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Woman the Hunter Hardcover – May, 1997

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Mixing autobiographical reflection and scholarly analysis, a woman hunter examines the cultural history of hunting, brilliantly challenging fundamental assumptions about femininity, masculinity, and the relation of humans to the natural world. Noting the increase in women afield, Stange (Religion and Women's Studies/Skidmore Coll.) is less interested in explaining why they hunt than why more don't. She analyzes anthropological theories of hunting: The discredited ``Man the Hunter'' theory and its feminist opposite, ``Woman the Gatherer,'' are rightly criticized for perpetuating tired gender stereotypes and minimizing woman's historical role as predator. Stange examines the stubborn grip these theories hold on popular and academic imaginations and persuasively details the well-meaning but ultimately destructive way people anthropomorphize nature. Though she claims ``implications far broader than an argument with feminism,'' it's ecofeminism (which equates hunting with rape) with which she has the biggest bone to pick. Stange charges that ecofeminism romanticizes nature and casts women as victims, absolving them of culpability in environmental depredation, from the responsibility that all humans ``are up to our elbows in blood.'' Hunting, on the other hand, confronts ``the painful paradox of life itself: Some of us live because others die.'' This ``blood knowledge''--a spiritual interconnectedness most often manifested as affection and respect for quarry--results in a sense of mutual obligation between people and nature that can't be bought at the grocery. One caveat: Stange's hypocritical stereotyping of men as macho males threatened by women hunters is troubling, considering many--herself included- -were introduced to the sport by fathers and husbands. Though the Field & Stream crowd might balk at extended forays into scholarly jargon and feminist theory, Stange grapples head-on with a central philosophical question largely unanswered by sporting literature: Why hunt? -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


A moving, disturbing, and bold retelling of the myth of Diana for the late twentieth century that deftly turns around our assumptions about women's relationships to life, death, and the call of the wild. --Ruth Behar, author of The Vulnerable Observer

"Heartfelt, powerful, and scholarly, Woman the Hunter torches two of the oldest myths of our culture: the aggressive male who destroys nature and the passive female who nurtures it. What Mary Zeiss Stange erects in their place--woman who don't shirk from participating in nature's cycles of life and death--is surely one of the saner paths toward a healthier earth." --Ted Kerasote, author of Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Pr; First Edition edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807046388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807046388
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,142,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Zeiss Stange, Ph.D.

