Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs

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Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs: Gender Unity and Gender Equality Among the Lahu of Southwestern China

Shanshan Du

Publisher: Columbia University PressFormat: Paperback

While the concept of “gender equality” has become increasingly popular in the global village at the beginning of the new millennium, it still primarily represents a beautiful dream. Shanshan Du suggests that by shifting our attention away from Eurocentric utopias, we may be surprised to learn that gender-egalitarian societies do exist, despite their scarcity and imperfection. This book explores one of the few cultures in which gender unity and gender equality prevail both in practice and in the belief system. Du argues that the Lahu people of southwestern China provide an example of such a gender ideal, vividly expressed by their proverb, “chopsticks only work in pairs”. Extensive fieldwork and interviews demonstrate the gender unity in labour allocation and leadership, reproductive activities, and gender relations generally.

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