On Monday, Weber State University’s Anthropology Club kicked off the 14th annual Greek Festival by studying gender roles in Greek society and comparing them to today’s standards.
“The Anthropology Club has opened the Greek Festival for years now, longer than I’ve been a student at WSU,” said Alexa Eaton, club president.
This year, the club celebrated by showing the film “Kypseli: Women and Men Apart — A Divided Reality.” The 1976 film studies gender roles in the modern-day Greek village Kypseli on the island of Thera.
Linda Eaton helped present the film on Monday. Eaton has been an anthropology professor at WSU since 1992.
“The club is 40 years old and has been very active on campus throughout that time, including the Greek Festival,” Linda Eaton said.
According to Linda Eaton, the movie was “controversial” when it first came out.
“The women’s movement was in its infancy at this moment,” she said. “This is a very interesting film that does look very specifically at gender roles in a Greek village.”
Gender roles in the Greek culture studied in the film are noticeably different than gender roles in America.
“The whole movie focused on how gender roles were divided very distinctly in this rural Greek culture,” Alexa Eaton said. “Men and women ate at separate tables, talked to separate groups, did separate work, and really spent free time in separate places.”
Julianne Ramanujam, a WSU cognitive science major, had “mixed reactions” to the film.
“I found the film to be a good opportunity to take a look at feminism and gender equality, and examine just how they work in our society,” Ramanujam said. “I was fascinated in that sense, but it was mixed with disgust where my own values were concerned.”
In a 2008 lecture discussing gender roles at Harvard University, Rosalind Chait Barnett, then the director of the Community, Families & Work program at Brandeis University, said, “Women’s lives today are dramatically different (from) those of their mothers’ and grandmothers’.”
The notion that gender roles in the United States have been quickly evolving over the past 50 years should come as no surprise.
“I’m sort of infamous for being ‘that girl in the stilettos’ in a lot of male-dominated hobbies, but, because of America’s relatively relaxed attitude about gender, I’ve been allowed to try and excel if I have the talent,” Alexa Eaton said. “That just wasn’t part of Kypseli life.”
Charged with officially kicking off WSU’s Greek Festival, the Anthropology Club sat back, ate Greek baklava from the Athenian restaurant and watched “Kypseli.”
“One of the things I love about our members is we’re like a constantly curious family who intellectually wander around and will adopt anyone who wants to come along,” Alexa Eaton said. “We sit around eating, talking and laughing, and then walk away looking at things just a little differently.”