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WOMAN THE HUNTER by Mary Zeiss Stange

WOMAN THE HUNTER

By Mary Zeiss Stange

Pub Date: May 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-8070-4638-8
Publisher: Beacon

 Mixing autobiographical reflection and scholarly analysis, a woman hunter examines the cultural history of hunting, brilliantly challenging fundamental assumptions about femininity, masculinity, and the relation of humans to the natural world. Noting the increase in women afield, Stange (Religion and Women's Studies/Skidmore Coll.) is less interested in explaining why they hunt than why more don't. She analyzes anthropological theories of hunting: The discredited ``Man the Hunter'' theory and its feminist opposite, ``Woman the Gatherer,'' are rightly criticized for perpetuating tired gender stereotypes and minimizing woman's historical role as predator. Stange examines the stubborn grip these theories hold on popular and academic imaginations and persuasively details the well-meaning but ultimately destructive way people anthropomorphize nature. Though she claims ``implications far broader than an argument with feminism,'' it's ecofeminism (which equates hunting with rape) with which she has the biggest bone to pick. Stange charges that ecofeminism romanticizes nature and casts women as victims, absolving them of culpability in environmental depredation, from the responsibility that all humans ``are up to our elbows in blood.'' Hunting, on the other hand, confronts ``the painful paradox of life itself: Some of us live because others die.'' This ``blood knowledge''--a spiritual interconnectedness most often manifested as affection and respect for quarry--results in a sense of mutual obligation between people and nature that can't be bought at the grocery. One caveat: Stange's hypocritical stereotyping of men as macho males threatened by women hunters is troubling, considering many--herself included- -were introduced to the sport by fathers and husbands. Though the Field & Stream crowd might balk at extended forays into scholarly jargon and feminist theory, Stange grapples head-on with a central philosophical question largely unanswered by sporting literature: Why hunt?