Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Work and women's liberation: A...
 Work and women's liberation: A...
 Work and women's liberation: A...
 Work and women's liberation: A...
 Work and women's liberation: A...
 Work and women's liberation: A...
 Work and women's liberation: A...
 Undervaluation of the dignity of...
 Our bodies are our own by Jean...
 "Making the baby fall": Ethnomedicine...
 Sexual attitudes of university...
 Book reviews
 Subscription information
 Back Cover

Group Title: Florida journal of anthropology.
Title: The Florida journal of anthropology
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080511/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Florida journal of anthropology
Physical Description: v. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: University of Florida -- Anthropology Student Association
Publisher: University of Florida Anthropology Student Association.
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Anthropology -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: v. 1- winter 1976-
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080511
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000072437
oclc - 04583137
notis - AAH7697
lccn - 79640139
issn - 0164-1662

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
        Preface 1
        Preface 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    Work and women's liberation: A case study of garment workers by Helen I. Safa
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Work and women's liberation: A case study of garment workers by Helen I. Safa
        Page 3
    Work and women's liberation: A case study of garment workers by Helen I. Safa
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Work and women's liberation: A case study of garment workers by Helen I. Safa
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Work and women's liberation: A case study of garment workers by Helen I. Safa
        Page 9
    Work and women's liberation: A case study of garment workers by Helen I. Safa
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Work and women's liberation: A case study of garment workers by Helen I. Safa
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23-24
    Undervaluation of the dignity of rural women in development programs by Luz Graciela Joly
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Our bodies are our own by Jean Gearing
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    "Making the baby fall": Ethnomedicine and birth in northern Ecuador by Lawrence Carpenter
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
    Sexual attitudes of university students by Linda Wolf
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    Book reviews
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
    Subscription information
        Page 74
    Back Cover
        Page 75
Full Text


S The articles in this issue are not about women exclusively; they
are about women in society. These articles are presented here as
evidence of growth in the discipline of anthropology. Feminist
ideology has led many anthropologists throughout the past decade to
pose some new questions about the underpinnings of Western society
and, in particular, the scientific tradition. It has been suggested
that the lenses through which we examine societies are not as
objective as we had once imagined.

The lead article by Safa presents an interesting challenge to some
of the views which have been expressed regarding the impact of
female employment on the family. The two books discussing
sociobiological investigations which are reviewed by Wolfe in this
issue illustrate how one's suppositions about the inherent
characteristics of men and women can influence one's selection of
case material for study. Several other articles in this issue deal
with human sexuality and childbirth. The continuity of society is
dependent upon the introduction of new members and women play key
Roles in this process. Consequently, the degree of power and
prestige accorded them has special significance.

hM ch of the significance of Carpenter's article on childbirth in
Ecuador lies not in the actual data but rather in the fact that
the data on birthing was obtained in the course of linguistic
investigations. As he points out, a researcher studying these birth
practices who was unable to question the people in Quichua might
never have gained entry into this aspect of their life, since what
!is talked about and how it is talked about may differ from language
to language, even in the same community. All of these articles
illustrate how anthropology is expanding to explore new aspects of
human life.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


Work and Women's Liberation: A Case of Garment Workers
Helen I. Safa............................................ 1

Undervaluation of the Dignity of Rural Women in Development
Luz Graciela Joly.......................................18

Our Bodies Are Our Own
Jean Gearing........................................... 22

"Making the Baby Fall": Ethnomedicine and Birth in Northern
Lawrence K. Carpenter..................................40

Sexual Attitudes of University Students
Linda Wolfe .............................................51

Book Reviews...................................................... 60
The Red Lamp of Incest
The Woman That Never Evolved
Linda Wolfe

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981


Helen I. Safa
Director, Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

As increasing numbers of women enter the labor force in the
United States, a substantial amount of research has been directed
toward the impact of women's work on family life and the status
of women generally. Although most of the research in this area
has been conducted by sociologists, anthropologists can make an
important contribution by questioning some of the major
assumptions on which this research is based. By bringing to
their material the comparative and holistic framework on which
anthropology is based, anthropologists tend to be far more
skeptical of universalistic norms regarding the "liberating"
effects of wage labor on women in the United States or elsewhere.
There are at least two principal and contradictory theories
regarding the "liberating" effects of wage labor on women, both
of which will be examined here. The first stems from
modernization theory propounded by structural-functionalists who
argue that incorporation into wage labor brings women greater
self-fulfillment, economic independence, and authority within the
home. Modernists postulate that working wives participate in a
more egalitarian form of family life, with decreased dependence
on the husband's income earning capacity (e.g., Blood and Wolfe
1960; Goode 1970; Shorter 1973). However, most of these
suppositions are based on studies of middle class women, who are
relatively free to choose whether they wish to work or not and
who also have a wider range of jobs open to them than working
class women, who are still confined to poorly paid, dead end
jobs. The fact is that the great majority of working women in
the United States are still forced to work out of economic need,
either to supplement the inadequate wages of their husbands, or,
in the case of female-headed households, to support the family
entirely. in 1976, for example, 84% of the women in the U. S.
labor force either supported themselves or were married to men
earning under $15,000 per year (Zaretsky 1973:215). Thus, it is
not just whether women work or not, but the reasons why they work
and the kind of work they do which conditions the effect of
employment on women's status within the home and the larger

An expanded version of this article will appear in
the Anthropology of Urban America2 edited by Leith
Mullings, to be published by Columbia University Press,
in 1982.

The author retains the copyright on the present

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

While the structural-functionalists emphasize the autonomy
which women gain from wage labor, Marxists applauded the entrance
of women into the labor force for another reason. Following Marx
and Engels, Marxists feel that wage labor is the best way of
overcoming the isolation and alienation of the housewife, and of
promoting class consciousness in women. Liberation through work
is thus largely defined as increasing politicization and
integration of women into the class struggle.
How "liberating", in fact, is wage labor upon women, in
either the Marxist or structural-functionalist framework?. Do
working women enhance their status or authority in the household
and in the larger society as a result of paid employment? Do
they become more conscious of their own subordinate status as
women and as members of an exploited working class? How, in
short, does long term paid employment alter women's perceptions
of inequality and subordination in the home, in the work place,
and in the larger society?
I will attempt to answer this question by examining data
gathered in 1977 on one group of eighty women who represent
approximately a 20% sample of production workers in a fairly
large garment plant in New Jersey. (1) I concentrated on one
group of women all employed in the same industry in order to
demonstrate the importance for female employment of such factors
as the kind of work women do, the reason they are employed, the
length of time they are employed, and the class origin, race,
age, marital status and other characteristics of the women
workers. I hope to demonstrate that the impact of wage labor on
women cannot be studied in isolation, and that in certain cases,
paid work may actually reinforce traditional patterns and values
rather than "liberating" women.
The garment plant studied is located in a small, industrial
city of 72,000 people with a long working class history dating
back to the end of the 19th century with the start of large-scale
industrialization and the concurrent increase in irrmigration.
Since 1947, a decline in heavy industry in the Northeast has led
to a 40% decrease in manufacturing jobs, but nevertheless 42% of
all jobs in the city are still in this sector (Goodman 1978: 32).
The loss of jobs for both men and women in the aging industrial
belt of the Northeast is depriving these working class
communities of the economic base which sustained their distinctive
life style. (2) I shall describe some aspects of this working
class life style with particular reference to working women in
the following pages.
It became clear early in the study that in order to
understand the attitudes and behavior of garment workers, we had
to become informed about the history of the industry in the
United States, including its changing structure of production
(size of firms, level of technology and capital investment, ease
of entry and degree of competition, etc.) as well as the kinds of
women recruited to work inthis industry in different historical
periods. Therefore, before preceding with an analysis of the

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

data collected, both the structure of production and worker
recruitment in this industry will be discussed.


The apparel industry, which includes men's and women's
clothing, is the largest industrial employer of women in the
United States. It has remained far more labor-intensive than
other types of manufacturing, due to frequent and rapid shifts in
style which limit the degree of technological change, especially
in the sewing process. Because of fierce competition and the
need for flexibility, only large manufacturing plants such as the
one studied here engage in the full range of production, which in
other cases is divided between jobbers who design and sell and
contractors who sew. In 1974 roughly half the plants in the
industry employed fewer than 20 workers, who are generally small
contractors (NACLA 1977: 5-7). The extent of competition in the
industry can be judged by the fact that in 1978, 18% of apparel
firms in New York City were in their first year of operation,
while 20% went out of business during the year (NACLA 1979: 38).
One way of meeting competition in the apparel industry is by
keeping wages down. The apparel industry pays lower wages than
any other major industry group in the United States, and is also
subject to periodic layoffs and slowdowns (NACLA 1977: 8). Like
the women studied here, most women are employed as semi-skilled
operators, with average wages of $3.86 an hour in New York City
in 1979. This wage, while higher than in other areas, is less
than half of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says is needed
as a lower level budget for a family of four to survive in New
York (NACLA 1979: 38). In the study's sample, weekly wages
ranged from $100 to over $160, depending on piecework. Though
some garment workers apparently support a family on this wage,
(3) in this sample most non-married women either live alone or
with grown children or another relative (most likely a sister)
who is also employed. The wages in the garment industry, then,
are designed to be supplemental and force the women to look to
her husband or other sources of income for support.
There is almost no possibility of advancement in the garment
industry. Workers can increase their wages through the speed and
skill of their piecework, and therefore prefer to stay on one
operation, no matter how monotonous, then being switched from one
job to another, as often happens during slack periods. All
operators are paid the same base rates and all workers earn this
Irate, regardless of years of service. Naturally, this induces
considerable turnover in the garment industry, particularly in
.the smaller, non-unionized shops which offer no security of
employment. However, in the garment plant studied here, which is
larger and unionized, almost three-fourths of the women sampled
|have been working in the same plant since the 1950's and for
many, it has been their first and only source of employment.

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

The reasons that this plant contains a high percentage of
stable, long-term (and also older) women workers is that it has
basically not hired many production workers since the mid 1950's,
when it opened plants in West Virginia and later in Puerto Rico.
Rather than shutting down completely, as some plants have done,
the company has been following a slow process of attrition,
leaving them with older, long-term employees, and also shifting
some women out of production into shipping and distribution.
This insecurity of employment is a basic cause of concern and
dissatisfaction among the women and reinforces their dependency
on management, which could threaten them with total shutdown. It
adds to the already paternalistic quality of most garment shops,
with a largely female work force presided over by male
management, thus replicating the authority patterns of the
traditional patriarchal family.
The union, the I.L.G.W.U. (International Ladies Garment
Workers Union) is male-dominated and maintains a highly
paternalistic style in dealing with members, emphasizing services
and fringe benefits like medical care, paid vacations etc., over
higher wages and worker militancy (NACLA 1979: 37). Though known
for its former militancy and radicalism, the I.L.G.W.U. appears
to have adopted a more cautious, restrictive policy, particularly
in regard to wages, in a desperate attempt to keep the garment
industry in New York City (Hill 1974: 388). The union has lost
much of its power to negotiate as union membership dropped 14%
between 1968 and 1974, with a loss of 28,000 members in 1974-1975
alone (NACLA 1977: 17).
It would seem, then, that the conditions of work in the
garment industry reinforce the subordination of women in the work
place. The garment industry pays poorly, offers no chance of
advancement and is increasingly insecure as production is moved
abroad. Management and union relationships with workers are
highly paternalistic, in part stenrming from the history of
recruitment into the garment industry, which will be examined in
the next section.


The garment industry has traditionally provided a principal
source of employment for immigrant women, beginning with Jewish
women in the late 19th century, and continuing with Italian,
Polish and other East European women (cf.Stein 1977), while today
Hispanic women constitute the latest growing proportion of the
work force, at least in New York City (NACLA 1977: 7). Irrmmigrant
women were attracted to the garment industry because it did not
require a knowledge of English and often premitted them to work
at home, which was particularly advantageous for married women
although they were paid at terribly exploitative piecework rates
(cf. Cohen 1977). In addition, immigrant women often possessed
the sewing skills necessary for work in the garment industry,
which gives only minimal on-the-job training, and in which wages

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

largely depend on the skill and speed of the operator.
Most of the women we interviewed were second-generation
Europeans, whose parents came from Italy, Poland or other East
European countries, and they prided themselves on their sewing
skills, which set them apart from those who do routine factory
work. Nearly three-fourths of the women interviewed were white
and most of them were Roman Catholic, as might be expected with
this immigrant background. Most of them (71.2%) have lived in
the area all their lives or arrived as children, while over
two-thirds were born in New Jersey. Many immigrant families were
attracted to this area earlier in the century by the availability
of manual jobs for men on the docks or in the burgeoning oil and
chemical industry (much of which has now shut down). Though
surrounded by black and Hispanic communities, the town in which
the plant is located has largely retained its white ethnic
working class character. Nearly all (95%) of our respondents
have relatives living nearby, chiefly siblings whom they see
almost daily. Most of their brothers and sisters are also in
blue-collar jobs.
Over 80% of the white women were hired at this plant in the
1950's or earlier, before the reduction in production took place.
Over half started working before they were 18, often before they
completed high school. Some started working during the
depression in the 1930's, and 70% of these women were still
working at the same job.
Nearly 70% of these white women were over 50 years of age.
Most of them married, usually between the ages of 20 and 25
(earlier if they were not working), but a good number remained
single, and some were widowed. Today the white women in this
sample break down into two major groups, a younger, married group
and an older group of single and formerly married women, divorced
from their husbands or in most cases, widows. Single and
formerly married women constitute nearly half the entire sample,
and either lived alone, or with their children (if formerly
married) or other relatives, usually a sister, (if single).
Thus, households of white workers tended to be very small, with a
median household size of approximately 2.2 persons, and over half
consisted of one or two persons. Even in the case of married or
formerly married women, few had more than one or two children,
many of whom were grown and living apart.
Marital status was an important determinant of total family
'income, since it coincided with an increased number of wage
learners in the family. Thus, 73% of married couples had annual
incomes of $8000 or more, compared to 27% of single and formerly
married women. Where there were two wage earners in the
household, 55% had an annual income of over $10,000, whereas
two-thirds of the households with a single wage earner had annual
incomes below $8000 (See Table 1). Only one-fifth of the
households studied had ever been on welfare, which was generally
shunned as a mark of low status.

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

Annual family incomes were almost identical in the white and
non-white group sampled (See Table 2), (4) though median family
size among Blacks and Hispanics was somewhat larger (2.71), thus
resulting in slightly lower per capital incomes. The salaries of
Blacks and Hispanics were also lower, with 60% earning less than
$120 weekly compared to 35% fo the white workers, a good number
of whom earned $160 or more a week. This statistic may be
partially explained by the fact that the Blacks and Hispanics had
not worked in the plant as long as the white women. Few Black
and Hispanic women were hired before the 1950's. They arrived in
the area generally as adults over the age of 20, in contrast to
white workers who were generally life-long residents. Due to the
relative recency of their arrival, fewer Black and Hispanic women
had relatives living in the area. Fewer of them owned their own
homes, which represented a major investment in white working
class families, with some houses passing on from parents to
children, or relatives sharing a two-family house.
The sharpest racial differences in this sample occur in
terms of age and marital status, which may be more important
determinants of attitudes and values than race, per se. The
Black and Hispanic women who were recruited tended to be younger;
62% were under the age of 50 compared to half that percentage
among whites. Almost all the Black and Hispanic women had
married, but one-third were divorced or widowed. Like the white
women, most Black and Hispanic women had only one or two
children, though many came from much larger households (For a
discussion of the fertility implications of female employment see
Safa 1979). All of the single women in the garment factory were
white, and most of them lived alone on very small incomes. Many
of them had cared for their parents in their old age and
continued to live in their parent's home which they inherited
after their parents' death.
Despite these differences, however, the socio-economic
status of the white, Black and Hispanic women in our sample is
very similar. All work at the same occupation and have
comparable educational levels, with the greatest number having
gone to high school or completed high school. In both cases,
their husbands are also employed predominantly in blue-collar
jobs, generally making over $200 a week, with the result that
annual family income is almost identical (See Table 2). In terms
of income, occupation, education, and residence, both groups
belong to the stable working class.
The long-term stability of marriage, residence and
occupation for most of these women is an important determinant of
their attitudes toward work, the family, and the larger society,
as we shall see in the following pages. The study sample cannot
be considered representative of the garment industry as a whole,
since the number of Blacks and Hispanic women is quite small, and
even they come from higher educational and class backgrounds than
most garment workers. The total absence of households headed by
women with younger children attests to this fact. Instead, the

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

sample should be considered representative of an older,
predominantly white generation of garment workers, who have
worked in the industry for a long time. As such, they offer us a
unique opportunity to examine the impact of long-term female
employment on women's attitudes toward inequality in the home, in
the work place and in the larger society.


