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Many western societies assume there are two gender roles which are male and female but other societies accept a third or fourth gender. Many early investigations on gender became a part of psychological anthropology which is the study of the relationship between culture and personality. Margaret Mead is an American anthropologist that did many fieldworks to study different societies. Mead was one of the first female anthropologists who bought gender diversity issues to the public attention when she published her book in 1935 called Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (Lenkeit,194).  She also explores the subject more deeply in her book “Male and Female” which was published in 1949.    She traveled to Papua New Guinea for two years and did work on gender consciousness and to discover the extent of temperament differences between the sexes. She studies three groups while she was there, they are the Arapesh, the Mundugumor, and the Tchambuli. Before Mead began her work, many people believed that both men and women were biologically programmed to behave in many certain ways such as women having to be dependent, nurturing, gentle and passive and the men having to be independent, tough and aggressive. During the time she was studying these three groups she found that the male and female behaviors had different patterns based on their culture and they were all different to the gender role expectations from the United States (Human Nature and the Power of Culture, 2017).    Mead arrived to the mountain top village known as Arapesh in December 1931. This group of people didn’t have a name for themselves so Mead and Fortune decided to name them Arapesh which is the word for “person” (Human Nature and the Power of Culture, 2017). She found that the Arapesh women fit the stereotype of being dependent, nurturing, gentle and passive. The men however did not fit the stereotype of being independent, tough, and aggressive. The men were maternal like the women and had a gentle, responsive and cooperative temperament. The men play secular flutes which were allowed to be seen by women. The mothers carried their babies in net bags that stimulate the experience of the womb.     The next group that Mead studied was the Mundugumor which is now known as Biwat and located near the Yuat River. They were an aggressive culture and Mead believed they had a “rope” kinship system. Both the males and females exhibit the stereotype of male behaviors. They were selfish, aggressive, violent and had a high level of sexuality. According to Mead, the involved behavioral conditioning treated both girls and boys alike and little girls grew up aggressive as little boys and with no expectation of docilely accepting their role in life (Lenkeit,194). The mothers would carry their babies in rough-plaited, rigid baskets and the older children were carried on their mother’s backs with no support, by holding on to their mother’s hair  (Human Nature and the Power of Culture, 2017).    Mead and Fortune traveled to the Chambri Lakes region in New Guinea where the Tchambuli group which are also known as the Chambri are located. They had a very difficult language and they had a population of about 500 people. These people had distinct roles for males and females and were opposite to the roles the males and females have in North America. The males were less responsible, more emotionally dependent, were vain about their appearance, and involved in gossiping. The women, however, were dominant, impersonal, independent, competent, businesslike, concerned with providing their family and sexually aggressive.    In conclusion, the male and female roles that are played in North American society are very different to the roles the female and males played in these three groups. Many people believed that these gender roles are biologically programmed in a certain way when in many cases they are based on cultural conditioning which begins from the time a baby is born and shaped into their culture. Mead’s theory was that behavior and personality can be improved and result from influences. Many people criticized her for her theory of that male and female personalities are influenced by the environment. The believed that the reported findings were custom-made for her theory but her contribution in separating biologically-based sex from socially-constructed gender was groundbreaking (Human Nature and the Power of Culture, 2017).

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