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Sex, Gender & Culture

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  1. Sex, Gender & Culture Political Leadership & Warfare

  2. Political Arena In almost every known society, men rather than women are political leaders In all countries combined, women on average make up only around 10% of the representatives in national governments.

  3. Combat & War • In 87% of the world’s societies, women never participate actively in war • Why have men dominated the political sphere? • Some suggest that men’s role in warfare gives them the edge in all kinds of political leadership • They control weapons • Force is rarely used to obtain leadership • Superior strength is not the deciding factor

  4. Combat & War Cont. Three possible explanations for why males not females usually engage in fighting

  5. Strength • Warfare, like hunting, is physically • Requires strength • Throwing weapons • Quick bursts of energy • Most dangerous and uninterruptable activities imaginable • NOT compatible for childcare • Too busy for fertile women • **Strength Theory, Compatibility Theory, Expendability Theory

  6. Two Other Factors • Male Predominance in Politics • Generally greater height of men • Why height is a factor is unclear • Studies suggest taller people are more likely to become leaders • Men get out more • Less social restraints • Travel further from the home

  7. !Kung Patricia Draper studies the !Kung Found that women in settled groups no longer engaged in long-distance gathering They seemed to have lost much of their former influence

  8. New Perspective on Gender Why Do Some Societies Allow Women to Participate in Combat?

  9. The Relative Status of Women • Many definitions • Can mean several different things • How much power and authority men and women have relative to one another • Rights men/women possess to do what they want to do

  10. Women of Daghara • Small town in Iraq • Men and women live very separate lives • WOMEN • Have little status • Live their lives mostly in seclusion • Staying in their houses and interior courtyards • Only go out w/ male approval • Shroud their faces and bodies in long black cloaks • Cloaks must be worn when in presence of any mixed company---even in the home • Excluded from all political activities • Legally considered to be under the authority of father or husbands

  11. Women of Daghara Cont • Sexuality is also controlled • Strict emphasis on virginity before marriage • Women are not permitted to have even casual conversations with men outside the family • Possibilities of premarital relationship or premarital sex are very slight • Basically no sexual restrictions are placed on men

  12. Behind the Veil Muslim Women’s Rights

  13. Equal Status of Women • Mbuti seem to approach equal status for males and females • Have no formal political organization to make decisions or settle disputes • If public disputes occur • Both males and females take part in settling uproar • Females are allowed to make their positions known • Opinions are often taken into consideration

  14. Mbuti • Females • Control use of dwellings • Equal say over disposal of resources they collect • Equal say in who their children should marry • Few signs of inequality • Females are somewhat more restricted that males • Extramarital sex

  15. Sexuality • All societies seek to regulate sexual activity to some degree • Some allow premarital sex • Some allow extramarital sex

  16. Premarital Sex • The degree to which sex before marriage is approved or disapproved varies across cultures and societies • Trobriand Islanders • Approve of AND ENCOURAGE premarital sex • Important preparation for later marriage roles • Complete instruction is given • Given multiple opportunities for intimacy

  17. Ila-Speaking African Peoples • Not only encourage premarital sex on a casual basis but encourage trial marriages. • At harvest time girls are given a house of their own • Play “wife” with boys of their choice

  18. Discouraged • Tepoztlan Indians of Mexico • A girls life became extremely confined after first menstruation • Could not speak to males • Mother: Responsibility to keep guard the chastity and reputation of daughters • Marry at young ages

  19. Muslims • Girls premarital chastity was tested after marriage • Blood stained sheets

  20. Attitudes About Sex Can Change • U.S. • Sex generally delayed until marriage • By 1990s most Americans accepted or approved of premarital sex • 1970s the U.S. overwhelmingly rejected extramarital sex • 41% of married men • 18% married women • 1990s proportionately more men and women reported they were monogamous • Most societies have a double standard • Substantial number of societies openly accept extramarital relationships

  21. Extramarital Sex • 39% of world’s society men have extramarital relationships • 57% of the world women have extramarital relationships • The Navajo of the 1940s forbid adultery • However, young married men under the age of 30 had ¼ of their sexual relationships with women other than their wives

  22. Chukchee of Siberia • Allowed a married man who had traveled a long distance to engage with host’s wife • Vice versa

  23. Homosexuality • Our views?

  24. Summary • That humans reproduce sexually does not explain why males and females tend to differ in appearance and behavior, and to be treated differently, in all societies • All of nearly all societies assign certain activities to females and others to males. These worldwide gender patterns of division of labor may be explained by male-female differences of strength, by differences in compatibility of tasks with child care, or by economy-of-effort considerations and/or the expendability of men. • The relative status of women compared with that of men seems to vary from one area of life to another. Whether women have relatively high status in one area does not necessarily indicate that they will have high status in another. Less complex societies, however, seem to approach more equal status for males and females in a variety of areas of life. • Recent field studies have suggested some consistent female-male differences in personality: Boys tend to be more aggressive than girls, and girls seem to be more responsible and helpful than boys.

  25. Although all societies regulate sexual activity to some extent, societies vary considerable in the degree to which various kinds of sexuality are permitted. Some societies allow extramarital sex in certain situations, others forbid it all together.