Category Archives: Anthropology

Changes in Masculine and Feminine and Suggestions for the Future

The world is changing and to some people it has been very fast in the last 100 years and for many others, it has been far too slow or not enough. But there is no debate that the world for women has changed a great deal, and as a result it has also changed for men. The movement forward for women has been an on-going process since the early suffrage movements and there have been times of sprinting forward and other times of uphill battle, but is does not change that the social expectations and roles for women have changed a great deal. But it has not changed quite as much for men though they have had significant change, especially in the last 20 years.

This paper is going to briefly recap the focus issue and the theory behind the issue, as well as provide a sentence or two on the most affected social problems of the belief in masculine and feminine roles. Then there will be section to describe areas of which there has been significant change towards more equal roles and responsibilities and then a section on what further work needs to be done to resolve the social problems detailed in the prior paper.

It is important to remember while reading this paper that masculinity and femininity are referring to the gender stereotypical behaviors as they are related to gender roles and responsibilities. And while these roles and responsibilities had their place in the time and history, at this point there is less need for following the gender stereotypical roles and instead consider the division of labor tasks be based on skills and desires. Prior papers on this website have examined personality and this paper does not. It looks only at the activities that have been described as men’s and women’s work.

The Savage Male

Over the centuries most cultures have a division of labor that is split between males and females. Males engaged in the behaviors associated with going outside of the protected area of the village, home or lands and acquire resources as well as protection of the lands and village through defense building (fences, houses, castles) and war activities. Most male activities have been done through training and practice activities and then followed with a test, a show of the skills or active use of the skills. After the success of completing the activity, there is often an acknowledgment ceremony or celebration of the success of the activities before moving on to the next activity.

Females have been primarily responsible for the maintenance and delegation duties which have included keeping a home in order, storage and maintenance of foods, and child rearing. Most of these activities require daily attention and rarely there is a day off or times that the projects are concluded. Because maintenance is a daily routine of behaviors, there are few times in which there is a celebration of the completion of the tasks and proof of the skills like there is with acquisition and protection. For most women, their wedding is often the day that they are celebrated the most.

Many arguments over the years have expounded the ideas of bring back this division of labor and there is no debate that both sets of skills are need to ensure the survival of the cultures but there is nothing to prove without a shadow of a doubt this skills are inherited through the “X” or “Y” chromosomes. In fact, documentation through history has shown time and again that these skills are learned and most people are socially pressured to engage in one skill set or another because of the view on sex and gender. These pressures and the lack of appreciation for the maintaining and delegation skills have led to the rise of the feminist movements that started with seeking the right to vote and then followed forward with married women going into the work force (outside of a wartime) in the 70’s and 80’s. These movement have forced change on a massive scale and from where the culture was 100 years ago, our ancestor would not recognized the world we live in, but the movements for equality has stalled in the last 10 years and even though there are pushes to keep the change alive.

Social Problems as a Result of the Change and Stall.

One of the largest problems that has happened as a result of the change but not enough has been a failure to redefine the roles of males. While women are taking on more of the skills that were once designated as male work, males are still expected to engage in the masculine tasks. As a result this has created many social problems that have been growing and in many ways getting worse. One area that is a problem is the relationship between a status or position and the expected behaviors. One position of which has been the most deeply affected is the men in uniforms. Typically these are men in the military, police force and other industries of protection and high physical strength. This jobs have been typically male dominated and have a high standard of masculine behavior and expectations. These standards have been increasingly difficult to up hold alongside the increasing desires for peaceful behavior and non-violence.

One of the results of the problems with the high standards of masculine behavior and being seen in a masculine position has been an increase in violence toward women. While it is know that violence against women has a long history, there has been an increase in the recent years that has left many befuddled and wondering to the reason. When looking at the distribution of the violence, it is found to be highest in areas of which there are the highest expectations for masculine behavior from the males. It is reasonable to conclude that there is a relationship between strong masculine roles and expectations and the additional expectation of a female to engage and remain in their roles and behaviors. Women from the communities or seen by the communities that have these masculine standards are often threatened and in many cases, those threats are followed through. Rape is one of the most well know threats of violence toward women and in recent years there has been a documented increase in the same form of violence towards men whom are not considered to be masculine.

The violence and threats towards women are well known and public are often directed towards women that speak out to the assistance of the feminist movement/ women’s rights movement or take active roles in traditionally male dominated industries. Many of the women that have made efforts in the last ten years for the continued expansion of women’s rights and opportunities have been threatened with violence. This is no surprise partly because the women’s rights movement has stalled in the last handful of years and in many ways it has started to creep backwards. The same speech about ‘equal pay for equal work’ and distribution of household labor (women are still doing the majority of the house work) has dominated for the last decade with little movement in those areas. It is not because the women are better suited to the work but instead that if the women do not do it, then no one would. Males are not being socialized to these tasks and as a result it is still the women cooking, cleaning and being primary care takers for children.

