Cross Cultural Sex Roles Essay

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Cross Cultural Sex Roles

It has been proven that the roles that men and women play in society are based upon many different social factors. A mere look at other cultures proves that sexual identity cannot solely be determined through a person's biological genes. If this were true, the characteristics defining men and women would be uniform, however a glance at the Sambia and Arapesh tribes of New Guinea reveal that the roles of men and women in separate cultures can be strikingly different. The roles that the men and women in these two tribes play are engrained in them at an early age. Whether it is the raising of children or the status of women in the tribe, these two cultures contrast each
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The power of the men is also displayed in their practice of polygamy. Husbands not only had wives, but concubines who were considered "the most highly valued possessions"(Mimica 3). Not only do the men view their wives as lesser, but they resent them and blame them for "polluting and depleting men" (56). Merely a thorn in man's side, women are regarded with no respect and are condemned for their "menstrual and vaginal fluids" (56). From an early age children are identified by their gender and "sex-typing and gender traits are rigid from childhood on" (56). This means that children are taught at an early age what their role in the tribe is and what exactly is expected from them.

At the age of seven little boys are separated from their mothers, sisters, and all other female contact and sent to men's homes. Here the boys undergo certain initiations and "male development and masculinization are the responsibility of the men's secret cult" (56). This separation from feminine contact can be very hurtful and destructive to little boys. Without the influence of the mother, who provides nurturing and emotions, the boys grow up striving for extreme masculinity. The men of the tribe severely beat the boys, as well as force them to participate in practices where "stiff, sharp grasses are thrust up the nostrils until the blood flows
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