"A film essay on the peasant society of Kypseli,
a small isolated Greek village on the island of Thira. Depicts how
the people of Kypseli divide time, space, material possessions, and
activities according to an underlying pattern based on the separation
of the sexes, and shows how this division determines the village social
Kypseli, located on the Greek island of Thera (or
Santorini) which is 125 miles south of Athens and 72 miles north of
Crete, is a peasant village
of 350 persons who major crops are barley and grapes (for wine), and
tomatoes. It is one of the most isolated, traditional villages on this
island -- a condition greatly encouraged by the prevailing practice
of village endogamous marriage (both spouses coming from within the
A major point of the film is to depict how the people
of Kypseli divide time, space, material possessions, and activities
according to an underlying pattern based on the separation of sexes,
and how this division, in turn, determines the village social structure.
In the morning, for example, women control the house and men relax in
the village square or work the fields. Later the women leave the courtyard
to the men and retire to their kitchens, which men rarely enter except
to eat their evening meal, alone and before the women and children eat.
This spatial and temporal separation is also seen in colorful glimpses
inside taverns (where women congregate only in the kitchens), in church,
and in the public square.
A second major point is that these separate realities
of the two sexes are of unequal status and value. Life in Kypseli is
organized on the principle of male dominance. A man's life is in the
marketplace and fields. He returns home to his wife's kitchen -- a different
world, isolated, and protected from the more cosmopolitan parts of Thera.
The film examines the unconscious assumptions of the people of Kypseli
and reveals how their social structure is related to the prevalent view
of men as generous, strong, brave, and pure, whereas women are considered
shameful, weak, deceitful, tainted, and incorrigible. For example, women
may never enter the wine caves, because they would pollute and spoil
the wine. In contrast, men may watch baking at the public ovens, though
only from a distance; but if they came closer they would not contaminate
the bread. Men also have more economic and political power, for they
own their paternally inherited land, animals, and equipment personally
and permanently. The materially inherited houses of the women, however,
become "family" property and are used as dowry for daughters.
The film concludes by examining the implications
of the fact that women are never fully members of any family but always
partial members of two -- their father's and their husband's.
Y P S E L I: Men and Women Apart—A Divided Reality --
John J. Pilch