The other side of the issue that deals with the distribution of labors is also found in the “fast-food nation” that people born in the 1990’s and later are moving towards. Many of these individuals have been socialized to put all of their efforts toward production and acquisition tasks and as a result have no time or desire to engage in the behaviors of maintenance, distribution and care taking. In fact, the skills that were once an important part of daily work are now considered hobbies to engage in because for many it is easier to go and buy the tools and skills needed. Additionally, other skills that cannot be bought such as care taking and teaching are being lost to the younger generations or not valued but instead tolerated.

The ‘fast food nation’ and violence towards women also brings with it the metrosexual males and the changes of homosexual marriage. Both of these issues deal with the views of male behavior and masculinity. With non-masculine males, there is a belief of being a failure as a human being and especially a male, often resulting the loss of self-esteem and self- respect. Many males have been taught to believe that they have a right to a female companion and behaving in masculine ways is how to get a female. Having a female is a sign of status and accomplishment. (A prime example of this belief held in highly gender ‘traditional’ society is the recent kidnapping and enslavement of women in the Middle East, of which males see having a wife as a reward for socially accepted behavior.) The males that are not internally of high violence and masculinity tend to bullied, and rejected which can lead to stress related further issues. The other side of this is with regards to men whom are attracted to other men. While on the one hand they are judged for being lesser because they are not desiring a female to take on the feminine tasks but also one of the males in the relationship is viewed as having to take on the submissive roles and this is against the belief of what it is to be a male. The protests against homosexual marriage has more to do with the male with male marriage and not as much with the female with female dynamic. In fact, there has been far less hostilely towards homosexual females than there has been towards homosexual males in all of documented history, and in some ancient times there were hints of female homosexual relationships taking place and being encouraged (please review historical information on harems for reference material).

One of the reasons that female homosexual relationships were permitted and encouraged was to keep a female able and willing to be part of reproduction. A female’s reproductive abilities are the primary focus for the control of females. While a woman will control a household and the care of the members of the household, the engagement of sex is reliant on the pursuit of the male. Additionally, a female is expected to not engage in sex until they have been engaged in a profitable relationship (usually marriage) and then afterwards her sex is to be determined, encourage or even forced by her husband. The efforts of the reproductive rights movement are focused more on the female having control of her own sex instead of being at the whim of a father/ mate or avoided as a fear of pregnancy and having more children. Birth control and abortion rights puts the power of the woman’s body into her hands which is against the rights and privileges of being a male with possession of a female.

There are many other problems that come from the male roles, obligations and standards issues, including feminine beauty, lack of emotional display by males, and failures to communicate because of biased views of either sex. There is a great deal of documentation on these subjects and research on gender roles as well as biological difference fill many bookcases in libraries and bookstores.

Changes that have happened

Women went into the work force in the 1950’s but it was not until the 1980’s that men started doing more of the house work. There have been changes in the last 40 years to encourage men to take on more of the maintenance and delegation roles of the household but much of this has been met with resistance. This created a group of kids known as latch-key kids and these individuals are now paving the ways for men to take a more equal role in the household. Women still do a majority of the work in the household but there are more men in the following roles:

Household Chores: In the 1970’s there were few fathers and sons that knew the skills required to clean a house (strong examples of this are made a joke in the television series “That 70’s show). During the 1980’s, more males where taught by family members to engage in the cleaning skills and in most households today have a more equal division of cooking and cleaning than there has been in prior decades. Women still manage most of the tasks and indicate which are to be completed by whom but males are actively involved more of the tasks. For some couples, the weekly cleaning of the house has become a bonding activity done together.

Stay at Home Dads: A new development since the recent recession of 2008 has been the stay-at-home fathers. Many of the jobs seeking skilled employees were positions that have been dominated by females and as a result, many women found work but many males did not. As a result, many males stayed home to care for their small children or work part time and take on most of the tasks of care taking for children and household. In the beginning, this was met with distain and criticism for the males staying home, there has been a significant shift in the short time to being supportive and accepting of this change. It is a sign of a step forward though there is now more pressure on females to always be in the work force or to not take time off for family interests. Interestingly, many stay at home dads have said that they enjoy staying home with their children and would like to remain in the task for long term.

Single Fathers: In the 1990’s there was an epidemic of children living with mothers whom were addicted to drugs or in deep poverty situations. As a result, there was a review of the belief that a child is always better with their mother and the conclusion was that there were times in which a child was better with their father. This began a trend of single fathers raising their children. While in most places it is still preferred to place a child with their mother, it is less of a socially unacceptable option to place a child with their father. Additionally there is less and less fear that a child will be molested by a father than there was many decades ago, which part of the reason that it was considered preferable to have a child with a single mother rather than with a single father. One area that is still an issue is the child support payments that are mandatory to the primary care taker. Men still make more money than women do and as a result, single fathers work with far less or nothing from the mother to support the children they care for.

