Margaret Mead's Anthropological Perspective

925 Words 4 Pages
The study of female sexuality, youth, and behavior is a vastly influential study in the anthropological world. However, it wasn’t until recently that it became a widely accepted study and a phenomenon. Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist, helped spur the emergence of cultural studies of females. Mead focuses on many various aspects of culture and how it connects to psychology. More specifically, she fixates upon the cultural conditioning of sexual behavior, culture change, and the differences between the natural and biological performance. Her ethnography , Coming of Age in Samoa, argued that it was cultural factors rather than biological forces that caused adolescents to experience psychological and emotional stress, anxiety, and behavioral …show more content…
It exposed the realities that women face and expressed new ideas about cultural anthropological terms such as gender, gender norms, gender ideology, and gender performance. In Samoa gender was a very important feature in their society. The rule of women lied within their family’s home, but gave them more freedom to explore their themselves and their sexuality. Their gender ideology contrasts greatly to the gender ideology of the United States. Following the traditional 1920-1940 ideas in the United States, females are expected to be submissive towards men, in all aspects of their lives. The perfect American girl, cooks, cleans, and makes life easier for her male relatives and families; outside ventures are looked down upon. Although both societies have women’s expectations found in the household, the Samoan female has a more flexible mindset. Samoan women are expected to clean, weave, and bear children, but they are encouraged to hold off to those responsibilities. The girls even indulge in personal activities and give into their own personal desires, such as their independent sex lives. Additionally, Mead’s use of cross-cultural comparison to shed light on issues within Western society greatly contributed to the awareness of fieldwork and anthropological studies Her ideologies contributed to the ideas that proved that masculinity and femininity are reflections …show more content…
Coming of Age in Samoa is valuable because it challenges stereotypes and helps explain how stress is caused and how culture evolves girls. She challenges the traditional American system, and with her research stresses the importance of providing freedom to females, so they, like their fellow males, can have room to grow, and experience self discovery. Women should be provided all the same opportunities and freedoms that males have. Instead of pressuring women to be pristine, pure, and perfect, they should be able to broaden their horizons, expand their minds, and develop thoughtful and meaningful opinions and truths. In order to achieve this Mead writes that “the children must be taught how to think, not what to think” (Chapter XIV: pg. 169). The American system cannot put a restriction upon a females knowledge; instead we must teach people how to learn, and how to consider subjects

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