I will begin with attitudes towards work, since these are
basic to an understanding of the other values of most of these
women. As we have seen, most of these women are older, white and
have worked in the industry a long time. Does long-term
employment lead to increased militancy? Or does the advanced age
of long-term employees militate against a heightened sense of
discrimination and subordination on the job? How does this
relate to job commitment?
As might be expected, age and length of employment correlate
strongly with a woman's 4utu-e work p!?rn. -'carly 80% of the
women over the age of 50 were planning to continue working until
retirement. Most of these older women would stay home if they
lost their present job. Looking at the total sample however, 65%
of the women would look for another job, indicating a very strong
work commitment among these women. Ninety percent of the
formerly married women indicated they would look for another job
if they lost their present employment, reflecting a greater
economic need among these women.
While 70% of the women interviewed expressed satisfaction
with their present job, those dissatisfied tended to be among the
short-term employees, non-white and with higher educational
backgrounds. Thus, over half of the Black and Hispanic women
indicated dissatisfaction with their present job compared to
21.4% of the white women, no doubt relating in part to their
,lower wages. Half of those women who completed high school were
dissatisfied compared to about one-fifth of those women with less
As would be expected, there was a strong correlation between
dissatisfaction with present job and negative perception of
changes at the plant in the time they had been working there; 80%
of those dissatisfied felt that the work situation had worsened,
due largely to reduction in production and consequent layoffs,
switches between jobs, and declining job security.
Dissatisfaction with garment work was expressed primarily in
the desire to find another job, rather than in increased
militancy in their current employment. Thus, nearly half of the
Black and Hispanic women said they had thought of looking for
another job compared to 28.8% of the white women. Seventy
percent of Black and Hispanic women expressed an interest in
office work, reflecting higher educational levels and
occupational aspirations in this group. (5) Whereas 63.2% of the
white women thought that factory jobs were good for women, one

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

half the Black and Hispanic women rejected this notion. It would
appear that most white women, particularly the older, long-term
employees have resigned themselves to their present situation,
and are quite content to stay in their current job until they
retire. As one older white garment worker who had been employed
in the plant for the last 30 years complained: "The skills we
have now, we can't use anywhere else... Where do we go from
here?... The young girls who come to work here don't last. But
we stay on for our pensions. What choice do we have?"
It might be thought that older women would reject the notion
of married women with children working. However, the work ethic
is so strong in these women, that over three-fourths of them felt
that married women with children should work. This belief was
even more prevalent among married women, many of whom themselves
managed to raise children while they worked, usually with the aid
of female relatives. Prior to the mid 1950's, when this factory
was in full production, the management made various concessions
to women with children, including early dismissals to allow them
to be home when the children came home from school and temporary
layoffs during sumner vacations, and for illness, pregnancy, and
other family problems. As one older white women said proudly:
"My son never knew I worked!" She was proud, not of her job, but
of her ability to keep a job and still fulfill her obligations as
a mother.
Women were asked if a woman with young children, whose
husband had abandoned her, should work or go on welfare. Again,
a majority of our respondents felt that the woman should work,
reflecting the strong stigma against welfare in both white and
non-white groups. This sentiment was even more prevalent among
older women. Work differentiated these older, often financially
insecure women from the welfare underclass and even if it
conflicted with other strong values, such as a woman's concern
for her children, the desire to work was generally paramount.
As we would expect, Black and Hispanic women were somewhat
more sensitive to sexual discrimination on the job then were
white women, who had not been subjected to "double"
discrimination. Over half of the Black and Hispanic women felt
women had a harder time finding a job than men while nearly 70%
of the white women rejected this notion. Most women, especially
Blacks and Hispanics, also felt that men are better paid for the
same work than women, whereas almost all women believed in equal
pay of equal work.
While most of our respondents were in favor of the Equal
Rights Amendment, especially the better educated, only 20% of the
women felt that legislation was the most effective way for women
to get ahead. Even fewer placed their faith in unions. In
general, there was a rejection of strategies implying collective
action, such as unions or legislation in favor of more
individualistic approaches such as education. The strong belief
in education is curious, because as we shall see, it appears to
have had little impact on our respondents' socio-economic status,

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

as measured by income or class identification.


It would seem from the foregoing that paid wage labor has
hardly been conducive to class consciousness in these women.
Their attitudes toward work demonstrate a strong traditionalism,
manifested in a firm belief in the value of hard work, education
and other traditional values. Is this traditionalism also
evident in their family life? Has their concept of sex roles
within the family changed as a result of their long years of
labor? (6)
We began by asking whether paid wage labor has had any
effect on how these women think about themselves. Nearly 70% of
the women answered affirmatively, most noting that they felt more
independent, were better informed, dressed better, etc.
However, the sense of independence which employment conveyed
to women did not appear to have had a strong impact on household
authority patterns. Almost 80% of the married women interviewed
rejected the notion that working had given them more authority,
many noting that they had always shared decision-making with
their husbands and that work had made little difference. (7) In
fact, less than one-fourth of the married women said that their
husbands made most of the important decisions; the rest said that
decisions were shared or that they alone made them, suggesting
that working class family patterns are not as patriarchal as has
been assumed. Less than half the married white women noted that
working generally gave women more authority, compared to 70% of
Black and Hispanic women, who evidently had a stronger sense of
economic independence. Nevertheless, nearly all the married
women felt that it was easier for a woman to leave her husband if
she was working, so work at least gave these women a sense of
financial security.
Women generally earned much less than their husbands, most
of whom made over $200 a week unless they were already retired.
Most women continued to regard their husbands as the primary
!breadwinners, but resented the notion that they only work for
"pin money." Their wages were considered essential to the
family's well-being and was rarely spent on their own personal
needs. Most of the women's wages were "pooled" with their
husband's to further family interests pay for the children's
education, or buy a house, furnishings or a car. In most cases,
the women reported that in their household husband and wife
shared the decision on how to spend their wages. Paid labor did
not appear to be a major threat to the man's authority, as has
been reported for other working class families (cf. Rubin 1974:
174-184). Nearly three-fourths of the married women reported
that their husbands did not object to their working because both
realized that the family needed the extra income.

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

Most of these working women continued to carry a full load
of household chores, including cooking, cleaning, shopping,
laundry, and paying the bills. While husbands often help out
around the house many married women still felt that the home was
their primary responsibility, and they denied the need for
outside help from their husbands or anyone else.
The respondents's traditional view of sex roles is reflected
in the fact that 60% of the white women felt that education was
more important for the man, while half of the Blacks and
Hispanics felt education is equally important for both sexes (See
Table 3). If forced to make a choice as to whom to send to
college, most white women would send the boy, while Black and
Hispanic women showed no marked sexual preferences. While these
racial and ethnic differences are not statistically significant,
they are supported by other literature which suggests a more
egalitarian ethic in black families (cf. Ladner 1971; Stack
If one compares the actual educational attainment of sons
and daughters in these working class families, however, they are
very similar, with a good number of both sexes having gone to
college or graduate school. There is a strong correlation
between educational and occupational attainment, particularly
among daughters, where almost all those who went to college or
graduate school are in white-collar jobs (See Table 4). Most of
these women reject factory work for their sons and even more so
for their daughters. While these women remain quite traditional
with respect to the household division of labor, they seem to be
more egalitarian than most non-working women, particularly among
younger Black and Hispanic women. Women control their own
salaries, most of which however, is spent on the family.
Husbands share their wages and decision-making authority with
their wives, and do not appear very authoritarian or very
threatened by their wives working. More than anything else, the
ability to earn a living seems to enable women to feel more
independent, to be more willing to accept responsibility for
important household decisions, and to feel they can leave if the
marital situation becomes intolerable.


Now that I have examined the respondents's perceptions of
inequality in the home and in the workplace, I shall look at how
they perceive themselves in relation to the larger society. What
is their degree of political consciousness as measured by their
view of and participation in the political process. With which
class group do they identify themselves and their children?
Though most Americans describe themselves as middle class,
one half of the respondents identify as working class, with about
one-third identifying as middle class, and 10% as poor. The
group that identifies as middle class tends to be white (88.9%),
married (59.3%) and those families with higher incomes (see Table

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

5). The strong correlation with income is shown by the fact that
80% of the families with incomes of $16,000.or over identify as
middle class, whereas those who identify as working class almost
all have incomes below this amount, while those who identify as
very poor generally fall below $8000 annually.
As I have shown previously (Table 1), income is highly
dependent on the number of wage earners in the household, which
helps explain the high percentage of married couples who identify
as middle class. However, income does not explain the low
percentage of Blacks and Hispanics who identify as middle class
(11%), since income among whites and non-whites is almost
identical (Table 2). Instead it would seem that Blacks and
Hispanic women factory workers are more likely to identify as
working-class regardless of income level. (8)
Occupation or education does not appear to be as significant
an indicator of class status as income for these working-class
women as. For example, the husband's occupation bears little
relationship to perceived class identification. The husbands of
our respondents were predominantly blue-collar workers, yet
respondents's class identification in these cases is evenly
divided between middle class and working class and a few poor.
Of course, a large variety of jobs can be,classified as
blue-collar, and status may vary by salary and skill level. Yet
clearly the husband's occupation is not the status determinant in
working class, blue-collar families which it is thought to be in
middle-class, white collar families.
There is no significant evidence of upward mobility between
the parents of our respondents and the current generation, as
judged by the high correlation between perceived class levels of
the two generations. Most women tend to perceive themselves as
the same class level as their parents, with the highest
percentage identifying themselves and their parents as working
class. Even most of those who identify as middle class see their
parents at the same class level.
There is some evidence of perceived upward mobility for the
children of our respondents. Although parents' and children'
class level are again strongly correlated, 62.2 % of the mothers
perceive their children as being middle-class. Where sons and
daughters are in white-collar occupations, they are primarily
identified by their mothers as middle class, while blue-collar
occupations are again evenly divided between middle class and
,working class.
Given the apparent upward mobility of most of the
respondents's children, we might expect these women to be
relatively optimistic regarding the general possibilities of
social mobility in the United States. However, nearly 70% of our
respondents rejected the idea that social mobility is easy in the
United States, regardless of race. Those who accepted that
mobility was easy usually were married (70%), identified as
middle class (52%) and had annual family incomes of $10,000 or
;more (60%).

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

Nearly two-thirds of all the women interviewed felt that the
political parties in this country were not meeting the needs of
working women. Even greater dissatisfaction was expressed among
older, single and formerly married women, and most especially,
Black and Hispanic women, 85% of whom expressed their
dissatisfaction. Thus, it was generally the most disadvantaged
who expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with political
parties. Certainly the scant attention paid by political parties
to working class women in this country in the past decade has not
addressed the needs of this disadvantaged group, but appears to
have been more directed toward the needs of the vocal middle
The working class is traditionally Democratic and most women
voted for Carter in 1976. They are also quite knowledgeable
about local political figures such as the Mayor and Governor.
However, most of these working women felt that they had no time
to be involved in extra-domestic activities, including politics
and labor unions. Although almost all our respondents were
members of the I.L.G.W.U. at the garment plant and most agreed
that trade unions had helped working women, less than 40%
regularly attended union meetings and only 10% had ever held a
union office.
Clearly, most of the respondents had little faith in
collective action, whether through the union, political parties,
or other forms of class action. Although they identified
themselves as working class and came out of a classic working
class tradition, their primary goal was to help their children
move out of the working class in order to achieve middle class
status. These goals are essentially individualistic and
emphasize personal achievements like hard work, a good education,
and homeownership. I can detect no great disillusionment with
these goals among the responsents, perhaps because a good number
of their children have obtained a higher education and a
white-collar job, which they equate with middle class status. It
appears unlikely that agitation for change in the working
conditions in this industry will come from these women who see
little hope for change through unions and the political process.


In conclusion, let us return to the original questions posed
in the introduction to this article, namely: What has been the
impact of the long-term employment of these women garment workers
in terms of women's liberation? Is there any evidence that paid
wage labor has heightened their sensitivity to subordination and
inequality in the home, in the workplace and in the larger
It is difficult to answer these questions conclusively on
the basis of a small sample. However, it appears that among our
respondents length of time employed has had little impact on the
variables examined here. It would seem that the possible effect

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

of long-term employment is counteracted by the effects of
generational differences regarding sex roles. That is, the
long-term employed appear to be the most conservative, but that
may simply be a function of their age.
It is interesting that as the younger, more recent recruits
to the garment industry, Black and Hispanic women seem the most
dissatisfied, and the most disposed toward change. Thus, their
shorter time on the job as well as lack of integration into the
neighborhood (where their appears to have been a conscious attempt
to keep them out) would appear to make them less subject to the
traditional norms of the white working class community, in which
they are still a distinct minority.
The most conservative of the white women workers in this
plant would appear to be the older single women, who are among
the poorest and the most dependent on their wages for an income.
These women have few if any alternatives to working in the
garment industry, since for many it is the only work they have
ever done and they are too old to learn a new trade. At the same
time, they are strongly committed to work in order to maintain a
minimum of economic security and in order to prevent becoming
dependent on relatives or public welfare. Thus, they are the
most threatened by the changes occurring in the garment industry,
and the most committed to a maintenance of the status quo.
This should not, however, lead us to conclude that work has
no impact on women's sense of class or sexual subordination.
While we have no comparable sample of non-working women, the
women interviewed here appear to be very conscious of problems
like racial discrimination, the lack or responsiveness of
political parties, and the increasing difficulty of social
mobility in the United States. They are also aware of their low
wages, declining employment, and worsening conditions in the
plant, and some have participated in open protests backed by the
I.L.G.W.U. to support the union's campaign to reduce imports and
"look for the union label."
The conditions which foster increased class consciousness
and solidarity among working women are still poorly understood.
It is clear from this analysis, however, that a great deal more
attention needs to be paid to the reasons that women work, the
conditions in the industries where they are employed, and the
characteristics of workers recruited into these industries in
terms of age, marital status, educational level, race and class.
As I have shown here, any discussion of the impact of wage labor
on women must certainly take all of these worker characteristics
into account.

Table 1

Annual Family Income by
Number of Wage Earners in Household

Annual Family



or more

Row Total

Under $5000

$5000 to $7999

$8000 to $9999

$10,000 to

$16,000 and

Column Total

Figures in cells represent N, row percentage, and

column percentage

Total N refers to total number responding to question rather than to
total number of women interviewed.

























- - - -- - - - - --__ _

Table 2

Annual Family Income by Race


Annual Family



------------------------------- -Row Total

Under $5000

$5000 to $7999

$8000 to $9999

$10,000 to $15,999

$16,000 and over

Collumn Total

Figures in cells represent

N, row percentage, and

column percentage

Hispanics are better referred to as an ethnic group, but have here
been grouped with Blacks as a racial group in order to distinguish
the impact of minority group status on attitudes and behavior.



















Row Total

Table 3

Importance of Education

for Men and Women by Race



Wh i te

Hi sanic

Row Total

For the man

For the Woman


Column Total













Figures in cells represent N, row percentage, and column percentage

" ~r- . =

Table 4

Educational and Occupational Levels of Daughters

First Dauhter's Osccupation





High School

Co allege

Graduate Work

Column Total

Figures in cells represent N, row percentage, and column percentage

Data was recorded for first-born daughter only.



















Table 5

Respondent's Class Identification by
Annual Family Income







Row Total

Middle Class


Very Poor

Column Totals





















Figures in cells represent N, row percentage, and column percentage





_________________ ________ __________________I__________

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981


1) Most of the data reported here were collected in 1977 on the
basis of a one-hour structured interview conducted in the plants
and in the homes of our respondents. The sample was selected on
the basis of length of time employed, broken down by decades and
emphasizing the long-term employees. In order to increase the
percentage of Hispanic and Black workers, about 20 of these
interviews were conducted among women employed in a small branch
plant of this firm located in a neighboring community of New
Jersey. For reasons of confidentiality, the names of the plants
and the cormnunities have not been identified.

2) A focus on occupational groups introduces a new unit of
analysis into urban anthropology, and allows us to overcome some
of the limitations of studying bounded residential corrmunities,
which in complex, urban industrial societies no longer serve as
microcosms of the larger whole as they may have in more
traditional primitive or peasant societies. In focusing on
workers, the linkages to the larger society are more readily
apparent. Studies of industrial organization in the U.S. by
anthropologists are antedated in the classics study by Lloyd
Warner, The Social System of the Modern Factory (1974) and the
work of Eliot Chapple and William Foote Whyte.

