Ion this attempt of the feminists, anthropology seemed to provide the most effective tool as it could tell about the status of women in various societies as well as about why women are subordinated to men in several societies. Anthropology was approached as to attain central materials for awareness about the dynamics of the relation between men and women. On the other hand, there was an attempt by anthropology in finding pertinent understanding about female subordination in feminism and the feminist anthropologists started reassessing anthropology on the basis of feminism. Female subordination has been the major concern for both the feminists in general and the feminist anthropologists in particular. The arguments of the feminist anthropologists on female subordination differed greatly in the mid 1970s. There were feminist anthropologists who felt that in spite of the existence of some democratic societies, all the societies gave prominence to men's power. While a group of feminist anthropologists regarded that female subordination was not common, a strong argument was in support of the view that female subordination was universal and every society is male dominated. Michello Rosaldo and Sherry Ortner, two important feminist anthropologists of structuralist-anthropologist school, regarded female subordination as universal and the endeavoured to explicate the sources of this female subordination. “But they were very eager to make it clear that, to them; universal did not mean ‘unavoidable’ ‘compulsory’ ‘unchangeable’ or ‘natural’. In particular, they wanted to separate the concept of universality from the concept of ‘biology’. As feminists, they were eager to find ways to overturn female subordination.” ...
"But they were very eager to make it clear that, to them; universal did not mean 'unavoidable' 'compulsory' 'unchangeable' or 'natural'. In particular, they wanted to separate the concept of universality from the concept of 'biology'. As feminists, they were eager to find ways to overturn female subordination." (Anthropology of Gender, 2006, P.12). In this paper a critical analysis of Rosaldo's and Ortner's theories is undertaken and the importance of these feminist anthropologists in the understanding of gender in Anthropology is investigated.
The feminist anthropologists have been significant in demonstrating importance of the analytical concept of gender. The term gender was often used in the writings of social and cultural anthropologists, though it came into popular use only in the early 1980's and it indicated both the male and the female, the cultural construction of these categories, and the relationship between them. As the definition of gender varies tremendously in various cultures, the feminist anthropologists stayed away from broad generalizations. The focus of the feminist anthropologists is no longer on the issue of gender unevenness alone but they explore the importance of female activities and investigate the reasons of female subordination. It is relatable that feminist anthropology, initially, focused on the examination and expansion of theory to explain the subordination of women, which seemed to be universal and cross-cultural. Thus, Marxist theory attracted the feminist anthropologists of the 1970s and the Marxist model maintains that the subordination of women in capitalist societies, both in terms of their reproductive role as well as their value as unpaid or underpaid labour, results from historical trends predating