ANT102H5 Study Guide - Comprehensive Midterm Guide: Marilyn Strathern, Don Kulick, Margaret Mead

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ANT102H5
MIDTERM EXAM
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Anthropology, Week 4, Lecture 6
GENDER
1) Male and female
2) Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)
3) Sex and Gender in the 1960s and 1980s
4) Ann Meigs & Marilyn Strathern
5) Don Kulick on Transgendered Brazilian prositutes
6) Conclusions
Gender is everywhere. It appears natural that men do natural
things and women do womanly things. It seems to follow anatomi-
cal makeups, and the differences between them. We are who we
are as gendered beings.
However, it's more complicated than that. Categories of male and
female are the products of culture and society. These differences
are not meaningful; these are differences that we decide as a
group, culture, society.
There are many animal species where it is almost impossible to
tell the difference between male and female; lab rats, pigeons,
etc. Humans, however, are not this way. Humans are sexually di-
morphic/different; there are marked physical differences that are
more or less observable.
These differences between us are found at the population level;
when you look at most humans, this is the case. For example, hu-
man nails are taller, we have heavier skeletons, we have propor-
tionally more muscle, we have greater grip strength, we have pro-
portionally larger hearts, larger lungs, and a great aerobic work
capacity (greater maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise)
This is a GENERAL AVERAGE. There are some females that are
in better shape than males, etc. When you generalize everyone,
this dimorphism becomes evident.
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There are many theories about why human bodies are different,
and why male/female bodies differ. This can be explained by an-
cient theories; men had to chase down animals, women had to
stay home and care for the young. Some of these theories are
speculative nonsense and there is no evidence.
Men and women pretty much take care of themselves without
having the other sex take care of them. We simply imagine what
the world would've been like, based on the world today. Anthropol-
ogists are more concerned with not origins or cavemen, but the
categories of males and females as they exist in the world today.
Moreover, we can focus on the meanings that these categories
have, and the roles that they play in various societies. This
doesn't require any observation. One thing that anthropologists
have found, is that what it means to be male/female varies greatly
from one society to another, and the roles that men and women
undertake (what they do) varies immensely as well. What people
think about these categories, and what we do with them, varies
from one place to the next.
Lots of anthropologists would claim that because of this variation
of what we think of male/females, is that these meanings are
CULTURALLY PRODUCED. It does not follow biology, because
then we would all be the same. For this reason, lots of anthropolo-
gists say that it's meaningless to speak about a universal male/fe-
male way to act. What we think of as male and female differences
differ remarkably around the globe.
In the 1920s, anthropological thinking of gender involved throwing
a distinction between sex (noun) and gender. Sex is our biological
selves, but gender is the cultural elaboration of those sex differ-
ences. Gender is malleable (changeable), sex is given; we are
born with it. Margaret Mead was one of the first to write about
these things, and write a distinction about these. She wrote about
sex and sex temperament, not sex and gender. --> Sex is an-
chored in men and women bodies, but sex temperament
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