3) Sol Chaiken (1977: 331). President of the I.L.G.W.U.
reported that 64% of their union workers "had to support or
partly support their children, husbands, parents or other
relatives in addition to supporting themselves."

4) Black and Hispanic women are actually overrepresented in our
sample in terms of the total work force in this plant, since we
deliberately interviewed as many of them as possible to see if
race or ethnicity made a difference in their backgrounds and
attitudes. The small number of Black and Hispanic workers in
this plant appears to be due largely to the recency of their
arrival in the area, when there was no longer a strong demand for
garment workers. However, Hill (1974) has also argued that Black
and Hispanic workers are consciously discriminated against by the

5) The clear preference of Black and Hispanic garment workers
for office work suggests that they have a more difficult time
finding these jobs than white women, and are therefore relegated
to lower-paying jobs in the garment industry. This helps explain
their high level of dissatisfaction in contrast with older white
women who after many years of employment, prefer to stay in the
garment industry and only 27.6% of whom expressed an interest in
office work.

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

6) Most of the responses in this section were taken solely from
married women, who constitute approximately half the sample, and
therefore only 41 cases. It is unfortunate that we do not have a
non-working sample with which to compare these women. It is
quite likely that in comparison to women who have never worked
outside the home, these women would appear less conservative on
issues such as E.R.A., sexual discrimination on the job, and even
sex roles.

7) Wullings (personal corrunication) has suggested that
working-class women may be unwilling to admit that work affects
household decision-making or authority patterns, since it puts
"the husband-wife relationship on an exchange contract rather
than 'love-respect' basis" (Rapp 1978). This would tie in with
their continued primary identification as wives and mothers,
though they have worked much of their adult lives. Thus, these
women may actually have more authority in the household than they
perceive, or are willing to acknowledge.

8) National data indicate that, on the average, Black Americans
must have three to four years more education to earn the same
median income of white Anericans (Victor Perlo, The Economics of
Racism New York: International Publishers). This would help
explain why Black women with the same income are more likely to
identify as working-class than white women, and why occupation
and education may be less directly related to perceived class

9) Age and length of employment are also correlated with race,
so that the youngest, most recently hired workers are also more
likely to be Black and Hispanic whom we have seen are less
conservative in many respects. This makes it very difficult to
draw any adequate conclusions regarding the impact of long-term
employment on the militancy of women from this sample.
Additional data on garment workers recently collected in Puerto
Rico suggests just the reverse, that older women tend to be less
conservative and more aware of sexual discrimination. Clearly,
we are dealing with complex factors which need further research.

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981


Blood, Robert and Donald Wolfe

1960 Husbands and Wives. New York: The Free Press.

Cantor, Milton and Bruce Laurie, eds.

1977 Class, Sex and the Woman Worker. Westport, Conn.:
Greenwood press.

Chaikin, Sol

1977 "Sweatshop: Item 807 Style" in Out of the Sweatshop.
L. Stein, ed. New York: Quadrangle.

Cohen, Miriam

1977 "Italian-Anerican Women in New York City, 1900-1950:
Work and School," in Class- Sex and the Women
Worker. pp. 120-143. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood

Goode, William J.

1977 World Revolution and Family Patterns. New York:
The Free Press.

Goodman, Charity

1978 Growing Old in a Garment Factory: The Effects of
Occupational Segregation and Runaway Shops on
Working-Class Women. M.A. Thesis, Rutgers Univ.,
Graduate Program in Anthropology.

Hill, Herbert

1974 "Guardians of the Sweatshops: The Trade Unions,
Racism, and the Garment Industry," in Puerto Rico and
Puerto Ricans: Studies in Society and History .
A. Lopez and 3. Petras, eds. New York: john Wiley.

Ladner, Joyce
1971 Tomorrow's Tomorrow: The Black Woman. Garden City:
Anchor Books.

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981


1977 "Capital's Flight: The Apparel Industry Moves South"
Vol. XI, No. 3.

1979 "Undocumented Immigrant Workers in New York City"
Vol. XIII, No. 6.

Rubin, Lillian Breslow

1979 Worlds of Pain: Life in the Working Cass Famil .
New York: Basic Books, Inc.

Safa, Helen Icken

1979 "Women, Production and Reproduction in Industrial
Capitalism: A Comparison of Brazilian and U.S.
Factory Workers," to be published in Women Men
and the International Division of Labor June Nash
and M. Patricia Fernandez, eds., SUNY Press
Albany (forthcoming).

Shorter, Edward

1973 The Making of the Modern Family New York:
Basic Books.

Stack, Carol
1974 All Our Kin. New York: Harper and Row.

Stein, Leon ed.

1977 Out of the Sweatshop: The Struggle for Industrial
Demo cr ac New York: quadrangle.

Tilly, Louise A. and Joan W. Scott

1978 Women Work and Family. New York: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston.

Zaretsky, Eli

1978 "The Effects of the Economic Crisis on the Family,"
in U.S. Capitalism in Crisis. New York: Union
of Radical Political Economists.

Figure 1. Women harvest corn that
also help plant and whose seed they
select and keep in their houses.


Figure 2. From an early age, women are
trained in the care of small animals
like poultry and swine.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


Luz Graciela Joly


The Spanish version of this article (Joly 1981) won
an honorary mention in January 1981 in the section on
"Journalistic Testimony" of the Latin American contest
"Solidarity Among Peoples" of the magazine Dialogo Social
in the Republic of Panama. This work demonstrates the
role of the anthropologists in writing short articles for
the general public, in non-academic terms, drawing attention
to issues and problems of human concern. The article
addresses the problem of the disregard for women in
agricultural development programs in rural areas. Female
participation in development programs is often oriented
toward the production of handicrafts. Some of these, like
macrame plant hangers, crochet decanter covers, and dressed
dolls are non-utilitarian items made from expensive,
imported materials, copied from home-decoration magazines,
and intended for sale in urban areas.

With the practice of dedicating this or that year to an international
cause, there is the risk of thinking that such a cause exists only during
that year. The "International Year of the Woman" came and went, but the
problems of women persist. In particular, we should consider the
frequency with which rural women (campesinas) are ignored and undervalued
in so-called "development programs." Frequently, the work of women in
the rural economy is neither seen nor appreciated.

Rural women work with pride side by side with the men in planting
land harvesting. In the majority of rural households, the production of
poultry and swine is in the hands of women, who do it with care. These
small animals are not only for household consumption but also for
marketing in the cities, thus contributing to the national economy.
Women also participate in household decisions with regard to the sale of
products of the household economy. The opinion of women is valued
within domestic circles.

S The life of rural women is not sedentary; they are always
"struggling for life." In the countryside, a woman lives with dignity.
There she is her own "patron", her own "owner." This dignity of rural
women, however, is undervalued by social workers and technicians in
agricultural extension agencies. Women are not taken into account in
programs to better poultry and swine production. Agricultural engineers
and technicians, most of whom are men, do not see, or ignore, the
participation of women in the household production of small animals.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

Frequently, the attention given to rural women in so-called
"feminine clubs" or "societies of housewives" is towards the production
of artifacts for home decoration. These clubs or societies are
promoted and organized by personnel from the ministries of agricultural
development, education, health, and missionaries. Social workers of
these institutions, who organize these clubs and programs, have an
urban orientation. For them, these decorative items represent the
"popular culture" that is kept "up to date with modernity" as copied
from "interior decoration" magazines. Producing these items is
expensive because they are made from imported materials sold in urban
centers. It is considered, however, that rural women must "make the
sacrifice" of buying these materials in order to "progress and develop."

In order to recover the cost of the materials, rural women are
advised to sell these items in fairs. In countryside fairs, however,
where all products are kept at low prices by the rural economy, no one
can afford to buy a "swan of two colors", that costs almost $5 to make,
as follows:

Synthetic raffia of one color $ 1.25
Synthetic raffia of another color 1.25
Plastic eyes .30
Wire .10
Polyfoam .50
Paper .10
Glue .60
Crochet needle .45

TOTAL $ 4.55

The only reuseable item of these materials is the needle. The
other materials are bought by each woman in small, limited amounts to
make one artifact at a time. The bulk purchase of materials is made
by the social worker, who becomes a travelling salesperson, so to speak.
Although they may not necessarily exploit the rural women by charging
them an extra margin of profit for the materials, the social workers
do create a special type of rural market for these materials which
otherwise would not be sold at all in rural places.

In order to pay for these materials, women often get into debt with
the social worker or have to request a loan from the club's funds.
Sometimes they send the items to the city to see if someone there wants
to buy them. The city, however, is saturated with the same items
produced in home-economics courses for female students in the urban
schools. Nobody wants to buy another swan, another rabbit, or another
doll. In other words, rural women don't sell these artifacts either
in the rural areas or in the cities because everyone already has one
which was made in former "craft classes." These "craft classes" do
not contribute to some form of worthwhile training, but the social
workers consider that they are significant because rural women "develop
dexterity with their fingers in making something pretty since they have
rough hands from the rural work."

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

For the rural women, these items are irrelevant. They would
prefer at least to learn how to make more useful items, like clothing
for their children. A sewing course, however, would require that the
social worker "from the city" reside in the countryside for a much
longer time. Many social workers in agricultural extension agencies,
as well as many school teachers, have an urban orientation and, if they
accept these positions in the countryside, they are always anxious to
return to the city. As the local people say, "They leave as soon as
they arrive."

One of the results of such handicraft programs is to induce rural
women to buy imported and superfluous items that only enrich the
commercial importers and the national treasury with taxes on these
materials. As Elvira Madrid, an intelligent and courageous woman of
Rio Indio on the Lower Coast of Panama, told the women of her community
at a meeting:

It is not worth the money. Don't you see? What is wrong
with us? We do not think about that. We see things in
Col6n... and we aspire to have them. We have more
important necessities. The rich do not give them import-
ance. And we do give importance to the rich. We see a
commode, and we want one. We see a china cabinet, and
we want one. It costs more than a hundred dollars to
have that. The principle things are good nutrition,
clothing, housing, men, women, and children, how we treat
each other.

Inducing consumption of costly and superfluous items also plays a
role in stimulating rural to urban migration of women to work in the
city as domestic servants in order to earn money with which to buy
those things that are seen in the city. With regard to that, Elvira
told her companions that same day:

We say that: "Over there (to the city) they go to get
money, to receive money every month. There is no way
of bettering this here (by staying in the countryside
where we can't find work). We are making a mistake
(by letting our children go to the city) because our
children should work along with us for the well-being
of the community. Then let us see our mistake.
Tomorrow I want to go to work in Colon. There I am
got going to be as I am here. Whenever I feel like
eating, I find something to eat around here. Over
there, I have to buy it or wait to see what it is that
they will give me to eat. And God only knows if they
will pay me. And what do they pay me? A dollar a day.
With that money I have to buy food, pay the laundry, pay
the room. What do I have left?"

One solution is to train women like Elvira to teach in development
projects. She, being a rural woman herself, understands the situation

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

of rural women and can work along with her companions for the dignity
and equality of rural women. Moreover, she knows how to talk to fellow
rural women.

Some urban people often think that rural women do not voice their
opinions. This is because in front of people "from the outside",
countryfolk often remain silent because they do not know how the outsiders
are going to treat them. In internal meetings of the community, however,
every person is given an opportunity to express her/his opinion, which
extends the meetings for many hours. Since they always arrive in
"a hurry to leave", outsiders only have time to present their projects
in a continuous monologue. Such a monologue from an "outsider" is often
interpreted as a "card-shuffling" which seeks to "win" the countryfolk
in favor of this or that program or project. The countryfolk are not
given an opportunity to better know the "outsider", and the "outsiders"
don't get to know the countryfolk more as individuals.

The respect for the individuality of the person is reflected in
the manner of greeting of the countryfolk when they meet a group of
persons. Each person in the group is greeted one at a time, individually,
rather than greeting the group as a whole.

Therefore, when I say that rural women demand a greater respect for
their dignity, I say it with the full knowledge that I have heard them
express that wish in their own houses, in their own communities, before
their own people, without fear that their value or their manner of speech
are going to be underestimated. Rural women demand their right to express
their opinion in development programs about what it is that they want
and how they want to be "developed."


(1) This account is based on 19 months of research in communities
along the Indio River on the Lower Coast of the north-central Caribbean
side of the Isthmus of Panama. The research was sponsored by a Learning
Fellowship on Social Change of the Inter-American Foundation of the
United States of America and by institutional affiliation in the Republic
of Panama with the Directorate of Historical Patrimony ,of the National
Institute of Culture, the Catholic University Santa Maria la Antigua, and
the Apostolic Vicariate of DariEn. I assume full responsibility for this
article without implicating these institutions. I thank the Naturales,
Players, and Interioranos who became my teachers in their ways of life;
particularly, Norma, Maxima, and Benita, the leading women in the house-
holds where I lived and ate. These three women, and many others, truly
made me feel that "As I live here, I eat here", the saying that they-use
for the sharing of food, whicn is the most significant social relation
among relatives and friends.


Joly, Luz Graciela
1981 El Menosprecio a la Dignidad de la Mujer Campesina en Programas de
Desarollo. Dialogo Social XIV (133): 42-43.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


Jean Gearing
Department of Anthropology
University of Florida


This paper examines the use of birth control in the
United States in the nineteenth century in relation to
the history of women, the family and medicine in American
society. The rise of the American birth control movement
is discussed and contrasted with that of Great Britain.
The development of "family planning" as a medically dominated
fertility control strategy and its incorporation into U. S.
foreign aid policies in underdeveloped countries is described.
The paper concludes with a brief discussion from a Marxist-
feminist perspective of the social relations of reproduction
and fertility control.

In her theoretical paper "The Social Determinants of Fertility",
Kate Young (1978) attempts to address two issues central to feminist
concerns with fertility control, specifically: 1) women's rights to
control their own reproductive abilities, and 2) the relationship between
women's subordination to men and their reproductive capacity. Young's
paper is divided into five major parts. The first section is a review
of the historical development of the population and birth control move-
ments in Great Britain from the late eighteenth through the nineteenth
centuries. In the second section, Young discusses contemporary pop-
ulation perspectives in the Third World. She emphasizes the role of
U. S. foreign aid policies in the initiation and direction of population
control programs. The third section is a review of anthropological
literature on the control of population in technologically primitive
societies. Young then goes on to present an analysis of fertility dynamics
in late medieval Europe during the shift from feudalism to capitalism.
Young concludes her paper with a section examining the conflicts of
interest inherent in men's and women's differing roles in reproduction.
She argues that men attempt to control women's sexuality and access to
fertility control methods to enhance their own socioeconomic survival.

A major flaw in Young's paper lies in her failure to connect the
first two sections into one coherent whole. She jumps from her his-
torical treatment of population and birth control in Great Britain in
the nineteenth century to U. S. foreign policy and population control
programs in the Third World in the late twentieth century. What is
missing from her analysis is a description of the development of the birth
and population control movements in the United States, and the relation-
ship between these sociopolitical movements and the incorporation of pop-
ulation control as a major aim of U. S. development policies. The

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

United States is the major agent in the spread of "family planning" as
a technique of population control (Gordon 1976: 391-393; Demerath 1976).
An understanding how the "family planning" model developed and achieved
such importance is critical to an understanding of its major flaws as
a policy strategy and of its impact on women in Third World nations.

Another problem with Young's paper is her inability to systematically
relate her two initial issues to the material contained within each of
the major sections of her paper. She raises many questions about the
social relations of reproduction but doesn't closely examine the
connections between women's sexuality and reproductive capacities and
the sexual division of labor, women's status, autonomy, or power within
societies. Thevarying conditions determining women's relations with men
and the state are not fully explained.

This paper will attempt to address these two major gaps in Young's work
while fully recognizing her pioneering effort in the area and the
immensity of the task. I would like to acknowledge my debt to Young for
providing a framework for the discussion of these issues in such a way
as to give shape and meaning to my own deeply felt ideas about the
relationships between women's sexuality and control over reproduction
and U. S. population control/family planning efforts in the Third World.


Although there are some similarities due to common philosophical
and political influences between the history of birth control in Great
Britain and the United States, there are also major differences. First,
birth control in Great Britain was a heavily politicized issue from the
late eigthteenth century onwards, following the publication of Malthus'
works. Moreover, it was an issue espoused and criticized by both
political radicals and conservatives. Finally, it was associated
primarily with the working class as a means of improving their social
condition; it was not seen as a feminist or health issue (Young 1978).

