Week 5 Activity-Feminist Theory-Sarah Dettloff

I am choosing to use feminist theory to help more closely examine ‘Machismo’ and the ripple-like effects it has on the health of Columbian women. First, it would be beneficial to have a better understanding of what feminist theory is, and why it is helpful in better understanding certain issues.

Feminist theory cannot be defined in a single thought as there are various strands that make up the theory as a whole. Understanding each strand is important, but for this case, we will examine only the most relevant. Starting with one of the main ideas of feminist theory, as stated in the lectures from week 1, is the idea that gender is the deciding factor in any noticeable societal, medical, or political difference. It is solely the idea of gender that is causing any inequalities in the observed society.

One of the first strands of feminist theory is known as practice theory, which can be explained in a way similar to Marx’s way of explaining that, “all social activity comes down to practice.” This is said best in Conkey and Gero’s 1997 work that expands on the former theory stating, “It is about how people behave, not about a quality they possess.” This statement is short and to the point, but at the same time holds so many societal implications, especially in the case regarding Machismo in Columbia.

Feminist theory is the best anthropological perspective to use to better understand and study Machismo, because the main concept behind both ideas is fully based on gender and the inequalities thereof. For machismo, we can look at the fact that it is the general knowledge and understanding that there do exist differences between a male and a female, and that those differences thereby rectify some sort of power and advantage for the superior gender, male.

Looking closer at one of the theories sub-strands as formerly discussed, we can use Conkey and Gero’s argument in talking about machismo as well. For those that abide by this Latin tradition, it is purely the character of being either male or female that dictates the roles one plays in society as well as how much power you are given. However, taking a closer look at this, one can see that it is not just the genes and character of gender that dictate these roles but rather the continued practice over generation and generation that places men and women in certain roles. Men, have taken bread-winning roles, no doubt to maintain this gender based power. The same goes for women being expected to stay home and withhold tradition and family pride and values.  So in this context, the roles of the men and women help to determine how dependent they are of each other, which then determines how much power one can have over the other. In more recent Columbian culture, middle and lower class families have needed women to go out of the home to work and this in turn has shifted the power back in those women’s favor by maintaining more independence from the men in their lives.

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