Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs

Gender Unity and Gender Equality Among the Lahu of Southwestern China

Shanshan Du

Columbia University Press

Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs

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Pub Date: December 2002

ISBN: 9780231119573

256 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $36.00£28.00

Pub Date: December 2002

ISBN: 9780231504737

256 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $35.99£28.00

Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs

Gender Unity and Gender Equality Among the Lahu of Southwestern China

Shanshan Du

Columbia University Press

The ideal of "gender equality" seems forever elusive, always tantalizingly over the horizon. Shanshan Du suggests that by shifting our attention away from the various utopian ideals embedded in mainstream feminism, we may be surprised to learn that gender-egalitarian societies do exist. Based on extensive fieldwork, this book explores the Lahu society in Southwest China where practical gender equality has become the byproduct of a potent ideology of gender unity, vividly expressed by the proverb, "chopsticks only work in pairs."
This book is delightfully readable and as the same time thought-provoking, full of lively and sensitive ethnography...Finely written. Hayami Yoko, Asian Folklore Studies
A very powerful ethnography. Charles F. McKhann, Anthropos
1. INTRODUCTION
Is There Any Gender-Egalitarian Society on Earth?
The Lahu People
Fieldwork Sites
Project Development and Methods
The Structure of the Book
Part I: MYTHOLOGY AND IDEOLOGY
2. "EVERYTHING COMES IN PAIRS": A DYADIC WORLDVIEW
"Both One and Two": Pairs as Dyads
Twin-Dyads in Origin Myths
Blending Femininity and Masculinity in Gendered Ideals
The Preeminence of Dyads
Conclusion
3. HUSBAND-WIFE DYADS IN THE LIFE CYCLE
Wedding as the Rite of Passage to Adulthood
The Joint Journey of Married Couples in Life
The Reunion of Accomplished Couples in Afterlife
Marginalizing Lone Souls
Conclusion
Part II: Joint Gender Roles
4."HUSBAND AND WIFE DO IT TOGETHER": UNIFYING GENDER IN LABOR
Procreation Ideologies
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Child Rearing
"Work Hard to Eat"
Conclusion
5. "MALE-FEMALE CO-HEADS": UNIFYING GENDER IN LEADERSHIP
"Male-Female Masters of the Household"
Dyadic Leadership in Village and Village Cluster
Conclusion
Part III: Structure and anti-Structure
6. UNIFYING GENDER IN KINSHIP AND INTERHOUSEHOLD ORGANIZATION
Dyadic Ego in Kinship Terminology
Household Co-heads and Inter-household Interactions
Conclusion
7. THE DISFUNCTION AND COLLAPSE OF GENDER DYADS: DIVORCE, ELOPEPMENT, AND LOVE-PACT SUICIDE
Major Threats to Husband-Wife Dyads
The Collapse of Marriages
Conclusion
8. CONCLUSION: RETHINKING GENDER EQUALITY
Gender Equality as Social Reality
The Cultural Particularity of Gender Equality
The Diversity of Gender Equality
REFERENCES CITED

About the Author

Shanshan Du is assistant professor of anthropology at Tulane University and winner of the Elsie Clews Parsons Prize of the American Ethnological Society and the Sylvia Forman Prize of the Association for Feminist Anthropology.