacred elements of s o c i e t y by the i n v o c a t i o n of the d i r e c t negative sanctions of r i t u a l . . . (Warner,1958:394). Warner adds th a t the men are thereby subject to t h i s c o n t r o l as w e l l — yet i t i s they who enforce i t . I would t h i n k , then, t h a t there i s an element of choice f o r them, which s u r e l y does not e x i s t f o r the women. While excluded from p a r t i c i p a t i o n w i t h the men, the women may be expected to c o n t r i b u t e to the e f f i c a c y of the menls r i t e s . The female k i n of a boy being i n i t i a t e d may be o b l i g e d to observe food or speech taboos or to s c a r t h e i r own bodies (R.and C.Berndt, 1964:156). About i n i t i a -t i o n of boys i n the Kimberley area, Kaberry w r i t e s : "The men and e s p e c i a l l y the mother's br o t h e r were p a r t i c u l a r l y angry i f the women d i d not dance w e l l ..." (1939:80). I cannot see t h i s k i n d of p a r t i c i p a t i o n by women as imply-i n g that they are not t o t a l l y excluded from the sacred. I f they do not share i n the core of r e l i g i o u s l i f e , they 89 do not share i n i t at a l l . The part they play i s not f o r themselves, and i s probably by t h a t token more a c c u r a t e l y described as a h u m i l i a t i o n than a s h a r i n g . Yet the men may be i n v o l v e d i n the i n i t i a t i o n of a g i r l , not i n a complementary way, but i n a manner which f o l l o w s the p a t t e r n of r i t u a l a c t i v i t i e s c o n t r o l l e d by men f o r men. The g i r l i s merely an object f o r t h e i r ends. R. and G. Berndt summarize the f o l l o w i n g example of the b r u t a l i t y and h u m i l i a t i o n i n v o l v e d . Roth (1897:174-807 describes v a r i o u s forms which a g i r l ' s i n i t i a t i o n may take. In the B o u l i a d i s t r i c t (Queensland; a pubescent g i r l i s caught by a number of men; they f o r c i b l y enlarge the v a g i n a l o r i f i c e by t e a r i n g i t downward w i t h t h e i r f i n g e r s , which have possum twine wound round them, then have sexual r e l a t i o n s w i t h her, c o l l e c t i n g the semen and l a t e r d r i n k -i n g i t r i t u a l l y . ... A f t e r t h i s she i s permitted to wear a grass n e c k l e t and other decorations, and go to her husband (1964:151). In d i s c u s s i n g the matter of g i r l s ' i n i t i a t i o n o r puberty r i t u a l s throughout A u s t r a l i a , R. and G. Berndt s t a t e t h a t these are never f o r m a l i z e d s o c i a l events i n -v o l v i n g the community as are male i n i t i a t i o n s , and t h a t they l a c k "... the teaching of e s o t e r i c d e t a i l s d i r e c t l y r e l e v a n t t o sacred l i f e " ( 1 9 6 4 : 1 5 5 ) . Kaberry speaks s i m i l a r -l y of the Kimberley n a t i v e s , and says t h a t menstruation i s f o l l o w e d soon by marriage (1939:97). I do not see the f a c t t h a t a boy must prove h i m s e l f ready f o r marriage, i n 90 c o n t r a s t to a g i r l , as i m p l y i n g t h a t the g i r l i s h i g h l y valued. Or r a t h e r I do; hut, as I mentioned p r e v i o u s l y , her value i s l a r g e l y a p o l i t i c a l and economic one as de-f i n e d by men. Her l o s s by her own p a t r i l i n e a l group i s compensated by g i f t s from her husband to them. When she i s married, she i s no lon g e r l i v i n g i n her own horde country. P a t r i l o c a l residence and woman's e x c l u s i o n from r i t u a l knowledge and p r a c t i c e are d i f f e r e n t aspects of the same s o c i a l scheme: ...the p a r t i c u l a r myths and ceremonies are unique and completely s p e c i a l i s t , i n so f a r as a man's l i n e a g e binds him to sacred s i t e s i n a p a r t i c u l a r t e r r i t o r y . ..• increase ceremonies can only be c a r r i e d out by members of the horde, or the o l d women who are wives of the headmen. The totemic corroborees can only be performed by members of the horde (Kaberry, 1939:138). ' As part of her argument th a t women are to some extent sacred, Kaberry says t h a t they possess many of the totems which men possess. Yet she says t h a t although women have c u l t totems, which are as s o c i a t e d w i t h hordes and c e r t a i n corroborees performed at i n i t i a t i o n ceremonies, they do not p a r t i c i p a t e i n , o r even witness, these c o r r o -borees. There i s an i n t e r e s t i n g p a r a l l e l between t h i s and those myths which t e l l of woman once possessing the sacred o b j e c t s , which Kaberry points out (1939:201). I n r e a l i t y as w e l l as myth, women are not i n a p o s i t i o n to w i e l d the 91 sacred totemic powers associated w i t h the horde country of t h e i r b i r t h . As was already i n d i c a t e d to some extent i n the quota-t i o n from Warner on the " s u p e r o r d i n a t i o n of the male", the e x c l u s i v e r e l i g i o u s h e r i t a g e of men gives them p o l i t i c a l power over women. Kaberry says that the women cgnnot, un-l i k e the men, assemble the hordes f o r t h e i r own corroborees ( a c t i v i t i e s which I w i l l d i s c u s s s h o r t l y ) , mete out punish-ment, go to war, conduct proceedings at horde gatherings, e t c . (1939:179). She continues: I t i s d o u b t f u l i f the women were conscious of t h e i r p o l i t i c a l s u b o r d i n a t i o n as a disadvantage. I never encountered any s u f f r a g e t t e s , p o t e n t i a l or m i l i t a n t ; p o s s i b l y they were not needed apart from the d e s i r a b i l i t y of a l i t t l e more p u b l i c i t y f o r feminine p u r s u i t s . C e r t a i n l y i t d i d not undermine t h e i r s t a t u s and the r i g h t s they enjoyed i n other spheres (1939:180). Which i s q u i t e a f l i p p a n t way to t r e a t such an i s s u e . (I would c r i t i c i z e t h i s statement i n the same way as I d i d White's suggestion t h a t women accept, t h e i r j u n i o r status:: they have no choice i n the matter.) Why are there separate "feminine p u r s u i t s " i n the f i r s t place? Women have some of t h e i r own myths (1939:202) as w e l l as t h e i r own cereminies, which are kept s e c r e t from the men. In one inst a n c e Kaberry d e s c r i b e s women as curious but not jealous about male r i t e s (1939:201-2), yet she says of the s i x women's corroborees 92 she witnessed t h a t , i n a l l of them, the women l e f t camp proud of having men at a disadvantage (1939:260). Anyway, as A. P. E l k i n p o i n t s out i n h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n to A b o r i g i n a l Woman, women's corroborees:"... are not Dream Time [ i . e . , part of the mythic t r a d i t i o n which sanc-t i o n s the s o c i a l system], but are c o l l e c t i v e r i t e s f o r l o v e magic, derived u l t i m a t e l y from the dead " (1939:xxix). And White (who d i d f i e l d - w o r k i n South A u s t r a l i a ) says: Prom my personal o b s e r v a t i o n and from the l i t e r a t u r e I am sure t h a t even the women consider t h e i r ceremonies l e s s important to the whole s o c i e t y than the men's. The a t t i t u d e of both sexes i s that women perform ceremonies f o r pur-poses that concern women, whereas men's ceremonies concern the whole s o c i e t y (19^0:23). E l k i n , again, continues: We must remember that women may be independent, powerful, and s p i r i t u a l , and yet be profane, or outside of that •Sphere of sacred b e l i e f and r i t u a l , admission to which i s by r e l i g i o u s i n i t i a t i o n (1939: x x x ) . While I b a s i c a l l y agree w i t h t h i s statement i n i t s e l f , I do not t h i n k women are powerful i n the s i t u a t i o n i t r e f e r s t o . And I t h i n k that " s p i r i t u a l " should r e f e r more e x a c t l y to that p o t e n t i a l f o r growth i n every person: although such growth may be p o s s i b l e here, i t would very l i k e l y not be an untrammelled i n d i v i d u a l e x p r e s s i o n i n a s o c i e t y where women 93 do not seem t o be regarded as people to the extent t h a t men are. (I have discussed t h i s problem i n Chapter 3, s e c t i o n ( i ) . ) Rather,, i t would l i k e l y be defined w i t h respect t o , and i n o p p o s i t i o n t o , the freedom of men. As Warner w r i t e s of the Djungguan ceremony: . Sometimes an o l d woman ..* goes through the camp snatching the men's spears from them and th r e a t e n i n g the younger women w i t h the weapons. She i s t a k i n g a t h r e e -f o l d rOle i n t h i s r i t u a l a c t : (1) expres-s i n g the antagonism of the women'sudivi-^ s i o n of the sex and age s t r u c t u r e toward the men's d i v i s i o n ; (2) d i s c i p l i n i n g the younger women and thereby i n c r e a s i n g the s o l i d a r i t y of the women's d i v i s i o n ; (3) a c t i n g the part of a very o l d woman, which gives her s p e c i a l p r i v i l e g e s , since o l d women are "more l i k e a man"... (Warner,1958:292). Kaberry says women have a profane a t t i t u d e to men, and t h e r e f o r e the men aren't more sacred (1939:230). E l k i n says t h i s reads too much i n t o "sacred": The p o i n t i s that the men are not p r i e s t s , or holy persons as d i s t i n c t from the women, but are members of a se c r e t s o c i e t y of a r e l i g i o u s c haracter, and ... i t i s j u s t "men's business" (1939:XXX ) . Yet I t h i n k we must consider the f a c t , as Kaberry appears to me to be r e l u c t a n t to do, tha t men's business i s women's business whether they l i k e i t o r not: i t a f f e c t s women, but women have no say i n i t . Or i f they do, i t i s by i n d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e ; and however e f f e c t i v e t h i s may be, the f a c t t h a t 94 auch t a c t i c s are necessary c o n s t i t u t e s an oppression. Men's business happens to be what A b o r i g i n a l s o c i e t y i s based upon. Men's c o n t r o l of women i s u s u a l l y e x p l i c i t and d i r e c t . This i s probably why, i n A u s t r a l i a g e n e r a l l y , "...men do not appear to r e a c t to menstruation w i t h d i s g u s t o r ho r r o r ; nor are women l a b e l l e d 'unclean' at t h i s time... (R. and C. Berndt, 1964:154-5). Mary Douglas suggests ( r e f e r r i n g to the W a l b i r i of C e n t r a l A u s t r a l i a ): When male dominance i s accepted as a c e n t r a l p r i n c i p l e of s o c i a l organiza-t i o n and a p p l i e d without i n h i b i t i o n and w i t h f u l l r i g h t s of p h y s i c a l co-e r c i o n , b e l i e f s i n sex p o l l u t i o n are not l i k e l y to be h i g h l y developed (1966:168-69). However e n e r g e t i c a l l y they may t r y t o seduce one another's wives the men are 1 i n p e r f e c t accord on one p o i n t . They are agreed that they should never a l l o w t h e i r sexual d e s i r e s t o give an i n d i v i # u dual woman ba r g a i n i n g power or scope f o r i n t r i g u e (1966:168). The p s y c h o l o g i c a l c o n s t r a i n t s of p o l l u t i o n b e l i e f s are the r e f o r e unnecessary, as the system b u t t r e s s e s i t s e l f e x p l i c i t l y . 95 (iv) Technology, Economic Functions, and the Position of Women Although I suggested earlier (Chapter 3» section (iii)(a)) that i n applying de Beauvoir's ideas i t i s advisable to see the relation of people to nature as mediated by symbols as well as by manual tools, Warner suggests a possible correla-tion between the sexual division of technological and eco-nomic functions and the exclusion of women from religious knowledge and act i v i t i e s , which I think deserves consideration. The Murngin man handles more complicated tools and weapons, and uses more complex techniques in.making and using them than does his female kinswoman; i t i s one of the theses of this, book that a man's social value i s correspondingly more important, and his place i n rituals i s partly due to and partly expresses this fact (1958:6). The ultimate i n such activities i s the hunting of turtles, which also involves making harpoons and canoes, and sailing (1958:134). Warner does not suggest that women are restricted regarding participation in these pursuits because they are innately less able to do so ef f i c i e n t l y . Kaberry, however, says that men hunt because they are faster and have greater powers of endurance (1939:14). I have dealt with these.arguments i n the second chapter. If women have less endurance, i t i s not innate, but the result of different training, which centres around the expectation that they w i l l have children — one cannot take 96 a c h i l d on the hunt, which J u d i t h Brown po i n t s to as the crux of the matter, Warner says i t i s impossible to t e l l whether the te c h -n o l o g i c a l s i t u a t i o n i s the cause of the r e l i g i o u s one, or v i c e - v e r s a (1958:134). I suggest t h a t they are both r e f l e c t i o n s , i n the realm of s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n , of the f a c t t h a t only women bear c h i l d r e n . 