In the United States, birth control did not become a major political
issue or movement until the end of the nineteenth century. Birth control
was not legally suppressed until the 1870s. It was only after this
suppression that birth control became the focus of an organized movement.
Birth control in the United States was always identified more as a
middle class practice, related to family welfare, women's and children's
health, and women's autonomy. After politicization in the early
twentieth century, birth control was subsequently extended as a remedy for
the problems of the working poor (Gordon 1976: 254-256; Reed 1978: 247-257;
Degler 1980: 200).

Also, the history of birth control in the United Staes reflects the
changing character of medical practice in this country, from the

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

period of sectarian competition and self-reliance of the early nineteenth
century, through the present period of technology-dependent superspecialists
and consumer revolt (Scully 1980: 24-67). Birth control has always been
viewed as a health and hygiene issue, as well as a social and political
cause (Gordon 1976: 260; Corea 1977).

Of course, the histories of birth control in the United States and
Great Britain share many similarities. Demographic evidence shows that
birth control was increasingly practiced by all classes in both countries
as the nineteenth century progressed. Suppression of birth control
practices, especially abortion, also increased, particularly during the
1870s. The movement toward the suppression of birth control was linked
to the larger "Social Purity" efforts of the late Victorian period. These
movements may ahve been based on men's and women's fears of the consequences
of sexuality separated from procreation, especially the fear of female
sexuality unrestrained by pregnancy and childbirth (Degler 1980: 294).
These fears may in turn be related to the changes in women's roles in the
family and society that occurred during the nineteenth century. If this
is the case, it poses some interesting hypotheses about the relationship
between the rebirth of feminism and the so-called "Sexual Revolution" of
the 1960s and the movement to curtail women's reproductive freedom in the
United States in the late 1970s and 1980s.

The history of birth control in the United States can thus best be
understood in relation to the history of women, the family and of medicine
from the late eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Degler
in his book At Odds: Women and the Family from the Revolution to the
Present (1980), suggests that what is presently considered the "modern"
family first emerged in the years between the American Revolution and
1830. He outlines four broad differences which separate the early
nineteenth' century family from the family in Western Europe or in colonial
America. These four characteristic differences are:

1) the establishment of marriage as a contract based on affection and
mutual respect, the so-called "companionate marriage", in which women
experienced greater autonomy than previously;

2) the limitation of women's roles within the family to the rearing
of children and the maintenance of the home, while men's roles were based
on work outside the home, supported by the "separate spheres" ideology;

3) the recognition of children as qulitatively different beings from
adults, and the rearing of children as a major moral and social responsibility
of parents to society;

4) the reduction of family size, not by the exclusion of "extended
family" members but by the decrease in numbers of children ever born.

Degler argues that these changes in the structure of the American
family occurred long before urbanization and industrialization were
prevalent. He traces these changes to a reorientation of the Western
worldview after the Renaissance and Reformation that accompanied the

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

change in the mode of production from feudal to early mercantile
capitalism. This emergent worldview emphasized the value of the
individual and the rights of the individual, especially those of
private property and of control over one's person, and the importance
of individual self awareness and responsiblility. Zaretsky, in his
work Capitalism, The Family and Personal Life (1976), examines the
effects this ideological shift had upon the family and the roles of
men and women. Unfortunately, a more detailed analysis of the relation-
ship between production, ideology, and the family as it has changed
over time in Western society, is beyond the scope of the present paper.
The reader is directed to Degler and Zaretsky, as well as to Young's
paper, for a much more complete treatment of these issues.

Fertility among white, native born American women declined from an
average of 7.04 children in 1800 to 5.21 in 1860, to 3.56 in 1900, to
fall-eventually below replacement levels during the Depression years of
the 1930s (Reed 1978: 4). Research has shown that this decline in
fertility was produced by an increase in the use of birth control by
married couples deliberately attempting to limit the size of their families,
and not by an increase in the age of marriage or an increase in the
percentage of never-married (presumably celibate) adults. Birth control
methods used in the nineteenth century included: coitus interruptus and
coitus reservatus, rubber and skin condoms, periodic abstinence, spermi-
cidal douches, vaginal pessaries, sponges and tampons with and without
spermicides, and abortion (Reed 1978: 6; Degler 1980: 210-248). The
incidence of induced early abortion increased tremendously during the
1840s and 1850s and resulted in the enactment of most state laws pro-
hibiting the practice (Degler 1980: 236-237).

Most of these birth control methods were known and in use prior to
the nineteenth century. Anthropological evidence shows that some methods
of birth control have been practiced in almost every human society
(Newman 1972). What changed during the nineteenth century in the United
States was the use of these methods to control marital fertility for the
enhancement of the emotional relationships between husband and wife,
mother and child. Birth control in previous periods of history and in
other societies was most often used in illicit sexual relationships or for
maternal health reasons or to alleviate population pressures.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, the ideal expressed
in literature and in people's letters and diaries was the companionate
marriage based on romantic love and free choice of spouse. The ideology
of "separate spheres" or "true womanhood" create an entire body of
literature dedicated to glorifying domesticity and the establishment of
the home as a safe, comfortable refuge from the outside world of work.
Women were seen as the guardians of moral standards in society and were
carefully advised on their roles of helpmates and nurturers of the new
generation (Ehrenreich and English 1978). The world of childhood was
discovered and romanticized; children were considered morally perfectable
creatures to be carefully molded by the constant efforts of their parents
(Degler 1980: 66-69).

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

The combination of the ideal of companionate marriage based on
romantic love and the production of quality children through major
investments of parental time and energy created a strain between the
sexes. As values changed to encourage freer sexual expression between
spouses, the need to separate procreation from sexual activity became
more pressing. This reinforced the demand for contraception among the
middle class (Reed 1978: 19-33).

Circulation of contraceptive information was not suppressed in
the United States until the passage of the Comstock Act in 1873. Prior
to that date, information about contraception circulated freely in pub-
lished pamphlets, marriage manuals, home health guides, and domestic
hygiene books. The two most common were Robert Dale Owen's "Moral
Physiology" (1831) and Charles Knowlton's "Fruits of Philosophy; or,
the Private Companion of Young Married People" (1832) (Reed 1978: 7), but
there were many others which appeared in several editions. These guides
to contraceptive practices were one part of a much larger array of medical
self help literature that was widely used by the public. Before 1850,
there was a scarcity of trained physicians in the United States,
especially in the rural areas. Physicians were expensive and usually
consulted as a last resort in cases of extremity. Many people objected
to regular medicine's emphasis on bleeding and harsh drugs as treatment.
Several health and hygiene reform movements were very popular in Jacksonian
America. They all stressed self-reliance in health care. Women often
assumed the role of family physician in the home (Numbers 1978; Ehrenreich
and English 1978: 42-52; Duffy 1979: 109-129).

Birth, "female troubles", and birth control were not perceived as
medical problems requiring a physician's attention until the middle of
the nineteenth century. If a specialist was consulted in these matters it
was usually a midwife, and most midwives were female. Abortionists were
also usually female. Physicians were opposed to contraception and abortion,
and lobbied vigorously for their prohibition. The rise of the medical
specialty of obstetrics-gynecology coincides with the movement to suppress
midwifery, outlaw abortion and contraception, and exclude women from
medical education (Ehrenreich and English 1978: 29-61; Scully 1980: 24-67).

The social movement to suppress contraception and abortion was an
unfortunate outgrowth of the antebellum moral reform movement. After
the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, social reformers focused their
attention on the elimination of vice in the forms of alcohol abuse, pro-
stitution, pornography, and venereal disease. These social problems had
been intensified by urbanization, industrialization, and the arrival of
successive waves of immigrants from Europe. This period of capital ac-
cumulation and increased proletarianization also saw increasing social
unrest and political radicalization (Gordon 1976: 155-157).

Many reformist feminists advocated the universal adoption of the
single standard of sexual morality as the just way to combat these social
ills and to protect women and their privileged position within the family.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

They fought against the regulation of prostitution in favor of its
abolition. The single standard, in place of the double standard, would
protect all women from the exploitation of male lust. Sexual activity
would be restricted to marriage, and marital sexuality would be restrained
by the woman's need to limit childbearing (Degler 1980: 280-1). Many
feminists of this period endorsed the Victorian concept of virtuous woman-
hood, the guardian of moral virtue, as necessary to women's power within
the family and society. It should also be mentioned that venereal disease,
incurable at this time, was endangering the health of many "respectable"
women exposed by their husbands.

Contraception became associated with the concept of sexuality
separated from moral restraint and with the practices of prostitution
and abortion. Reformers mounted an active campaign against the evils
of abortion as "feticide". Anthony Comstock was the most notorious
and most successful of these moralists. He considered all forms of
contraception evil and equated them with abortion. Comstock secured
passage of legislation in 1873 which made any mention of contraception,
for any reason, an obscenity and made circulation of contraceptive in-
formation through the mails a federal offense (Reed 1978: 37-38).

The social activism of the feminist movement of the mid-nineteenth
century may also have contributed to the suppression of birth control
by stimulating fears about changing roles for women. As feminists lobbied
for educational, career, and political opportunities for women beyond the
domestic sphere, physicians and social scientists countered with arguments
about the eminent destruction of the family and motherhood. Medical
literature of this period attacked the practice of birth control as
injurious to women's health and education of women as potentially damaging
their capacities for reproduction (Ehrenreich and English 1978: 113-118).

The attack against Comstockery was led anarchists, socialists and
radical feminists. The anarchist Emma Goldman spoke out vigorously on
women's needs for freedom of sexual expression and for control over their
fertility. Goldman was trained as a midwife. She attacked marriage while
advocating free love, birth control and abortion. Goldman and Ben Reitman,
her lover and co-worker, distributed thousands of leaflets on contraception
during Goldman's cross-country speaking tours in the'early 1900s (Gordon 1976:
219-220; Reed 1978: 47-50). Goldman's anarchist feminism broke with the
genteel feminist reformers of the nineteenth century in her vision of radical
change in the basic social order, both in the relations of production and
in relations between the sexes, as a fundamental part of women's struggle
for freedom from oppression.

Goldman prefigured and influenced the major figure in the birth
control movement in the United States, Margaret Sanger. Sanger was
raised in a family milieu of radical socialism and labor activism. Sanger
had wanted to become a doctor, but became a nurse instead when family
financial support was lacking. After completing her education and
marrying, Sanger and her husband became involved in socialist and labor
politics, but she became dissatisfied with the lack of interest radicals

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

displayed in feminist issues. Her experience as a public health nurse
working in the tenements of New York's Lower EAst Side pushed her into
the leadership of the birth control movement. The misery and poverty
of the immigrant women, with their health problems resulting from too
many pregnancies and illegal abortions, their pleas for help and in-
formation, caused her to do research on effective techniques of contra-
ception. Sanger went to Europe and returned with contraceptive devices
and information. She began publishing her journal "The Woman Rebel"
in 1914 to raise the consciousness of working class women in support
of her campaign for free distribution of birth control. In it she
argued for women's autonomy and control over their own sexuality, re-
productive capacities, and their lives. Sanger believed that birth control
was a necessary first step in gaining autonomy for women. In some not
clearly explained way, birth control would dramatically alter women's lives
and set in motion changes that would eventually transform society (Gordon
1976: 220-225; Reed 1978: 67-88).

Sanger began as a radical feminist and never abandoned her early
conviction that birth control was a critical accomplishment for women.
She was later influenced in her views about contraception and sexuality
by her contacts with English socialists, feminists, and birth control
movement leaders. She was also affected by her relationship with Havelock
Ellis, the noted researcher of human sexuality. Sanger believed that
sexuality and procreation must be separated for women and to men to
achieve equality in their relationships (Gordon 1976: 224).

Sanger's subsequent career in the U. S. birth control movement, her
accomplishments as well as her difficulties, can best be understood in
terms of her single-mindedness of purpose and her refusal to divert her
energies to any other area. She broke with other radicals when she refused
to become involved in their pacifist campaign against World War I. Her
style changed from the radical model derived from Goldman to the social
reformer style of Havelock Ellis when she realized that a wider, more
effective appeal would be possible that way (Reed 1978: 138-139).

The other early major figure working in the U. S. birth control move-
ment was Robert Latou Dickinson. Dickinson was a well-to-do physician who
believed that better sexual relationships would improve and stabilize
marriages and families. Dickinson realized that better sexual relationships
meant sex free from worries about babies, which meant birth control. Dickinson
advocated scientific research on sexuality and medical control over contra-
ception. His goal was not the freedom of women but the preservation of
the family (Reed 1978: 161-163).

The final ingredient in the evolution of "family planning" from its
beginnings in self-help, was the participation of economic and political
elites. Capitalist interests were involved in this process in two ways:
in the transformation of the medical profession and in the subsequent

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

medicalization of contraception, and directly in the contraceptive
reform movement itself.

The relationship between the rise of the profession of scientific
medicine and capitalism is detailed in E. Richard Brown's provocative
work, Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America (1979).
Capitalist elites, specifically the Rockefellers and Carnegie, were
directly involved in the reform of medical education in the United States
and the establishment of regular medicine as the dominant form of health
profession. The development of anesthesia, combined with the acceptance
of the germ theory of disease and European models of training,dramatical-
ly increased the efficacy of regular medicine at the end of the nineteenth
century. The major competing sects of homeopathy and eclecticism merged
with regular medicine to form modern "scientific" medicine (Rothstein 1972:
298-326). The education and training necessary to become a physician
became longer, more arduous, and much more costly. The proprietary medical
schools had difficulty competing for students with university affiliated
programs. The Carnegie Foundation and the American Medical Association
sponsored the Flexner investigation of all medical schools in the United
States. Schools which met certain prescribed standards received large
grants from Rockefeller. The Flexner report and the subsequent grants
drove most of the proprietary schools out of business by the 1920s.
Orthodoxy in medical practice and philosophy was reinforced, while many
smaller schools, including all women's medical schools and most black
medical schools, went out of existence. The profession of medicine came
to be even more strongly dominated by white, upper middle class men (Brown
1979: 94-97). The American Medical Association emerged as the dominant
medical organization (Rothstein 1972: 322).

The Rockefellers were also the financial supporters of the Bureau of
Social Hygiene, which, in turn, funded efforts against commercial vice
and the spread of venereal disease; Sangers Clinical Research Bureau;
Dickinson's publishing efforts; and medical research into human sexual
physiology. Its activities in this field were later assumed by the
Rockefeller Foundation in 1931, which went on to support Kinsey's landmark
research into sexual behavior (Reed 1978: 285).

Other influential members of the elite who became involved with the
family planning movement were: Sanger's millionaire second husband,
J. Noah Slee, who financed the founding of Holland-Rantos, the first
American company to manufacture spermicides and diaphragms; Clarence Gamble,
millionaire medical researcher, who sponsored much work on contraceptive
techniques and distribution; and Katherine Dexter McCormick, who helped
support research conducted by Gregory Pincus, research on hormonal contra-
ception (Reed 1978: 114-115; 225-238; 334-345).

The financial support and direct participation of these elite in-
dividuals aided basic research into human fertility, the development of
contraceptive techniques, the distribution of contraceptives in public

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

health programs, and gave important political credibility to the cause.
The legitimization of family planning as a method of solving population
problems and its incorporation into U. S. foreign policy can be traced
to the early endorsement of birth control by these individuals (Reed
1978: 283-288).

What was the ultimate result of this combination of forces? Sanger
became the most effective popularizer and fund raiser in the movement,
its symbolic leader. She helped shape public opinion that birth control
was acceptable. The network of clinics she established is still a major
component of the delivery of contraceptive services in the United States.
However, in order to legally open clinics that could distribute the most
effective contraceptive methods, Sanger ceded final control over the birth
control movement to the medical profession. Most doctors were originally
opposed to the legalization of contraception, but, through Dickinson's
intense lobbying efforts, many came to accept birth control as a necessary
health measure for women and as a stablizing force in marriage. Doctors
also recognized the popular demand for birth control services and objected
to lay control over their distribution. Medicine in the United States
underwent rapid professionalization during the period between 1905-1945.
The birth control movement might have become a serious threat to the
privatization of medicine, especially if the government had become involved
and a socialized public health distributional system had been created.

Instead, the professional medical model of service delivery was
'adopted. This meant the establishment of urban clinics staffed by physicians
land the use of contraception which was more effective but which required
professional expertise in fitting -- the vaginal diaphragm. Attempts at
distribution of these services failed with the rural poor and urban working
class, but these failures were blamed on the lack of motivation of the poor,
not on the service delivery system (Gordon 1976: 398; Reed 1978: 247-257).

