Data from foraging societies around the world indicates that women often hunt large game with skill.
Analysis of data from dozens of foraging communities around the world shows that in at least 79 percent of these groups, women participate in hunting. This challenges the prevailing notion that hunting is a male-only activity while gathering is restricted to women. The research, recently published in the journal, was led by Abigail Anderson of Seattle Pacific University in the US Plus one.
There is a common belief that, among foraging groups, men usually hunt animals while women gather plant products for food. However, mounting archaeological evidence throughout human history and prehistory challenges this model. For example, in many societies women have been found buried next to big game hunting tools.
Some researchers have suggested that women’s role as hunters was limited to the past, as modern foraging societies followed the model of men as hunters and women as gatherers. To investigate this possibility, Anderson and his colleagues analyzed data from the past 100 years on 63 foraging societies around the world, including those in North and South America, Africa, Australia, Asia and the oceanic region.
They found that women hunted in 79 percent of the communities analyzed, regardless of their maternal status. More than 70 percent of hunting by females appears to be intentional – in contrast to the opportunistic killing of animals encountered while carrying out other activities, intentional hunting by women appears to target game of all sizes, often big game.
The analysis also revealed that women are actively involved in teaching hunting practices, and that they often use a greater variety of weapon choices and hunting strategies than men.
These findings suggest that in many foraging societies, women are skilled hunters and play an active role in the practice, adding to evidence that contradicts long-held perceptions about gender roles in foraging societies. The authors note that these stereotypes influenced earlier archaeological studies, for example, some researchers were reluctant to interpret objects buried with women as hunting tools. They call for a re-evaluation of this evidence and a caution against misapplying the idea of men as hunters and women as gatherers in future research.
The authors add, “Evidence from around the world shows that women participate in subsistence hunting in the majority of cultures.”
Reference: “The Man-Hunter Myth: Women’s Contribution to Hunting Across Ethnographic Contexts” by Abigail Anderson, Sophia Chilcuk, Kylie Nelson, Roxanne Rother, and Kara Wall Scheffler, 28 June 2023, Available Here. Plus one.