Sunday, April 01, 2007

SEX at ArchaeoBlog Prehistoric women: Not so simple, not so strange (Review of Adovasio et al.'s The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the true roles of women in prehistory)
The roles of women even in our own time are not easy to define; yet our intrepid threesome has encapsulated more than 3 million years of human femaleness in fewer than 300 pages, rather too many of which are taken up with moaning about the sex bias of anthropologists of yore.

Palaeontologists disagree just as often and as radically as economists do, and yet they insist on describing what they do as science. The trail of inference that leads from fossil fragments to conclusions about sex, gender and social structure has more in common with the Da Vinci code than with scientific method. The only way the authors of The Invisible Sex can uncover women’s true roles is by assuming that a certain class of objects is associated with women. At the same time they want to dispute the generally accepted notion that weapons are boys’ toys.

Seems rather critical (!) but I tend to think (not having read the book) it's probably close to accurate. Gender studies in archaeology are just lain difficult to support because the gender of the users of artifacts don't preserve very well. We like to say we "study human behavior" but we don't; we study artifacts and their patterning.