Another consequence of the medicalization of the birth control move-
ment was a switch in emphasis away from the enhancement of women's sexuality
and reproductive control toward the health benefits for mothers and children,
'stabilization of families, and the reduction of fertility differentials
between classes. Birth control for women became "family planning" or "planned

Unfortunately, the co-optation of the birth control movement by the
medical profession did not guarantee its success, as Margaret Sanger had
hoped. While the social acceptability of birth control was generally
enhanced, the medical profession's opposition to socialized distribution
of contraceptives meant the restriction of services to a small group of
primarily middle class women. Medical control over contraceptive techno-
logy led to the development of scientifically sophisticated, extremely
effective methods which are completely divorced from sexual intercourse.
These methods -- the oral contraceptive pill, the intrauterine device,
and the long acting progestin injection -- are all female dependent methods.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981.'.

They also have higher morbidity and mortality rates as well as higher
effectiveness rates (Seaman and Seaman 1980; Corea 1977: 137-169).
These methods were designed to overcome the "lack of motivation" of
the lower classes, but since they require a doctor's supervision for use,
they reinforced medical control over distribution. Unequal access to medical
care under the capitalist system also has accentuated problems of accessi-
bility for poor and rural women (Gordon 1976: 398; Reed 1978: 381).

Having traced the development of the birth control movement in the
United States in its transformation to "family planning", it is now
appropriate to investigate how family planning became incorporated into
foreign policy and tied to development aid to Third World countries.


World population trends after World War II proved to be even more
alarming to American elites than the internal fertility declines in the
1920s and the 1930s. Total world population increased an estimated 700
million between 1940 and 1960, primarily because the underdeveloped nations
of the Third World were undergoing a rapid expansion of their populations.
This "population explosion" was attributed to dramatic declines in
mortality brought about by the spread of public health measures combined
with continued high fertility rates (Reed 1978: 281-282). The contrast
between the modern, industrialized nations with their low death and birth
rates and the underdeveloped nations with their declining death rates and
high birth rates led to the theory of the demographic transition.

The spread of public health measures to the Third World was accomplished
largely through the actions of the Rockefeller Foundation's International
Health Division. Inexpensive mass procedures, such as DDT spraying for
mosquito control, that were directed by small numbers of technicians without
the mobilization of mass support, proved to be very effective at reducing
death rates (Reed 1978: 281-284). The Rockefeller Foundation's efforts
in international public health began in 1913 as an extension of the efforts
of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm
Disease (founded 1909) in the U. S. south. Brown (1978) argues that the
goals of these programs included the advancement of Rockefeller's and other
capitalists' economic penetration into the American South and the under-
developed nations, as well as humanitarian ones (254-255). Hookworm and
other tropical diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever, lowered the
productivity of workers in the mines, factories, and plantations controlled
by northern U. S. capitalist interests (Brown 1978: 256-257). Brown states
"the Rockefeller philanthropists soon concluded that medicine and public
health were far more effective than missionaries or armies..." (259).

Brown concludes his discussion of the motives behind the public health
programs by stating:

These public health programs were blatantly
intended, first, to raise the productivity of the
workers in underdeveloped countries, second to

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

reduce the cultural autonomy of these agrarian
peoples and make them more amenable to being formed
into an industrial workforce, and third, to
assuage hostility to the United States and
undermine the goals of national economic and
political independence. (259)

The Rockefeller Foundation retained control over programs and finances
in all countries except those under British colonial governments. In less
than ten years, Rockefeller Foundation financed and directed public health
projects were in operation in over sixty countries (Brown 1978: 263).

In addition to public health projects, the Rockefeller Foundation
also established schools of public health in the United States and abroad.
Foreign medical personnel were funded by the Foundation for training in
the United States (Brown 1978: 265). The American model of "scientific
medicine" was exported to Third World countries along with medical techno-
logy and pharmaceuticals.

Incorporated into this American model were the professionalization
and specialization of physicians, the avoidance of paraprofessionals,
and complete reliance on privatized rather than socialized systems of
health care distribution. Another aspect of the rise of "scientific
medicine" as a major capitalist social institution in the United States
and the world was the incorporation of racism, classism, and sexism into
its practice (Ehrenreich 1978).

Concern with the economic development of the Third World really began
after World War II, at the same time as concern over overpopulation grew.
The nations of the Third World, many of them newly independent, wanted
to share in the prosperity of the industrialized Western nations. The
United States wanted to maintain world political and economic stability
as well as the balance of power with the Soviet bloc. The Marshall Plan
had been very successful in rapidly rebuilding the devastated industrial
economies of Western Europe. It was believed that a similar effort in
the underdeveloped nations would also be successful. In addition, the
United States wanted to forestall any possibility of communist penetration
or indigenous socialist movements in these nations. Development through
capital intensive industrialization also fostered the interests of monopoly
capitalism in its expansion into Third World markets (Gunder Frank 1967).

The population explosion was considered a hindrance to any program of
economic development (Demerath 1976; Reed 1978: 282-283; Stamper 1977).
It would be impossible for production and distribution to keep pace with the
burgeoning numbers of people. Social services would be placed under heavy
demands and could not expand fast enough. Excess population would eat up
capital investment, create political instability, and foster revolution.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

These prospects were very disturbing to the United States' political
elites, whose political and economic existence might ultimately be
threatened (Demerath 1976; Reed 1978). Excessive population growth was
defined as the major obstacle to economic development rather than the
structure of the existing relations of production and the division of
resources. It was much easier to focus on the control of excess fertility
rather than on the redistribution of income.

The eugeni.c aspects of the control of differential fertility rates
had been discredited by the association of eugenics with Nazism (Gordon
1976: 395). The rationale for population control promulgated by American
elites and social scientists were the effects of uneven world population
growth upon economic development, the environment and natural resources,
and the stability of the world political order (Reed 1978: 281). The
story of the "population bomb" was first created in 1954 (Gordon 1976: 393).

Attempts by John D. Rockefeller during the early 1950s to initiate
fertility control efforts in the Third World by the Rockefeller Foundation
or the U. S. government were blocked by politics within the Foundation,
at the national level, and in the world. The Foundation's major research
efforts were concentrated on agriculture and the so-called "Green Revolution."
The reactionary political climate of the McCarthy era was extremely hostile
towards sexuality/fertility oriented research. Communist and Catholic
nations had united at the U. N. in opposition to the inclusion of family
planning efforts in assistance efforts. Overpopulation as an explanation
for the continuing poverty of the Third World was viewed by many under-
developed nations as an excuse and an avoidance of responsibility for
previous exploitation (Reed 1978: 285-286).

So, John D. Rockefeller founded the Population Council in 1952 with
his own money, as an alternative way of conducting research on population
issues and to distribute fertility control information to Third World
nations. The Population Council funded considerable research on population
in Third World countries and helped establish research centers at major
U. S. universities (Demerath 1976). By the beginning of the 1960s, evidence
began accumulating that advances in agricultural technology would not be
enough to forestall massive famine in the face of accelerating population
growth. The "population bomb" was a real threat. A massive educational
effort by the privately funded Population Crisis Committee on the problem
of the population explosion brought about dramatic changes in public and
governmental opinion within the United States and the Third World (Demerath
1976: 42-43). Fertility control became an integral component of development

The international receptivity for the policy of family planning as
the best strategy in the control of excess fertility had been prepared
by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (Gordon 1976: 394).
The IPPF was begun by Margaret Sanger in 1952 as an alliance of indigenous
voluntary organizations that supported the private distribution of contra-
ceptives. The work of IPPF affiliates within their own countries did
much to create a positive attitude towards family planning in Third World

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

elites and governments. Today, major funding for fertility control programs
is provided by the U. S. Agency for International Development (AID). Money
for population control efforts through family planning has increased while
money for other health and welfare programs has decreased (Gordon 1976:
393; Young: n.p. ). Acceptance of family planning programs has been made
a necessary condition to AID grants for food and agricultural assistance.

The acceptance of "family planning" as a major feature of development
has benefitted American business interests. Money given to foreign govern-
ments for the purchase of supplies is usually spent on American medical
technology (Minkin 1978). Pharmaceutical companies, major suppliers of
contraceptive pills and IUDs, have been major beneficiaries or these
programs. Drug companies were uninterested in the manufacture and dis-
tribution of contraceptives until these methods were developed and they
realized the tremendous profits involved. Their markets have been greatly
enlarged by expansion into the Third World under government auspices.
Products which can no longer be legally distributed in the United States
because they do not comply with federal safety regulations can be safely
dumped in the Third World (Corea 1977: 157); Petchesky 1980: 675-676;
Minkin 1978).

The U. S. medical establishment and university research institutions
have also derived benefits from the adoption of the family planning
strategy. Since most aid for family planning has been channeled through
IPPF affiliates, this organizaiton has also been strengthened (Demerath
1976: 43-54; Gordon 1976: 397). The result has been the reinforcement of
the medical model of "family planning" with all its attendant problems
as the major technique of fertility control.

Traditional criticisms of family planning by demographers and
political scientists emphasize the ties between family planning and elite
interests, the ineffectiveness of private distribution methods, the mis-
management by government and private bureaucracies, and the "lack of
motivation" for birth control displayed by the masses. Family planning,
along with birth control, is dismissed as "too little, too late." It is
fashionable now to argue for massive societal measures of fertility control
which involve considerable coercion of individuals as the only effective way
to control population growth (Demerath 1976). These critics confuse the
limitations of the medically controlled family planning distribution
system with birth control itself.

Marxist critics argue against the imperialistic nature of family
planning efforts in underdeveloped countries. Their analyses of the
effects of colonialism on the fertility rates of indigenous populations
are commendable (Young 1978 n.p.). The Marxist conclusion that massive
social change and redistribution of income are necessary for fertility
declines is also inescapable.

The problem with both traditional and Marxist criticisms, as with

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2, 1981

the family planning model itself, is the same: the exclusion of the issues
of women's sexuality and control over their reproductive capacities from
the discussion of fertility control. Women's reproductive capacities are
considered as an obstacle to development and a hindrance to progress, not
the root cause of women's subordination to men. Women's fertility is
something to be manipulated without regard for women's needs or desires.
Patriarchal control over women's bodies is assumed by the state.

The final section of this paper will discuss in more detail the
relationship between the social relations of reproduction, women's sexuality,
and women's needs for control over their reproductive capacities and the
issue of fertility control.


Women's position in the social relations of reproduction is defined
by the dual nature of human reproduction as a biological and a social
process. Women's need to control their sexuality and reproductive
capacities is rooted both in the biologically fixed fact that women bear
children and in the historically fixed and socially determined fact that
women are responsible for rearing children under the sexual division of
labor (Petchesky 1980: 671-673). An essential aspect of being an
individual is to have control over one's self in body as well as in :ind.
The need for bodily integrity and the right to privacy both result from
this fundamental premise (Petchesky 1980:664). The threat of unwanted
pregnancies interferes with women's control over themselves in their
sexual expression, their health, and their ability to choose social
roles for themselves other than parenthood. This biologically based
need for control over reproduction transcends class lines and creates
shared female experience (Gordon 1976:70). Control over reproduction
is the material necessity in women's lives which makes all other social
and political progress possible.

Different forms of birth control and abortion have been practiced by
women throughout history and across all cultures (Newman 1972). Men and
society have never been able to completely regulate women's reproductive
capacities. Women's procreative abilities have been a source of power
as well as restriction, as they have repeatedly attempted to determine if,
when, where, and with whom they would have children (Petchesky 1980: 667).

It is a serious mistake to consider women's position in the social
relations of reproduction solely the result of their unique biological
capabilities. Cultural and social structures control the biology of
sexuality and reproduction as much as they determine the sexual division
of labor and the primacy of motherhood as women's social role. Human
reproduction requires not only biological relations but also social
relations which are cooperative, purposive, and conscious. These social
relations can be extended beyond procreative sex to all forms of sexual
expression (Petchesky 1980: 681). Sex is not just the satisfaction of a
biological need but the creation of a reciprocal interaction between
persons. The definition of acceptable and appropriate sexual expression
between individuals has varied across time as well as between and within

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

The effect of social and cultural conditions is even more marked on
the definitions of contraception, abortion, and childrearing. Women have
children under the constraints of specific material conditions within
networks of social relationships -- all of which impose limits on biological
reproduction. The study of the social relations of reproduction must include
adequate consideration of social divisions based on different relationships
to social power and material resources. These social divisions control the
institutional and cultural arrangements through which sexuality and repro-
duction are expressed. The relations between these social divisions are
complex and contain certain basic conflicts of interest. The most fundamental
of these social divisions are gender and class. The-relations of power
between men and women must be examined in addition to the relations between
classes and the means of production (Petchesky 1980: 671-675).

Feminist arguments for women's control over their reproductive
capacities must go beyond what women decide as individuals, or even "the
right to choose," to specifying the relationship between the social and
material conditions of women's lives and the choices they make.

In the world today, control over women's reproductive capacities is
also the concern of medical, corporate, and state interests as well as
individual.'men. The problem of "excess" fertility in the Third World has
been declared critical to economic development (Stamper 1977). Since
women's reproductive capacities are central to the sexual division of
labor, the question of women's own control over them must be resolved if
women are to gain power, status, and autonomy and participate fully in the
benefits of development (United Nations Department of Economic and Social
Affairs 1975).

In order to bring about women's control over their own reproductive
capacities, women must change contemporary reproductive politics. They
must fight to assume control over the delivery of reproductive healthcare,
birth control, and abortion; they must actively participate in research on
human sexuality and contraception; and they must become involved in policy
formulation in the area of fertility control (Seaman 1980). Women must also
promote shared responsibility for childrearing with men, and the creation of
collective, community institutions for childcare. This must be part of the
revoultionary agenda of socialist feminism, in addition to the restructuring
of social and cultural institutions that inhibit the participation of women
in economic and political spheres of life (Petchesky 1980: 683-684).

The threat today, as it has always been, is that coercive measures of
fertility control will replace voluntary ones. Demerath (1976) criticizes
current population control efforts as inefficient. He advocates the use of
societal controls, such as penalties for childbearing beyond a minimum
and restrictions on marriage, in place of family planning. Forced
sterilization has also been suggested by population controllers (Gordon
1976: 398-399).

However, historical evidence from Europe and the United States, as
well as contemporary evidence from Japan, indicates that voluntary birth
control works very well to reduce unwanted fertility. Simple methods of
contraception, backed up by safe abortions, and linked to the concept of
sex freed from procreation, can be utilized by all classes to control

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

Analyses of fertility dynamics that focus exclusively on the
economic value of children ignore the simple truth that people have sex
for many reasons besides procreation. People do not automatically
associate sexual behavior with procreation unless they are socially
indoctrinated to do so. While social scientists should not ignore the
relationship between fertility and socioeconomic conditions summed up
in the statement "children are the capital of the poor," we should also
recognize the value of sexual relations as a source of emotional satisfaction,
pleasure, and recreation (Chamie 1977). Further study of the social
determinants of fertility must include sexuality and male-female relationships
as well as examinations of family structure and motherhood. Women must gain
equality in their relationships in order to effectively utilize any control
over reproduction they obtain.


(1) For the articulation of.many of the major points presented in this
discussion, I am deeply indebted to Rosalin Petchesky's brilliant article
"Reproductive Freedom: Beyond a Woman's 'Right to Choose'" (1980).


For their valuable assistance in editing sections of this manuscript,
I would like to thank Lawrence Carpenter, James T. McKay, David Reddy, and
Marina Cloud.


Brown, E. Richard
1978 Public Health in Imperialism: Early Rockefeller Programs at Home
and Abroad. In The Cultural Crisis of Modern Medicine. John Ehrenreich,
ed. New York: Monthly Review Press.

1979 Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America.
Berkeley: University of California Press.

Chamie, Mary
1977 Sexuality and Birth Control Decisions among Lebanese Couples.
In Women and National Development: The Complexities of Change.
Wellesley Editorial Committee, eds. Chicago, IL: University of
Chicago Press.

Corea, Gena
1977 Medical Malpractice. New York: William Morrow.

Degler, Carl N.
1980 At Odds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Demerath, Nicholas J.
1976 Birth Control and Foreign Policy: The Alternatives to Family
Planning. New York: Harper and Row.

Duffy, John
1979 The Healers. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

Ehrenreich, Barbara and Deirdre English
1978 For Her Own Good. New York: Anchor Press.