Women in the Work Force: Other areas in which there is significant change in the roles of men and women has been in the work force. There are more women taking on a larger variety of positions in the work force than any time in the past, and though there are more men management roles still, women are taking more responsibilities than before. Now more than other time, women are not only taking major leadership positions but also being respected in those positions. As it has been addressed time and again, there is a lot more work to be done with regards to equal pay and balanced decision making in hiring but there has been more progress than in other times in history. Additionally, women are no longer expected to give up careers for family though it is still difficult for a woman to not be expected to drop all tasks for considerations of family and men to expect that women would handle family issues.

Women in Combat: Women in combat is another issue of the current era that has seen a great deal of change and this is partly due to The Cold War (there was an increased awareness of female spies and intelligence agents) and Hollywood showing the world of stronger women not afraid of a fight. There is a long history of women fighters going back to the legends of the Amazons and the Celtics and there is plenty of documentation of women disguising as men and entering the military. Recently there has been an increased push for women to take active roles in the combat operations on the front line though this is still an uphill battle. More women are involved in combat in the command stations, and making tactical decisions. While women as still few and far between on the front line, there are more women rising to the rank of general than any other time in history.

Recommendations for the Future and Conclusion

Why is the information in this paper important? The answer is simple: to fix a problem, one should be aware of where it came from and what it is affecting. Many are so focused on what is seen as the benefit of being male and how all people have a right to those same benefits that it is forgotten what benefits there are in the traditionally female roles. Also, many have bemoaned the loss of certain skills, ethics and moral behaviors in the last few decades while not being aware of where those skills were lost to begin with. This paper is about a problem and how deep that problem runs as well as the trouble it has caused. One must know what a problem is before they can seek a solution for it, and many say that they are not aware of these issues and the common tread until it is brought forward.

The best recommendation for the future is encouraging people to be what they are without the enforcement of masculine and feminine roles based solely on sex identity. This is being done but there is a serious neglect of maintenance and delegation skills. Teach these skills to all children as much as the skills of acquisition and protection. Teach all children how to build a fence as much as cook dinner and then the skills will be maintained by the person with the best skills instead of the person that is socialized to do it. There was a belief in science fiction stories and shows that there was going to be a day in which sex had no relevance on skills and with the on-going education of children becoming more gender blind, this might happen as long as we all believe that it can. The most important thing to be taught, learned and practiced is the sex identity is not destiny and gender roles are learned from the people that are not aware that they have taught them.

Social Problems of Masculine and Feminine

Watching a husband and wife interact with each other in their Oklahoma home, the husband is working hard to clean up the falling leaves in the backyard and the wife is busy preparing dinner for a family of five. There is no question about the pair of people using the skills that they are better suited for and there is no question if it is right that each person is in the socially accepted place within the household, but there is a question of if each person is better suited because of their sex or if they are better suited because they have been encouraged into those positions in life by social training.

Gender roles and gender stereotyping has been an issue of research, debate and recently, legal contention for almost 100 years now. This largely started in the early 1900’s with the women’s suffrage movement and then was followed closely by the two world wars. Between earning the right to vote and married women branching into the work force during the wars, the debate over the place and roles of women have been openly argued. And while much has changed in the ways in which women have been treated in the work force and the home; there is still a lot that is the same.

Science has gone through the human brain to find the significant biological difference between men and women; and instead of finding the big differences, science has found more that is the same between the sexes. While there are differences (small ones that deal with adaptation to the assigned roles of each sex) in the brains of males and females, the behavioral differences have not been found in the brain but in the socializing that starts in utero. Additionally, the socializing that we enforce upon adolescents increasing the restrictions that we use gender roles for. Looking at the behavior, role models, and presentations of male and female in television targeting teenagers, it is clear that there are gender roles that are trying to be reinforced.

Gender roles are not just about the socially expected behaviors of males and females but also the social responsibilities to the larger society and how those responsibilities affect to continuation of the social roles. I will also provide a brief explanation of why this roles keep going even if it is counter-intuitive to do so as well as examples of various areas of present society that are being held back from progress because of the beliefs in the social and behavioral roles of males and females. A follow-up paper will offer conclusions on why this information is important and what it can be used for in order to equalize the roles, responsibilities and rewards of a balanced society. First, there needs to be an explanation of what gender roles, sex roles, are and masculine/ feminine behavior.

Marvin Harris’ “The Savage Male”

Among anthropologists, Marvin Harris’ work is not the most popular but it is well known. Not only for the methods of explanation he used but also for the criticism that he received about using American culture as too much of a base for his explanations of cultural behaviors. “The Savage Male” is one of the works that got a lot of criticism for being too liberally based on American culture, and for the sake of this paper, that is an advantage.

According to Harris’ theory, war societies have the highest investment in male dominance because the males are the focus of fighting and as a result, death. It is no stretch to say that America is a war society not only because of the ways in which Americans glorify dead soldiers but also because we have many means in which males fight each other, while trying to argue that people are more peaceful than they have ever been. The jobs in which males are paid some of the highest incomes are focused on fighting and competition, either in the field or on the court room and investment floor.

