Venus Figurines Analysis

885 Words 4 Pages
The thesis of Nelson’s 1990 essay about the “Venus” figurines of the upper Paleolithic era is that anthropology is itself recirculating unfair and poorly thought-out gender norms in its imposition of meaning onto the figurines. Her most important points are less about the Venus figures themselves, and more about the role of gender. Even within academia, she observes a trend involving the recirculation of imposing gender norms onto artifacts without any real evidence for it (Nelson 12). Nelson exposes the “hidden assumptions” of the field surrounding these figures, which include the idea that women’s bodies exist for one very specific purpose: “Underlying the description of the female figurines as erotic or reproductive is a masculinist construction of the world, in which females are assumed to exist primarily for the use of males, sexually or reproductively” (Nelson 16). This view, of course, is Eurocentric, and the problems involved in imposing this Eurocentric dynamic onto objects from distant cultures seem obvious. The author uses an interesting variety of source material to make her points. In addition to images of the figures themselves, she …show more content…
The re-reading is about textbooks and the implications thereof, instead of the implications of the figures and a textual reading of them. Nelson’s arguments were quite convincing, though now that the article is nearly thirty years old it would be interesting to redo the experiment with contemporary textbooks to see if anything has changed. The fact that she clearly cited each textbook and showed the words used to describe all the figurines reinforces the value of this article. As mentioned above, the data are right there for the reader to evaluate on his or her

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