97 FOOTNOTES 1 1 Given, what seems t o me a f r e q u e n t l y o c c u r r i n g popu-l a r misconception, I f e e l I should mention the f o l l o w i n g : the f a c t t h a t a s o c i e t y i s m a t r i l i n e a l does not mean i t t i s m a t r i a r c h a l ; though descent may be reckoned through the mother, power s t i l l r e s t s i n the hands of males. There are no known m a t r i a r c h a l s o c i e t i e s . I n m a t r i l i n e a l as w e l l as p a t r i l i n e a l s o c i e t i e s , women can be obj e c t s f o r men. 2 A s i m i l a r view of women i n Hindu c i v i l i z a t i o n i s di s c u s s e d i n Chapter 5. 5 For a summary of s p i r i t - c h i l d r e n b e l i e f s throughout A u s t r a l i a , see R. and C. Berndt ( i 9 6 4 : 1 2 0 f f . ) . 4 Ashley-Montagu, M.F., Coming Into Being Among the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s (London: Routledge, 1937), p.111; "Ignorance of P h y s i o l o g i c a l P a t e r n i t y i n Sec u l a r Knowledge and Orthodox B e l i e f among the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s " ^ Oceania, V o l . X I , No. 1, p.111. J Kaberry i s r e f e r r i n g to V/.E.H. Stanner, "The Daly R i v e r T r i b e s — A Report of Field-work i n North A u s t r a l i a " , Oceania, Vol.IV, p.17. ^ W.E. Roth, E t h n o l o g i c a l Studies Among the North-West-Central Queensland A b o r i g i n e s (Brisbane: Government P r i n t e r , 1897), pp.174-80. ••' R. and C. Berndt (1964:120) say "corroboree" i s a white A u s t r a l i a n word r e f e r r i n g g e n e r a l l y to s o c i a l gather-i n g s on a l a r g e s c a l e , and t h a t i t confuses sacred and non-sacred events. Kaberry (1939:6) says i t i s an A b o r i g i n a l term f o r a dance. I n the in s t a n c e r e f e r r e d to here, i t appears she means that t h i s i s a sacred r i t u a l . r 98 CHAPTER .5 THE KAMA SUTRA ( i ) I n t r o d u c t i o n The Kama Sutr a , meaning "aphorisms on l o v e " , was w r i t t e n i n I n d i a by Vatsyayana sometime between the f i r s t and the f o u r t h c e n t u r i e s A.D..1 The author was t o a great extent compiling m a t e r i a l from previous works on the subject by v a r i o u s authors i n the Hindu t r a d i t i o n . ^ I w i l l be showing i n t h i s chapter t h a t the Kama Sutra i s a male-oriented work. I t appears t o be concerned w i t h the happiness of women only i n s o f a r as t h i s makes i t e a s i e r f o r men to indulge themselves." I t advocates the double standard and re l e g a t e s wives to the p o s i t i o n of housewives whose main purpose i s to serve t h e i r husbands. The sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p s i t describes are f o r the most part between men and l o v e r s other than t h e i r wives. I w i l l a l s o be d i s c u s -s i n g the oppressive s i g n i f i c a n c e , f o r women and men, of 99 the f a c t that a l l r e l a t i o n s h i p s are predetermined as t o who and what i s i n v o l v e d . The Kama Sutra was f i r s t t r a n s l a t e d i n t o E n g l i s h by S i r Richard Burton and F. F.. Arbuthnot i n 1883. While i t provides v a l u a b l e i n s i g h t s i n t o Hindu c u l t u r e , i t r e f l e c t s at the same time the m e n t a l i t y of i t s t r a n s l a t o r s . "To Arbuthnot i t may have seemed important l e s s as a clue to Indian c u l t u r e than as a t r a c t f o r the times, a manual f o r 3 V i c t o r i a n husbands." And I t h i n k the same a p p l i e s to i t s . p o p u l a r i t y i n our s o c i e t y today: i t i s , to my mind, much l i k e Playboy i n a d i f f e r e n t c u l t u r a l context; and i t i s addressed to the same k i n d of s o c i a l person, the man about town. "The i d e a l l i f e t h a t Vatsyayana v i s u a l i z e d was tha t 4 of a nagarika, ot a c i t y d w e l l e r ... ." Hindu s o c i e t y at the time of w r i t i n g of the Kama Sutra was a prosperous mercantile one. Vatsyayana p r e s c r i b e s f o r men the a c q u i s i t i o n of wealth and the p u r s u i t of l e i s u r e l y a f f a i r s , i n c l u d i n g p a r t i e s and entertainment. This would not be p o s s i b l e i n A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n a l s o c i e t y . However, I t h i n k i t would have been impossible i n Hindu s o c i e t y as w e l l i f i t were not f o r the f a c t that such d a l l i a n c e was proscri b e d f o r women. The women maintained the s o c i e t y , as de Beauvoir would put i t , not j u s t by bearing and r e a r i n g c h i l d r e n , but by t a k i n g care of those d a i l y household a c t i v i t i e s which make the p u r s u i t of l e i s u r e f e a s i b l e f o r 100 men. I n t e r e s t i n g l y though, we have seen th a t i n A u s t r a l i a too the women maintain — f o r example they prepare the food while the men p a r t i c i p a t e i n ceremonies. This i s so even though these a c t i v i t i e s of A u s t r a l i a n men l a c k the m a t e r i a l indulgence of those of the nag a r i k a . The kinds of male a c t i v i t i e s being r e f e r r e d to i n the two s o c i e t i e s are of a somewhat d i f f e r e n t order. The s i m i l a r i t y i n the two of woman's p o s i t i o n , i n s p i t e of t h i s d i f f e r e n c e , makes her maintenance r o l e i n human s o c i e t y that much c l e a r e r . Many of us who are not f a m i l i a r w i t h Eastern c u l t u r e have at l e a s t heard of the Kama Su t r a ; and those who have read i t are l i k e l y , I t h i n k , to i n s i s t that i t i s not a pornographic work, but r a t h e r that i t i s u l t i m a t e l y r e l i g i o u s i n i t s o r i e n t a t i o n . The author h i m s e l f s t a t e s t h a t r e l i g i o u s p u r s u i t s are b e t t e r than m a t e r i a l ones, which are i n t u r n b e t t e r than p h y s i c a l ones (1963:66). I t h i n k the d i s t i n c t i o n between " r e l i g i o u s " and " s p i r i t u a l " i s c r u c i a l here. The terms are l o o s e l y interchanged i n common p r a c t i c e . To say;, t h a t something i s b a s i c a l l y o r u l t i m a t e l y r e l i g i o u s i m p l i e s t h a t i t i s a l l r i g h t m o r a l l y : but, as I have discussed, r e l i g i o n i s r e l a t i v e and a r b i t r a r y ; and t h e r e f o r e , as i t s m o r a l i t y i s pretended to be absolute, i t . i s q u i t e at odds w i t h s p i r i t u a l i t y — w i t h the i n d i v i d u a l ' s search f o r f u l f i l l m e n t i n awareness. I t may be argued th a t Vatsyayana does not say s p e c i f i c a l l y that what i s r e l i g i o u s i s s p i r i t u a l , that any time he uses the word "should" he i s 101 not i m p l y i n g or expressing a m o r a l i t y higher than h i s r e l i g i o u s context. I would have to agree w i t h t h i s . But the whole poin t of my examination of the Kama Sutr a , and of t h i s t h e s i s a l t o g e t h e r , i s that the question of m o r a l i t y must he r a i s e d , which i s begun by making the d i s t i n c t i o n discussed above. The worst side of c u l t u r a l r e l a t i v i s m i s i t s accept-ance of our inhumanity, our f a i l u r e s to become what we could be. Our weakness i n s h i r k i n g i n d i v i d u a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i s made acceptable, and ceases to be seen as weakness, by seeing ourselves s o l e l y as products of our c u l t u r e . Instead we speak of s o c i a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and o f t e n thereby end up b u t t r e s s i n g the very s t r u c t u r e s which keep us from being s t r o n g . That we are products of our c u l t u r e i s t r u e , but i t i s a l i m i t e d t r u t h : r e l a t i v i t y i s accepted as absolute by r e f u s i n g to ask questions on a hig h e r l e v e l . I have c r i t i -c i z e d a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s who i m p l i c i t l y take sexism i n other c u l t u r e s to j u s t i f y i t s existence i n t h e i r own, and I t h i n k t h a t many western readers of the Kama Sutra are, i n t h i s sense, l a y a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s . I mentioned that the Kama Sutra was s i m i l a r to Playboy. I t i s true t h a t Playboy readers would hardly p r o c l a i m t h e i r sexual i n t e r e s t here to be u l t i m a t e l y r e l i g i o u s , l e t alone s p i r i t u a l . Tnere i s c r i t i c i s m of r e l i g i o u s i n s t i t u t i o n s i n Playboy. But these are not what c o n s t i t u t e s r e l i g i o n i n 102 our s o c i e t y , except i n s o f a r as "both they and c a p i t a l i s m r e s t on the Protestant e t h i c . Again, I am usi n g Burridge's i d e a of r e l i g i o n g iven i n the i n t r o d u c t o r y chapter. I n t h i s l i g h t the r e l i g i o n of Playboy i n v o l v e s a male-sexist m a t e r i a l i s m , a r e f l e c t i o n of the values of our c u l t u r e . But so as not to be too b l a t a n t about t h i s l e v e l of i n t e r e s t t h i s magazine professes to a concern w i t h s o c i a l r e s p o n s i -b i l i t y , which i s part of our a c t u a l r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n : i t speaks out f o r v a r i o u s s o c i a l reforms w i t h i n the system, i n a " l i b e r a l " s u p e r f i c i a l manner. A c t u a l l y , I do not see the Kama Sutra as pornographic: i t contains l i t t l e d e s c r i p t i o n of sexual matters of a p h y s i c a l nature, whether o r not t h i s i s meant to t i t i l l a t e our d e s i r e s . Yet i n s o f a r as i t advocates r e l a t i o n s between people based on a d e n i a l of the t o t a l i t y of the i n d i v i d u a l . -4for example, p h y s i c a l appearance as a c r i t e r i o n f o r marriage-a b i l i t y (1963:126) — I consider i t an obscene book. Things which we u s u a l l y c a l l "obscene" threaten i n some way the s t r u c t u r e of our experience. The Kama Sutra i s obscene i n that i t c o n t r i b u t e s to the fragmentation of experience which makes such r e a c t i o n s p o s s i b l e : they even occur w i t h i n the context of the book i t s e l f (see s e c t i o n (iv) of t h i s chapter). 103 ( i i ) Sex Roles: Wives and Lovers The Hindu conception of a f u l l l i f e p o s t u l a t e s the harmony of three a c t i v i t i e s : Dharma, Artha and Kama. Dharma meant, i n t h i s connection, a l i f e of r e l i g i o u s o b l i g a t i o n , Artha, s o c i a l welfare (economic and p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t y ) and Kama, the l i f e of the senses. Each of these i s to have i t s l e g i t i m a t e place, though the l i f e of righteousness has always been accorded primacy. But i t was emphasized that n e i t h e r Artha nor Kama was to be neglected by the normal man.5 I t seems th a t "man" here means, s p e c i f i c a l l y , "males": The Hindu conception of a wife i s one w i t h whom Dharma i s p r a c t i c e d . The r e s u l t s of union, Vatsyayana says, are the a c q u i s i t i o n of Dharma and Artha, o f f s p r i n g , a f f i n i t y , i ncrease of f r i e n d s and untarnished l o v e . 6 Kama, then, i s pursued outside of marriage. That i t i s not a primary concern of a wife i s c l e a r from the q u a l i -f i c a t i o n s i n the f o l l o w i n g : Even young maids should study the Kama Sutra along w i t h i t s a r t s and sciences before marriage and a f t e r i t they should continue to do so w i t h the consent of t h e i r husbands (Vatsyayana? 