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Sex and Temperament: In Three Primitive Societies Paperback – May 22, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
"Sex and Temperament" is very well-written, almost captivating, and gives you an eerie feeling that you are present in New Guinea together with Mead and the somewhat strange peoples she was investigating. From a purely literally point of view, it's a tour de force. Mead's political message is also crystal clear: she criticizes authoritarian childrearing practices, male dominance, and discrimination against "deviants". I read the book from cover to cover over a week-end.
The book describes the way of life of three quite different peoples in the northeast part of New Guinea, then under British control. The Mundugumor and the Tchambuli lived along the Sepik River, while the Arapesh dwelled in the hills further north. In Mead's opinion, the Arapesh were a gentle people who promoted peaceful co-operation among both men and women, while the Mundugumor were cannibals and head-hunters, who promoted aggressiveness among both sexes. The Tchambuli, most sensationally of all, lived in a kind of matriarchy where the women were dominant and the men submissive.
Critics of the book usually attack Mead's descriptions of the Arapesh and the Tchambuli (called Chambri in later sources).Read more ›
Mead refrained from the grand, overall comparisons of Benedict to focus on how male and female roles differed in the three cultures. In one, males were dominant and head-hunting epitomized their aggressiveness. In a second culture women dominated, and the subordinate males showed less aggression. The third culture featured equality between the sexes with the least aggression while also demonstrating an equality and a freedom that might serve as a model for the West.
No doubt Mead emphasized some culture traits over others to reach her conclusions, but her results have helped the feminist movement and given general readers much to think about.
The book reads much like a novel with few technical terms from anthropology to slow the reader.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I paid for new one but got used book instead. the condition of the used book looks okay and it will cost me more than its price if I return it.Published on August 13, 2013 by Abdullah Alshammari
This was one of the most influential books in modern history, but unfortunately for Western society, it was a pseudoscientific fraud. Read morePublished on September 15, 2004 by A Critical Reader