Lazuli Green Island Mama

Lazuli Green Island Mama

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Anthropology of family life

This week's anthropology lecture topic - Anth, sex and gender - has come at a fortuitous time, the same week that my 9 and 6 year olds have asked me for the first time: "Mama, what is 'sexing' anyway?". That was an interesting discussion while we bathed our family dog!
What I found particularly interesting in this lecture, was the story of Bonobos as compared to Chimpanzees. What a fascinating example of how sex and gender are influenced by societal conditions. The Bonobos, living in areas where gorillas are scarce and food is plentiful, have ample time on their hands for socializing. This results in strong bonds and alliances being formed, especially amongst female Bonobos, allowing the females a sense of solidarity. They are able to keep the males in check and are, therefore, not dominated by the males. These conditions allow for a peaceful, loving, affectionate society. It's like they are all on holiday in some African resort.
Chimpanzees, on the other hand, are working their butts off just trying to survive... especially the females. They have to look after their energetic offspring, scrounge for food, which the males and the gorillas have usually already polished off, and then still fend for their sexual rights, being abused by aggressive, dominant males on a daily basis. I can tell you which species I'd rather belong to!
So, back to bathing the family dog... by the time I've answered the kids' questions, bathed them too, fed all living beings in the household, tucked them into bed, returned to the piles of washing and then remembered that I haven't yet completed the reading or the blog post for this week... there isn't much time left in the day for pondering sex and sexuality. Which takes me back to reminiscing about week 4 and polygamy. Perhaps if I had at least 3 sister wives to share the workload, I would be more inclined to think like a Bonobo.

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