Fighting and competition are the focus points and means to the responsibilities of the males in this societal format, those responsibilities are the acquisition and protection of resources. Males have the role of bringing in the resources that are needed to maintain the family units and without something to acquire and protect, the role of the male is incomplete. This is the reason that a male is expected to purse a mate (or a female) in order to have something to protect and acquire for. Competition for a mate to protect and serve (acquire resources for) is high and often done aggressively through means of competition among males and with “wooing” of females to prove the ability to complete these responsibilities of the social structure.

In direct response to this structure of protect and serve that is emphasized in male behavior, females are expected to complete maintenance and distribution of the resources that have been acquired by the males. Maintenance of the social structure includes: child rearing, training and retraining of socially accepted behaviors. Females are responsible for continuation of the social structure because they are responsible for the next generation and the education of social behaviors. Distribution of resources is another primary roles that has fallen upon females and this is done through activities like meal preparation and house work. Though there are maintenance tasks that have been considered male work, most of those tasks are not completed without either the training of the mother and/or the delegation of the wife.

The skills for protection and acquisition of resources are often trained for over a period of years and when the skills are put to use, they are into short term projects. Many of these projects are seen as having a beginning, middle and end and at the end, there is a celebration and glory. On the other hand, maintenance work is often an ongoing and long-term projects that comes with complacency to the on-going management and the cycled process. There is little to no glory in the maintenance process because it is an on-going but instead gets passed to the next person after the first person has moved on from the role.

Male and Female Work

In order to help with understanding what skills are part of the roles of protector and resource acquisition (bread-winner) and what are the skills of maintenance and distribution, this section will describe a bit of each. The best ways to describe what is typically male or female work is to see if either: 1) publicly noticed and commented on and 2) is an activity that is done once and rewarded or is it repeated over and over again with a general reward given once or twice a year for all of the work done.

Men’s work is seen as dealing with going outside of the protected area of their territory and being in a position to not only incur physical damage but also gain resources to bring back into the protected area. These are skills like hard physical labor, trade, and community interactions. During the years of hunting and gathering, male were the ones that would seek out meat and bring it back to the camp. During the times of agriculture, the focus was going into the fields and bringing in the crops. Much later, going to work and bringing back a pay-check for the women to spend on the resources that were needed in the home.

Additionally, men’s work includes protection. The skills for this are building safe, sound homes that are able to hold up to weather and attack (a large reason that castles were so often a goal for a young female looking for an ideal mate {Princess Fantasy}). Physical features most often described as attractive are once that are connected to the highest levels of protection and security, including larger bone structures, bulging muscles and facial features related to stubbornness and determination. Maintenance of the external property is considered male work due to the relationship to household protection. Most of the house work most commonly related to male work is dealing with protection of the property (yard work) and has little to do with ascetic.

Women’s work starts with training in distribution of the resources that are used and stored, as well as distribution of information and knowledge (often in education of traditions, norms, and skills within the community and family). Females also distribute labor among people making some of the greatest leaders to not be remembered in all of history. Most males were not allowed to ascend to the throne of their kingdom until they had a strong female to work with and for them as a people manager. Women manage the ill and ensure that they get enough, but not too much, in the way of resources to help them heal. (Until the 1600s, 90% of all medical treatment was provided by females.)

Medical care also falls into the area of maintenance which is part of the never ending cycle of birth, life and death. Females were responsible for the birth of children, and care of the females whom have given birth in addition to be expected to provide children for their mates to protect. Life is an on-going cycle of production, maintenance and consumption. During agriculturally focused times, males primarily worked from spring until fall with a celebration at the end of harvest, while females had the responsibility of storing, maintenance, and distribution of the resources year round. Other skills, like sewing and cooking are part of the skills related to maintenance and distribution.

Additionally, females hold the responsibility of maintaining the social structure and cultures. Traditions require time, investment and skill as well as education. Norms are reinforced and taught through the females to the offspring, often starting in the youngest years, and pushed heavily during the teen years of a child. Child-rearing is a distribution and maintaining set of skills that start as soon as the female is with child and does not end until death. Females had few celebrations in their lives which all are related to children; 1) coming out party, or availability to marry, 2) marriage and this is often the biggest party of their life and 3) the birth of the first child unless the women marries a high status male, then there is a celebration of each child birth.

Typical male or female work is defined against two standards: 1) publicly noticed and commented on and 2) is an activity that is done once and rewarded or is it repeated over and over again with a general reward given once or twice a year for all of the work done, if there is a reward or praise at all. Male work is most often publicly noted and rewarded with medals and celebrations in addition to it being done once and then rewarded. Female work is cycled, done in private or away from the public and rewarded once or twice a year (mother’s day and birthday) and in bulk, if at all.

The work that has been considered “male responsibilities” has not changed more than small amounts in the last 100 years (since World War I and The Great Depression) but the roles of women are far wider than they have been in any other time in history. Not only are women still expected to handle the responsibilities of maintenance and distribution, but now are increasingly expected to manage acquisition and protection (for at least themselves and their off-spring). In many ways, the maintenance and delegation responsibilities have slowly started to be neglected and replaced by machines in the American society and this has resulted in many problems that have become national issues in the legal system, and socialization of individuals. The following sections are going to cover many of the ways in which this unbalance is affecting American life and at the end will be presented a simple point of view of how best to resolve this single issue that affects all of the following issues.

