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Chapter 14

Week 10 - Harris Chapter 14, Kane Chapter 22, 23, Epilogue.doc

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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTH 1150
Professor
Satsuki Kawano

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Harris Chapter 14 - Sexuality and Gender Stratification • No absolute gender roles • Definition of what is normal varies from one culture to another • Gender relations, even in industrial societies have a long way to go Sex versus Gender • Etic sexual identity: chromosomes, interior and exterior sex organs • Secondary sexual characteristics: body build, breast size, fat deposits, etc. • The Emic definition of gender varies from one society to another Sex: refers to anatomical and physiological attributes Gender: refers to learned cultural and psychological attributes Anthropologists gender to denote the variable emic meanings associated with culturally defined, sex based identities. Gender Identity: refers to a fundamental sense of how a person feels and his/her identity, whether male, female or blended. Male and Female Sexual Strategies: • Quest for sexual pleasure motivates much behaviour • Mode of reproduction • Human mating strategies evolved through natural selection to solve problems associated with the need to reproduce and rear dependent offspring to reproductive age Meredith Small (1992, 1995): attitudes toward sex in western society shows that men and women want different things • Men approve of casual sex more than women • Men have orgasms during sex more often than women • Men seek out sex more often, start having sex younger, have a higher number of partners • Men like sex as sex, women express a need for emotional intimacy/ more selective of mate Buss (1994)  cues that trigger sexual jealousy are different between males and females • Men are more distressed by imagining their partner having “passionate sex” with someone else (physical cheating) • Women are more distressed by emotional infidelity/ their partner having an emotional connection/attachment with someone else (emotional cheating) *Males are interesting in spreading their genes around *women are more selective because they have a greater investment due to the maintenance required to ensure that the child survives choose to mate with men they think will be good fathers Women: mate at all phases of the hormonal cycle and ovulate regardless of whether they have sex. Always ready for sex Men: want exclusive sexual access to women to be assured of their paternity How many biological sexes are there? 1. Hermaphrodites: born with one testis and one ovary and a mixture of male and female genitalia 2. Male pseudohermaphrodites: have 2 testes and a mixture of male and female genitalia but no ovaries 3. Female pseudohermaphrodites: have 2 ovaries and a mixture of male and female genitalia but no testes 4. Female: born with two ovaries and female genitalia 5. Male: born with two testes and male genitalia *Suppression of female sexuality occurs most frequently in stratified societies where inheritance of land and other forms of wealth reduce the freedom of women to mate as they wish Mehinacu Extramarital Affairs (page 228) • Mehinacu (Central Brazil village) extramarital liaisons make up a large park of Mehinacu sexual activity • According to Thomas Gregor: young men report having sex with other women more than their wives • Sex with a mistress more pleasurable than sex with wife • Affairs typically initiated by men • Meet in forests, exchange small gifts, have sex • Men begrudge the fact that women are “stingy with their genitals” • Extramarital relationships are highly valued may last a lifetime • They do not believe pregnancy can result from a single sexual encounter • If a woman has sex with several lovers during pregnancy, they are all considered to have jointly produced the child along with the woman’s husband • In a village of 37 adults, there were approx. 88 affairs • Men express a great deal of ambivalence towards women • Sexual function is a critical part of masculine identity, and if a mans failure becomes common knowledge, his reputation will be hurt by gossip • Sex is scarce relative to male demand and the men experience sexual frustration and dissatisfaction Sex in Mangaia versus Sex in Inis Beag • All aspects of sexual relationships, from infantile experiences through courtship and marriage, exhibit an immense amount of cultural variation • Donald Marshall people of the Pacific Islands of Mangaia never hold hands or embrace in public • Families, parents, and children do not discuss sex, yet both sexes are enthusiastic participants of intercourse well before puberty • After puberty: both sexes enjoy premarital sex • Girls receive many nightly suitors in the parents’ houses and boys compete with ther rivals to see how many orgasms they can achieve • Average girl: 3-4 sex partners between the ages of 13-20, boys: 10+ • Personal affection may or may not result from acts of sexual intimacy • Young men are expected to have as many as 3-4 orgasms per night • No indication of anything like romantic love, only sexual attraction • Helen Harris has called Marshall’s study into question on the grounds that his data was collected primarily from young men, who might have been prone to exaggerate and brag • Beag (an island off the coast of Ireland) sex is shrouded in guilt and sin • Regarded