Nonwestern Bipolar Constructs

Among the classic instances of cultures whose sex-gender-sexuality systems are bipolar, but do not fit Western models of such organization, are those documented more than 70 years ago by Margaret Mead (1950).

In those instances, Mead was most concerned with aspects of behavior other than the sexual, and in that very concern was able to document the ways in which gender was separately constructed and not necessarily causally tied to biological sex. Each of the three cultures she describes assigns a different emotional-behavioral complex to women and to men. Some of those complexes mirror Western constructs and some do not.

Since all cultures contain at least masculine and feminine categories, it is probably also the case that none of those definitions completely matches contemporary Western categories. For example, Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania, or Wodaabi Fulani in the Sahel, are peoples with bipolar gender constructs. But when it comes to cultural definitions of masculine dress, jewelry, or decoration, they are very different from the business suit, wrist watch, and ring model of the Western world.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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