Men vs. Women: An Analysis of Gender Roles in Society In the article entitled, “Men Are From Earth, and So Are Women. It’s faulty”, by Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, the differences between men and women are reexamined as well as challenged. According to Rivers and Barnett, there is really no innate difference between the sexes; there are only varying behaviors that are determined by the degree of power males and females hold in a given situation.
Contrasting this with a completely different piece, Anne Fausto-Sterling’s “The Five Sexes: Why Men and Female are Not Enough”, is an erudite work which suggests that people come in bewildering sexual varieties. Testing medical values and social norms, this article delves into some of the biological and cultural issues regarding gender identity as Fausto-Sterling proposes that there are not two, but instead, five human genders. Throughout these readings, considering their differences, one thing has remained—gender is not always as it portrayed in society and the media.
Despite this, an important question is raised. Exactly how different are men and women? Or are they? When reading both articles, the parallel between these two different topics is that they have lacked in research, which gives a misinterpretation to the average person. In the article, “The Five Sexes,” hermaphrodites (herms) struggle to “fit” into society; the general public refuses to accept herms because of having inadequate information about them.
People are oblivious to the situation of herms that even the government has stepped in to take an action against them. The government requires every hermaphrodite to decide whether they are male/female (Fausto, 1993); once they decide if they are a male or a female, they must live with that gender role for the rest of their life. Just like how people are misinformed about hermaphrodites, the same goes with opposite sexes.
It is customary that men and women are “specialized” in specific aspects of life. In the article, “Men Are From Earth, and So Are Women,” Barnett and Rivers give examples of the expected roles of men and women—“women are inherently more caring and more ‘relational’ than men” (Barnett, 2004). This quote is an example of a hypothesis, no research, no true evidence, it is a belief by a Harvard psychologist who’s “ideas have revolutionized the psychology of women” (Barnett, 2004).
Another theorist says that “men don’t value personal relations” (Barnett, 2004); none of these viewpoints have a valid substantiation. These articles are essential to the understanding of the course as they both explore anthropological approaches to sexuality and gender, and the complex relations between sexual and gendered practices, identities, and roles. If society is better informed about hermaphrodites, would they be accepted? Would men and women still be discriminated regarding certain roles?
Presenting ideas that aren’t necessarily easy to swallow for some, articles such as these are important in expanding the study of anthropology especially in the realm of sex and gender, and their roles in our society. Work Cited Barnett, Rosalind C. , and Caryl Rivers. "Men are From Earth, and So are Women. It's Faulty Research That Sets Them Apart. " The Chronicle Review 3 Sept. 2004. . Fausto-Sterling, Anne. "The five sexes: why male and female are not enough. " The Sciences. 33. n2 (March-April 1993): 20(6). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. UC Irvine. 27 Aug. 2007 .