as a duty women must perform for their husbands • Women remain entirely passive during coitus female orgasm is unheard of • Sex is never discussed among friends or family • They believe nature will take its course after marriage • Sex is thought to be injurious to one’s health Restrictive Versus Permissive Cultures • Despite a high level of curiosity, little is known about the actual forms of sexual behaviour in different societies • Mainly because sex is performed in private • Anthropologists have to rely on accounts of sexual behaviour elicited from informants rather than on actual observation (ethical issues inhibit discussion of participatory sexual observations during fieldwork) • Sexual behaviour is more likely to be regulated where it serves the interests of society • Greater restrictions on premarital sex occur in societies stratified by class, where inheritance and property rights belong to men • Restrictions fall primarily on women and are largely a precaution against premarital sex so that they will be chaste and in a position to marry well • Control over female sexuality is a way of controlling paternity • Disapproval of adultery is based on the special sexual privilege associated with marriage • Some societies are more lax about extramarital affairs than others • Adultery can be disruptive to social bonds and create uncertainty regarding paternity • Societies with patrilineal inheritance—particularly where there is land scarcity—are more likely to place restrictions on sex to ensure that a man’s estate is passed on to his biological sons and not those of a lineage rival • Virginity and chastity are essential to female purity • A woman’s identity is bound to her role as a caring mother • Women are expected to guard their sexuality to preserve their family honour • Sexually permissive societies tend to be kin-based societies, with corporate ownership of land and minimal property inheritance • Sexually is enjoyed and can be explored by both sexes • Nisa, a !Kung woman describes the rewards of multiple sex partners: “One man can give you very little, one man gives you only one kind of food to eat. But when you have lovers, one brings you something and another brings you something else” Homosexuality • Male homosexuality: attitudes range from horror to chauvinistic enthusiasm • In Brazil, household surveys reveal that a high proportion of heterosexual men engage in anal sex to avoid unwanted pregnancies • Others do so for the pleasure and excitement associated with the nonconforming practice • Ritualized homosexuality was not viewed as a matter of individual preference but as a social obligation • As with all human behavioural traits, sexual preference must be considered an outcome of both genetic tendencies and environment “Two-Spirit” People • Among north American native peoples, gender roles are not defined by mere sexual preference or conduct • Gender is defined by personality traits and occupational preferences. • Such individuals are referred to as Berdaches by early white settlers , who ridiculed them and considered them to be “failed” or cowardly men • Today, people prefer the term “two-spirit” signifies the complexity of the spiritual and sexual that is contained in their culturally sanctioned role • Two-Spirits: individuals who take on aspects of a culturally defined gender role that combines feminine and masculine traits and is seen as a “third gender” Sexuality is not a defining gender characteristic of the two-spirit • Transvestitism • Cross-gender occupation • Cultural process of recruitment • Ritual roles and spiritual powers o Two-spirit may also identify as a child who shows interest in the work activities of the opposite sex o Often thought to have extraordinary powers, demonstrated by their ability to heal and foretell the future o Two-spirits never married or had sex with other two-spirits, and when marriage between two-spirits and their mates ended, partners typically did not marry another person of their own gender o The former wife of a female two-spirit would marry a man and the former husband of a two-spirit would marry a woman Female Homosexuality o Less is known about female homosexuality o Cross-cultural evidence shows a diversity of women’s sexualities and the importance of socioeconomic factors in the construction of sexuality o Women’s sexual feelings take on many forms that include desires, longings, and practices that are more flexible and context specific than those found in the US and Europe o Anti-marriage sisterhoods in China provide each other with economic and emotional support Gender Ideologies o Gender scripts: are ideals that guide conventional masculinity and femininity and that become a basis for self-perception for most individuals o These scripts are learned through enculturation and are legitimized and sanctioned through gender-related ideologies contained in creation myths and by rituals that validate gender role authority and dominance o Myth of primordial matriarchy: address the symbolic insecurity of male status o Myths represent universal gender psychology, in which men are intimately raised by their mothers and then must learn to identify with their more distant fathers and become outcasts from closely knit female domestic units o The myth of matriarchy highlights women’s failure as rulers and reaffirms the inferiority of their present position o Men are afraid they will take overmyth protects the