Social Problems as a Result to Holding on to this System

Thy system of dividing labor between males and females as a means of making sure there is enough people doing each of the roles has worked, for the most part… and for a long time. But like all systems that are dependent on life remaining stagnate (and life does not), so it is with this system. Efforts to keep this system has created many of the major social problems that are presently being suffered. This section is going to provide a paragraph or two on several of the major social problems currently being debated and frustrated in American society.

Problem #1: “Love a man in Uniform”

The idea of loving a man in uniform can be traced back to the Roman times and there are very few times in history in which a man wearing a uniform was not seen as a good and desirable in a mate. The primary reason for this because the roles that require the use of a uniform are protective in service to the community and the larger environments. Police, firemen and even soldiers are all seen as very masculine and protective. Additionally, in the last 100 years, this positions have seen an increase in income from the work in the uniform and as a result, the uniform represents a stable job, income and means of acquisition of resources.

While many might not see this as an issue, that is primarily because of the belief that a compliment in any form is not a bad thing even if it is socialized to reinforce beliefs that are harmful. Men in uniform are expected to not only put their life in danger for the sake of protecting but they also have to up hold the standard of masculinity and if they fail to do this, then they are not seen as male or manly enough. The movie “I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry” did a very good job of pointing out the frustration of being seen as masculine when in a position of wearing uniform. The military has had this problem for years and the results of holding a tight, rigid standard for being a man has resulting in many damages including rape, emotional trauma and harassment.

Problem #2: Violence against Women

Violence against women has been an on-going problem since the beginning of fixed sex identity roles and the belief that males and females are separate in addition to a male being superior to the female are the root of the problem. Women whom violate the system have been beaten (privately and publicly), raped, stoned, publicly executed and punished for having any of these punishments happen for it with slander, gossip, and negative foot notes in history. Females are expected to submit to male whims if the female is “owned” (protected and provided for) by the male and this has in many cases resulted in the rape of a female by an old male relative and for hundreds of years, females were repeatedly beaten and raped by husbands and fathers.

Violence against women is on a pendulum or a wave, with periods of history that were highly violent and other period in which there has be less. In the recent times (the last 10 years), there has been a sharp increase in the violence towards women and with technology increasing global information, the violence is not only known worldwide but also noticeable higher all around the world. And the places that have the highest and most violent actions against women are the ones with the highest conformity standards for males. As long as males have that higher standard to hold up to for being masculine, it results in a tighter standard for being female and the responsibilities for be a female.

Problem #3: Feminist Movement has stalled

Among feminists, there is a debate of whether the movement for women’s rights has reached the climax or if there is more equality to have. Many are leaning one way or another based in part on whether many still have the energy to keep pushing. It is important at this point to note that women’s rights have come a long way since the beginning of the suffrage movement in the early 1900’s. But there has come a point in which the momentum slowed and then almost stop for women’s rights. This is that point now and is evidenced by the fact that the same statements for women’s rights have been used for the last 10 years.

What could have stalled the movement? There are several reason working together to explain the stall: 1) violence against women has increased, 2) failure to help men to adjust to more equal roles, and 3) women teaching gender selective behavior because the women whom are reproducing are part of the groups that believe that gender roles and gender behavior should remain the same.

Violence against women is an easy explanation: beating leads to compliance with desired behavior; in other words, beat someone enough and they will do what you want especially if the beaten person feels there is no escape. Some of the violence is as a result of making efforts to re-engage gender specific behavior and in other ways it is as a result of a failure to redefine masculine behavior. The feminist movement helped to push women to take more positions in protecting and acquiring resources but did nothing to encourage males to also take on the positions of maintenance and distribution. Because of the society still holding to the standard that males are the ones to acquire and protect before a female does these actions or behaviors, males are left to compete with females and this can result in violence towards women.

Another issue that has not been presented to the public attention is with regard to which women are primary in children rearing. Many of the more feminist females are having children later, having fewer children and many are not having children at all. The result is that the women that hold more to a “traditional” views of male and female behavior are the ones having and raising children with males that also hold to a more traditional view of sex identified behavior. As many studies in the decades past have shown, sex selected behavior is largely taught, and if the ‘traditional” parents are the only ones having children, then the behavior mention before will be reinforced and taught again.

Problem #4: Abortion Rights/ Reproductive Rights

One of the major responsibilities of a woman in many of the more traditional views of male/ female roles has been having children and for most of history, the point of marriage was reproduction. For centuries, going all the way back to the times of the Ancient Greek and Romans, the point of marriage was to have babies and raise families. During these times in history when mortality was high and the ability to bear children set much later in life (typical age of first menarche for a female was closer to 16, unlike now when it is as early as eight or nine years old), these focuses had their place. In fact, up until the 1700’s the idea of romantic love was scorned and seen as a path to pain and death (examples of this can be seen in stories like Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere, and Romeo and Juliet). Sometime in the 1700’s, the idea of romantic love as the focus of marriage took hold and gained strength over the years, resulting in there being less and less focus on having children as a reason to marry. In the past, if a person did not want to have children, they did not marry.