Ehrenreich, John
1978 Introduction. In The Cultural Crisis of Modern Medicine. John
Ehrenreich, ed. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Gordon, Linda
1976 Woman's Body, Woman's Right. New York: Grossman Publishers.

Gunder Frank, A.A.
1967 Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America. Cambridge:
University of Cambridge Press.

Minkin, Steve
1978 United States Family Planning Policy and Its Implications for
Bangladesh. Paper presented at the Institute of Development Studies
Sussex Conference on the Continuing Subordination of Women in the
Development Process.

Newman, Lucille F.
1972 Birth Control: An Anthropological View. Addison Wesley Module
in Anthropology No. 27. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.

Numbers, Ronald L.
1978 Do-It-Yourself the Sectarian Way. In Sickness and Health in
America. Judith Walzer Leavitt and Ronald L. Numbers, eds. Madison:
University of Wisconsin Press.

Petchesky, Rosalind Pollack
1980 Reproductive Freedom: Beyond 'A Woman's Right to Choose'." Signs
5: 661-685.

Rothstein, William
1972 American Physicians in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press.

Reed, James
1978 From Private Vice to Public Virtue. New York: Basic Books.

Scully, Diana
1980 Men Who Control Women's Health. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Seaman, Barbara
1980 The Women's Health Movement: The Past Ten Years. Public
presentation sponsored by the Gainesville Women's Health Center,
Gainesville, Florida.

Seaman, Barbara and Gideon Seaman
1977 Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormones. New York: Rawson Associates.

Stamper, B. Maxwell
1977 Population and Planning in Developing Nations. New York: The
Population Council.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
1975 Status of Women and Family Planning. New York: United Nations

Young, Kate
1978 The Social Determinants of Fertility. Paper presented at the
Institute for Development Sussex Conference on the Continuing
Subordination of Women in the Development Process.

Zaretsky, Eli
1976 Capitalism, the Family and Personal Life. New York: Harper & Row.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


Lawrence K. Carpenter
Center of Latin American Studies
University of Florida


As an effort to provide a better understanding of the cultural
matrix surrounding the biological event of birth, aspects of
pregnancy and birth in Otavalo, Ecuador, are discussed. After
defining and describing the relationship of ethnomedicine to
birth, other aspects of birth--definition, perceptions,
preparations, prescribed attendants--are then presented. Finally,
implications for national and international health care delivery
systems are drawn.


Until recently, there has been a dearth of studies and investigations
dealing with sociocultural aspects of the human reproductive cycle.
Information was generally on a superficial level and often cursory.
Fortunately, recently increasing interest in such aspects of human
existence has led to more cross-cultural studies designed to illuminate
differences in the surface realizations of the reproductive cycle. One
such study, aimed at filling lacunae in our understanding of this shared
human experience, is Birth in Four Cultures (Jordan, 1980); it provides
the impetus for the present article. Jordan treats the birth process
"...within a biosocial framework,...as a phenomenon that is produced
jointly and reflexively by (universal) biology and (particular) society";
it is an attempt to recognize and describe the "...culture-specific
social matrix within which human biology is embedded" (Ibid.:l).

Admittedly, access to information about reproduction is usually
not readily available; even insocieties where participation in the
biosocial event of birth is relatively unrestricted, birth itself is
usually attended only by a few central figures, i.e., the expectant mother,
family members, specialists, etc. Among the Otavalo of northern
Ecuador (2), events surrounding birth (the pre-, intra-, and post-natal
periods) are viewed as natural rather than medical. Instead of subjecting
the participant to unfamiliar surroundings, highly specialized attendants,
systems, and jargons, and the relinquishing of control as is done in
medically-oriented and dominated United States procedures, the Otavalo

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

woman naturally experiences birth in her normal environment, amid people
she knows who both support and encourage her. As an event in the home
environment, the language of the home, Quichua, is also the language of
birth and most of the discussions relating to it. Undoubtedly, a better
understanding of such events in this and similar settings is made possible
by an active knowledge of the language of the home. In other words, people
generally feel more comfortable discussing aspects of reproduction in their
own rather than a contact language. Almost none of the specific ethnographic
data in this article were available to me through any contact language (3);
most of it came in Quichua as a by-product of linguistic research on that
language. Linguistic items within the domain of reproduction were defined
and explicated in Quichua.

Perhaps the only times when Quichua is not used to discuss the
reproductive cycle are when information about it is requested by those from
outside the home community. Representatives of the official health care
delivery system are usually monolingual Spanish speakers. Spanish, the
official language of Ecuador, is spoken by the social and political elites
who comprise a small percentage of the total population. When faced with
the rural population and its Quichua language, these urban classes are
generally seen as extranjeros en su propio pals "strangers in their own
land" (Huerta M., 1981). As community outsiders, they are rarely conversant
in the language of the Indian rural population. Consequently, all
information is exchanged in the language of the urban elite, thereby
disadvantaging the monolingual Quichua-speaking majority of Otavalo women.
Spanish is used only to discuss aspects of the reproductive cycle with
community outsiders in their institutional roles. In addition to national
health care personnel, these include foreign agency volunteers, social
science investigators, representatives of international development agencies,
and representatives of multinational medical software corporations. (Medical
software such as drugs, contraceptives, and infant formulas are routinely
"dumped" in third world countries.)

If complications arise during the birth that require a woman to travel
to an urban location for a physician's aid, she is disadvantaged the moment
she leaves her home environment. As a result, all possible resources
available in the natural setting of the home environment are exhausted before
the decision is made to seek outside professional help That the indigeneous
population feels uncomfortable in the hospital setting is illustrated by
the wide-spread response to the following question.

Imashpa uspitalman rinkacha?
"Why might one go to the hospital?"

Ustusiya japinkapaj.
"To get an autopsy."

This and other similar perceptions of the "benefits" of hospital care have
far-reaching implications about the future of national health care delivery
systems in Ecuador.

Florida Journal of Anthropology, 6,2,1981

There are three major concerns in the remainder of this article. A
description of Otavalo Quichua ethnomedicine is provided in order to better
understand the cultural matrix of the reproductive cycle. Then, specific
aspects of the birth process are discussed. Finally, implications for
national and international health care programs are drawn.


As stated in the introduction, the events of the reproductive cycle
are viewed as a natural though stressful and vulnerable part of life that
every Otavalo woman must experience. Also viewed as natural are the
bipartite divisions of most of the Otavalo world; in both social structure
and language, such bipartization is an underlying fundamental concept--a
linguistic postulate (Hardman, 1978). For example, there are beneficial
and malevolent forces in the cosmology, two basic levels of courtesy
(tiyuguwan "with strangers"/aylluwan "with family"), drinks taken by twos
(shukniki "first one"/ishkayniki "second one"), front and back topography
(nawpa"in front of"/jipa "in back of"), upper and lower community divisions
(jana "above"/urin "below"), two distinct rainbows (kuychik "red rainbow"/
walanparia "white rainbow"), two types of air (samay "(good) air"/wayra
"(bad) air"), and.two people required to tell a story. Linguistically,
this duality is manifested by reduplication, future/non-future time,
definite/indefinite action, personal/non-personal knowledge, and "curved/
straight" speech. Perhaps one of the more intriguing aspects of linguistic
and cultural bipartization is that of body duality (Carpenter, 1980). The
basic premise of this concept is that an individual possesses interior,
uncontrollable and exterior, controllable selves. (In fact, the Quichua
pronoun generally glossed as "we," nukanchij, literally means "our Is/ both
of me.") Body duality is marked in the morphological, syntactic, and
lexical linguistic components and helps determine prescribed behavior in
many social situations.

Given the pervasiveness of bipartization in Otavalo language and culture,
it is not surprising to find such a conceptual ideology manifested in folk
medicine. Otavalo health care is primarily based on the classical humoral
divisions of "hot" and "cold," with remnants of a "heavy" and "light"
dichotomy (4). Present Otavalo folk medicine is derived from the syncresis
of pre-Colombian systems with the medicinal practices of the conquering
Europeans (Foster, 1953) (5). While the shift from humoral to scientific
medicine is occurring in groups of the Ecuadorian urban elite, the majority
of the rural popualtion continues to practice embellished, complex health
care that had its genesis in the fusion of pre-Colombian, Incaic, and
European practices during the Conquest and early Colonial periods.

The basic goal of Otavalo health care is to maintain the balance between
the humors. The inherent properties of "hot" and "cold" are manifested in
various aspects of Otavalo culture including food, fabrics (materials and

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

colors), anatomy, topography, and atmospheric phenomena. The underlying
premise of folk medicine is that humoral balance yields good health;
when there is disharmony, illness results. Consequently, strategies for
the treatment of illness are determined by establishing the type of
disharmony present. For example, if a male lower back disorder is
determined to be from excessive "heat," a possible cure is wearing "cool"
pargati "rubber-sole shoes" to alleviate his condition; if the disorder
is diagnosed as the result of excessive "cold," he must wear his "hot"
tsawarmanta ushuta "sisal-sole shoes" as a cure.

Although this striving for humoral balance seems initially simple,
the amount of "hot" or "cold" valences to be added for balance is further
complicated by factors such as whether the person has a "hot" or "cold"
body. Two of the many techniques for ascertaining the body's inherent
valence are: 1) People who eat kaldu di ris "beef broth" (hot) on an
empty stomach (cool) in the early morning (cool), and experience subsequent
sweating, dizziness, or nausea, posses a "hot" body; no noticeable reaction
indicates a "cool" body. 2) People who sweat under the eyes and on the
forehead after eating aji "pepper" (hot) possess a "hot" body. Temporary
changes may further affect the body humors of different life stages (e.g.,
neonates are "hot;" infants, children, and the aged are "cool"). A "warm"
body can be made "cool" by wanujushkamanta "sickness/someone else's death,"
wayrashkamanta "evil winds," llakinayaymanta "sadness," or manllarishkamanta
"fright." Other complicating factors are the atmospheric, geographic, and
behavioral aspects of the illness's inception; kuychik "red rainbows" are
"hot", walanparia "white rainbows" are "cool", fog is "cool," swiftly-
running water is "cold," washing clothes is "cold," sleeping is "warm,"
drinking is "hot," and backstrap weaving is "extremely hot." A final
factor to be considered in disorder diagnosis is whether or not the person
is under treatment for a pre-existing illness. Figure 1 illustrates the
etiologies and some possible treatments of four common disorders.

In addition to the labyrinth of relationships among indigeneous
elements of Otavalo culture, foreign elements increase the complexity of
folk medicine. Unfortunately, as medical software "dumped" in the third
world, "wonder" drugs and technology yield adverse effects when imposed
upon native health care. Infant formula and equipment are sold, but often
include cursory instructions; amoebic dysentery among infants is already
widespread. Classified as inherently "cool," drugs are taken within the
humoral tradition, i.e., larger doses for a cooler remedy. (Fortunately,
curing via colling is not as frequent as the inverse.) Finally when
doctors do not explain the need for periodic check-ups, prescribed
contraceptive devices (IUDs) often require surgical removal after becoming
embedded in the uterine wall. The inauspicious and uncontrolled introduction
of western drugs and medical technology often has had as its consequence the
increase of iatrogenic illnesses and mortality statistics, described by
physicians as mejorando a los indios "bettering the Indians" (6).

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

1. chuya ishpay "diarrhea"
etiology: In children, from excessive cold, bad air, crawling on a
cold dirt floor, or repeated urination. In adults, from heat,
malevolence, or taboo transgression.
treatment: with hot herbs, mixture of cooking water, vinagre, and
bicarbonate. For children, mixture may also include mother's
milk; or a roasted avocado seed can be rubbed over the lower
body; or one may pull on the lower tailbone (coccyx) until it

2. chuchaki "hangover"
etiology: from excessive drinking (extremely hot)
treatment: cool remedies and foods, such as mineral water, lemon,
cool herbs. No bathing or washing.

3. dismayashka/ataki "fainting spells"
etiology: from shunku nanay 'hurting heart (cool) or llaki
"sadness" (cool).
treatment: soft boil! an egg, put a small hole in the top, place into
the hole dust from the house floor and grindings from a heart-
shaped stone, and swallow as the sun comes up; or roast (warm)
and eat a black (hot) male (hot) puppy.

4. punkishka "swelling"
etiology: eating "heavy" things during thunder and lightning; or
eating at the "bad hour" (around 3:00 pm).
treatment: rub/press area during a thunderstorm while saying anchuriy
anchuriy "go away, go away"; repeat several times, during several
successive thunderstorms if necessary.

Figure 1
Four Common Disorders,
Their Etiology and Treatment
(adapted from Goldman, 1980)

Obviously what appears to be initial superficial "simplicity" of
humoral balancing in folk medicine is, in essence, a very complex system,
conditioned by several intervening and mitigating variables. Within the
reproductive cycle, the adherence to prescribed behaviors and the participants'
convictions of the "correctness" of native health care are often cited as
the specific reasons for a successful birth.


Since Otavalo ethnomedical epistemology is highly developed, awareness
of this systematic structure leads to a better understanding of the birth

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

process. When reproductive complications arise, they are treated more as
humoral disharmony rather than (birth) disorders. Whether humoral imbalance
results from emotional upsets, organism intrusion, taboo transgression,
witchcraft, chance, or combinations of these causes, the usually effective
complex system of folk medicine is generally the only recourse available
or needed. In addition to the folk health system other aspects of birth
such as its definition, perception, preparation, and permitted attendants
must also be considered in the descriptive totality of the birth event.

In most cases, the addition of a child to a young family is a source
of anticipation, happiness, and pride. Talk is heard about the value of the
potential new member in the family work force, and preparations are begun
to insure the child's well-being. When an Otavalo woman becomes pregnant,
she is said to be viksayuj "with stomach," but due to the woman's costume,
this is not apparent until the later stages of pregnancy. Nonetheless, the
extended family and later the community are usually aware of the pregnancy
due to certain behavioral manifestations of the expecting parents. Most
notable among these behaviors are food requirements, restrictions, and
taboos, discussion about and selection of potential kumpari/kumari "godparents,"
and, as time and finances permit, pilgrimages to selected shrines to
solicit the protection of las virjinis "virgins" (i.e., of the Swan, of
Carmen, of Banos, etc.) (7).

After the pregnancy is accepted as fact, reference to the woman's
physical state provides interesting insights into perceptions of the
biological phenomena as stressful and vulnerable. To inquiries about the
pregnant woman's health, the following responses are generally given.

"She is not living well."

"She is being sick."

Although such answers seem to be negative out of context, they are believed
to help counterbalance the malevolent forces (cool) and wayrashka "bad air"
(cool) surrounding the expectant mother (cool). It is said that these
forces and winds yaykunata maskajun "are looking for an entrance;" if the
mother is more careful since she is "sick" and "not well," the chances of
these evil forces and winds entering her body are diminished.

Preparations leading to birth involve different members of the family
and community. While many preparations are focused on the expectant mother,
others are done for the child. Women who have already experienced childbirth
begin to instruct the expectant mother as to behavioral precautions and
food requirements and restrictions. For example, one should avoid going
near running water, and extra care must be taken when washing clothes. As
well, one should only eat meat from animals with small heads (lamb, guinea
pig) since the meat of larger animals (cattle) may cause fetal deformation.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

However, if beef is an antojo "craving" it must be honored even if the food
is only touched to the tongue, since denial of a craving may cause
spontaneous abortion.

In addition, discussions about the pregnancy itself help the expectant
mother understand the changes she is experiencing. All involved try to
insure that the expectant mother follow tradition and custom (Parsons 1940)
so the birth process and events surrounding it may proceed safely. Care
is taken to see that the kallariy ura "beginning time"
is positive and there are many proverbs relating to it. For example:

Na all takashpaka, wawata wa uchinka. (8)
"Unless pounded in well, it will cause the baby to die."

(The co-occurrence of the causative -chi- and the 3p future -nka indicates
that the interior self is the primary actor.)

When questions about the sex of the baby arise, it is said that the
heart of female babies sound "tin, tin, tin" while that of male babies
sound "tun, tun, tun." Relevant to this is the perception of a different
developmental cycle in the fetus.

"Little boy babies are perfectly formed by the second month, but
little girl babies lay in there as a glob until about the fifth
month, then they are formed."

Since the male's heart has beat longer, it sounds lower. (This perception
of fetal physiology and formation is also used to explain why "men are so
strong and can do more than women.") Once the sex of the unborn child is
fairly certain, care is taken to make sure it is born in the right month.

