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In the BeginningThe Navajo Genesis$
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Jerrold Levy

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780520211285

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520211285.001.0001

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Men, Women, and Men-Women

Men, Women, and Men-Women

(p.197) 9 Men, Women, and Men-Women
In the Beginning

Jerrold E. Levy

University of California Press

This chapter examines how Navajo myths define the nature of the masculine and feminine as well as the hermaphrodite, a symbol that unites the two. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, which clearly place the female in an inferior position, Navajo myth is ambivalent: Some events place women on a par with men, whereas others see the male as superior to the female. Similarly, the role of the hermaphrodite as mediator of the polarities is not clearly stated; the hermaphrodite's position is as ambiguous as that of the sexes. Because some degree of sexual conflict is found in societies worldwide, the chapter presents evidence that this conflict is more acute and persistent in Navajo society than is generally the case elsewhere. The myths reflect this antagonism between the sexes as well.

Keywords:   sexual conflict, Navajo myth, masculine, feminine, hermaphrodite

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