Friday, March 22, 2013

Gender Relations 100 Years Ago in the 3rd World

Two of my favorite books are about exploration and hunting poor parts of the world about 100 years ago.

100 years ago W.D.M. Bell was hunting elephants in Africa, and Roy Chapman Andrews was exploring East Asia for scientific purposes.  In Bell of Africa and Heart of Asia most of the books are about hunting and exploring.  There are many similar books that are about hunting in Africa and exploring China, but where these two books are different is that they spend time describing the lives of the locals that they come across.

In Bell of Africa, Bell writes about how a wife is very valuable to a man.  A man's wife tans game hides, cooks food, makes clothing, brews beer, etc.  An African man would acquire many wives in order to increase his wealth.

One thing that Bell and the Africans disagreed on was weather or not a wife should be beautiful.  Bell, being a European, favored having a beautiful wife.  The Africans found this a strange idea because beautiful women are wanted by all men, and beautiful women want all men.  Apparently the best looking African women did not get married, but they were not virgins either.

Another interesting note was that African women were known to be able to work harder, and longer, and were able to carry more weight than their men were able to.

One last point of gender relations interest was that when Bell would shoot an elephant he would take the tusks and give the meat to nearby villagers.  The native men would take all the meat that they could and then they would give it to their wives.  If a man had meat and is friend asked for some, then he had to give it away out of politeness.  Once the meat was in his wife's possession, then it would not be given to anyone.  If the wife gave valuables away, she would be beaten by her husband.

Roy Chapman Andrews was exploring much of East Asia during this time.  He determined that Korean women were the most appealing.

He also discovered that when an important visitor, such as himself, visited with a Mongolian tribe the chief would give one of his daughters to live with the honored guest while he stayed with them.  They were not concerned with sleeping around.  They thought that if a woman was not desired by many men, then she must not be much good.


  1. Interesting. I should read those books.

    1. They are good, but they are mostly about elephant hunting an adventure.