RE: International Women's Day; thoughts on Esther Goody's 1987 article

From: Sophie Alcock (
Date: Wed Mar 10 2004 - 20:09:01 PST

Yes interesting, size rather than gender determining aggression (physical power) Mike. The biological, sociological, cultural, idealogical balance of "might as right" seems just too complicated. I too would like to thank you Steve for providing an indepth discussion of the very excellent Goody article, that I'm busily distributing to other interested folk, and that I too have learned much from.

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Cole []
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2004 1:36 PM
Subject: RE: International Women's Day; thoughts on Esther Goody's 1987

Thank you for your careful analysis and discussion of Esther's paper, Steve,
which I have forwarded to her. She has limited email access.

Coincidentally, I am reading on hominid evolution which gives a number of the
points you raise special significance to me. But I want to mention an
article and its findings that I believe worth considering. I do not think
the findings go to the issues of patriarchy and selection for size/strength,
but do speak to the issue of herrschaft in contemporary American (at least
society). The article is from American Anthropologist, 1981. I will track
the exact ref down, but have been tied up down and sideways for work time,
and my old AA's are not at my house.

The basic method was to set up artificial groups of people, half male,
half female, but where the size the of the people varied so that half the
time males were larger than females, half the time the reverse. It was
a joint problem solving/argumentation sort of situation as I recall. The
interactions were scored using Bales scales or another device like one
that scored for who initiated interaction and the degree of aggressino

The key finding: The degree of aggression display depended upon SIZE

This isolates size/power at least for these circumstances as the controlling
variable, not gender, with evolved average differences in size covarying
with gender being the immediate causal precursor of herrschaft.

I especially appreciated your care in providing sufficient explication so that
those who wish to pursue issues of gender within a CHAT framework have a lot
to work with.

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