As it was noted in the prior section, more women are electing to put off having children or not have children at all, but the investment of marriage for companionship and love is still strong. Mortality rates for humans in general and infants primarily has dropped to new lows and the result is a feeling of less need to produce many children. Many couples are rarely having more than two children except for in some areas in the US which will be more or less by a factor of 1. These two factors result in one thing, a need for birth control and abortion for unwanted or damaged pregnancies.

Another important factor to note: in the past females were taught to deny their sexuality and be submissive to their husbands with regards to sex. The males were the ones to decide when and how often to have sex and when a male decided that there were enough children, they would stop having sex with their wives. Because of the changes in the views of sex, love and marriage; the need for birth control is higher now and by restricting access to it, this is demanding a return to wholly male dominated sexual interactions. This might be satisfactory to some people but for most, this is not an acceptable option because sex is being seen as an expression of love.

Problem #5: Homosexual Marriage

In the last year (end of 2013 until now), one of the biggest issues to hit the courts, coffee shops and even the classrooms has been about Homosexual Marriage (Often referred to as Gay Marriage). Many of the opponents claim the following: homosexual couples can’t have children (this is not true, they just can’t have children without planning for it), homosexual couple can’t note provide a balanced parent relationship (once again not true because many of these couple have been together for so long that they are more balanced in their relationship than heterosexual couples) and little boys will not grow up to be men (there is the issue that causes the most panic). Dialectically, when the word “gay” is used to refer to a homosexual couple it is most frequently referring to a coupling of two men rather than either males or females. In the past, homosexual couple and homosexual people most frequently targeted were men and targeting female couples was an afterthought. In examining the relationship between male workload responsibilities and female workload responsibilities, is should be not surprise why male homosexual couples are targeted more.

One of the greatest insults and failings of a male is to be considered a female and in a world in which the box around male standards is still tight and immobile, the coupling of two males has resulted in believing that one or both of the males is ‘the girl’. To willingly give up the right to a female, which is the prize for being a successful male, is as a failure to be a man. A failed male was killed in the days of the cavemen and earliest history of man (and there are cases that are more recent of homosexual males being targeted and killed). There is still the attitude of loathing to a male that is not manly, even now which is a large part of the reason that homosexual relationships are still regarded with fear and loathing. The legal battles are another means to maintain the restrictions of male roles by making these relationships based on love forbidden even though male-female relationships based on love are accepted.

Problem #6: Stress on Non-Masculine Males

There is no question that many people in the present world do not behave in a stereotypical male/ female behavior. While it has become more socially accepted for a female to behave in terms that are considered masculine, a feminine male is still considered to be something of scorn. This results in a lot of stress on these males whom do not fulfill all of the stereotypical behavior standards and the result have been harmful physically and emotional, having in many cases lead to severe trauma and depression. Additionally, some of these males have felt an increased pressure to go against what is part of their nature and the conflict of social behavior and internal personality can have devastating effects on the person’s sense of well-being and strength of self. Loss in well-being and sense of self can create any number of emotional damages and other disorders, of which it is well known that these can cause other outward negative effects on the person and their relationships. Many of these men suffer from a unique form of discrimination that has led to many of the increases in depression and suicide in the recent years.

Problem #7: “Fast Food Nation”

All people in the present time are encourage to leave their mark on the world, one way or another. For many people their legacy is not only the children they have but also the work that they produce. Since women have gone into the work force with full time jobs and careers, there has been a hyper focus on production, acquisition of resources and consumption. Because of the increased focus of careers there has been an on-going loss of skills in maintenance of resources for homes. Many of the skills for maintaining a home are now being referred to as hobbies and as a result, disposable. More people of the recent generation do not have skills such as cooking, cleaning and sewing of which were skills of survival a short time ago.

One of the biggest consequences of not having the skills to maintain the house is out-sourcing. More business have opened to maintain life than any other in recent history. The purchase of new clothing has replaced the creation and maintenance of clothing that was previously done in the home. Fast food and restaurants are a sure business because it is easier to buy cooked food on the go. Many young people have limited ability to clean and the results in letting cleaning go until it has to be done, or hiring another person to do it. This phenomenon has been referred to as the “fast food nation”.

One of the greatest ironies about the “fast food nation” has been the interest in the post-apocalypse survival and the ideas of the skills needed to survive. Most of the survival skills that are focused on are neglected in day to day life. Because of these fears, and many others with regards to comfort and health, there has been a slow moving interest increase in these neglected skills, but this does not change the fact that most of the children in the future will not have basic maintenance skills that are needed for healthy survival into the future.


