Essay on Women in Shamanism

Essay on Women in Shamanism

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Historical Background:

Drawing on the work of Becker, Lee explains that there is a theory for social deviance. In this theory, no one is innately (biologically) deviant. This deviance is a social construction by those who are at the center of power. This dominant hegemonic social group determines what is considered to be ‘normal’ and then labels anyone is outside that standard of normal as deviant. (Lee 192). Using this theory as a backbone, the following historical analysis of shamanism in Korea reveals the social construction of shamans as deviants. This is also related to the fact that most Shamans tend to be women. Because women are not filling their roles as mothers and wives they are labelled deviants. Because shamans are women who are not in their roles of mothers and wives and they are also going against the dominant form of religion, they are labelled as deviants. Shamans have undergone numerous institutional attempts to eliminate it over a long period of time.
It is important to understand that before the Chosun Dynasty women in Korea had a degree of freedom that they did not later on. Under the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) there was intrafamilial economic interdependence that allowed for women to have economic and social freedom. She did not have to depend on her husband for money or social power. She had connections to her brothers for most of her life. If a husband was found unsuitable she could then divorce him and she would still be attractive in marriage. If she was a widow she was not considered a burden to her family. It is important to understand that women were acceptable in society in variety of situations – not simply as a wife and a mother (Deuchler 143). This is relevant because to show the ...


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... is potential in this shamanic ritual that may perhaps one day lead to a woman’s equality.
Another way that the shamanic ritual allows women to escape their social duties and challenge the status quo is through having an economic opportunity. Although money is important for the survival and equality of women the economic aspect of this does not want to be overemphasized. Some scholars argue that denying an economic aspect of religion limits the analysis of what is taking place (Lee 193). However, this is a very western hegemonic capitalist and capitalistic way of looking at a shamanic ritual. Historically shamanism was a way for women to make money. A woman having a form of economic freedom was outside the dominant neo-Confucian ideology of what position a woman should of ideally been in. In more recent history, shamanism have gained economic success.


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