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ANTH 2170 - Lecture - January 31st, 2013.docx

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York University
ANTH 2170
Sonja Mac Donald

ANTH 2170 Lecture January 31st, 2013 RECAP of last week Gender stereotypes about men and women have influenced both basic science and its applications. Two examples: 1. Scientific descriptions of human reproduction use gendered metaphors 2. The development of contraceptive technologies has been influenced by pre-existing beliefs about men and women Today:  Why do we have such conflict in understanding other genders or the possibility of other genders .. There is such a strict view and such a strict boundary of what we already know – hard to break these barriers Anthropological Contributions to understanding Gender  Two-sex / Two-gender model is not universal. o The idea that there is just male and female – therefore there is just heterosexuality o They serve a social and cultural function  Gender is highly variable across cultures and over time o Some places and cultures have other forms of gender (IE two readings for this week) o The sex model is not static – it is changing o The beginning of acceptance of other genders  Gender is not simply a biological expression of sex. o There is no link between sex and gender – there is a system and a set of values that influence your behaviour  Cultural evaluations of gender attributes also vary o Different cultures adopt different kinds of gendered attributes (labour, dress, actions, etc) o Many people try to map on the dominant gendered attributes onto other cultures (IE African women don’t farm, but people try to give farm tools to men expecting them to do the farming)  Category of person – institutionalized gender role – a set of roles and expectations associated with them Cross Cultural Examples  Margaret Mead’s classic comparative study of New Guinea Arapesh and Tchambuli gender attributes and roles ANTH 2170 Lecture January 31st, 2013 o She studied reversals in gender roles of women o There is a body of literature based on first-hand accounts that have allowed anthropologists to assert these notions we are familiar with o Men were engaged in other pursuits – Chambuli men = concerned with appearance and women to be cool and stand offish o The attribute or role will be valued differently based on who performs it .. IE cooking – men cook and it’s a praised accomplishment, yet for women it’s not recognized  The Hijras of India  Fa’arafine of Samoa  These examples show the difficulty in assessing what women and men do – and what is considered to be feminine and masculine – their values can also be assessed differently o Who decides these roles – mapping Western roles onto other cultures Key terms  Gender Variation or Supernumerary genders: the existence of more than two genders  Sexual Ambiguity and Intersexuality: the existence of persons whose bodies do not neatly fall into the two sex model Intersexuality  Intersexuality encompasses a variety of bodily states that have in common sexual ambiguity. Intersexed persons (sometimes referred to as hermaphrodites) are persons who are born with ambiguous genitals, gonads, or chromosomes. 2- 3% of population. o Hermaphrodites : physical features that makes determining their sex a challenge – can have both sets of organs o Kleinfelter's syndrome: XXY chromosomal pattern in males – presented as a male but has an extra X – rare situation – may not be externally visible o Complete or Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome: hormonal disorder caused by chromosomal variation in males o The male sex organs don’t respond properly to the male androgen – therefore they don’t function the way an androgen sensitive organ would function o Begins before birth – they may read as a female, but at puberty some aspect of the sex may become known History of Intersexual
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