"Boys are born in the ninth month and girls are born in the eighth
month; if a girl is born in the boy's month, she will always crave

(A slang reference to a sexually active woman is nuvi killa "a nine-monther.")
Although many people realize that most children are born in the ninth
month, they nonetheless pass along this information to the expectant
mother, since "it is custom, it is what we say."

Important in the preparation phase is the securing of the community
midwife's services. As a specialist attendant, la duktura is recognized
and sanctioned by the medical establishment. In addition to her informal
training (usually passed from mother to daughter) on which she relies
heavily, she will have special formal training in technology and medicines.
She also reports births to the local health center, which she introduces
as a resource in extreme emergencies. During the birth the midwife will
assume decision-making responsibility first to insure the mother's health.
When the child is born, it then assumes the role of primary vulnerability
and the midwife will shift her attention from the mother to the child.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

Another important attendant in some communities is the husband.
During the labor he provides both emotional and physical support to his
wife. He stands with legs apart, bent over, and supporting his hands
above his knees. The wife, with her back to him, will reach her arms over
her head and suspend herself from his neck during each contraction.

Finally the indigeneous definition of birth again illustrates the
linguistic and cultural manifestations of body duality.

Wawata urmachin.
"It causes the baby to fall."

The usual position assumed by the mother during delivery is kneeling (and
sometimes suspended). A "nest" of swaddling is placed underneath her to
receive the "falling" baby. (Urmashpa llukshimujun "it is coming out
falling.") Linguistically, the verb urmachin "3p causes 3p to fall" here
contains the causative -chi- with the 3p non-future -n; this suffix
combination again indicates that the interior self is the principal actor.
In this case, some (uncontrollable) inside force initiates the action
carried by the mother and performed upon the infant. The marking of body
duality in reference to birth indicates that the interior actions of the
mother (contractions, pains) take precedence over her exterior actions
(crying, talking), and consequently must be treated first should complications

Within the cultural matrix of birth, all the above aspects and others
interact so the usual outcome of pregnancy is positive and successful (9).
Children are highly prized; childless couples are considered extremely
unfortunate. One assurance of a successful outcome is the immediate
treatment of any complication that might arise. Disorders associated with
birth are ultimately perceived as humoral imbalances. Figure 2 gives
etiologies and treatments of four birth disorders.


As can be seen from the proceeding discussion, the culturally specific
aspects of birth in Otavalo create a complex dynamic of constantly changing
variables. The successful outcome of birth is facilitated by the sagacious
manipulation of strategies that alleviate complications and eradicate
abnormal conditions. As an event in the home, local resources--preparations,
attendants, folk medicine, etc.--are those primarily utilized for birthing.
While complications may and often do arise, the folk health care system
is generally quite effective in determining the etiology and treatment of
almost any condition, whether expected or not. The overriding pervasiveness
of body duality in Quichua language and culture is considered so natural
and commonplace that it is hard for Otavalos to imagine life without it.
During birth, both selves of the mother have specific roles and functions;
great care is taken to see that all of her is provided for and is in harmony.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

1. kuychik japishka "rainbow sickness" (deformed fetus)
etiology: from being "seen" by a rainbow, which splits the child
causing lameness, harelip, etc.; from injury (cool), shame (cool),
or malevolence (hot or cold).
treatment: no real cure; accepted as tayta diyusmanta "from god."

2. lansanayay "nausea"
etiology: yankamanta "chance" (hot or cold) causing the inability to
eat without vomiting.
treatment: no real cure, but drinking (hot) herbal teas (hot)
alleviates the condition.

3. yurak mapa "white dirtiness" (vaginal discharge)
etiology: from excesses of cold or from mucuous-causing foods (snails,
pork, avocado, etc.).
treatment: drink chicken broth (hot), eat kaldu di ris "beef broth"
(hot), etc.; avoid wayra "(bad) air" (cold) and other "cool"
activities (washing clothes, etc.).

4. Rawpayashka "spontaneous abortion"
etiology: failure to fulfill cravings; from injury, malevolence, or
kuychik "red rainbows."
treatment: fulfill any cravings, even if small quantity; avoid

Figure 2
Birth Disorders, Etiology, and Treatment

Even though the biological outcomes are the same, the cultural
specifics of naturally-oriented home birth in Otavalo differ radically
from those of medically-oriented hospital birth in the United States.
Although both systems have their shortcomings, they each also have unique
aspects which could be mutually beneficial. Unfortunately, national and
international development agencies still patronizingly perceive aspects of
indigeneous culture as quaint and interesting, but lacking the "benefits"
and "truths" of modern technology. Consequently, development programs
focusing on health care delivery are aimed at changing the indigeneous
health system so that it more closely resembles the health system and
beliefs of the program's designers, administrators, and practicioners.
Thus, by the time programs reach the rural indigeneous population, they are
only equipped to handle disorders of the exterior self. Such projects
are perceived as incomplete and untrustworthy. People often say that they
do not like to use the local health centers because the practicioners there
only treat half of them. Such problems could be ameliorated by presenting
new practices and ideas within a framework that is culturally acceptable.
This is no easy task; it would require changing non-indigeneous perception
of folk medicine, incorporating indigeneous input and participation in
project design and implementation, and acceptance of folk health care as
valid and frequently sufficiently effective. Above all, it would require
humanistic rather than financial or political interests and concerns.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

In spite of increasing contact with western practices and ideas, the
indigeneous health system as it relates to pregnancy and birth is fortunately
not in any danger of eminent demise. Increasing ethnic pride and identity
among the Otavalos are causing growing resistance to unwanted ideas, items,
and practices. "Doctoring this way is part of us..., it is one more thing
that makes us Indian." Indigeneous health care is perceived as reliable,
effective and more relevant to reality.

Finally, as more information becomes available regarding different
cultural manifestations of birth, our own ideas about this biological
phenomena and its treatment in society may ultimately change. By comparing
our medically-oriented system with naturally-oriented systems in other
societies, we may find that during birth women need not be subjected to
strange locations, people, technology, or language; a successful birth is
just as likely to occur at home, among family and friends, using available
resources, and discussing it in everyday terms. Ultimately, however, no
matter which cultural matrix is used, birth's successful outcome is always
the same: the couple become parents and their child's new life begins.


(1) Research in Ecuador was conducted between 1977-79 and was supported by
the Inter American Foundation, Fulbright Hays, and the Field Faculty Program
of Goddard College.

(2) The Otavalos are an indigeneous group of approximately 30,000 residing
primarily in the higher elevations of the Imbabura Province in northern

(3) Spanish, English, Portuguese, and French were utilized as contact languages
during the preliminary linguistic research.

(4) Traces of these systems remain in the United States: we have "warm"
and "cool" colors, "light" lunches, and "heavy" meals.

(5) Foster, n.d., and Foster, 1953, provide an interesting overview of
the European humoral system and its transfer to the New World.

(6) Cf. Villavicencio (1973) for a treatment of interethnic relations in

(7) Tolerated by the Catholic Church as manifestations of the Virgin Mary,
more than likely they reflect hispanicized pre-Colombian fertility deities.

(8) Here the verb takana is euphemistically used; it literally means "to
strike vigorously with a long hard object."

(9) The treatment of unwanted pregnancies via massage-induced abortion,
contraceptive plants, etc., is beyond the scope of this article. A more
detailed analysis is forthcoming.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


I am grateful to Jean Gearing, Laura Goldman, Beth Higgs, Ron Kephart, Lynn
Meisch, Paul Warpeha, Glenn Vaughn, and Francis Vaughn for their encouragement,
comments, and criticisms. I would especially like to thank and acknowledge
my comadres--Zoila, Carmen, Olympia, Juana, Micaela, Maria Rosa--for their
infinite wisdom, guidance, and patience in helping Misi Viksa understand
the ways of the people of the earth.


Carpenter, Lawrence K.
1980 A Quichua Postulate and the Implications for Development. Paper
presented at the 79th Annual Meetings of the American Anthropology
Association. Washington, D.C.

Foster, George M.
n.d. Hippocrates' Latin American legacy: "hot" and "cold" in contemporary
folk medicine. In Colloquia in' Anthropology.

1953 Relationships between Spanish and Spanish American folk medicine.
Journal of American Folklore 66:201-219.

Goldman, Laura C.
1979 Perspectives of Balance: A Study of Health Traditions in Iluman,
Ecuador. M.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, Goddard College.

Hardman-de-Bautista, M.J.
1978 Linguistic Postulates and Applied Anthropological Linguistics. In
Papers on Linguistics and Child Language. V. Honsa and M.J.Hardman-de-
Bautista, eds. The Hague: Mouton Publishers.

Huerta Montalvo, Francisco
1981 Lecture presented to the Latin American Colloquium of the University
of Florida.

Jordan, Brigitte
1980 Birth in Four Cultures: A Crosscultural Investigation of Childbirth
in Yucatan, Holland, Sweden, and the United States. Montreal: Eden
Press Women's Publications.

Parsons, Elsie Clews
1940 Peguche. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Villavicencio, Gladys R.
1973 Relaciones Interetnicas en Otavalo: Una nacionalidad india en
formacidn? Mexico: Instituto Indigenista Interamericano.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


Linda Wolf
Department of Anthropology
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida


In order to facilitate class room discussion, a sexual attitude survey
was administered to a large sophomore university class in human sexuality.
Unexpectedly, a statistical analysis of the data generated by the question-
naire indicates that there are significant attitude differences between
males and females. More females than males, for example, indicate that pre-
marital sexual intercourse was only acceptable when accompanied by love and/or
engagement. On the other hand, fewer females than males condemned homosexuality
as a character disorder or a perversion.

During the 1980-81 academic year, an attitude survey was administered
to a sophomore class on human sexuality at the University of Florida. The
purpose of the attitude survey was to elicit from students information for
class room discussion regarding their attitudes toward sex. Given the pub-
licity of the last 15 years concerning the major sexual revolution occurring
in the United States, no statistical differences in the attitudes of males
and females were anticipated. However, there were significant differences
between the males and females on six of the attitude questions (see Table 1).
There were no differences between males and females on the questions on
abortion and birth control (items 7 and 8). The purpose of this paper is to
report the results of the analysis of tne data generated from the question-
naire and to explore the implications of the results.


The questionnaire was administered on the second day of class. While
the questionnaire was anonymous, it did request information regarding age
and sex. All told, 110 females and 89 males completed the attitude survey.
The average student age was 19 years (range 17-30 years).


Question 1: Responses indicate that females tend to characterize themselves
as holding moderate to conservative sexual attitudes while males tend to
rate themselves as sexual liberals (see Table 1, question 1, responses A, B
versus C, D, E:X2 = 10.38, df = 1, p <.01).

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

In his sample of 2,486 American adults (age range 21 to 60+) inter-
viewed in early 1970, Wilson (1975) found that 63% of the males in the 21
to 29 age group rated themselves as holding liberal sexual attitudes while
only 49% of the females in that age group did so. The Florida sample con-
firms the continued difference between males and females on this question.
However, the lower percentage of female "liberals" in the Florida sample
(39.9%) may be an artifact of the questions used in the two surveys. Wilson's
question permitted only a liberal or conservative rating while the Florida
question allowed a rating of moderate. We assume that some of the Florida
females who rated themselves as moderates would characterize their attitudes
as liberal if given the question as Wilson stated it.

Question 2: Of the females, 40% characterize intercourse without love either
not enjoyable or unacceptable while only 15.7% of the males held the same
opinion (responses A, B versus C, D:X2 = 13.94, df = 1, p<.001).

We can compare the Florida results with a question used by Wilson
(1975), who asked his sample to agree or disagree with the statement
"sex is for fun." In the 21 to 29 age group, 31% of the males agreed with
the statement while 24% of the females did so. The Florida survey may
indicate that a trend toward separation of love and sex has occurred in the
past ten years, but the fact that the questions are not exactly comparable
means that such an interpretation remains speculative. If such a change
has taken place, it has affected males to a greater extent than females.

Question 3: Responses indicate that females are more likely than males to
believe that premarital intercourse should be restricted to relationships
in which affection or a sigh of commitment is present (A, B versus C, D, E, G:
2 =7.97, df = 1, p<.01).

The Florida responses may be compared with the results on a questionnaire
Alston and Tucker (1973) asked of 1,381 adults, white, non-students in 1969.
Of the males, 54% in the 20 to 29 age category stated that sex before marriage
was not wrong while 30% of the females in the same age group made the same
statement. Alston and Tucker discerned a liberaliziang trend for both males
and females in their sample, since only 29% of the males and 17% of females
in the 30 to 39 age category stated that sex before marriage was not wrong
and the percent of agreement in the older age categories were even lower.
Only 2.2% of males, 8.2% of the females in the Florida sample stated that
premarital sex was wrong,while 62.9% of the males and 42.7% of the females
chose answers which argue that love is not a necessary element for premarital
intercourse. Thus, the same liberalizing trend suggested by Alston and Tucker
seems to affect Florida, although there is still a gender difference on the

Ehrmann (1959) who studied the sexual behavior of a large sample of
University of Florida students between 1946 and 1953 reported that love

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

and permissible premarital sexual interactions were directly correlated among
females but inversely correlated among males. Because of the nature of the
question on our questionnaire, it is not possible to compare our data with
the findings of Ehrmann. However, we believe that the low percentage (2.2%)
of males who indicate that premarital sex is wrong indicates that males at
the University of Florida no longer hold the belief that premarital sex is
permissible with non-lovers but not permissible with possible future spouses.

Question 4: Almost 80% of the females in the Florida sample held that extra-
marital sexual activity is wrong under all conditions while just over half
of the males agreed with the position (A, B, C, D, E versus F:%2 = 15.38,
df = 1, p<.001). Males were much more likely than females to suggest that
extramarital sex was "all right" but that the consequences would be disastrous
and only three students, all males, indicated extramarital sex was
acceptable for males but not for females.

Question 5: Males are more likely than females to see homosexuality as a
character disorder or a perversion (A, B, C, D versus E, F:%C2 = 5.57,
df = 1, p<.02). It is noteworthy that over 70% of the males and 85% of the
females in the Florida sample selected what might be termed the liberal alter-
natives on the question.

The discovery of a gender difference in attitudes toward homosexuality
duplicates the findings of Steffensmeier and Steffensmeier (1974) that males
are more rejecting toward homosexuals than females. These authors also dis-
covered that male homosexuals received higher rejection scores from both
sexes than did female homosexuals. That females are less likely to condenm
homosexuality than males as indicated by the present findings and those of
Steffensmeier and Steffensmeier, is consistent with the current sociological
and psychological hypotheses on the development of sexual identity and
orientation. These current hypotheses suggest that males more than females
are threatened by homosexuality and have a more difficult time developing an
appropriate sexual identity and orientation (Money 1980). On the other hand,
in the Florida sample there is no statistical association between the responses
to question 1 (liberal versus conservative attitudes) and question 5 (attitude
toward homosexuality) (~ = 0.543, df = 1, S = .361).

This result is contrary to the findings of Minnigerode (1976) and
Dunbar, Brown and Amoroso (1973) who found an association between sexual
conservatism and homophobic attitudes. The differences found in the
present study perhaps indicate a lessening homophobic attitude in at least
some segments of our society.

Question 6: More males than females responded that sex education in the
elementary and high schools encourages premarital sexual intercourse
((Y2 = 9.68, df = 1, p<.01). However, the majority of both males and fe-
males indicated that sex education in elementary and high schools does
not encourage premarital sexual intercourse.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


Human Sexuality Questionnaire and Responses


1. How would you rate your own sexual
attitudes as compared to those of the
average person?

A. Very liberal
B. Somewhat liberal
C. Moderate
D. Somewhat conservative
E. Very conservative

2. How closely do you think love and sex
are linked?

A. Sex and love are independent and sex
should be enjoyed for its own sake.
B. Love greatly enriches sexual relations,
but it is not necessary for enjoyment.
C. Sexual intercourse without love is
not enjoyable.
D. Sexual intercourse is sacred and should
be reserved for the expression of serious

3. What is your opinion about premarital
sexual intercourse?

A. It is all right
and adults.
B. It is all right
C. It is all right
D. It is all right
in love.
E. It is all right

for both young people

for consenting adults.
for couples who share

for couples who are

for couples who are

F. It is wrong; couples should wait until
they are married.

N = 110


N = 89


















Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

4. How do you personally feel about extra-
marital sexual intercourse?

1.1% 0.0% A. It adds dimension to marriage, and
there is nothing wrong with it.
24.7 15.4 B. It is permissible if you and your
spouse agree.
0.0 0.9 C. It is all right for either partner as
long as he/she doesn't talk about it.
18.0 4.5 D. It is all right, but the consequences
can be a disaster.
3.4 0.0 E. It is all right for men, but not for
52.8 79.1 F. It is wrong for whatever the reason.