1963:70). Regarding women w i t h whom Kama may be p r a c t i c e d , Vatsyayana says: 104 When Kama i s p r a c t i s e d by men of the fo u r castes according to the r u l e s of the Holy Writ ( i . e . by l a w f u l marriage) w i t h v i r g i n s of t h e i r own caste, i t then becomes a means of a c q u i r i n g l a w f u l progeny and good fame... .On the contrary the prac-t i c e of Kama w i t h women of the higher castes, and w i t h those p r e v i o u s l y enjoyed by others, even though they be of the same caste, i s p r o h i b i t e d . But the p r a c t i c e of Kama w i t h women of the lower c a s t e s , w i t h women ex-communicated from t h e i r own caste, w i t h p u b l i c women, and w i t h women twice married £i.e., who have l e f t t h e i r husbands] i s n e i t h e r enjoined nor p r o h i b i t e d . The object of prac-t i s i n g Kama w i t h such women i s ... pleasure only (1963:81). I t seems that wives acquire Kama as a s o r t of reward f o r being a good wife according to the i d e a l : The wife ... should l e a d a chaste l i f e , devoted to her husband, and doing everything f o r h i s w e l f a r e . Women a c t i n g thus acquire Dharma, Artha, and Kama, o b t a i n a h i g h p o s i t i o n , and g e n e r a l l y keep t h e i r husbands devoted to them (1963:146). Por the husband, on the other hand, the p u r s u i t of Kama i s an a c t i v e a f f a i r , which takes him outside h i s marriage. According to Jeanhine Auboyer, i n her D a i l y L i f e i n Ancient  I n d i a (1965), a d u l t e r y could be severe^yppunished (1965:59), and a f f a i r s w i t h courtesans were considered adulterous f o r a married man (1965:241). He th e r e f o r e had t o conduct these w i t h the greatest secrecy, and the most c a r e f u l l i e s to h i s wif e (as Vatsyayana cautions the n a g a r i k a ) . Yet f o r the 105 "man of the world", the courtesan was the "main object of Indian e r o t i c i s m " (Meyer, 1930:215). High c l a s s courtesans were g r e a t l y respected (Auboyer, 1965:237). In some respects the p o s i t i o n of courtesans was b e t t e r than that of wives; They accompanied men to p u b l i c p l a c e s , took part i n sports and amusements. ~ They were a l s o much b e t t e r educated.'-' But f o r a courtesan too, i t i s s t i l l a man's world: A p u b l i c woman endowed w i t h a good d i s p o s i t i o n , beauty and other winning q u a l i t i e s , and a l s o versed i n the above a r t s , obtains the name of a Ganika, or p u b l i c woman of hi g h q u a l -i t y , and re c e i v e s a seat of honour i n an assemblage of men (Vatsyayana,1963:73)• Of course, the most b a s i c m a t e r i a l comforts of a courtesan depend upon how much she can please men i n t h e i r p u r s u i t of Kama. A woman who has l e f t her husband i s a l s o dependent upon men f o r her wel f a r e , c e r t a i n l y i f she wants to keep up her former m a t e r i a l standards. There i s another category of women who may be "resorted t o " , as i t i s commonly put i n the t e x t , f o r s p e c i a l reasons, that i s , not from d e s i r e alo&e. This category i s the wives of other men of r e s p e c t a b i l i t y . The f o l l o w i n g two examples are included i n the l i s t of p o s s i b i l i t i e s : 1) The husband of t h i s woman has v i o l a t e d the c h a s t i t y of my wives, I s h a l l 106 t h e r e f o r e r e t u r n the i n j u r y by seducing h i s wives (1963:83). 2) By the help of t h i s woman I s h a l l k i l l an enemy of the k i n g , who has taken s h e l t e r w i t h her, and whom I am ordered by the k i n g to destroy (1963:83). This i s r e a l l y not f a r from the A u s t r a l i a n and BaMbuti s i t u a t i o n s discussed e a r l i e r where women are e s s e n t i a l l y objects mediating r e l a t i o n s between men. This p o s i t i o n of women can a l s o be seen i n the f a c t that a man should not p r a c t i c e Kama w i t h a woman of a hig h e r caste. A man having r e l a t i o n s w i t h a higher caste woman would be i n f r i n g i n g upon the t e r r i t o r y of h i s male s u p e r i o r s . Of course, the f a c t t h a t there are castes at a l l makes objects of everyone, re g a r d l e s s of sex. TO r e t u r n to the subject of wives: A v i r t u o u s woman, who has a f f e c t i o n f o r her husband, should act i n con-f o r m i t y w i t h h i s wishes as i f he were a d i v i n e being, and w i t h h i s consent should take upon h e r s e l f the whole care of the f a m i l y . She should keep th e whole house w e l l cleaned (Vatsyayana,1963:143). And f u r t h e r : ... without h i s consent she should not e i t h e r give o r accept i n v i t a t i o n s , or attend marriages and s a c r i f i c e s . . . (1963:149). Yet i n h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n to the Kama Sutra, K. M. Panikkar says woman's r e l a t i o n s h i p to her husband i s not one of 107 i n f e r i o r i t y . As to how he t h i n k s of i n f e r i o r i t y , I honestly cannot imagine,, given the abovementioned p r e s c r i p t i o n s and p r o s c r i p t i o n s regarding her conduct. Perhaps what he says s h o r t l y afterwards i s a clue to h i s mind on the matter, hut i t i s no more of an exp l a n a t i o n or j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r the s i t u a t i o n than i s Eaperry'a i d e a t h a t A u s t r a l i a n women are not so badly o f f , because they share t h e i r f a t e w i t h Euro-pean ones. Panikkar says: These and s i m i l a r f u n c t i o n s may perhaps be unsuited to a s o c i e t y based on the absolute e q u a l i t y of men and women, but i n the normal c o n d i t i o n s where man i s the bread-winner and the head of the f a m i l y , these i n j u n c t i o n s seem to be more than u s e f u l f o r the development of harmonious conjugal r e l a t i o n s (1963:38). Vatsyayana says that i f a woman i s c h i l d l e s s , "... she h e r s e l f should t e l l her husband to marry another woman" (1963:147). And of a woman i n a polygynous household he says: I f her husband happens to q u a r r e l w i t h any of h i s other wives, she should r e c o n c i l e them to each other, and i f he d e s i r e s to see any woman s e c r e t l y , she should manage to b r i n g about the meeting between them (1963:150). That b i t of advice i s s p e c i f i c a l l y meant f o r a woman who f i n d s h e r s e l f d i s l i k e d by her husband. The way f o r her to attempt r e g a i n i n g h i s favour i s to help him ignore her. The i n n e r harmony of a wife i s somehow not a matter f o r 108 c o n s i d e r a t i o n i n "the development of harmonious conjugal r e l a t i o n s " . In the presence of the sacred F i r e the husband promised h i s w i f e t h a t he would never forsake her i n h i s p u r s u i t of pleasure, wealth and s p i r i t u a l i t y . Our complaint i s that the delinquents who v i o l a t e d t h i s vow were not s e v e r e l y d e a l t w i t h by s o c i e t y . I t t o l e r a t e d polygamy; i t d i d not f o r a longttime give any p r o p r i e t a r y r i g h t s to the widow [and when i t d i d a l l over the country by 1200 A.D. the p o s i t i o n of women i n other respects was s t i l l get-t i n g worse, as i t had been doing stead-i l y s i n c e about 500 B.C. ( A l t e k a r , 1962 : 3 4 3 - 5 4 ) ] ; l a t e r on when r e n u n c i a t i o n of w o r l d l y l i f e became popular [by the beginning of the C h r i s t i a n era (.1962:: 350-51 )jf i t d i d not condemn those persons who used to desert t h e i r wives i n p u r s u i t of t h e i r s p i r i t u a l i d e a l s ( A l t e k a r , 1962 ; 1 0 4 ) . Furthermore, the motives behind polygamy seem s i m i l a r to those given i n Vatsyayana's d i s c u s s i o n of women who may be r e s o r t e d to f o r s p e c i a l purposes. I t was not as i f a new w i f e was taken out of l o v e , though even i f she were i t would not excuse the r e j e c t i o n of another w i f e . Such u l t e r i o r motives make i t impossible to r e l a t e w i t h another person as someone equal to o n e s e l f : ... polygamy o f t e n p r e v a i l e d among the r i c h and r u l i n g s e c t i o n s of s o c i e t y . I t was f a i r l y common among kings and nobles, who o f t e n found i t a u s e f u l instrument i n strengthening t h e i r p o l i t i c a l power by c o n t r a c t i n g numerous but j u d i c i o u s matrimonial a l l i a n c e s . The r i c h probably 109 regarded p l u r a l i t y of wives as a proof of t h e i r wealth, r e p u t a t i o n and s o c i a l p o s i t i o n (1962:104). But A l t e k a r adds th a t the main reason f o r polygamy was to ensure the b i r t h of sons, whose performance of r i t e s f o r the ancestors was necessary to send one to heaven (1962:105). While the s i t u a t i o n of a wife i n Hindu c i v i l i z a t i o n around the time of Vatsyayana h a r d l y seems a f u l f i l l i n g way to l i v e , there was v i r t u a l l y no choice f o r a g i r l o r woman i n the matter : At the centre p o i n t of t h i s i n t i m a t e f a m i l y l i f e i s the mother, covered w i t h much g l o r y by Indian l i t e r a t u r e ; ... to the Hindu i t i s j u s t t h i s s i d e of a woman's l i f e t hat i s the begin-ni n g and the end (Meyer, 1930:199). A l t e k a r says t h a t marriage has been a s o c i a l and r e l i g i o u s duty s i n c e the e a r l i e s t times (1962:31-32); and Auboyer describes i t as a sacrament? She adds: [Girls] were brought up to b e l i e v e that a woman was only f u l f i l l e d i n motherhood, t r a i n e d to show respect and obedience toward t h e i r f a t h e r and husband, assured t h a t t h e i r parents only wanted to see them happy ... (Auboyer^ 1965:178). And there i s a s t o r y i n the Mahabharata epic (c.125 A.D.).. of a woman near death who,., l e a r n i n g t h a t she could not go. to heaven because she had never married, spent a n i g h t with, a man so she could escape t h a t f a t e (Meyer, 1930:146). 110 By 300 B. C. marriage was o b l i g a t o r y f o r g i r l s , which A l t e k a r a t t r i b u t e s p a r t l y to the f a c t that of the many g i r l s who jo i n e d the Buddhist and J a i n orders, a l o t lapsed from t h e i r s p i r i t u a l p u r s u i t s (1962:32-33). As I di s c u s s i n the next chapter, the Buddhist order t r e a t e d nuns i n a harsher manner than i t d i d monks. Perhaps t h i s e x p l a i n s the f a c t t h a t many women l e f t i t . According to A l t e k a r , c h i l d marriage had become the standard by the beginning of the C h r i s t i a n e r a . (Prom a reading of the Kama Sutr a , i t would appear t h a t e i t h e r t h i s e s t i m a t i o n i s too early, a date, o r e l s e the suggested date of the Kama Sutra should be pushed back to or beyond 100 A.D.Y This had the very important e f f e c t of a l l o w i n g no time f o r the education of g i r l s : they no lon g e r even learned the Vedic prayers r e c i t e d d a i l y i n the household. Even the i n i t i a t i o n r i t u a l (upanayana samskara) so necessary f o r endowing woman w i t h the proper Aryan s t a t u s , was f i r s t reduced to a mere f o r m a l i t y and then dropped out a l t o g e t h e r (Altekar,1962:16). Marriage i t s e l f became a s u b s t i t u t e f o r the i n i t i a t i o n r i t u a l f o r g i r l s . The p r o h i b i t i o n of upanayana amounted to a s p i r i t u a l disenfranchisement of women and produced a d i s a s t r o u s e f f e c t upon t h e i r general p o s i t i o n i n s o c i e t y . I t reduced them to the st a t u s of Sudras '[the lowest caste] (1962:204). 