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Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations 0th Edition
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This engaging book has eight short chapters. The introductory chapter lays the foundation for Nanda's argument by defining key terms (e.g., gender diversity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, transgendered, sex/gender identity, etc.) with which readers must be familiar to understand gender variation. Chapters 1 through 5 provide ethnographic accounts of multiple genders among North American Indians, the hijra and sadhin of India, the travestís, bichas, and viados of Brazil, the mahu in Polynesia, the kathoey of Thailand and the bayot/bantut/bakla in the Philippines. What some readers will find most interesting and provocative are accounts of how contact with Western cultures influenced existing gender constructs in these cultures. For example, North American Indian men who dressed like women, did "women's work" and were sexually intimate with other men were called "berdache" (an Arabic term for a male prostitute) and demeaned by early Spanish explorers on religious grounds.Read more ›
However, I also have some criticism of this book. Nanda claims that gender diversity proves that binary thinking (male/female) isn't universal. I beg to disagree. Most of the gender variants described in her book presuppose an already established binary opposition between "male" and "female". Why else would the most common gender variant be a male wearing women's clothing? Why are such persons expected to do traditional women's work? Why do they establish sexual relations with other men, who don't cross-dress and hence act as typical males? Obviously because the whole point of the gender variants is to reinforce the dichotomy between "male" and "female" identities. Indeed, the transvestites described in the book don't look like a "third" sex or gender, despite Nanda's analysis. Rather, they simply look like a combination of the two main genders, men and women.Read more ›
The booklet itself introduces gender concepts in Native North America, India, Brazil, Polynesia, Thailand, the Philippines and in Euro-American cultures. The last of which include the sworn virgins of Albania, which I personally had never heard of before. For an entire book on the latter read the very recommendable Women Who Become Men: Albanian Sworn Virgins (Dress, Body, Culture). Like many anthropological books, "Gender Diversity" is written with a Western mindset. Which might be important in setting the standard against which other societies' gender concepts are measured. However, the author invites the reader to question those Western constructs. It provides for a fast, easy, informative and thoughtprovoking reading. Not intended to stop with it, but instead to open further doors. Some of these doors may be the following books: Vested Interests: Cross-dressing and Cultural Anxiety, ...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is full of interesting information about various cross-gender manifestations in different cultures. Read morePublished on May 8, 2014 by Jennifer
This is incredibly interesting. I read this book for my Anthropology of Sex and Gender class and I still find myself bringing it up in normal conversation. Great buy.Published on October 2, 2013 by Kelly
Cultural differences about gender roles and sexuality has always fascinated me, so I thought this looked like a good read. Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by Trixie
I needed this book for a Gender and Sexuality course at my school. The book arrived quickly and in (almost) new condition. Read morePublished on January 30, 2011 by Amanda P