The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality

The biological term, Gender refers to the fact that humans are overwhelmingly either male or female. The Organization of cultural activity by gender is pervasive. Every subject that we touch on in cultural anthropology shows the workings of the cultural construction of gender.

Sexuality and Gender are the two main parts of the biocultural model The primate species of mammal to which modern humans belong known as Homo Sapien reproduce through sexual intercourse between male and female. Sex has been deemed less appropriate for scholarship than kinship or ritual is. Ironically in sex the pleasure and procreation is important.

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Gilbert Herdt stated that Western thinkers, including anthropologist,have been prisoners of “Sexual dimorphism”. Sexual dimorphism empasizes two genders,male,and female, whose purpose is reproduction. Sexual dimorphism relegates other culturally constructed genders, as well as nonreproductive sexuality to marginal or deviant status at best. As long as the dimorphism model was used, There was little inclination to credit the possibility of a third or fourth gender in other cultures.

Among North American Indian tribes, there have been many variations on gender behavior that go far beyond a simple male-female dichotomy. Term “Berdache” has often been used for individuals (usually males) who took on female roles. Concerned Native Americans said “Berdache” which was originally a derogatory word from Arabic, is Inappropriate. In Native American culture males did female task,females were active in “warfare, hunting, leadership,and their special supernatural powers. A new term, Two-Spirit, has been Proposed in 1994.

In Northern Athapascans, of northern Canada, do not have variations that had been labeled “Berdache”. They believe in reincarnation. Serena Nanda Wrote on The term “Hijras of India”. The term Hijras of India are a religious community of ascribed intersexuals who worship Bahuchara Mata, the Mother Goddess, and share the experienced gender identity of women. Culturally defined as neither men nor women, the role of the hijras is based on sexual impotence and functions as a third gender. Men become Hijra by having an operation that removes their Maleness-their Genitals.

They also ingest semen daily, performing fellatio on a few young men whose duty it is to service them. After several years of practice during there teen years the boys are discharged fom the male village, are married to young women, and from that moment lead exclusively, heterosexual lives.

Gender Differences have been found-for both Humans and rats, in cravings: males Desire Protein and fat rich meat,and females desire chocolate. The Impact of the Feminist Perspective” Margaret Mead discussed in her book three cultures. In the 1960’s Many anthropologists, especially young women ,were inspired to ask new sorts of questions. The questions focused on finding out about Women and there roles in different societies. Even though there had long been many influential women anthropologist, their anthropology focused on men. Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere opened this new era in anthropology was women,culture,and society in 1974.

In 1971 and 1972, Annette Weiner, spent a year in her sacred place and in her dissertation research plan was to study woodcarvings made for the tourist trade. The high point was a massive exchange of goods among women that lasted for five hours. She also moved the day after to a village Where she was sumoned to a womens Mortuary Ceremony. She also used as a reference and guide Bronislaw Malinowski’s publications and found nothing about the events that she had witnessed.

Ethnography that describes only men is contrary and suspect. “Woman in Gatherer” A major Reinterpretation of the Role of Women that was stimulated directly by feminist perspectives concerned foraging strategies, mainly the foragers of the kalahari desert. Careful fieldwork showed that the women, in fact, Providing more food than the men did. “The meanings Of Macho”

It shows that societies are not just women plus men,but women and men interacting. Interestingly,the emergence of feminist anthropology has not just added women to our picture of cultural behavior. Where Malinowski and evans-Pritchard had simply made assumptions about Men, anthropologist now began to pay attention to men in masculinity, and to problematize men. Matthew Gutmann Stressed the importance of going beyond seeing gender as a matter of similarity or difference,equality or inequality and looking at the interaction of men and women as the “ambiguous relationship” between genders.

Politics is the study of power relations in society. One of the most Striking Regularities is that human Societies are patriarchal meaning men hold major positions of power, and women do not have access to power over men. There are Societies such As The iroquois, where women had much wallace,or the Minangkabau of West Sumatra, who expresses matrifocality both as an ideology and as a lived reality. There are instances of Exceptional or accidental Women who became rulers(Cleopatra,Queen Elizabeth I of England,Indira Ghandhi,Margaret Thatcher.

Joan Baqmbergerin 1974 raised a fascinating question. “If There are no documented Cases of Matriarchy,Then why are myths of ancient matriarical societieso comon in the world. “Gender In Social Organization” There are societies such as the dani in which men and women like and respect each other,physical abuse is rare,and women are strong and independent. It is so common in societies to vest Economic,Poliyical, and ritual Power in men and to give men power over women(especially within Family). Maqria Leprowsky Wrote about an Island in melanesia near Trobriands, with nearly Gender equal culture.