111 As f o r the matter of d i v o r c e , while i t was permitted up to the C h r i s t i a n era i n c e r t a i n circumstances (such as i n s a n i t y , impotence, or d i s e a s e ) , from about 200 A.D. i t began to be denied to a wife even i f l e f t by her husband (Altekar:1962:83-84). While the Kama Sutra was probably w r i t t e n a t about t h a t time, i t would seem t h a t , whatever the v a r i o u s dates, i t was s t i l l p o s s i b l e f o r a woman to leave her husband, as Vatsyayana r e f e r s to women i n such circumstances. But g e n e r a l l y , at the time of the Kama Sutr a , the s i t u a t i o n of women was one of being caught i n a process of i n c r e a s i n g oppression. Widow re-marriage became i n c r e a s i n g l y frowned On from 300 B.C. to 200 A.D. ( A l t e k a r , 1962:152). A l t e k a r describes the a s c e t i c i d e a l p r e s c r i b e d f o r a widow: I f she continued to l i v e i n the f a m i l y of her husband, she had to work as a drudge; i f she l i v e d s e p a r a t e l y , she was given a p i t t a n c e as her maintenance. She had to spend her l i f e w i t h her head shaven and arms bared; she was an out-caste on f e s t i v e occasions, — a bad omen, her very s i g h t being regarded as most i n a u s p i c i o u s (1962:164);. While i t was p o s s i b l e f o r her to form an i n f o r m a l a l l i a n c e w i t h a man, the f a c t t h a t t h i s was looked down upon would h a r d l y have helped her i n her p l i g h t — Vatsyayana describes such a woman as a "widow i n poor circumstances, or of a weak nature" (1963:149). No doubt the prevalence of t h i s a t t i t u d e could be used to oppress her f u r t h e r , perhaps even 112 by the man w i t h whom she was l i v i n g . As a f i n a l comment on t h i s s i t u a t i o n , i t seems t h a t the very f a c t of being born female made one an unwanted person (Meyer, 1930:7-8). A daughter could not at t h i s : time perform the r i t e s to ensure her parents a place i n heaven, and the best to be hoped f o r was a decent marriage f o r her. But w i t h i n c r e a s i n g caste r e s t r i c t i o n s on marriage, and pressure against widow re-marriage, the choices were q u i t e r e s t r i c t e d (^Itekarj 1962:4). In h i s review of the period from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., A l t e k a r says: ... marriage became an i r r e v o c a b l e union, i r r e v o c a b l e , however* only so f a r as the wife was concerned. The husband could d i s c a r d h i s w i f e f o r the grave offence s of not being s u f f i c i e n t l y submissive. The wife however could not take a s i m i l a r step and marry a second time, even i f her husband had taken to v i c i o u s ways»and completely abandoned her. This d i f f e r e n -t i a l treatment was due to the simple f a c t t h a t women were no l o n g e r able to e f f e c t -i v e l y oppose these absurd t h e o r i e s and claims,; most of them being uneducated and quite ignorant of t h e i r former s t a t u s and p r i v i l e g e s (1962:349). While t h a t may seem to be a somewhat s i m p l i s t i c c o n c l u s i o n , I do not doubt t h a t i t i s s t i l l very much to: the p o i n t . The s i t u a t i o n i s analogous i n my mind to t h a t of A u s t r a l i a n women, who are excluded from a knowledge of the very r a t i o n a l e f o r t h e i r e x c l u s i o n . In such circumstances i t i s a f e a t to come to understand t h a t the s i t u a t i o n one i s 113 i n does not der i v e from "the way things are". I t h i n k people are l i k e l y to blame themselves i n a s i t u a t i o n where i t cannot be seen th a t others have created the p a i n i n not a l l o w i n g them to be re s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i r own l i v e s . I t i s only when able to take l i f e i n t o one's own hands that blaming oneself becomes proper, however, i f we are t h i n k i n g i n terms of s p i r i t u a l i t y . (Perhaps i t then a l s o becomes r a r e r at d i f f i c u l t p o i n t s along the way.) ( i i i ) Sex Roles: Myth and M y s t i f i c a t i o n of S e x u a l i t y Panikkar says that i n the Hindu view the world was created through the union of matter (male) and energy (female), and tha t sexual i n t e r c o u r s e i s l i k e a r i t u a l re-enactment of t h i s c r e a t i o n . The Hindu view of s a l v a t i o n being t h a t of the union of the i n d i v i d u a l s o u l w i t h the u n i v e r s a l , the u t t e r merging of one i n the other, the union of man and woman i n which the d u a l i t y is" l o s t becomes i n the Hindu view the p e r f e c t symbol of l i b e r a t i o n (1963:20-21). This i s considered to be a sacred s a c r i f i c e : "Prom t h i s o f f e r i n g springs f o r t h the c h i l d " (1963:21). But may not t h i s i t s e l f be f e l t by the woman to be another s a c r i f i c e , r a t h e r than a g i f t r e c e i v e d i n r e t u r n f o r one, c o n s i d e r i n g t h a t she has v i r t u a l l y no choice i n assuming the subordinate 114 r o l e of wife and mother? There r e a l l y does not seem to he any union i n which d u a l i t y i s l o s t . Rather, woman's r o l e as c h i l d b e a r e r i s perhaps a r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n that she has j u s t as much importance i n l i f e as man: maybe t h i s i s why Panikkar f e e l s there i s no i n e q u a l i t y . But however revered a woman may have been as a mother ( A l t e k a r 1962:100), t h i s does not n e c e s s a r i l y imply respect f o r her as a person, j u s t as the existence of a mother goddess may go together w i t h the a c t u a l oppression of women. There i s , i n f a c t , great i n e q u a l i t y . Not only i s the woman not compensated f o r her s a c r i f i c e : she i s expected to do a l l the house-work and r e l a t e to her husband as i f he i s d i v i n e . I f there i s any f e e l i n g of union, i t must be f l e e t i n g , and i t t h e r e f o r e doesn't amount to much as a s p i r i t u a l r e a l i z a t i o n . L i k e the BaMbuti molimo r i t u a l around the sacred f i r e , i t a f f e c t s nothing i n the world of a c t i o n s . The ideas expressed i n the Kama Sutra about the nature of the s e x u a l i t y of women and men are s i m i l a r to those i n our own c u l t u r e ; and i n both c u l t u r e s , the ideas r e f l e c t and help perpetuate the s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n . Now some may ask here: I f men and women are beings of the same k i n d , and are engaged i n b r i n g i n g about the same r e s u l t s , why should they have d i f f e r e n t works to do? Vatsya says t h a t t h i s i s so, be-cause the ways of working as w e l l as the consciousness of pleasure i n men and women are di f f e r e n t " . The d i f f e r e n c e i n the ways of working, by which men are 115 the a c t o r s , and women are the persons acted upon, i s owing to the nature of the male and the female, otherwise the a c t o r would be sometimes the per-son acted upon, and v i c e - v e r s a . And from t h i s d i f f e r e n c e i n the ways of working f o l l o w s the d i f f e r e n c e i n the consciousness of pleasure, f o r a man t h i n k s , " t h i s woman i s united w i t h me", and a woman t h i n k s , " I am u n i t e d w i t h t h i s man" (Vatsyayana, 1963:90). I have asked the question posed here by Vatsyayana, and t h i s c e r t a i n l y does not answer me. I t s t r i k e s me as being a k i n to much of s o c i a l s c i e n c e , i n that i t p o i n t s to the r e s u l t s of p r a c t i c e as the causes of p r a c t i c e and thereby j u s t i f i e s the p r a c t i c e as being i n conformity w i t h s a i d causes or givens. A l l of Vatsyayana's p r e s c r i p t i o n s f o r men e s s e n t i a l l y r e s t on t h i s assumption that women are passive c r e a t u r e s : i f they do not behave p a s s i v e l y , they simply are not being proper women. This i s , by the way, the same as Sigmund Freud's view of women (— see footnote 4, Chapter 3). The process of the m y s t i f i c a t i o n of female s e x u a l i t y becomes outrageously c l e a r i n j uxtaposing the two f o l l o w i n g b i t s of advice to women from the Kama Sutra w i t h the t h i r d q u o t a t i o n on the d i f f i c u l t y of understanding women: ... o l d authors say that although a g i r l l o v e s the man ever so much, she should not o f f e r h e r s e l f , or make the f i r s t o vertures, f o r a g i r l who does l o s e s her d i g n i t y , and i s l i a b l e to be scorned and r e j e c t e d . But when the man shows h i s wish to enjoy her, she should be favourable to him and 116 should show no change i n her demeanor when he embraces her, and should r e -ceive a l l the manif e s t a t i o n s of h i s lo v e as i f she were ignorant of the st a t e of h i s mind (1963:138). And: ... even though she be i n v i t e d by any man to j o i n him, she should not at once consent to a union, because men are apt to despise things which are e a s i l y acquired (1963:186). The r e s u l t , which passes;, f o r a mystery to i t s c r e a t o r s : The extent of the love of women i s not, known, even to those who are the objects of t h e i r a f f e c t i o n , on account of i t s subtlety,, and on account of the a v a r i c e and n a t u r a l i n t e l l i g e n c e of womankind (1963:191). I t i s probably as a r e s u l t of h i s i n a b i l i t y to under-stand the "'subtile" ways of women, which he h i m s e l f encour-ages,, t h a t Vatsyayana i s able to have the g a l l t o say the f o l l o w i n g : Moreover,; [the wife) should not be a s c o l d , fo:? says Gonardlya, "there i s no cause of d i s l i k e on the part of a husband so great as t h i s c h a r a c t e r -i s t i c ; i n a wife (1963:144). This denies to a woman any spontaneous p r o t e s t a g a i n s t her oppression,, by the i n s i d i o u s technique of f l a t l y r e f u s i n g to,accept t h a t i t might p o s s i b l y be v a l i d . And tha t she 117 herself might end up being convinced of this i s not impos-sible, for she has no force on her side i n what i s essentially a power relationship. She can only lose, so she may be forced into accepting the situation and seeing i t as favourably as she can. As .R. D. Laing says i n The Politics of Experience: Exploitation must not be seen as such. It must be seen as benevolence. Per-secution preferably should not need to be invalidated as the figment of a paranoid imagination, i t should be ,A experienced as kindness (1967:49). But sometimes, i f what a man offers does not get him what he wants, then oppression becomes overt. Por instance, i n advising about seducing a young g i r l , Vatsyayana says: Under various pretences he should do a l l these things [to get her to come closer, etc.] .... He should also promise to be fait h f u l (1963:130). How i f she w i l l not yield, he should threaten to spread gossip that; she did i n fact yield, which puts her i n the bind of having to yield, because she i s not desirable for marriage i f not a virgin. In this and other ways, as fear and confidence are created i n the minds of children, so should the man gain her over to his wishes (1963:130). As for virgins who got raped: "The only way i n which the law writers could help them wasoby compelling the culprits to 118 marry the p a r t i e s they had wronged" ( A l t e k a r , 1962:36). Hardly the b a s i s f o r a happy marriage. E x p l a i n i n g l o v e i n The D i a l e c t i c of Sex, and r e f e r r i n g t o our own c u l t u r e , Shulamith F i r e s t o n e says t h a t "women's ' c l i n g i n g ' behavior i s n e c e s s i t a t e d by t h e i r o b j e c t i v e s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n " (1971:135), a power s i t u a t i o n i n which t h e i r only gains come from g i v i n g up to a man. I t seems to me t h a t the same a p p l i e s to a Hindu g i r l i n the above-mentioned dilemma. Vatsyayana says, In l o v e the f o l l o w i n g circumstances are p e c u l i a r to the woman. She l o v e s w i t h -out regard to r i g h t or wrong, and does not t r y to g a i n over a man simply f o r the attainment of some p a r t i c u l a r pur-pose (1963:154). Right or wrong here being s o c i a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s as to what i s proper; p a r t i c u l a r purpose being m a t e r i a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s and the l i k e . This i s to say t h a t women r e a l l y l o v e w h i l e men pretend t o f o r u l t e r i o r motives, which, f o r Vatsyayana, i s " r i g h t " . A f t e r a l l , Artha must be considered? i t i s noteworthy t h a t f r i e n d s are lumped i n along w i t h such things as land and wealth, which a man should a c q u i r e , p r o t e c t , and c o n s t a n t l y increase i n the p u r s u i t of Artha (1963:65). At times Vatsyayana says things of an apparently d i f f e r e n t order. He s t a t e s t h a t those marriages are most d e s i r a b l e which are based on mutual love (1963:142), and t h a t a man who only comes to h i s wife when he wants does not 119 deserve to marry (1963:139). But the real motive comes through when he elaboratesson this: Of a l l the lovers of a g i r l , he only i s her true husband who possesses qualities that are liked by her, and such a husband only enjoys real superiority over her, because he i s the husband of love (1963:139). (iv) The Structuring and Destruction of Experience The preceding discussion i n this chapter has focused on the overall context of relations between men and women i n Hindu c i v i l i z a t i o n at the time of writing of the Kama  Sutra, as described i n the book i t s e l f and by various writers on Hindu society. It i s clear that, judging from the Kama Sutra, there i s l i t t l e regard for what people are experiencing inside themselves — that relations between people are conditioned by ulterior motives, by doing what i s socially correct rather than what comes from the heart. Some force others into these dilemmas. But a l l are hurt by i t . As Laing says throughout The Politics of Experience, i f our experience i s destroyed, our behaviour w i l l be destructive, destroying the experience of others, and so on. We cannot afford to accept cultural contexts as given. 