A simple internal structure of balancing the needs for survival is seen at the base of the sex-identified roles also known as gender roles. These obligations based on sex were created as a means of survival, not just for the individuals but for the family and tribe. Males took on the responsibilities of acquiring resources through farming and then later, business as well as working to maintain protection for the family and society. These skills are most often associated with uniform wearing and shows of wealth. The reward for success in acquisition and protection, is a female to maintain the resources and redistribute them out to the family and tribe. Maintenance and distribution also include the care taking and education of off-spring on social and productive responsibilities.

Because of the shifts of the social roles from a balanced and specialized set of tasks to more people taking on tasks from the acquisition/ protection skill sets, there have been a lot of other shifts in the behavior and perceptions of people. The next paper is going to look at the changes of the distribution of labor, how these changes have affected the social issues online here and then conclude with statement about what actions to take for the evolution of this culture. This paper served for present the issue and how deeply the issue is ingrain in the American society, the next paper will look at what has been done and what should be done in the future.


Harris, M. (1974). Cow, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture. New York, NY: Vintage.

Burning Man: A Reflective Culture

The post-Burning Man euphoria is slowly passing as the flood of photos, videos, and blog posts are hitting the Internet. The first wave has passed and the second wave will be coming soon. While most of the comments and thoughts are positive and joyful, there will be many that have had a hard time with the events of such a festival. This is no surprise from an event that is “whatever you want it to be” because time, study and history has shown the people will find joy in their internal joy and misery in their internal misery.

Burning Man has been referred to by many social scientists as a Sub-Culture or a Counter-Culture, though this is done with hesitation. Part of the reason for the hesitation is due to Burning Man not fitting the finer points of the definition of sub/counter culture. Using a wide brush definition, then any group that have more than a handful of people could be seen as a sub/counter culture and in many ways that worked with the Burning Man groups for a while. But the growth and diversity of the groups within the groups of the population of Burning Man has revived this discussion.

Burning is Not a Sub-Culture

The definition of a ‘sub-culture’ is: “a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture” (Google). And the definition of a ‘counter-culture’ is: “a way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing social norm” (Google). As it can be see here, the definitions of each is the same as the other. So for ease of communication, from this point forward both with be referred to as ‘sub-culture’.

Sub-culture is about the opposed view or a variance (the fact or quality of being different, divergent, or inconsistent [Google]) from the larger culture and at first glance Burning Man and all of the smaller communities that have branched from it does fit the definition of a sub-culture because what is seen on the surface is a complete lack of control and what looks like a society built only on the use of drug and acquisition of as much sex as possible. While there are those parts it is on the surface, because it is what is or has been the most shocking parts; and Americans love the shocking. But these things does not make Burning Man a sub-culture, and in fact it helps to prove the opposite, the Burning Man is in line with the current culture.

One of the largest reasons that I have found outside of people referring to Burning Man as a sub-culture is the names. Because Burning Man has a name and the people that self-associate with the location, event, and activities call themselves “Burner”; is the reason that many will believe that there is a sub-culture there instead of referring to it as a very large crowd within the larger culture.

A Reflective Culture

As the title of this paper indicated, in order to explain what Burning Man is to the larger culture, a new idea had to be born and this idea is a Reflective Culture. A Reflective Culture is “culture within a larger culture that will reflect the views of the larger culture in either minimizing form or heightened exaggerated form.” While there are many people that might argue with this idea, spending a week or more at Burning Man might help to point out that this definition is a truer one than calling Burning Man a sub-culture.

In an effort to show that Burning Man is a reflective culture, here are five brief examples of things that are within the current scope of the American Culture and are being either exaggerated or reduced in the behaviors of the members of the crowd:

#1: Non-violence and Redirected Violence

The Death Guild and Thunder Dome has become one of the most well-known and popular attractions on the ground at Black Rock City. Partly because of the well-known dome and the association the Mad Max movies but more for the intense fighting that will be played out in the confines of the dome. Americans love to watch violence play out in many different forms and Thunder Dome is a form that has become a staple of the event. Outside of Burning Man, people will get their need for violence fixed through action movies and video game play; but at Burning Man, you not only have a chance to be part of the action but you can climb on to a large dome to watch it happen when others are fighting. In many ways, the presence of Thunder Dome helps to sub-due the need for violence that most people feel when frustrated.

Outside of the Thunder Dome there is very little violence, and as one person point out, there seems to be almost an excessive amount of love and happiness. In many ways, people seem to be compelled to be happy and excited all of the time. It could be argued that this is due to being on vacation but it is far more believable that the increased happiness comes from an environment that is encouraging of this behavior. This same sets of behavior is also found in American Culture in the form of the ‘be happy’ movements that started in the sixties and are still being forced on people to this day. In day to day life, most people are expected to be smiling and happy and if they are not, efforts are made to bring about this condition. One behavior that is often present is while people are walking down the streets, they will randomly yell “Woo Hoo” as if trying to encourage hyped up feeling and happy feelings.