Helen Fisher an anthropologist points out several strengths of women: Women on average,take a broader perspective than men do- on any issue. Women Think contextually,Holistically. They Also Display More mental flexability,apply more intuittive and imaginative judgements,and have a greater tendency to plan long. “Manifestations Of Sexuality as Biological Procreation” Sexuality as biological Procreation The bio Essence of sexuallity is Sexual Intercourse for the purpose of creating a child.

The Roman Catholics states Sexuality Is a “source of Joy And Pleasure”. “Sexuality In Art” The Major theme in much art, is both visual and verbal, is sexuality. Sexuality is is particularly evident in literature,theater,and dance less obvious in architect or music. There are Hindu Temples in India and Nepal that are covered with Depictions of many varieties of Sexual Intercourse,reflecting the importantance of sexuality in hindu theology.

There are interesting Implications of the culturally Patterned depictions of sexuality which are the limits. When the these limits are breached,we call the depiction “pornography”. in such cultures throughout Europe and North America During the last century or two, in which the limits have been relatively restrictive. There is nonverbal Communication,Conveying a wide range of messages about gender,age,status,and often sexuality stated by Barnes And Eicher,1993. In some societies very little clothing is worn, in which there are specific bodily adorements that carry a sexual message.

The Mehinaku culture that resides in the Amazon rain forest about 1,200 miles from the yanomamo,allow there women to wear a string belt called the Inija- which is a twine G-string. The Dutch believed that the wearing of elegant clothing,with lace or embroidary, sent a message of available sexuality. Rich Dress served only to attract men, which endangered a lady chastity. On The Indonesian island just east of Bali,wear Beautiful dyed and women ikat cloth in ceremonies. The designes on a brides attire symobolism the goos exchanged at the wedding.

They also had an erotic appeal that enhances a brides exual attractiveness. During the childhood of the Dani the wore penis gourd,a dried hollow gourd covering the penis and held upright by a string around the body. “Gender-Specific Alterations of The Body” Genital Alterations:Male circumsision Circumcision is the removal is the Foreskin covering the penis,and is the most common of all Genital alterations. Muslims carried out circumcision in a ceremony called sunnat, which takes place around the 10th of the year of a boys life.

In the late 19th century Western Countries Reintroduced circumcision. This Procedure May either be the full removal of the foreskin,as among the wana of sulaweski, Indonesia thwy did a small cut in the foreskin. In East and Southeast asia small Beads Are implanted under the skin of the penis or short pins are insertede transversely through the penis. “Female Genital Mutilation: Clitoridectomy, and Infibulation” Female genital mutilation are practiced widely on girls,especially in africa but also elsewhere in the world. Clitoridectomy-the labia minora

Infibulation-The Labia Majora The labia majora is excised, the vulva is pinned shut with thorns or sewn with thread and grows Scar tissue, In effect Closing the vulva Except For Small Opening To Allow urine and menstrual blood blood to pass. Female Genital Mutilation Is carried out by Women On their own kin. Female Genital mutilation is most common in non-Arab sub-Saharan Muslim Cultures but also prscticed by christians. Female Genital Mutilation,Euphemistically called Female circumcision, has been the subject of intense international debate. Exaggerations Of Womens Bodies” Chinese Footbinding-The Process of footbinding began at age six or eight.

By nid teens, the Bones Of the foot Had Grown permanently distorted into the desired position. The feet caused the women constant pain, and abnormal walking. “Corseting” English And American Women Of the middle and upper classes were subjected to extreme Corseting. Theie Waist were constructed to diameter of some Twelve Inches or so by an underground that was laced tight and shaped by stays of steel or whalebone.

They Practice Postpartum sexual abstinence, a period of about five years after birth of a child when the parents do not have a sexual intercourse with each other. Also in the dani culture they have no premarital or Extramarital Intercourse with each other,nor do they have homosexual sex or other outlets. In biocultural terms the Dani Still have sex, But The cultural Construction of sex, The intensity with which They do not act or think About sex, which is extraordinary low. There are Contemporary Westerners,Who have imbued the freudian Hydraulic Model of sexuality, Which posits a high amount of innate.

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The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality. (2018, Feb 14). Retrieved from