120 This s e c t i o n focuses on the f u r t h e r d e s t r u c t i o n of experience w i t h i n the context already d i s c u s s e d . In seeking a w i f e , ... a man should f i x h i s a f f e c t i o n s upon a g i r l who i s of good f a m i l y , whose parents are a l i v e , and who i s three or more years younger than h i m s e l f . She should he horn of a h i g h l y respectable f a m i l y , possessed of wealth, w e l l connected, and w i t h many r e l a t i o n s and f r i e n d s . She should a l s o be b e a u t i f u l , of a good d i s p o s i t i o n , w i t h l u c k y marks upon her body., and w i t h good h a i r , n a i l s , t e e t h , ears, eyes and breasts ... . The man should, of course, a l s o possess these q u a l i t i e s h i m s e l f (1963:125). Vatsyayana advises the parents of a marriageable g i r l t o "show her to advantage i n s o c i e t y , because she i s a k i n d of merchandise" (1963:127). (This speaks f o r i t s e l f . ) D eceit i s encouraged on the part of the s u i t o r and h i s f r i e n d s i n convincing the g i r l ' s parents and d i s p a r a g i n g other s u i t o r s . I n c o n t r a s t to the i d e a l g i r l , any w i t h one of the f o l l o w i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s (among others l i s t e d ) should not be married;; one's w i t h an i l l - s o u n d i n g name, turned-up n o s t r i l , m a l e - l i k e form, crooked t h i g h s ; o r any who are not v i r g i n s , e t c . (1963:126). About the p l i g h t of a deformed or diseased g i r l , A l t e k a r says: She could not n a t u r a l l y get a good husband and her f a t h e r had yet to 121 marry her. He had th e r e f o r e to spend h e a v i l y i n marrying her t o a person, who was almost c e r t a i n to d i s c a r d her, and c o n t r a c t a f r e s h marriage w i t h a more s u i t a b l e b r i d e . I t must however be added th a t even i f a d e f e c t i v e g i r l i s kept unmarried, her l o t i s by no means happy. As the years r o l l on and the parents d i e , her brothers do not care f o r her, and scoundrels and s e l f -i s h persons i n s o c i e t y are not few i n number who d e l i g h t i n spreading thorns i n her way (1962:34). There are a l s o r e s t r i c t i o n s on r e l a t i o n s w i t h l o v e r s other than spouses, where p h y s i c a l o r s o c i a l d i s t i n c t i o n s having nothing t o do w i t h i n n e r experience determine r e l a -t i o n s h i p s . For i n s t a n c e , very white or black women should not be enjoyed by men. Nor, i n a f l a g r a n t expression of the double standard, should "a woman who p u b l i c l y expresses her d e s i r e f o r sexual i n t e r c o u r s e " (1963:84). Even what t r a n s p i r e s i n a c t s of love themselves i s conditioned from outside the moment: Congress between a man and a female w a t e r - c a r r i e r , o r a female servant of a caste lower than h i s own, l a s t i n g only u n t i l the d e s i r e i s s a t i s f i e d , i s c a l l e d "congress l i k e t h a t of eunuchs". Here e x t e r n a l touches, k i s s e s , and manipulation are not to be employed (1963:121-22). At one point Vatsyayana says t h a t "anything may take place a t any time, f o r l o v e does not care f o r place o r order 11 (1963:96). But f u r t h e r on he even t e l l s what kinds of 122 sounds a woman should make i n response to d i f f e r e n t k i n d s of p a i n caused by v a r i o u s ways of being s t r u c k by her l o v e r (1963:110). P a i n i s i n f l i c t e d to keep passion to a p o i n t of moderation during i n t e r c o u r s e (1963:35). There are, then, h a r d l y any f u r t h e r c o n t r o l s which could conceivably be placed on spontaneous experience. I t i s even t o l d how a woman should proceed i n her q u a r r e l l i n g i f her l o v e r mentions another's name(1963:122). I t i s advised t h a t a f t e r love-making, the couple should l o o k at the stars(( 1963:121). Can s t a r s be b e a u t i f u l when observation of them i s a matter of "should"? 123 FOOTNOTES i K.M. Panikkar i n the Introduction to Vatsyayana, 1963, p.22. 2 Panikkar, 1963, P. 24. •Z W.G. Archer i n the Preface to Vatsyayana, 1963, P«14* 4 Panikkar, 1963, p.31. 5 Panikkar, 1963, p.20. 6 Panikkar, 1963, p.36. 7 Panikkar, 1963, p.35. 124 CHAPTER 6 EMiIGHTE33MMTV LIBERATION AMD SEXISM "Enlightenment}1 i s a r e l a t i v e word. To my mind, i t implies l i b e r a t i o n from a l l of the ways i n which culture l i m i t s our perception of ourselves, each other and the world; and i t e n t a i l s acting accordingly. In speaking of s p i r i t u a l i t y , t h i s i s the minimal meaning I understand i n using the word "enlightenment". Someone who has attained that state would not deny to others the p o s s i b i l i t y of s i m i l a r growth. Tr a v e l l i n g one's own path i s the essence of a s p i r i t u a l l i f e . , Most of t h i s chapter i s concerned with a discussion of Buddhism. I mentioned i n the introductory chapter that a \ r e l i g i o n which was not i n i m i c a l to s p i r i t u a l i t y was conceiv-able. The only assumption of such a r e l i g i o n to be taken on f a i t h would be that each person had t h e i r own path to t r a v e l according to t h e i r own choices, provided these choices 125 d i d not r e s t r i c t those of others. I s Buddhism such a r e l i -gion? Buddha was concerned w i t h the attainment of e n l i g h t e n -ment. I w i l l be d i s c u s s i n g whether the enlightenment he had i n mind was a s p i r i t u a l s t a t e . To begin w i t h , Buddhism i s a r e l i g i o n i n the sense of the d e f i n i t i o n I have been f o l l o w i n g . I t i s c e r t a i n l y concerned w i t h the redemptive process — l i b e r a t i o n from s u f f e r i n g ; i t i n v o l v e s assumptions about power — s u f f e r -i n g i s created by d e s i r e ; i t i n c l u d e s methods f o r a t t a i n -i n g a s t a t e whereby one can perceive these t r u t h s . But Buddhism i s s p i r i t u a l i n s o f a r as i t emphasizes t h a t i n d i v i -duals can only come to, perceive t r u t h through t h e i r own e x p e r i e n c e — i t i s not to be taken on f a i t h . The assump-t i o n s about power, f o r i n s t a n c e , are p e r t i n e n t to the moral order only as a means of understanding and transcending t h a t order, h a r d l y as a r a t i o n a l e f o r i t : the world i s an i l l u s i o n . I f Buddhism i s thus a s p i r i t u a l r e l i g i o n , i t i s a ra r e phenomenon i n t h i s world, where r e l i g i o n g e n e r a l l y serves to uphold the p a r t i c u l a r and a r b i t r a r y " t r u t h s " , i . e . , l i e s , on which b a s i s a s o c i e t y f u n c t i o n s . When t h i s r e l i g i o n of the usual k i n d changes, i t does so only to accomodate i t s e l f to pressures at i t s weakpoints w i t h as l i t t l e a l t e r a t i o n as p o s s i b l e . I am aware t h a t perhaps i t does not make any sense, then, to speak of a s p i r i t u a l r e l i g i o n , inasmuch as r e l i g i o n i s p a r t of a s o c i a l order. My one q u a r r e l , and a 1 2 6 fundamental one, w i t h the d e f i n i t i o n of r e l i g i o n I have been f o l l o w i n g i n t h i s t h e s i s , i s w i t h what I take to be the i m p l i c a t i o n t h a t one can only become f r e e of s o c i a l o b l i g a -t i o n s by f u l f i l l i n g those o b l i g a t i o n s , that t h i s i s the only way of transcending them. That to me precludes the p o s s i -b i l i t y of a s p i r i t u a l l i f e . At any .irate, there i s a problem t h a t can a r i s e i n the context of "religions'' which profess to be concerned w i t h enlightenment and the a l l e v i a t i o n of human s u f f e r i n g . A l -though they are s p i r i t u a l l y o r i e n t e d i n terms of major p r i n -c i p l e s , these p r i n c i p l e s may not be a p p l i e d i n p r a c t i c e . A r e l i g i o n which espouses the search f o r enlightenment, and yet makes that search more d i f f i c u l t f o r a whole body of s u f f e r e r s , i s h a r d l y s p i r i t u a l . I t s l i b e r a t i o n i s a sham. Now, i t appears that Buddha.; had a s e x i s t b i a s which r e s u l t e d i n the k i n d of oppression mentioned above: The founders and l e a d e r s of both these movements [Buddhism and Jainism] shared the i n d i f f e r e n c e t o , or contempt of women, which i s almost u n i v e r s a l among the advocates of the a s c e t i c i d e a l . The Buddha was r e l u c t a n t to admit women, to; h i s Church, and the Digambara J a i n s h o l d t h a t women can never get s a l v a t i o n ex-cept by f i r s t being reborn as men. ... Owing to the p r e s s i n g e n t r e a t i e s of h i s f o s t e r mother, the Buddha e v e n t u a l l y decided w i t h great r e l u c t a n c e to admit nuns i n t o h i s Church. Mahavira [the founder of Jainismj i s not known to have r a i s e d any o b j e c t i o n i n the matter. But both Buddhism and J a i n i s m placed nuns under a more rigourous d i s c i p l i n e than 127 monks. ... Thus the admission of a new nun was to he sanctioned "by a j o i n t meeting of the monks and nuns; new monks, however, could he admitted w i t h -out c o n s u l t i n g the nuns at a l l . ... The climax i s , however, reached by the r u l e which l a y s i t down t h a t a nun, though 100 years o l d , must stand i n reverence before a monk, though he may have j u s t been i n i t i a t e d i n the Church. The reader w i l l not now be s u r p r i s e d t o l e a r n t h a t a nun could never preach be-f o r a congregation of monks, though the s e l e c t e d ones among the l a t t e r could preach before a congregation of nuns ( A l t e k a r , 1962:208). I n Women Under P r i m i t i v e Buddhism, I . B. Horner discusses Buddha's rel u c t a n c e t o admit women i n t o the order. She says of Buddha: "... Gotama never h i n t e d t h a t woman has not the same chance as man o r was i n any way u n f i t t e d by her nature to a t t a i n n i r v a n a " (1930:103-4). She a t t r i b u t e s h i s h e s i -t a t i o n to three p o s s i b i l i t i e s : f i r s t , ... an appearance due perhaps to the hand of the monk e d i t o r s of the t e x t s (1930:109); secondly. ... i t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t he h e l d back, i f he d i d , on account of h i s already b i a s s e d , though not c u l p a b l y p r e j u d i c e d , view of women. He was b o m a Hindu, and ancestry, t r a d i t i o n s and education cannot be shaken o f f simply by the d e s i r e to be q u i t of them (1930:109); f i n a l l y , Buddha apparently b e l i e v e d t h a t the admission of women would l e s s e n the l i f e t i m e of the Order (1930:105J111). 