Burning Man is an environment of emotional highs and lows. It is argued that the extreme highs and lows are because of the extremes of the environment, and while this might be true on the surface, the truth might fit more with the expectations of the environment. People are encourage to self-express their emotions with others, and recognize themselves; and this is exaggerated in the Burning Man environments.

#2: Community Involvement

America was built by smaller communities helping each other out and that is no different at Burning Man. The principle of “No Commerce” is in large part responsible for keeping the community support alive in a larger culture of purchase power. Interestingly enough, recent reports on the lower SES communities has shown that the power of the community is still very much alive in most of American culture and in many ways, Burning Man seeks to magnify these relationships. For many, survival in the harsh desert environment is about having a little help from friends and neighbors; and the community is heavily encourage to maintain these survival behaviors.

While there is increasing bemoaning of the loss of community, Burning Man actually shows that community does still exist and can thrive. The difference is where we are looking for people’s communities. Many people all over the country have communities, but they are not made up of their next door neighbors. Country clubs, churches, schools, local hang-outs and even online chat groups are the prime areas for finding communities. Burning Man is another place to develop communities and in many ways, is help to create national and international communities because the individual of a group are in fact scattered all over the world. For many Burners, it is the exaggerated community and sense of belonging that keeps them coming back year after year.

#3: Gender Roles

Gender roles and gender discrimination has been a hot topic on the news, in the government and in many areas of life for the better part of the last 40 years of American history. This issue has be focused on from many different angles including: sexual rights, reproductive rights, work place discrimination, affirmative actions, safety, violence, etc. Observations of interaction at Burning Man has shown that not only are gender role beliefs suppressed to a point of non-existence but there are environments in which people can work together and there is little to no bias based on their gender, sex or orientation. Burning Man is well known for being an environment that encourages people to look at skills, strength and weaknesses beyond the visual assessments. Unlike with the ‘be happy’ movement and community involvement, both magnified in the Burning Man culture, the gender roles is sub-consciously suppressed and has little influence, just as it is becoming in the larger American culture. It has been a slow process and there is more work to do, but Burning Man is leading the way into a less discriminating world.

#4: Drugs and Alcohol

One of the big concerns about Burning Man is the amount of drug and alcohol used there. While there are law enforcement officers at the event and they often ticket people for possession and use of illicit and illegal drugs, it does not change that there is a lot of it all out there. For some people, the start their drinking when they get there and might sober up enough to drive at the end of the week.

Many have complained that the excessive use is one of the variance items that makes Burning Man a sub-culture but that is also not true. Americans drink, and do drugs… a lot of them. In many ways, some of the foundations of American interactions are found in bars and parties, though not to the point of being drunk for a whole week. It is fairly common for a person to have a cocktail at the end of the day and for many, getting drunk on Saturday is the highlight of the week. For proof of how much Americans like their drugs and alcohol, watch television for a while or sit outside of a bar for a while.

Burning Man culture does not encourage people to drink too much, but it does nothing to stop them outside of asking people to be healthy and safe and when the person falls down, the community tries to get them to a safe place or a medical station. This is no different than would be found on the streets of any American city or town but at Burning Man it is magnified and larger.

#5: Sexuality

Much like with drugs and alcohol, Americans like sex and a lot of it. American culture has roots going back to the Age of Enlightenment, of which sex was believed to not only be something to embrace and enjoy, but also a fundamental right (the belief in the right has it’s own problems but that is for another paper). Evidence of the right to have sex is seen in the various different assaults and other sexual activities that have become increasingly public. Play parties, polygamous relationships, Viagra commercials and even sex therapy are points of evidence that Sex is seen as a right deserved by all willing and able people. In fact, sex is a very publicly private thing in American society, as could be seen in the ways in which American will show availability and public efforts to engage in sex.

And just like with drugs and alcohol, Burning Man culture does not stop people from seeking out what they think is their right to pursue, but instead asks people to be respectful of other’s rights and safety. The big difference between Burning Man and the rest of the America is that Burning Man takes the transparent world of sex and allows it to be see-through there. Many of the people in the culture treat sex as a fact of life and nature and so should be seen as an obvious fact of existence.


A first time attendant said to the author “Burning Man is not a vacation, but a survival experience.” This statement is very true and the culture of Burning Man has weathered it much in the same ways that the American culture has survive over time and through trials. Another person said that “Burning Man was a micro-cosmos of the development of America” and this is also a true statement. While Burning Man is reflecting the larger American culture it is also calling America what it is: an adapting, survivalist culture. Looking through the American history books and the media, one can see that Americans are invested in survival and when the world has gotten to easy to survive in, they will seek out another environment to survive in. Burning Man is surviving because of the facts of life (drugs and sex), shifting responsibility (gender roles or lack there-of), a little help from friends (community) and the ways of violence and happiness… and these are the same ways that America is adapting. The survival of America is not based in staying the same but instead adapting to the future and in many ways the magnifying glass and fun house mirror of Burning Man is showing the ways America is adapting, for good and for bad.

Authors Note: This document is wholly the opinions and thoughts of the author and has not sought or received approval from Burning Man LLC.