An Anthropologist and Feminism, 1974, page 4

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concern with what appears to be a critical factor in deter-
mining the position of women in society. I have been exploring
the hypothesis that in tribal societies an artificial scarcity ‘
provides a goal for male competition that functions to dis-
perse populations in accordance with their limiting resources.
It is a complex and, at times, convoluted argument that pre-»
sents an ecological funtion for the often observed competition
and warfare over women in tribal societies. The scarcity of
women is seen as artificial in the sense that it is produced

by cultural rules of sexual morality which limit sexual access.
women are not mere pawns in marnage exchanges, but actively
participate in providing men with an incentive to excell at
economic production. Tribal values are culturally structured
so that women or their parents are most likely to reward the
successful provider with increased sexual access.

This hypothesis was originally directed to tropical

forest societies. I am at present attempting to look at the:
cross-cultural possibilities of this thesis. I am broadening
it to suggest that one crucial determinant of the division

of labor by sex in tribal societies is that men are made re-

' sponsible for producing the resources that limit a population's

growth. while there is much that I question in the ethnographic
literature, the recurring statement that women's work is rou-

tine, dull, drudgery, in contrast to the at times tricky,