128 This t h i r d p o i n t i s perhaps r e l a t e d to the second one. There i s a suggestion of a deep-seated b i a s : An a l l u s i o n t o the w i f e as f o o t - m i n i s t e r , a symbol of the most u t t e r h u m i l i t y , makes i t c l e a r t h a t her p r e s t i g e was kept i n check; and i t appears from (Jotama's r e -puted sa y i n g , "Best among wives i s she that best ministers/' * t h a t the old notions of one-sided s e r v i c e and respect were s t i l l i n the ascendent. ... the r e l e n t l e s s bonds of matrimony chained the woman f a s t e r than the man. Because of t h e i r h e a v i e r demands on her, they l a i d g r e a t e r chances f o r f a i l u r e at her door; but they a l s o gave her the opportunity f o r supreme abnegation, magnanimity and tenderness (1930:43). Horner suggests that Buddha wondered i f the c a l l of mother-hood would prove i r r e s i s t i b l e t o women: i f they were to leave the Order on t h i s account, i t would not s u r v i v e , as the vows of the Order r e q u i r e d a l i f e t h a t was t o be " c e l i b a t e and t o t a l l y unencumbered" (1930:110-11). There i s a curious mixture of a t t i t u d e s i n the above suggestion and the quotations which precede i t . While Buddha may have considered women to be equal to men i n the a b i l i t y t o a t t a i n n i r v a n a , perhaps he f e l t female and male nature t o be d i f f e r e n t — on account of the c a l l of mother-hood, whieh he apparently imagined to be innate — and thus to r e q u i r e d i f f e r e n t paths. I would say, of course, t h a t whatever p s y c h o l o g i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s may have been common among women at t h i s time ( s i x t h century, B . C . ) , would have been the product of c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n i n g , and t h a t t h i s 129 should have been seen by one who was enlightened. But per-haps even i f i t was seen, Buddha f e l t these characteristics nonetheless existed as a social reality and had therefore to be transcended i n a particular way. Peeling the c a l l of motherhood to be directly opposed to the non-attachment required i n the Order,' hermight have thus decided on a harsher discipline for women. Horner discusses the Eight Chief Hules of the Order (1930:119-20), which include the deferential treatment to be accorded monks by nuns as mentioned by Altekar. Now this does not strike me as a suitable way of countering the effects of a woman's previous condition outside the Order, but rather as a reinforcement of that condition. And interestingly, i t was apparently thought that said condition had i t s merits, giving woman the "opportunity for supreme abnegation, magnanimity and tenderness" (1930:43). I have discussed i n Chapter 3, section (i) why I do not feel such a situation would be conducive to spiritual growth. But this i s s t i l l to presuppose that a l l v.women— laywomen and almswomen i n the Order alike — would feel the c a l l of motherhood. That i s a very oppressive judgment: i t treats a social fact as an existential one, and sees women as members of a group rather than as authentic per-sons. Buddha, then, i f he could not deny the search for enlightenment to women, was apparently determined to make 130 i t more d i f f i c u l t , thus adding s u f f e r i n g where he claimed to he concerned w i t h becoming f r e e of i t . Perhaps the f o l l o w i n g , from E r i c h Neumann's The Great Mother, i s some-what of an e x p l a n a t i o n f o r the p o s s i b l e s t a t e of mind be-hind such a c o n t r a d i c t i o n : The Tibetans ... regard the demon of me\c-tfs the cosmic wheel as a woman, the w i t c h Srinmo. This i s due i n part to the ant i f e m i n i n e i n f l u e n c e of Buddhism, which, because woman creates new l i f e , l o oks upon her as the c h i e f obstacle to redemption, as an instrument of the passion beneath which the world moans. 1 This i s very c l o s e to the view of woman as Eve, as the sourde of p a i n . Both completely overlook man's p a r t . Man has been e q u a l l y necessary and re s p o n s i b l e f o r the c r e a t i o n of new l i f e . Yet i t i s woman who bears the burden, and becomes i d e n t i f i e d as i t s source. This i s again s i m i l a r to the r e l i g i o u s complex among the A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s , where i t appears t h a t woman i s seen as too cl o s e to nature i t s e l f to be entrusted w i t h ensuring the s u r v i v a l of s o c i e t y i n c o n f l i c t w i t h nature. I conclude t h a t Buddha r e l a t e d to people i n a s e x i s t manner. I cannot see tha t there i s any point i n speaking of him as enlightened, as he was not l i b e r a t e d from one of the b a s i c d u a l i t i e s i n human consciousness i n human c u l t u r e . Again, enlightenment i s a r e l a t i v e word. There i s a s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n i n our own s o c i e t y . Many 131 s o - c a l l e d r a d i c a l s appear to be conscious of the a r b i t r a r y and oppressive nature of our c u l t u r e . Yet a l o t of them have the same s e x i s t a t t i t u d e s towards women as do other men who ask no questions. They s t i l l see themselves as men — as opposed to women: they want those changes "out t h e r e " , not seeing t h e i r view of themselves as part of the system t h a t needs changing. I f the c u l t u r e i s a male-created c u l t u r e , then males can destroy i t and r e - c r e a t e i t , t h i n k i n g themselves t o t a l l y r a d i c a l , without que s t i o n i n g the very b a s i s from which they do a l l t h i s , i t s e l f a c u l t u r a l d e f i n i t i o n of sex r o l e s . This k i n d of change i s s u p e r f i c i a l . Although i t may ameliorate the l o t of some i n d i v i d u a l s , the b a s i c l a c k of r e c i p r o c i t y i n personal r e l a t i o n s remains. ..I. agree w i t h John S t u a r t M i l l (.1869:129-42) and Shula-mith .Firestone (1971:17G f f . ) t h a t the s e x i s t power r e l a t i o n -s h i p i s the p r o t o t y p i c a l power r e l a t i o n s h i p i n human s o c i e t y . A r e v o l u t i o n which improves the m a t e r i a l l o t of people w i t h -out e r a d i c a t i n g sexism must r e s u l t i n a s p i r i t u a l wasteland. This s t a t e of a f f a i r s i n i t s t u r n would probably soon undo; the m a t e r i a l changes, as the cancer of power spreads anew. The l i b e r a t i o n from sex r o l e s i s not something which i s l i k e l y to f o l l o w other r e v o l u t i o n a r y change, once things s e t t l e down a b i t . I t must a l l be simultaneous, at l e a s t , i n happening i n s o c i e t y ; and l i b e r a t i o n from sexism i n people's consciousness must precede s o c i a l changes i f i t i s going to become r e a l i n our r e l a t i o n s w i t h each other. 132 There i s a book I w i l l l o o k at b r i e f l y here, because i t expresses a meeting between some of the i d e a s c I have been d i s c u s s i n g while t y p i c a l l y l a c k i n g a consciousness of the most important one. The book i s c a l l e d Be Here Haw, i t s e l f a very s p i r i t u a l suggestion. The author, Baba Ram Dass (formerly Richard A l p o r t , a Harvard psychology professor), took a l o t of LSD and other psychedelics over a period of s e v e r a l years. He found t h a t when he was h i g h , he r e a l l y knew: he transcended the c u l t u r a l l i e s about who he was and what l i f e was. But when the e f f e c t s of the chemical wore o f f , i t was as i f he f o r g o t the essence of t h a t knowing. So he went to the East i n search of someone who r e a l l y knew, who was enlightened, i n the hope th a t he could l e a r n from such a person how to stay h i g h . He e v e n t u a l l y found h i s guru i n I n d i a . F i r s t , i t s t r i k e s me that h i s guru i s i n some ways f a r more l i b e r a t e d than most people. He i s apparently very much at peace w i t h h i m s e l f and o t h e r s . He i s s e n s i t i v e to people to the p o i n t where he seems to be able to read t h e i r minds. And he wants to r e f l e c t back what he reads so t h a t people eannsee themselves, understand, and grow. But the second p o i n t makes me wonder i f h i s s e n s i t i v i t y i s s e l e c t i v e , no matter how intense i t may be when i t does happen. The second p o i n t i s t h i s : Baba Ram Bass i s male, h i s t r a v e l l i n g companions on the s p i r i t u a l quest were male, the 133 person who introduced him to the guru i s male, the p a r t i -c u l a r teacher the guru placed him w i t h i s male, and the guru i s male. A l l the people surrounding the guru when Baba]Bam Bass met him were male. Women are apparently p e r i p h e r a l i n t h i s community. For i n s t a n c e , they feed the guru, Judging from the photographs, they are almost always out of s i g h t , or i n the background when v i s i b l e . Now what-ever the s i t u a t i o n may be i n the s o c i e t y i n the midst of which t h i s community e x i s t s — w h i c h may make i t harder f o r women to enter i t i n the f i r s t place — i£ i t i s a t r u l y s p i r i t u a l community, i f i t s guru r e a l l y knows, then the women who are i n i t would not be p e r i p h e r a l persons. Some-t h i n g i s d r a s t i c a l l y l a c k i n g i n the s t a t e of "enlightenment". The t h i r d p o i n t i s t h a t , i n the part of the book c a l l e d "Cookbook f o r a Sacred l i f e " , Baba Ram Dass expresses sexism —• i n a most " s p i r i t u a l " way: I. Let the man worship woman as God, the Holy Mother, the Divine S h a k t i , the Mana, the Food of L i f e , the S u s t a i n e r of Being, I s i s , A s t a r t e , the Good E a r t h , T e r r i b l e K a l i , and H e r s e l f — A l l Of I t . She i s a l l of i t . Let the woman worship man as God, the Son, the Sun, the Father, the L i t e  of Her L i f e , the Creator, the P r o v i d e r , as Jesus, as Ram, as Shiva, as K r i s h n a , as a l l of them and Himself (1971:110-11). [emphasis mine] And: For the woman where w i l l be the heavy p u l l of the e a r t h element (197T$111). 134 These are the same m y t h i c a l images discussed by de Beauvoir:; t h a t r e f l e c t the o r i g i n s of our sexism, of our i n a b i l i t y to r e l a t e to each other, one and a l l , as people: a d i s c r i m i n a t i o n much more f a r - r e a c h i n g than race, i n v o l v -i n g s p l i t t i n g us i n two even w i t h i n o u r s e l v e s . Where i s the female i n the male, the male i n the female? The Y i n -Tang symbol has i t : But t h a t too. can be a dangerous i l l u s i o n : i n the I Ching, the female i s r e c e p t i v e , the male c r e a t i v e . I n r e a l i t y , however, c r e a t i v i t y j u s t i s , r e c e p t i v i t y j u s t i s . Let each of us choose our balance here without having t o con-s i d e r i t a choice.?of v a r y i n g degrees of female o r male. In concluding t h i s chapter, i t seems t o me t h a t i t i s p o s s i b l e f o r a person to become l i b e r a t e d from much of the a r b i t r a r i n e s s of c u l t u r e , and yet s t i l l be trapped by sexism. Consider how i n f i n i t e l y . y f a r one could go i f f r e e d from t h i s i l l u s i o n . ( Perhaps a. mind th a t i s purely masculine cannot c r e a t e , any more than a mind th a t 135 i s purely feminine, I thought. ...Coleridge c e r t a i n l y d i d not mean, when he s a i d that a great mind i s androgynous, t h a t i t i s a mind tha t has any s p e c i a l sympathy w i t h women... . Perhaps the androgynous mind i s l e s s apt to make these d i s t i n c t i o n s than the s i n g l e -sezed mind. He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind i s resonant and porous; tha t i t transmits emotion without impediment; tha t i t i s n a t u r a l l y c r e a t i v e , incandescent and undivided ( V i r g i n i a Woolf, 1 9 2 9 : 1 7 1 ) . 136 FOOTNOTES Quoted i n Aphra, v o l . 