5. What is your attitude toward homo-

1.1% 0.9% A. Prefer homosexual relations to the
exclusion of heterosexual relations.
0.0 0.0 B. In many ways, homosexuality is preferable.
3.4 4.5 C. There is nothing wrong with it; there
is an element of homosexuality in every-
67.4 80.0 D. I do not care to engage in homosexual
relations, but think it is a matter
of individual choice.
14.6 13.6 E. It is a character disorder, a kind of
mental illness and homosexuals need
13.5 0.9 F. It is a perversion and should be

6. Sex education in elementary and high
school is likely to encourage pre-
marital sexual activities.

28.1% 10.0% A. True
57.3 90.0 B. False

7. Easy access to birth control information
and devices increases promiscuity.
42.75% 35.4% A. True
57.3 64.5 B. False

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

8. In your opinion, what should be the
most liberal condition for legal
53.9% 51.8% A. Upon demand of a woman.
20.2 21.8 B. When the mother is underage, unmarried
or unable to care for the child.
3.4 5.4 C. When the child might be deformed or
9.0 10.9 D. When the pregnancy is the result of
rape or incest.
10.1 6.4 E. When the mother's life is endangered.
3.4 3.6 F. Not under any circumstances.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

Interestingly when the responses of the males and females are
lumped and compared to the responses in question 1, there is no statis-
tical association between their attitudes towards the possibility of sex
education influencing premarital sexual behavior (question 6) and their
own rating of their attitudes towards sex (question 1) (Y2 = 0.001,
df = 1, S = 0.973). When confronted with this finding in a classroom
discussion, the students indicated that the sex education they had received
in school was largely irrelevant to the reality of their lives and therefore
not likely to influence behavior.

question 7: There was no difference in the male and female response to
this question ( 2 = 0.804, df = 1, p >.30), although as in question 6,
males are more likely than females to believe that sexual activity will
increase if sex is made "easier." However, the majority of students
believed that easy access to birth control information and devices do
increase promiscuity. A comparison of question 1 with question 7, while
not statistically significant, does indicate a trend whereby those students
who characterize themselves as moderate to conservative are more likely than
more liberal students to believe th t easy access to birth control information
and devices promotes promiscuity (. = 2.74, df = 1, S = 0.097).

Question 8: Males and females do not differ in their responses to this
question (A versus B-F:%- = 2.09, df = 1, p>.10), with the majority
indicating that abortion should be available to women on demand. Only
3.5% of the students indicated that under no circumstances should abortion
be available.


The importance of the sexual attitudes of college students at the
present time goes far beyond anything as mundane as sexual behavior. Such
attitudes are constantly being examined in the same manner as diviners
examine the entrials of birds and for the same reason--to determine the
current spiritual state of the nation and the prospects for future success
or failure. For example, one popular sociobiologist (Wallace 1979) finds
the failure of the "sexual revolution" in the current situation and asserts
this demonstrates the triumph of the wisdom of the genes. We do not
pretend any ability for divination in this article, especially given the
obvious limitations of the sample we are using.

The one controversy in sex research which the Florida survey does
touch on is whether or not gender remains important for understanding
the sexual attitudes of college students. King, Balswick, and Robinson
(1977) argue that gender is probably becoming less important for under-
standing differences in both sexual behavior and attitudes for the
college population. In contrast, Mercer and Kohn (1979) maintain that
females remain more conservative than males in both behavior and attitude.
The Florida survey says nothing about behavior, but does find a gap between

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

males and females on most of the questions in the survey, with females
more likely to take the "conservative" position. Thus, at least among
this group of students the "sexual revolution" has not totally eliminated
traditional values. Yet, the responses on the abortion question and the
availability of birth control question do indicate some affect of the
"sexual revolution" on traditional values.

Future human sexuality classes at the University of Florida will
be surveyed in order to monitor these changes in the attitudes of college
students toward sexual behavior.


We would like to thank Jean Gearing, Diana Walker, and Dave
Griffith for their help in administering the survey. Data were
analyzed using SPSS. Computing was done using the facilities of North
Texas State University, Denton, Texas, and the Northeast Regional Data
Center of the State University System of Florida, located on the campus
of the University of Florida in Gainesville.


Alston, Jon P. and Francis Tucker
1973 The Myth of Sexual Permissiveness. Journal of Sex Research 9(1):

Dunbar, J., M. Brown and D. M. Amoroso
1973 Some Correlates of Attitudes'Toward Homosexuality. Journal of
Social Psychology 89: 271-279.

Ehrmann, Winston
1959 Premarital Dating Behavior. New York: Henry Hold and Company.

King, K., J.C. Balswick and I.E. Robinson
1977 The Continuing Premarital Sexual Revolution Among College Females.
Journal of Marriage and The Family 29: 455-459.

Mercer, G. William and Paul M. Kohn
1979 Gender Differences in the Integration of Conservatism, Sex Urge
and Sexual Behaviors Among College Students. Journal of Sex Research
15 (2): 129-142.

Minnigerode, Fred A.
1976 Attitudes Toward Homosexuality: Feminist Attitudes and Sexual
Conservatism. Sex Roles 2: 347-352.

Money, John
1980 Love and Love Sickness. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Steffensmeier, Carell and Renee Steffensmeier
1974 Sex Differences in Reactions to Homosexuals: Research Continuities
and Further Developments. Journal of Sex Research 10(1): 52-67.

Wallace, Robert A.
1979 The Genesis Factor. New York: William Morrow and Company.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

Wilson, W. Cody
1975 The Distribution of Selected Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors
Among the Adult Population of the United States. Journal of Sex Research
11(1): 46-64.


The Table of Contents should read as follows:


Work and Women's Liberation: A Case of Garment Workers
Helen I. Safa . . . . . 1

Undervaluation of the Dignity of Rural Women in Development
Luz Graciela Joly . . . . 25

Our Bodies Are Our Own
Jean Gearing . . . . 29

"Making the Baby Fall": Ethnomedicine and Birth in
Northern Ecuador
Lawrence K. Carpenter ...... . . 47

Sexual Attitudes of University Students
Linda D. Wolfe and J. Patrick Gray . . 59

Book Reviews
Linda D. Wolfe . . .69
The Red Lamp of Incest
The Woman That Never Evolved

Please note that the article, "Sexual Attitudes of University
Students," which begins on page 59 has a second author:

J. Patrick Gray
N.E.H. Fellow
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981


Linda Wolfe
Department of Anthropology
University of Florida
The Red Lamp of Incest. Robin Fox, E. P. Dutton: New York, 1980.
271 pp. $12.94.

For over a quarter of a century Robin Fox has been writing about
incest, primal hordes and alliance theory in an attempt to explain the
origins and maintenance of culture. His current offering--The Red Lamp
of Incest--is, in Fox's own words, "an attempt to rewrite Freud's
Totem and Taboo with a half a century of hindsight." In the attempted
rewrite (which is dedicated to the memory of Robert Ardrey), Darwin's
ideas on sexual selection and Levi-Strauss's on the alliance theory of
marriage and the inherent qualities of the human mind are accepted.
In actuality, The Red Lamp of Incest is an elaboration of an article
by Fox entitled "Alliance and Constraint: Sexual Selection and the
Evolution of Human Kinship Systems" which appeared in 1972 in a book
named Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man edited by Bernard Campbell.
In addition, Fox also relies on propositions laid out in the Imperial
Animal (co-authored by Lionel Tiger, 1971, Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
NY),and Kinship and Marriage (1967, Pelican, England).

In that The Red Lamp of Incest offers an interesting amalgamation
of Freud, Darwin, and Levi-Strauss, the book is a success. However,
the use of the term amalgamation is deliberate in that Fox does not
really offer a synthesis and is therefore seemingly no closer to the
"truth" of human culture than the original works of Freud, Darwin or
Levi-Strauss when considered individually. If a synthesis was intended,
then it could be said that this book falls short of its goal.

Moreover, the androcentric overtones of the language used in the
text is distracting and makes it difficult to discern the sense (e.g.,
incest and exogamy should not be confused) from the nonsense (e.g.,
multimale alloprimate troops have an adult sex-ration of 1 male to 4
!females). Consider for example the androcentric nature of the following
!statement and contemplate the possible misunderstandings a novice to the
subject of human origins could have.

... Homo habilis--handy man--and for the very good reason
that he seems to have made tools and crude shelters and
to have hunted for at least part of his living...let us
fix his brain size if we can. Many experts would not want
to give him special status, and consider him a large
Australopithecine. ...His brain averaged 666 cubic centi-
meters...(pagel24, emphasis added).

The central thesis of Fox is that culture is composed of three
mutually antagonistic and inter-dependent groups of people. There are
the old men who control young men by controlling status acquisition through
initiation rituals and access to females by arranging marriages, women
who protect their interest by evoking the sanctity of motherhood, and
young men who wait for the old men to die.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

The beginning of this system, Fox argues, is in accordance with
Freud's idea of the primal horde. According to Fox, humans began with
a multimale, multifemale social organization which lacked permanent
pair bonds. However, the old males, because they out-ranked the young
males, controlled access to the females. The young males thereby
frustrated in their attempts to sire offspring (a la Darwin) desired to
overthrow the old males and gain access to females. At the same time,
the young males were in awe of the old males because of their power and
therefore fearful. Nevertheless, eventually the young males did murder
the old males and committed cannibalism. Once having committed the
cannbalistic act, the young males felt guilty, erected a totem and
renounced sexual relationships with their female relatives. Thus, in
order to reproduce--and here is where Levi-Strauss comes in--the young
males had to exchange wives with neighboring males.

Presto, the origin of culture.

Exactly where or when this happened is unknown. However, according
to Fox, it took place early in hominid history and wherever there was a
hominid primal horde. The cannibalistic act and the subsequent exogamy,
exchange of-women, language and the hunting-gathering division of labor
all interrelated to produce ourselves. Fox argues, moreover, that the
males most able to play the social game (and not necessarily the strongest
physically) left the most offspring. The best players had the largest
brains and they left large-brained offspring. In the end, for Fox the
real hallmark of our species, our big brains, resulted from the manner in
which our male ancestors played the game of reproduction. One might have
hoped that Fox would have integrated women into the scheme as providers
of food (some gathered and some hunted) and socializers of the young
rather than relegrating them as the benefactors of male game playing.
However, he did not and, for that reason, Fox's thesis cannot be accepted.

On the other hand, in that in every known culture there is conflict
between the old men and young men over status and females and in each
generation men experience this conflict--albeit in a culturally prescribed
manner--it is impossible to dismiss Fox and his rendering of Freud, Levi-
Strauss and Darwin. As there has been over 100 years of debate on many
of these speculations and they remain powerful explanatory tools, there
might just be some "truth" to the speculations of primal hordes, exchanges
of women and the origin of culture.

In the last chapter, Fox presents a few comments on the recent
availability and use of contraceptives in the U.S. His point is that we
really do not know what will be the long-term effect of the widespread
use of contraceptives. That is, whatever power women had to protect their
interests was derived from their being mothers and/or potential mothers.
With the widespread use of contraceptives, according to Fox, women no
longer have the possibility of pregnancy as a leverage in their dealings
with men. On this point, I rather agree with Fox.

During the 1960's when the current women's liberation movement got
rolling, the feeling was that the widespread use of contraceptives would
increase the sexual freedom of women and end the double standard. While
sexual liberation was deemed desirable, it was not the ultimate goal.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

The more valued goal was that of sex-role liberation and the assumption
was that sexual liberation as obtained through the use of contraceptives
would eventually lead to sex-role liberation. However, as is now pain-
fully evident, sexual liberation did not result in sex-role liberation.
In fact, the sexual liberation of women has resulted in an increase in
hostility and mistrust of women on the part of men who are still very
much in control of women's lives.

To Fox, this is not surprising as he argues that once women denounce
motherhood, they denounce their base of power.

According to Elizabeth Janeway, the mechanisms of this increasing
hostility towards women is that the balance of the Mary/Eve image of women
is currently unbalanced. Janeway speculates:

Mary, pure mother and wife, ...pumped out of her
consanguineous group to form affinal ties... Her presence
was public, legal and an essential part of a system of
kinship and governance. Eve,...is subversive and disruptive
...She represents passion and forgetfulness of duty, place,
and public obligation. She is...physical nature, she is
the darkness where the proudly erect penis satisfies
uncontrollable desire and collapses, 'spent',...It is she
who seduced Adam, from whose body she had been taken, and
so set in motion primal sin and the fall of man, with which
it was punished... Not until Mary's son was sent to offer
the hope of salvation could Eve's act be redressed.

These teachings shaped the sacred myths in which our
western culture took form. As the Mary myth dims, the
Eve figure loses the opposing force from which were
derived the social limits that controlled her attraction
and her menace. (Signs, Summer 1980, page 585).

As our society is currently constituted, I would argue therefore
that the widespread use of contraceptives has had negative consequences
for women in that women viewed as Eve are more vulnerable to sexual
exploitation than women viewed as Mary. No longer can women use the
threat of pregnancy to control their sexual lives nor can women evoke the
sanctity of motherhood as a locus of power.

Few women--and rightly so--would willingly relinquish their
contraceptives or resurrect the Mary image simply to regain some lost power
for what is at best a dubious end. This is, of course, the direction
some legislators desire to take.

Instead, women need to find a new locus of power which can be used
as a leverage in dealing with patriarchal power. Just what that new
locus of power will be or could be is the real unknown. Seemingly, the
only real alternative for women is for them to use to their advantage
whatever independent economic wealth they can obtain as a leverage for
protecting themselves from patriarchal exploitation. On the other hand,
this is not really a new alternative. It was after all the leverage
females used before they had to contend with the Mary/Eve image.

Florida Journal of Anthropology,6,2,1981

The Woman That Never Evolved. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy; Harvard
University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1981. 256 pp.

"This book is about the female primates who have
evolved over the last seventy million years. It
is dedicated to the liberated woman who never evolved
but who with imagination, intelligence, an open mind,
and perseverance many of us may yet become."
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

According to sociobiologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, it was not
easy to be a feminist and a graduate student at Harvard during
the early 1970's when the new discipline of sociobiology was
being developed. Because there was no common language between
feminists and sociobiologists, a communication gap existed
between them and, as a result, Hrdy "felt torn and often quite
alone" (p. ix). The Women That Never Evolved offers a synthesis
between feminism and sociobiology and suggests that the popular
image of women as primarily passive, noncompetitive and
subordinate as a matter of evolution is incorrect. Instead, she
argues that natural selection operates on both males and females
and that the primate heritage of women is to be sexually
aggressive, independent and competitive. On the other hand, Hrdy
also argues that women have been dominated by men and, in fact,
have been among the more oppressed primate females. However, one
need not despair provided women understand their evolutionary
heritage and pursue their own future destinies. If the reader is
searching for lively argument on human and primate evolution with
a new twist, this book will not be a disappointment.
The book is divided into eight chapters with the main thesis
of the book presented in the last two chapters. The first six
chapters review the recent literature on primate behavior and
actually reads as a who's who in behavioral primatology. The
main points of the first six chapters are (1) that among
monogamous primates females have more equality with males than
among polygynous primates and (2) that among those polygynous
primates some females such as Hamadryas baboons females are more
oppressed than among other primate groups such as the macaques.
Hrdy devotes over 20 pages to her "infanticide as langur male
reproductive strategy" hypothesis and ignores all of the recent
criticisms which have largely discredited her "infanticide"
hypothesis. On the plus side, however, chapter seven discusses
the evolution of primate sexuality and points out that neither
the female orgasm nor concealed ovulation is unique to Homo

Only chapter eight is devoted entirely to people. In that
chapter Hrdy argues that human females became trapped by their
own evolutionary history and reproductive strategies of obtaining
male parental care for their offspring by way of
"situation-dependent receptivity, concealed ovulation, and an
assertive sexuality (p. 187)." These strategies combined with
the male strategy of avoiding cuckoldry, Hrdy suggests, resulted
in institutionalized female infanticide, purdah, clitoridectomy
and so forth. Unfortunately, as Hrdy points out, so little is
known about the sexual behavior of women cross-culturally that it
is impossible at this time to test her hypothesis. However, it
is known that not all culture areas (e.g., Oceania) punish female
sexuality. It is doubtful, therefore, that an explanation of
cultural institutions will be found in human biology and, for
that reason, Hrdy's attempted synthesis of sociobiology and
feminism, while interesting, falls short of its goal.

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