Guardian Of The Bed Anthropology Essay

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Describe the different views of Native American and Euro-American culture on the intersexed child, or "two-spirit." How have anthropologists in their studies of culture and personality contributed to our understanding of gender roles and personality development?

In the views of the Native Americans everything has a spirit. From every object-plants, rocks, water, air, the moon, animals, humans, and the earth itself-has a spirit.[1] Because everything has a spirit, all spirits are considered equal and there is no spirit that is greater, or more valuable than another. Therefore they see the intersexed child as any other child and treat them the same as any other boy or girl. According to the Lakota the Great Spirit made them winktes [two-spirit], and the children have no control of what his or her gender will be.

As far as the Euro-Americans. They believed that an intersexed child is a curse from God. Even in today's world an intersexed child is considered a freak of nature and most families do not know if they should treat the child as a boy or girl. Thus confusing the child making them unsure of their selves rather than just letting them be a kid and letting them figure out who they are.

With children like this it is only time itself that will determine how they develop biologically, and psychologically. A lot of parents in this situation try to choose the sex of the kid before they are sure what the child is going to grow up to become. Therefore making mistakes by having the child receive surgery at a young age to make them one sex. Thereby the child may grow up and act completely opposite then what the parents previously thought. It is only sensible to let the child grow up; going through their life gaining the experience they need to make the decision for themselves.

With anthropologists studies of culture and personality we can conclude that culture in its self can not determine the gender of a child, but through growing up within the society of which it was born, and the personality developing from it, will determine if the child is going to psychologically make it or be alienated by their own kind. In the Euro-American point of view the biological mutation that occurs to make a child intersexuals (people born with reproductive organs, genitalia, and/or sex chromosomes that are not exclusively male or female.) and do not believe that they belong in their perfectly dimorphic species.

In some cultures being an intersexual is not looked upon as being cursed and otherwise they are actually considered to be unique. Even through history there have been evidence that in some countries they would castrate male prisoners of war. Though it does not remove the sex drive, it serves as a way to sterilize the male's reproductive function. For instance in the mid-15th century, they became known as eunuch. This in Greek meant "guardian of the bed," where castrated men would be stationed to guard the ruler's harem.[2]

Therefore with the evidence given to us by anthropologists cultures can have a better understanding what make a person an intersexual and hopefully treat them better than we have in the past. One thing is certain, we are all human and culture doesn't always make the person what they are, but their biological make-up and their experiences in life.

Essay 2B (Lessons 7 and 8 and Chapter 7)

Compare the four subsistence patterns of food foraging, pastoralism, horticulture, and agriculture in terms of settlement pattern, degree of specialization of labor, and stratification. Describe an example of one society in each group focusing on gender roles and the division of labor. What might your life be like if you had to make your living in one of these ways?

Food foraging societies are people who are primarily nomadic and spend most of their time gathering plants and hunting animals for subsistence. One example of such of a society would be the Ju/'hoansi people. The roles of each gender gives them certain responsibilities and tasks to perform, although it is not at all uncommon for men to perform duties that a woman would normally tend to. The women of this society can travel up to twelve miles per day to gather food such as mongongo nut and other wild plant foods. While the men mostly spend their time hunting but also willingly, and under certain circumstances will gather plants, build their huts, and collect water, even though they are considered as a woman's tasks.

Pastoralism or pastoral farming is a branch off agriculture where people raise livestock. An example of this way of life would be the Nuer people in Sudan. They reside near the headwaters of the Nile where they raise their cattle for their subsistence needs. Not only do they raise the cattle to nourish themselves but base their wealth on their cattle.

For the Nuer people the cattle are specifically used for mile which they drink fresh, eat when it has soured, and make cheeses. The only time that the people will eat a cow is when one dies from natural causes, or when the sacrificing of cattle is performed during special rituals. The men sped most of their time tending to their cattle, and serve as warriors fighting the neighboring tribes for pride, cattle, and land. While the women manage the household along with milking the cows with the children.

Societies that use horticulture for their source of subsistence cultivate crops with simple but effective hand tools without using irrigation or the plow.

  1. Haviland et al.
  2. Haviland et al.