3 , no.1, pp.48-49. \ 137 CHAPTER 7 SEXUALITY AND, SEXISM ( i ) Towards a Tr u l y Humanist (Non-sexist) Anthropology ... whether or not they be regarded as pawns i n the marriage game which L e v i -Strauss and other a l l i a n c e theory en-t h u s i a s t s i n s i s t men are always p l a y -i n g , there i s no doubt that i n many, i f not most s o c i e t i e s women are i n f a c t t r e a t e d as p e r i p h e r a l c r e a t u r e s . The p e r i p h e r a l i t y of women i n t h i s sense i s , i r r e s p e c t i v e of the system of descent f o l l o w e d , a general f e a t u r e of a l l those s o c i e t i e s i n which men hold a secure monopoly of the major power p o s i t i o n s and deny t h e i r p a r t -ners e f f e c t i v e j u r a l e q u a l i t y . . Here, of course, there i s i n one sense an obvious and v i t a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n s i n c e , whatever t h e i r l e g a l p o s i t i o n , women are e q u a l l y e s s e n t i a l to the perpetuetic-: a t i o n of l i f e and of men. I t i s they who produce and r e a r c h i l d r e n , and play a major part i n t h e i r e a r l y t r a i n i n g and education. Thus the treatment of women as p e r i p h e r a l persons denies, or 138 at l e a s t ignores, t h e i r fundamental b i o - s o c i a l importance and i n s o c i a l terms clashes w i t h t h e i r deep commit-ment to a p a r t i c u l a r c u l t u r e and so-c i e t y (Lewis 1970:87). I n the i n t r o d u c t i o n , I spoke of s e x u a l i t y as "... the b i o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s between female and male and the r e a l o r assumed p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s dependent on these." I n f o l l o w i n g chapters, I discussed the a b i l i -t y of only one sex to bear c h i l d r e n as the only innate b i o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e between the two, I looked at how c u l t u r a l l y created p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s may develop as a consequence of the way i n which a s o c i e t y deals w i t h the one b i o l o g i c a l f a c t . And I examined r e l i g i o n s —vi*a$£& manifested i n myth, r i t u a l and the m o r a l i t y u n d e r l y i n g s o c i a l a c t i v i t y ; and i n the case of the Kama Sutra through a r e l i g i o u s l y j u s t i f i e d l i t e r a r y work — which r e f l e c t and r a t i o n a l i z e t h i s process of s t e r e o t y p i n g p e r s o n a l i t i e s according to g e n i t a l sexual c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . I concluded t h a t . t h e r e are no innate p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i f f e r e n c e s between the sexes. Women may very w e l l have been, as Vatsyayana thought, more s u b t l e than men on the average (he would probably leave out the l a s t three words); but s u b t l e t y was necessary to deal w i t h the d e c e i t f u l t a c t i c s of men encouraged by the author of the Kama Sutra. Again, I do not f e e l , f o r example, that females are b o m more emotionally s e n s i t i v e than males. Any p s y c h o l o g i c a l 139 d i f f e r e n c e s that are more common to one sex than the other are the outcome of c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n i n g . I t h i n k t h i s i s probably the most c o n t r o v e r s i a l p o i n t I am making. I t i s a l s o my most important one. I f the reader should disagree, I would suggest at l e a s t t h a t we w i l l never d i s c o v e r whatever innate d i f f e r e n c e s might con-c e i v a b l y e x i s t u n t i l we have r i d ourselves of the sexism r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the c u l t u r a l l y created d i f f e r e n c e s . S e x i s t s t e r e o t y p i n g — l i k e a l l -isms and a l l t y p i n g , l i k e a l l r e l i g i o n s — i s oppressive to the growth th a t i s the essence of l i f e . Whether or not one i s p h y s i c a l l y oppressed as the r e s u l t of a c e r t a i n c u l t u r a l c l a s s i f i c a -t i o n , t h a t c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s oppressive i n a s p i r i t u a l sense. Even i f one can, i n mind, transcend the sexism, one s t i l l has to put energy i n t o d e a l i n g w i t h the f a c t t h a t others have not, and i s forced to put l e s s energy i n t o f i n d i n g who she or he r e a l l y i s . But I have discussed the paradox that without t h i s experience of c u l t u r e , i t cannot be transcended. The point about sexism i s t h a t i t denies to woman the p o s s i b i l i t y of sha r i n g f u l l y i n the c u l t u r a l experience — witness the e x c l u s i o n of A b o r i g i n a l women from r i t u a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n and my t h i c a l knowledge — thus i n c r e a s i n g the d i f f i c u l t y of tran s c e n -dence and s p i r i t u a l growth. I r o n i c a l l y and understandably, when t h i s happens, what men may take to be t h e i r own t r a n -scendence and s p i r i t u a l awareness i s a sham as l i b e r a t e d 140 consciousness, as I discussed i n the preceding chapter. Sexism precludes s p i r i t u a l i t y f o r the oppressed and the oppressor. That l i b e r a t i o n from sexual and other c u l t u r a l r o l e s i s happening, and i n c r e a s i n g l y so, i n our s o c i e t y s t r i k e s me not as a c o n t r a d i c t i o n to the above, but as«a r e s u l t of the rat e of change i n our s o c i e t y . This change v i r t u a l -l y makes i t impossible to speak of a constant c u l t u r e , and a c t u a l l y may have the e f f e c t of p r o v i d i n g the experience of transcendence of c u l t u r e . Anthropology, of course, t h r i v e s on the existence of c u l t u r e . Quite r i g h t l y , a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s p o i n t to c u l t u r e as what d i s t i n g u i s h e s us from animals. But u n f o r t u n a t e l y , most of them are too caught up i n c u l t u r e t o transcend i t . U s u a l l y the oppressive nature of c u l t u r e s which are not eq u a l l y shared by the members of the r e s p e c t i v e s o c i e t i e s i s accepted as given. A n t h r o p o l o g i s t s do discuss the e f f e c t s of c u l t u r e on the members of s o c i e t y — Kaberry, f o r example, does di s c u s s women's f e e l i n g s towards the men; and they c r i -t i c a l l y approach each other's e v a l u a t i o n s of these e f f e c t s . But r a r e l y i s the b a s i c m o r a l i t y - o f a c u l t u r e i t s e l f c r i t i c i z e d . This s o - c a l l e d o b j e c t i v i t y i s r e a l l y an extreme sub-j e c t i v i t y , which i s a f r a i d to look at anything i n such a way that the viewpoint i t s e l f i s c a l l e d i n t o question. I f a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s c r i t i c i z e d c u l t u r e s on moral grounds, they would be compelled to look at t h e i r own c u l t u r e , and the a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l d i s c i p l i n e which i s a part of i t , i n 141 i n a s i m i l a r way. In my e s t i m a t i o n , t h i s k i n d of anthropology makes a l a r g e l y negative c o n t r i b u t i o n to understanding i n that i t r e i n f o r c e s the p a r t i c u l a r c u l t u r a l p e r s p e c t i v e of anthro-p o l o g i s t s . I t says, i n e f f e c t : "Others do i t too, so we must be a l l r i g h t " o r " we do i t too, so they must be a l l r i g h t " (e.g., Kaberry), never ask i n g i f maybe a l l of us are m o r a l l y i n the wrong. C u l t u r a l v a r i a t i o n i n the man-ner of doing a c t u a l l y supports t h i s a t t i t u d e : " I n s p i t e of a l l our d i f f e r e n c e s , we are a l l doing the same t h i n g ! " Given the c o n t r a d i c t i o n s , a p o l o g e t i c s and f a i l u r e to ask what I f e e l to be obvious questions i n the w r i t -ings of those a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s whose work I have used as "data", I have o f t e n been l e f t wondering how much of the i n f o r m a t i o n may a c t u a l l y be "capta" (Laing 1967:52-3). I f Kaberry says A b o r i g i n a l women are not jealous of the, men's r e l i g i o u s a c t i v i t i e s , and yet are proud of having the men at a disadvantage during t h e i r own corroborees, I don't f e e l that she has a c l e a r understanding of what she means by jealousy, l e t alone t h a t I do. I am convinced t h a t many a n t h r o p o l o g i s t d i s c r e d i t the experience of the people they are studying — th a t they are not aware of the e x i s t e n t i a l r e a l i t i e s of others -— and that t h i s e x p e r i e n t i a l distance, i s g r e a t e r the more the a n t h r o p o l o g i s t sees h e r s e l f or hi m s e l f ,as 142 studying others. The more one t r i e s to be o b j e c t i v e , the l e s s one r e a l l y sees. The more an a n t h r o p o l o g i s t r e a l l y understands the c u l t u r a l experience of another people, the l e s s would she or he be able to communicate tha t experience i n a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l terms. Experience can only be understood by having i t . One then becomes the other and that d u a l i t y ceases to e x i s t . This i s what l a i n g i s saying i n . The P o l i t i c s of Experience regard-i n g the p s y c h i a t r i s t - p a t i e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p . The strange-ness of a mentally i l l person may be very much a r e a c t i o n to a view of h e r s e l f o r h i m s e l f as strange, as -an*"other" experiencing;,a d i f f e r e n t r e a l i t y , on the part of the t h e r a -p i s t . , O b j e c t i f i c a t i o n r e a l l y does o b j e c t i f y . I t i n c r e a s e s the distance between people so t h a t they cannot see each other i n an organic and comprehensible r e l a t i o n to t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e worlds, Laing says t h a t we destroy the experience of others i n s o f a r as our own experience i s destroyed. I am suggesting t h a t those a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s w i t h whom I have disagreed on t h e i r e v a l u a t i o n s of women's experience of t h e i r s o c i a l p o s i t i o n do not experience what A u s t r a l i a n A b o r i g i n e s , f o r i n s t a n c e , do experience — because i t would mean experiencing themselves more c o n s c i o u s l y , which f o r anyone i n any s i t u a t i o n canobevvery d i f f i c u l t and p a i n f u l . This i s p a r t i c u l a r l y c l e a r to me when Kaberry says t h a t i f an A b o r i g i n a l woman's d u t i e s seem l i k e drudgery, i t i s a 143 f a t e they share w i t h many European women. She does not go on to question the f a t e of European women. In E c s t a t i c R e l i g i o n . I.M.Lewis discusses s p i r i t p ossession and shamanism. This d i s c u s s i o n of the former i s p r i m a r i l y concerned w i t h p e r i p h e r a l possession c u l t s among women. I f e e l that the p o i n t s he makes are h i g h l y r e l e v a n t to what I have been saying i n t h i s chapter and i n the paper as a whole and t h i n k that i t would he best here to quote him at l e n g t h . Par from being a r b i t r a r y and haphazard i n i t s i n c i d e n c e , Cin "the s o c i a l contexts i n which ecstasy and possession f l o u r i s h " ! we shallfjsee how a widespread form of possession, which i s regarded i n i t i a l l y as an i l l n e s s , i s i n many cases v i r t u a l -l y r e s t r i c t e d t o women. Such women's possession " a f f l i c t i o n s " are r e g u l a r l y t r e a t e d not by permanently e x p e l l i n g the possessing agency, but by reaching a v i a b l e accomodation w i t h i t . The s p i r i t i s tamed and domesticated, r a t h e r than e x o r c i s e d . This treatment i s u s u a l l y accomplished by the i n d u c t i o n of the a f f e c t e d women i n t o a female c u l t group which r e g u l a r l y promotes- possession experiences among i t s members. Wi t h i n the secluded c u l t group, possession has thus l o s t , i t s malign s i g n i f i c a n c e . Hence what men consider a demoniacal s i c k n e s s , women convert i n t o a clandes-t i n e ecstasy. ... Por a l l t h e i r concern w i t h disease and i t s treatment, such women's posses-s i o n c u l t s are a l s o , I argue, t h i n l y d i s g u i s e d p r o t e s t movements d i r e c t e d against the dominant sex. They thus play a s i g n i f i c a n t p a r t i n the sex-war i n t r a d i t i o n a l s o c i e t i e s and c u l t u r e s where women l a c k more obvious and d i r e c t means f o r forwarding t h e i r aims. To a considerable extent they p r o t e c t women 144 from the exactions of men, and o f f e r an e f f e c t i v e v e h i c l e f o r manipulating husbands and male r e l a t i v e s . ... ... I t i s I b e l i e v e of the grea t -est importance and i n t e r e s t that these s p i r i t s are t y p i c a l l y considered to be amoral: they have no d i r e c t moral s i g n i -f i c a n c e . F u l l of s p i t e and malice though they are, they are b e l i e v e d to s t r i k e e n t i r e l y c a p r i c i o u s l y and without any grounds which can be r e f e r r e d to the moral character o r conduct of t h e i r v i c t i m s . ... [The women] are thus t o t a l l y blameless... . Lewis says the s p i r i t s are p e r i p h e r a l because they are amoral, they o f t e n o r i g i n a t e outside the s o c i e t y i n ques t i o n , and t h e i r " f a v o u r i t e v i c t i m s are u s u a l l y women, who, as j u r a l minors i n t r a d i t i o n a l s o c i e t i e s , a l s o i n a sense occupy a p e r i p h e r a l p o s i t i o n " . He continues: Such p e r i p h e r a l c u l t s ... a l s o commonly embrace downtrodden c a t e g o r i e s of men who are subject to strong d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i n r i g i d l y s t r a t i f i e d s o c i e t i e s . P e r i -pheral possession i s consequently f a r from being a secure female monopoly, and cannot thus be explained p l a u s i b l y i n terms of any innate tendency to h y s t e r i a on the part of women. ... ... The i l l n e s s r e q u i r e s treatment which h i s ( o r ' l i e r ) masier has to provide. In h i s s t a t e of possession the p a t i e n t i s a h i g h l y p r i v i l e g e d person: he i s allowed many l i b e r t i e s w i t h those whom i n other circumstances he i s req u i r e d to t r e a t w i t h r e s p e c t . ... The possessed person manipulates h i s s u p e r i o r without r a d i c a l l y question-i n g h i s s u p e r i o r i t y I f p e r i p h e r a l possession i s a gesture of defia n c e , i t i s a l s o one of hopelessness. ... We s h a l l f i n d that those who, as masters of s p i r i t s , diagnose and t r e a t 1*5 i l l n e s s i n others, are themselves i n danger of being accused as witches (1971:30-33). Kow I cannot d i r e c t l y use what Lewis says to rebut the statements of those a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s w i t h whom I have d e a l t to the e f f e c t that women are s a t i s f i e d w i t h p e r i -p h e r a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n men's r e l i g i o u s l i f e , o r that they are e q u a l l y happy w i t h t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s which e x i s t by v i r t u e of e x c l u s i o n from those of men. I cannot do t h i s f o r two reasons: 1) because Lewis has not w r i t t e n of the same people as the others, and 2) because my sources con-t a i n no d e s c r i p t i o n of, f o r example, A b o r i g i n a l women's s e c r e t ceremonies as possession c u l t s . While such c u l t s may e x i s t i n A u s t r a l i a , I am not f a m i l i a r w i t h whatever r e l e v a n t l i t e r a t u r e there may be. I am by no means pre-pared to say that Kaberry has overlooked t h i s q u a l i t y of women's ceremonies. But I do f e e l that i t would be value able to consider what she has presented i n the l i g h t of what Lewis says. Kaberry sees women's corroborees as r i t u a l s w i t h an " a p p l i c a t i o n to an immediate problem" (1939:253). Such i s love magic, the major focus of these ceremonies. S i m i l a r l y , women i n the c u l t s described by Lewis g a i n m a t e r i a l goods or a t t e n t i o n which they u s u a l l y l a c k . In the long run, lov e magic i s probably j u s t as "hopeless" as Lewis describes these other techniques to be — perhaps 146 / even i n a much s h o r t e r run. But women's corroborees a l s o p r o t e c t them from the exactions of men, who can be harmed i f they do not avoid the sec r e t r i t e s . Lewis says p e r i p h e r a l possession c u l t s ... may a l s o r e f l e c t a response to Euro-pean conceptions of the s t a t u s of women. C e r t a i n l y , at l e a s t , such c u l t s are acute-l y s e n s i t i v e to changing economic and s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n s , as indeed we should a n t i c i p a t e from t h e i r e f f e c t s (1971:97). I n t e r e s t i n g l y , Kaberry mentions th a t much of women's sec r e t ceremonial l i f e was very new i n the Kimberleys (1939:260). Perhaps they are a l i k e response to s o c i a l change. She adds that they m i t i g a t e the e f f e c t s of marriage r u l e s — a response to European i n f l u e n c e ? I f i n d , i t hard to imagine the p e r i p h e r a l a c t i v i t i e s I have discussed as being s p i r i t u a l l y f u l f i l l i n g . While i t i s c l e a r t h a t they provide immediate f u l f i l l m e n t of c e r t a i n d e s i r e s — I h e s i t a t e to use the word "ecstasy" here as f r e e l y as Lewis does — t h i s experience i s u l t i m a t e -l y h e ld i n check by the c u l t u r e r a t h e r than p r o v i d i n g t r a n -scendence i n a s p i r i t u a l sense. I say t h i s f i r s t because Lewis points out tha t the healers may be seen as able to cause what they are able to cure, and are then d e a l t w i t h as witches; and secondly, because the experience of e i t h e r an accused w i t c h o r a c u l t member who i s not a h e a l e r i s r e s t r i c t e d by the very nature of p e r i p h e r a l c u l t s — t h i s 147 i n c l u d e s corroborees — as a h o s t i l e r e a c t i o n to the c u l t u r e as a whole. I have discussed i n Chapter 3 why I f e e l such m o t i v a t i o n would not l i k e l y he conducive to f r e e s p i r i t u a l development. I t seems to me, then, that there are enough common elements to warrant my suggestion t h a t the experience of Kimberley women has not been t r u l y understood. Lewis comes to a s i m i l a r c o n c l u s i o n regarding Somali women: The prime t a r g e t s f o r the unwelcome a t t e n t i o n s of these malign s p i r i t s are women, and p a r t i c u l a r l y married women. The stock e p i d e m i o l o g i c a l s i t u a t i o n i s that of the hard-pressed w i f e , s t r u g g l i n g to s u r v i v e and feed her c h i l d r e n i n the harsh nomadic environment, and l i a b l e to some degree of n e g l e c t , r e a l or imagined, on the part of the husband. Subject to frequent, sudden and o f t e n prolonged absences by her husband as he f o l l o w s h i s manly p a s t o r a l p u r s u i t s , to the j e a l o u s i e s and tensions of polygamy which are not v e n t i l a t e d i n accusations of sorcery and w i t c h c r a f t , and always menaced by the precarioushess of marriage i n a s o c i e t y where divorce i s frequent and e a s i l y obtained by men, the Somali woman's l o t o f f e r s l i t t l e s t a b i l i t y and s e c u r i t y . These, I hasten to add, are not e t h n o c e n t r i c judgements read i n t o the data by a tender-minded western a n t h r o p o l o g i s t , but, as I know from my own d i r e c t experience, e v a l u a t i o n s which s p r i n g r e a d i l y to the l i p s of Somali women and which I have f r e q u e n t l y heard discussed. Somali tribeswomen are f a r from being as naive as those anthropolo-• g i s t s (see,e.g. Wilson, 1967,pp.67-78) who suppose that t r i b a l l i f e c o n d i t i o n s i t s womenfolk to an u n f l i n c h i n g accep-tance of hardship and to an unquestioning endorsement of the p o s i t i o n accorded them by men (1971 :75).' 148 The p o s i t i v e c o n t r i b u t i o n of most anthropology has been, I t h i n k , b a s i c a l l y u n i n t e n t i o n a l . I t c o n s i s t s of the f a c t t h a t anything i n l i f e can be a touchstone f o r understanding. When Berndt says what I paraphrased as "Even though womeniare excluded from, they share i n • ••", or White t a l k s of A b o r i g i n a l women as " j u n i o r p a r t n e r s " , these are c o n t r a d i c t i o n s i n terms, not paradoxes of s o c i a l r e a l i t y . Such c o n t r a d i c t i o n s are m i r r o r s i n which we can see the broken images of our incomplete understanding. Perhaps i t seems tha t i f , i n l o o k i n g at ourselves i n others, we see only what we want to see — usi n g a one-way m i r r o r , so to speak — then we are even l e s s l i k e l y t o see our true r e f l e c t i o n s i n l o o k i n g d i r e c t l y a t ours e l v e s . But here we have a r e a l paradox: the way we see others i s a r e f l e c t i o n of the way we see ours e l v e s . To change any of i t we must s t a r t at the beginning, w i t h o u r s e l v e s . Now tha t does not mean doing an a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l study of anthropology, because the b a s i c a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l assumptions would s t i l l not be c a l l e d i n t o question. The r e s u l t s would be the same as i n the case of male " r a d i c a l s " who, as I discussed i n the pre-v i o u s chapter, have ideas about completely "changing!" s o c i e t y without questioning the s e x i s t b a s i s of the o l d system, on the foundations of which they would s t i l l c o n s t r u c t a new one. Any change would be s u p e r f i c i a l , an appearance. 149 ( i i ) S t a r t Here I s a i d i n the i n t r o d u c t o r y chapter t h a t I do not f e e l m y s t i c a l experience i s n e c e s s a r i l y s p i r i t u a l : b a s i c a l l y , i t may i n v o l v e p e r p e t u a t i o n of those c u l t u r a l values which are oppressive to s p i r i t u a l i t y . I w i l l go i n t o t h i s once again here, although from a d i f f e r e n t angle, as I f e e l i t helps to c l a r i f y what I mean by s p i r i t u a l i t y . I t i s o f t e n thought t h a t a s p i r i t u a l experience i n -volves surrendering to another, a higher power, be i t god, d e v i l , or whatever. Now i t s t r i k e s me that t h i s process may work i n two d i f f e r e n t ways. I t may on the one hand be a surrender of the " s e l f " which i s the c u l t u r a l d e f i n i t i o n of o neself to that S e l f which transcends c u l t u r e . On the other hand i t may not e n t a i l any growth, i f the a r b i t r a r y values of one's c u l t u r e are merely traded fOr other ones: one i s converted to a new r e l i g i o n . I n t h i s case, i t i s s t i l l f e l t t hat someone e l s e knows what i s best f o r o n e s e l f . I t i s s t i l l being an Other. I do not mean to preclude the p o s s i b i l i t y of s p i r i t u a l teachers and guides. A s p i r i t u a l master, f o r example, may be seen asaBasterrof o n e s e l f , or as master of himself o r h e r s e l f to a point which one would a l s o l i k e to reach o n e s e l f . I n the l a t t e r i n s t a n c e , the b a s i c d e c i s i o n s a f f e c t i n g one's l i f e are s t i l l one's own, and can thus be r e a l i z e d i n one's r e l a t i o n s w i t h people. 150 Surrendering to another power, then, i s only a s p i r i t u a l experience i f the essence of tha t power i s o n e s e l f . Other-wise, i t i s an assuming of the r o l e of the Other, the essence of the female r o l e i n human s o c i e t y . I have p r e v i o u s l y quoted de Beauvoir on t h i s p o i n t , and t h i n k i t i s worth doing so a g a i n : I h i s downfall represents a moral f a u l t i f the subject consents to i t ; i f i t i s i n f l i c t e d upon him, i t s p e l l s f r u s t r a -t i o n and oppression. I n both cases i t i s an absolute e v i l ( 1 9 6 1 ; x x v i i i ) . I have discussed how r e l i g i o n works to keep females i n the r o l e of the Other, to keep them passive —4 the persons acted upon, as Vatsyayana would say. I have a l s o been say-i n g , e s s e n t i a l l y , t h a t c u l t u r e puts a l l of us, male as w e l l as female, i n t h i s p o s i t i o n of the Other. While i t i s i ' ' a twofold oppression f o r women, i t keeps a l l of us s p l i t w i t h i n o u r s e l v e s , r e p r e s s i n g the female o r male, as the case may be. De Beauvoir says t h a t , although otherness i s a funda-mental category of human thought, i t "... was not o r i g i n a l l y attached to the d i v i s i o n of the sexes; i t was not dependent upon any e m p i r i c a l f a c t s " ( 1 9 6 1 : x v i - x v i i ) . I s a i d s i m i l a r l y , . i n the preceding chapter, t h a t the d u a l i t y i n the Yin-Yang symbol can be a dangerous i l l u s i o n i f c u l t u r a l values of female and male are a t t r i b u t e d , r e s p e c t i v e l y , to the black 151 p a s s i v e , r e c e p t i v e s i d e o r the white a c t i v e , c r e a t i v e s i d e . This i s so reg a r d l e s s of the union between the two and the f a c t t h a t each i s represented assto some extent c o n t a i n i n g the other. I f we can be l i b e r a t e d from t h i s i l l u s i o n , then some-where i n us we have always been what we can be. We have been made t o f o r g e t , been made pas s i v e , by r e l i g i o n . So s p i r i t u a l search must be a c t i v e . The a c t i v e s t r i v i n g i n the s p i r i t u a l process leads to a r e c e p t i v i t y , an awareness of the r e l a t i o n s between oneself and the universe. 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