men from experiencing insecurity and provides a justification of their superiority The Relativity of Gender Ideologies • New evidence suggest that women have their own gender ideologies, which have not been properly recorded because earlier generations of ethnographers were primarily male • Male ethnographers have consistently interpreted the seclusion of menstruating women among the Yurok Indians of northern California as a demonstration of the need to protect men from the pollution of menstrual blood • Women saw menstruation as a privileged opportunity to get away from the chores of everyday life, to meditate on life goals, and gather spiritual strength • Women do not really resent being excluded from male-centered rituals because they do not attach much importance to them • Societies will explicit expressions of male dominance tend to assert male superiority as a defense against female dominance in the domestic domain • Gender scripts vary from culture to culture, there are certain under-lying cross-cultural similarities • Men have to prove their manhood Gender Stratification • Status of women is difficult to define because it contains emic and etic viewpoints • Gender behaviour is affected by public vs. private setting, the life cycle, kin dynamics, and other systems of inequality related to rank, class, and rase that produce dimensions of power or oppression • Example: to Westerners, giving bridewealth as marriage may appear as though women are treated as a commodity—bought and sold by male kinfolk—yet in the African context; a woman would not be respected without it. Variations in Gender Stratification • Status of women varies from one society to another • !Kung: relationships among men and women are more egalitarian • Northern India: women are subordinate • Women rarely have political leadership roles equal to those of men • If queens reigned, they did so as temporary holders of power that belonged to the males of the lineage • Males are typically assigned more aggressive and violent roles than females • Strongest correlation between; societal complexity and low status for women • Women in complex societies have fewer property rights, more unequal authority in the household, and greater sexual restrictions • Mode of production is associated with intensive agriculture and private property. • Men work in the fields, labour. Women; child care responsibilities Women among Hunter-Gatherers • Leacock argues that gender roles were merely different, not unequal • In his study of the forest-dwelling Mbuti of Zaire, Colin Turnbull found a high level of cooperation and mutual understanding between the men and women, with considerable authority and power vested in women • Husband/hunter did not see himself as superior to his wife, could not hunt without a wife, and realizes that the bulk of his diet comes from the foods prepared by the women Women among the Matrilineal Iroquois • High correlation exists between matrilineal-matrilocal chiefdoms and intense external warfare • Women often dominated domestic life and exercised important prerogatives in political affairs. The Iroquois can serve as an example. • Affairs of the communal dwelling were directed by a senior woman, who was a close maternal relative of the warrior’s wife. • Women remained in their natal homes after marrying men from other villages • Local kin groups revolved around mothers and sisters • Iroquois matrons—the elderly heads of households and work groups—organized the work that the women of the longhouse performed at home and in the fields • Matrons owned and distributed the agriculture yielded • Because men engaged in external warfare against non-Iroquois villages, the women exercised control over the food supply • If a husband was bossy the matron might at any time order him to pick up his blanket and get out • Formal apex of political power among Iroquois was the council of elders—consisting or elected males. They were elected by the longhouse matrons • Iroquois women influenced the council decisions by exercising control over the distribution of food Women in West Africa • Women have relatively favourable gender statuses in the precolonial chiefdoms and kingdoms of the forested areas of West Africa • Known as an area of female farming • Women had their own crops, they dominated the local markets and acquired considerable wealth from trade • West African men had to pay bridewealth—iron hoes, goats, cloth, cash, etc. • Show that they all agree that the bride is a very valuable person and her parents would not “give her away” without compensating them for her economic and reproductive capabilities • They believed that to have many daughters was to be rich • Men practiced polygamy, but had to consult their senior wives and obtain permission • Women had considerable freedom of movement to travel to market towns, where they often had extramarital affairs • Like big men, women in west Africa could command labour and wealth and were able to build a following by redistributing wealth and doing favours for others • Women could mobilize other women through personal initiative and success in accumulating wealth • Belonged to female clubs and secret societies, participated in village councils, and mobilized en masse to seek redress against mistreatment by men Women in India • Indian culture exhibits a district regional pattern with grain agriculture in the n
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