Women Hunt in Most Foraging Societies, Using Their Own Tools And Strategies

According to new research, the roles of "man the hunter" and "woman the gatherer" in human civilization are not nearly as gendered as anthropologists and archaeologists have previously thought.

Ancient sites discovered in recent years all throughout the world clearly imply that women have likely been fishing, hunting large animals, and fighting alongside males for many centuries.

They still are, in fact.

Contrary to what gender stereotypes in today's society would have you think, a recent research of a variety of foraging tribes throughout the previous century has discovered some of their hunters were female.

Abigail Anderson of Seattle Pacific University is in charge of the data evaluation, which takes into account 63 contemporary foraging societies from the Americas, Africa, Australia, Asia, and the Oceania. According to anthropological studies over the past 100 years, female hunting is evident in close to 80% of those civilizations.

The bulk of those cases had unequivocal documentation that showed women pursuing and hunting wildlife on purpose, as opposed to just shooting an animal when the chance presented itself. Women actively participated in hunting 100 percent of the time in communities where it was the main source of sustenance.

Female hunters would frequently bring newborns along for the journey rather than staying behind with the youngsters. Furthermore, female hunting does not negatively impact parenting.

According to the researchers, "increasing data collection and thoughtful interpretation are lending a much richer lens to our understanding of human mobility strategies in the idea that women are hindered by childcare and thus cannot hunt."

Despite having children or not, women have traditionally engaged in hunting in foraging civilizations all over the world.

The more specialists look for evidence to support the theory that males are exclusively stalkers and hunters of prey—a theory initially put out by anthropologists in the 1960s—the more improbable it becomes.

According to the data, women have traditionally been underappreciated contributors to human survival, supplying much of the protein consumed by foraging communities and raising the next generation.

In these same cultures, female hunters frequently use different tactics and equipment from the male hunters in order to catch and kill their game.

For instance, Agta women in the Philippines utilize hunting equipment that is "remarkably different from Agta men," who typically adhere to bows and arrows. Women are more likely to use knives, and they prefer to hunt in groups during the day rather than by themselves at night like many males do.

The researchers write, "In addition to weapon preferences, women further employ a greater flexibility of hunting strategies compared to men."

Women may go hunting alone or with a variety of companions, such as their spouses, other women, kids, or dogs. Men, on the other hand, tend to hunt alone, with only one other person (usually their wife), or with a dog.

Additionally, women hunters exhibit expertise in the prey they pursue.

For instance, women frequently hunt smaller animals while males frequently hunt larger ones in the Tiwi civilization in Australia. Women are skilled at hunting big animals with sticks and machetes in the Matses civilization of the Peruvian Amazon.

Science is prone to prejudice, which is a major factor in why these incidents were ignored.

For instance, due to contemporary gender preconceptions, archaeologists frequently believed that human bones discovered alongside Viking weaponry belonged to men. However, recent research has revealed that's not always the case. There may have been female fighters, but in far smaller numbers.

According to Andersen and her coworkers, "researcher bias shapes science's interpretation of data, and it behooves each generation of scientists to ensure that paradigms fit the existing data."

The prevalence of tales of females using tools and weapons that are perceived as "violent" throughout time and location indicates that such instances are more typical of female behavior than they are isolated incidents.

It appears that from the very beginning, women have been balancing the responsibilities of mother, hunter, gatherer, and fisher.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.