Anthropology 2710 6.0: Sex, Gender & the Body
Midterm Exam review
The Exam is separated into 4 concepts
Scientific Constructions of Gendered Bodies
Gender & Reproduction
Gender in Sport
SCIENTIFIC CONSTRUCTIONS OF GENDERED BODIES
Arm-chair Anthropology: a person who has book knowledge but not actual hands on experience. He
/she might know theory but has never actually tried it out themselves.
Anthromorphism: the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal or object.
Cultural relativism: understanding the ways of other cultures and not judging their practices because of
Culture Concept: Social/Cultural Anthropology
Fieldwork: to live among certain people to learn about their ways and culture
Louis Henry Morgan: Social Evolutionist who focused on the evolutionary scale
(Savagery Barbarism Civilized. Under Savagery would be hunter/gatherers and considered the low
way of living, First Nations would be within barbarism and Europeans would be the civilized.)
Man the Hunter: a model of human evolution proposed by Lancaster and Washburn. Men are the ones
to go out and obtain the food, this idea helped play into gender roles showing men are the only ones
who are aggressive. (MASCIA-LEESS & BLACK)
Women the Gatherer: The idea that women are to gather fruits and vegetables, women stay home and
take care of the infants. Women do not have the ability to be aggressive, they are passive (MASCIA-
LEESS & BLACK)
“Our Animal Selves”: Humans are very similar to animals; they explain human behavior and gender
Sociobiology: study of human behavior with the assumption that human behavior is biologically based.
The Animal Model is one representation of sociobiology.
Participant Observation: Living in a culture you are bit familiar with and making observations The Body as A Machine: our body needs to be fueled to run and to run we need food. Machines are
limited and us as humans change
Commodification of the Body: To turn parts of your body into a treat i.e. fake nails, hair, cosmetic
surgery, what some may see as adding value to the body
Egg Donation: an ovum is retrieved surgically from a women’s body given to others
Sperm Donation: A man giving away his sperm with the purpose of impregnating women who is not
necessarily his partner. Takes place at a sperm bank and is done through the process of masturbation.
The Romance between the Egg and the Sperm: It is somewhat seen as a fairytale. The sperm is the
solider and the egg is the princess locked in the tower. Many soldiers attempt to make it to the princess
but only one will reach their destination. The soldier makes it way to the egg and they are finally
together and live happily ever after.
Sex: the observable physical characteristics that distinguish between male & female, required for
human reproduction. People in all cultures distinguish male from female based on morphology –
external genitalia and secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair in men and enlarged breasts in
GENDER & REPRODUCTION
Anthropology of Reproduction: explores the social, cultural, and political complexities involved in
human reproduction in contemporary and historical worlds. Childbirth is culturally defined and
Medicalization of Childbirth: women’s bodies becoming biomedical subjects, under surveillance, and
intervention. Childbirth is culturally defined and patterned
Midwifery in Ontario: midwifery in Canada was once eliminated because of the rise of medicine as a
male profession. (The idea that females are weak so a male must step in to create control), the ideas of
male doctors made It seem as if midwifes were dirty and incompetent, the redefinition of birth allowed
us to think that the birthing process was dangerous thus needing medical supervision, and gender
norms, women are dependent. There are 3 principles of midwifery: information of choice, continuity of
care, and choice of birthplace. (Macdonald, At Work in the Field of Birth) - Midwifery is a social movement and is meant to restore birth as a natural process, contradict
gender roles and create birth in the home
- Today midwifery is a modern day profession that treats women as a whole rather than just a
Natural Birth in Midwifery in Ontario: Natural birth is a phrase for what midwives refer to as a normal
birth. Natural birth has no cultural meaning; it is different for everyone and can’t be separated from
culture and society. The ideal of natural birth is using less technology.
Nature/Culture Dichotomy: nature has been approached as a cultural construction. Cultural notions
about the true nature of men and women embedded in power hierarchies manifested as
institutionalized knowledge and practices concerning the female body.
Gender Expectations: Medicalization of childbirth has implied that women are weak and need the help
of a man in the hospital to make the birthing process easier. It is expected because of the social
constructions put into place today that women cannot handle all of the pain and work/performance that
comes with childbirth but a woman’s body was built so that they can handle these pressures.
“The Business of Being Born”: A film watched in class. The miracle of childbirth is a business, the
hospital is a business. Medical decisions are being made for legal reasons not for reasons that will