As the author of Woman the Hunter (Boston: Beacon Press, 1997/1998), the first cultural history of the relationship of women and hunting, Mary Zeiss Stange has gained national recognition as the primary scholar working on the subject today. She has been profiled in The Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today, and in widely syndicated Associated Press stories; has been interviewed by The New York Times, Sierra Magazine, Outside Magazine and the BBC; and has done numerous interviews on National Public Radio, including "Talk of the Nation" and "To the Best of Our Knowledge." Stange and her work were the subject of "She Got Game," a lengthy feature interview by Barbara Ehrenreich, in the June/July 1999 issue of "Ms." Magazine.
Her second book was a collaboration with psychologist Carol K. Oyster. Gun Women: Firearms and Feminism in Contemporary America (New York: New York University Press, 2000). It deals with women's various positive relationships with firearms (self-protection, hunting, recreational and competitive shooting, careers like law enforcement and the military). Stange's third book, Heart Shots: Women Write about Hunting, a critical anthology of historical and contemporary women's outdoor writing, was published in August 2003 by Stackpole Books. She is also general editor of the "Sisters of the Hunt" series of classic women's writing about hunting, which Stackpole published from fall of 2003 through 2005. Her next book, Hard Grass: Life on the Crazy Woman Bison Ranch, traces the changing realities of high plains ranch life. It will be published by the University of New Mexico Press in June 2010.
Stange leads something of a double life--college teaching in upstate New York, and ranching and hunting in Montana, where she and her husband Doug operate the Crazy Woman Bison Ranch. In her writing, too, she moves between, and is equally at home in, two distinct worlds, having authored numerous articles in both scholarly and commercial publications. The author of over fifty academic articles and reviews, she additionally writes regularly for USA Today and is a member of its editorial Board of Contributors. She also writes about women and feminism, contemporary religion, environmentalism, and various other political and social issues for such national publications as Big Sky Journal, High Country News, Bugle, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Women's Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Times. Her essay, "Last Man Out of the Hunting Lodge, Please Turn Out the Lights," was in 1998 awarded the Izaak Walton League's "Thinking Like a Mountain" prize for cutting-edge writing on environmental issues, and in Spring 2006 she won first prize in Sierra Club's "Why I Hunt" essay contest.
She is Professor of Women's Studies and Religion, and formerly Director of the Women's Studies Program, at Skidmore College. Stange was the 2004-2005 Edwin R. Moseley Faculty Lecturer at Skidmore, an award which "acknowledges an exemplary level of scholarship and achievement that sets a standard for academic excellence at Skidmore. It is the highest honor that the Skidmore faculty can bestow on one of its own."
Here is a link to her Skidmore College web page:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Matthew L. Miller on April 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
We are not that far removed from the time when we were all hunters, and Mary Zeiss Stange understands that better than most. How refreshing to read a book on hunting by a feminist! Too often we hear "Men are hunters and women are gatherers." This book shows how the hunting spirit lies within us all.
Stange is an observant hunter and a skilled writer. She understands the hunt, a very rare perception in this world of post-modern nitwits who don't understand where their meals come from, let alone the basic life cycles.
I doubt this book's biggest detractors have even read it. Read it with an open mind, and learn to see the world through the only eyes we possess...the eyes of hunters.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was disturbed to read reviews trashing this book as "false" feminism or an "encouragement" of violence. Please. Stange has written an interesting and scholarly account of how women throughout the ages have hunted and continue to hunt. She contributes to research that proves women can be as powerful and complex in their behavior as men. Women hunt, they work as police, they become soldiers, they kill their attackers. Which leads to the conclusion (gasp!), women are people too. For the "real" feminists who think ending patriarchy is about fainting in horror at violence in general, thereby washing their hands of men's and women's actual behavior, I say, "grow up." Stange helps make the point that these issues are complicated, and she joins other feminist voices in illustrating that women can be every bit as noble, savage, courageous, and dangerous as men. Some women have just bought the claptrap telling them they shouldn't be.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Timberlake on November 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed "Woman the Hunter" very much. I read through the reviews and decided to write this because I am so tired of "feminists" appointing themselves as the official "women" who can tell the rest of us outside the privileged world of academia how to live. I believe that Stange makes some excellent points. But I think what is more important is the responses she has drawn in these reviews. They are predictable which is to say that since I first encountered feminism in the early 70s, it hasn't changed: same old, same old. First attack Stange's writing, then her scholarship, then her nerve for affiliating hunting with "feminism." And the ever classic, oppression of any type is really the same and conveniently defined by what your narrow definition of feminism is. How many times must feminists invent the wheel, and yes, mention a connection with hunting and rape without mentioning the study. Yawn...
Why is it that feminism is so completely out of touch with women? If I have a complaint at all about Stange's book, it is that she doesn't invent a new term for women who refuse to be told by women academics how they should live their lives. And what they should or should not enjoy because it could, God forbid, imitate men. Instead of men defining us, now women are defining us?
Read the book. If you really think about the book, you may well enjoy the book, as I did. You don't have to let the "tyrannical feminists" know that you can think for yourself or that you can decide for yourself how to spend your time. I no longer call myself a feminist because I am my own person, a woman, a woman hunter, a woman who takes responsibility for the meat she eats. This book made me think about my long tradition as a woman hunter.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a scientist I find this book an excellent addition to the field of contemporary cultural anthropology. I have not encountered such a thoughtfully written book on the subject of female hunting. The author provides a critical analysis of our current myths and taboos about "Woman the Hunter". She particularly clearly challenges the "eco-feminist" viewpoint of hunting as a distructive, violent, male-only activity to be shunned by enlightened females. Dr. Zeiss Stange arques that this "eco-feminist" analysis is actually a rehashing of the old chauvinistic argument that females are too weak and helpless to kill there own food. This controversial book should definitely be required reading in Women's Studies and Ecology.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a historian, I find Mary Zeiss Stange's *Woman the Hunter* an effective rebuttal of ecofeminism and the notion that female *Homo sapiens* are, *by nature*, kinder and gentler to animals than their male counterparts. She persuasively argues that women have not hunted as much as men in recorded history because of cultural traditions restraining them, not because they were programmed by evolution to be "gatherers." Stange's book should help men and women alike to rise above "political correctness" and understand that whatever our gender, we share this drive to hunt.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. McEwen on March 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Over a decade later, it's nice to reflect how far culture has come since this book has come out. More and more women are interested in producing their own food and preserving food traditions. Because of that, they are having to confront death and the realities of the human place in the ecosystem. I am glad Mary paved the way for women not afraid of this.

Many women I know are farmer-activists and some have received positive press in The New York Times and other media outlets. Slaughter, hunting, and butchering workshops led by them are selling out in places like New York City. Most people are positive and joyful about these- happy to engage with their food and to not be dependent on industrial monocultures.

The post-vegan feminist culture has come to the fore. When I lead butchering workshops, many of the attendees are women who formerly subscribed to the vegan ecofeminist paradigm. Most have abandoned it because of their health suffering, but others have told me that that after volunteering on farms or at nature preserves they simply couldn't subscribe to a philosophy so alienated from nature. I often recommend this book and Lierre Keith's The Vegetarian Myth in their journey to heal their bodies and embrace humanity's econiche.

Thank you Mary for providing this resource for celebrating the joys of hunting and our place in the universe.
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