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Group D: Sex Vs. Gender

A person is born either male or female, however according to Mead the roles of males and females are conditioned by that person’s given culture. There were two articles studied by Group D, the first one tries to prove that men or women can be the aggressive sex, while the second article deals on which sex talks more and why. What it comes down too is, that both articles try to distinguish which sex is more dominant and why.

Margaret Mead article, “Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies,” describes research done to see if cultures contribute to the shaping of a person. The research done involves three primitive groups, the Arapesh, the Mundugumor, and the Tchambuli. IN each of the groups the roles of the sexes , both males and females, were based on the culture conditioning rather genetics or heredity. For example, culture conditioning the way a new born child is shaped into its given culture. The three groups that research was done on, at a specific point in time the child is assigned personality traits which include feminine or masculine and also the manners of the child are established. The results differ from the three groups, for the Arapesh, the individual was mildly responsive, for the Mundugumor, both male and female were aggressive and violent, and for the Tchambuli, the women dominant and the men were emotionally dependent. The reason why the results were different for all three is different cultures leads to different cultural conditioning.

The second article written by Deborah Tannen, “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation”, deals with communication among men and women. The article attempts to explain why women and men talk when the do. The article states that women have been punished for talking too much or talking in the wrong way. Women have also been stereo typed since Colonial America, which different punishment were given to women. For example, women strapped to ducking stools, held underwater, gagged, and silenced by cleft sticks applied to their tongues. But as it turns out men rather than women talk more, in meetings, in mixed groups, and in classrooms. To further back up this discovery, researchers found out that when men talked the range lasted from 10.66 to 17.07 seconds, while when women talked it lasted from 3 to 10 seconds.

Report talk and Rapport talk are two different techniques men and women use when they communicate with each other. Report talk deals more with men and public speaking, while rapport talk deals with women and private speaking. Report talk is used by men because they feel more comfortable talking in public than women do. When men talk they joke around, tell stories, this is a way for them to get attention. That’s why men are more comfortable speaking in larger groups made up of people they know less. Rapport talk is when women talk to each other on a more personal level. Women talk mostly to other women , to gossip, to see how their day went, and just to get to know each other. Women feel the closest when they feel at home or when their with people they feel close and comfortable with.

The reason why women find it so difficult to talk in public is, this is the way they were conditioned. Women are looked at as being to talkative, why because when they do talk, they are seen talking on the phone, to the girlfriends, and or just talking about subjects that are not interesting and boring to men. So when women talk in public and are viewed by other men, they have the sense of feeling that men aren’t interested in what they are talking about. The reason why the gender roles in our society are the way they are is, in the culture we live in men are brought up to be more dominant in society. Women are expected to talk less in public but are perceived to talk too much in private, on the phone, etc…. While men are thought to talk more in public crowds and perceived to talk less privately, one on one communication.

Having read both the articles, is going to be hard to stop gender inequality. The first article gives good examples on how gender roles can be assigned to a specific sex. But that’s the problem, the only examples Mead gives are from primitive groups, this is the way they have been thought all their lives. It’s going to be hard for any part of our society to try to do this. We are so intertwined with the way our culture is now that, it will take us a long time to implement a plan, like assigned gender roles, to make any kind of difference in our society. Why, because change is hard, we live in a world where men are looked at as being dominant and women are looked at as being inferior.


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