Thursday, April 02, 2009

An essay of the cultural Anthropology class that I received an A

The Relation Between Culture and Individual Temperaments

In American society, people are used to the different temperaments between females and males. Women are usually considered emotional and dependent; in contrast, aggressive, independent temperaments belong to men. Many people accept this difference as a natural phenomenon. However, in her book, Sex & Temperament, Margaret Mead studied three primitive societies, Arapesh, Mundugumor, and Tchambuli, in a region of New Guinea. The temperaments of the men and women from the three societies are varied, which contrasts with the idea of fixed temperaments based on sex in American society. Based on her study, Mead argued that individual temperaments are primarily developed by cultural forces rather than biological factors. Her theory not only led people to rethink the development of individual temperaments, but also contributed to the increasing social reforms and feminist movements in American society in the second half of the twentieth century.

Mead’s exhaustive descriptions of the Arapesh’s daily life prove that all the major personality traits of the Arapesh can be attributed to cultural factors. The temperaments of both Arapesh men and women are gentle, unacquisitive, and co-operative. Arapesh babies are cherished by their parents, and are raised up within a warm and loving environment. Babies are always under careful care. “During the first months the child is never far from someone’s arms” (39). It is the first step and also one of the most important stages for the Arapesh to develop their gentle personality. Fathers and mothers give equal attention and care to their children. After a baby is born, the father lies beside the child, and gives the mother advice (32). Fathers’ affection and gentle behaviors not only additionally influence their children’s temperaments, but also are important evidence to prove the similar temperaments between males and females in the society. Moreover, the Arapesh’s belief of “friend and enemy” contributes to their unacquisitive and co-operative temperaments. Because the Arapesh consider family members, relatives, and people in their own and nearby villages as friends, there is comfortable atmosphere for them to do their most daily activities. For this reason, their generous and helpful personality traits are gradually developed.

Although the Mundugumor’s temperaments are completely different from the Arapesh’s, their masculine and aggressive traits are shaped by their particular culture as well. The Mundugumor always live in uncomfortable, harsh and hostile conditions. They distrust others, even the father and son are defined as rivals (170). The Mundugumor children are raised in a cold and unloved environment. Parents dislike children. When a husband finds that his wife is pregnant, he is not pleased (178). Very little babies are kept in a carrying-basket, with little care or body touching. “When a baby cries it is not fed at once” (183). The Mundugumor develop a typically violent temperament that is due to the influence of their parents, relatives, and their society during their early years.

It is important to point out there is no noticeable difference in temperament between males and females in the Mundugumor society as well as the Arapesh society. The Mundugumor men and women are both masculine and aggressive, and the Arapesh men and women are both gentle and co-operative. This fact can be explained by cultural factors, too. For instance, when a baby, either a boy or a girl, is born in a Mundugumor family, he or she is treated harshly. Not only the father, but also the mother does not have a gentle or affectionate attitude towards the baby. The particular culture in this society determines parents’ manner towards raise children. There is only one model of temperaments in this culture. Thus, despite the baby’s sex, he or she gradually develops the same “masculine” and aggressive temperaments.

Unlike the Arapesh and the Mundugumor, but similar to American society, in the Tchambuli, there are different temperaments between opposite sexes. However, the Tchambuli women are dominant and impersonal, and the Tchambuli men are less responsible and emotionally dependent, which are completely opposite from a common American’s point of view. Nevertheless, these temperaments of Tchambuli men and women can be fully explained by their culture and social conditions. The women in Tchambuli are dominant because they possess the economic power. They fish, which provides essential food to all the inhabitants, and they make the mosquito-bags, which is the most important item manufactured in this society (237). In contrast, the men in Tchambuli are good at and work on jobs that are connected to spiritual enjoyment rather than a struggling for live. They are artists that are skilled in many arts (229). They are fond of holding ceremonies. “It cannot be said that in order to initiate young boys the Tchambuli hold a ceremony, but rather that in order to hold a ceremony the Tchambuli initiate young boys.” (229) According to these evidences, the emotional and less responsible temperaments of the Tchambuli men are understood.

The temperaments in the three primitive societies, the Arapesh, the Mundugumor, and the Tchambuli are different not only from each other, but also from American society. Numerous evidences in Mead’s book prove that culture is the most important force in developing individual temperaments. In other words, individual temperaments are not an unchangeable fact, because culture, the soil that temperaments are rooted in, is a man-made phenomenon, which is constantly changing from place to place. Supported by this theory, American women now could argue that it is incorrect to consider that women are innately emotional or dependent creature. When they are unhappy about those assigned temperaments, they have the right to ask change and call for social reform. This theory can be used to justify those social reforms, particularly in feminist movements. Culture and individual temperaments are created by people; thus, they can be altered by people, too.


At 6:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.

my web page

At 5:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your website while browsing on http://yellowtea. Have you got any sort of
information on how to get listed on http://yellowtea. I've been working on it for a while but they still won't accept me.
Appreciate it

At 3:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt, this is great. It's not every day you see a blog that's
this good on web 2.0 site, and you've got it down wholly. This topic is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. Now I’m very happy I found this during my search for anything relating to this.

My blog -

At 10:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the helpful information you provide in
your articles. I'll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I'm quite sure I'll learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

Here is my weblog :: where to sell gold

At 12:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This doesn't really have to do with the topic right now, but I must ask if you might know where I could find a suitable captcha plugin that I could use on my blog?? I'm using the same blog platform as
yours and I'm having trouble getting one?

Here is my weblog - diseminar

At 4:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Software package Genres This Help College students Think!

my website; video to mp3 online converter

At 9:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Audio systems: The Heart In your home Theater

Here is my web blog: bone


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home