Shame and Gender


Kressel, Gideon M. 1992. “Shame and Gender.” Anthropological Quarterly 65 (1): 34-46.

Author: Gideon M. Kressel


Gender segregation among groups of Bedouin now living in Ramla, Israel, is examined and compared with the parallel phenomenon among the Bedouin of the Negev Highlands. Both groups leave to the mother the task of inculcating in girls the notions of claustration and propriety and, frequently, of supervising the mutilation of genitals. Why do mothers accept this role and thereby perpetuate the gender-related perceptions of shame (femininity) and honor (masculinity)? Several rationalizations are examined. My explanation relates to social structure and conventions of group dynamics. The link between shame and gender also supplies the metaphor for the superior status of big agnatic groups over small ones. The perpetuation of women’s inferiority is here read through the code of symbols underlying community politics.

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel

Year: 1992

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