Gender, Kinship and Marriage

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Gender, Kinship and Marriage

According to Kottak, Kinship or Kin groups are “social units whose members can be identified and whose residence patterns and activities can be observed”. A good example of this is a nuclear family which is the most prominent in state societies as well as foraging bands which we discussed previously.

Gender (which I based) several questions on is defined by Kottak as “the cultural construction of sexual difference”. What Kottak is referring to be “sexual difference” is the biological difference between men and women due to things such as X and Y chromosomes and hormones which give men and women different physical features. As Kottak points out on page 456, “Sex differences are biological, but gender encompasses all the traits that a culture assigns to and inculates in males and females”. He goes on to say that gender is a cultural construction. This is similar to race and ethnicity. Often when people are talking about race they are actually talking about ethnicity just as when someone is talking about ‘gender’ they may actually be referring to sex differences.

And finally, on to the topic of marriage. Marriage, Kottak says, is difficult to define. Kottak refers to marriage as mostly in legalities. He says marriage usually involves a domestic partnership and “establishes the legal parentage of children and gives spouses rights to each other’s sexuality, labor and property. In my Anthropological study I focused on several elements of marriage/relationships and also gender.

Non-religious and non-traditional women would be more lenient in their answers (e.g. in terms of controversial questions such as inter racial and gay relationships) than men, and actively religious men or women. I also believed going into this study that perhaps some men still think of women as inferior to men or believe that a woman’s place is in the household, if you will. In addition, I considered that some females (despite the fact they are in school) may have notions of patriarchy and males supporting them. I was also wondering if ethnicity or marital status would factor in to any of the answers that I asked so I made sure to get a diverse group of people. Some people I talked to were married, some were not, some were faculty, some were students, some where black, some were white, etc. I asked slightly different questions to men and women.

For men I asked the following questions:
Do you think women should have the same rights as men, namely in the workforce? Is it more appropriate for the man in a relationship to be the provider of the household? How do you feel about inter racial relationships?

What is your stance on gay marriage and should it be legal? Are you in a relationship currently?

For women I asked:
Currently or in the future, would you like to focus on a career or a family? Do you feel more comfortable with the male in your relationship being the breadwinner of the household? Does it matter?

And the last three questions are the same:
How do you feel about inter racial relationships?
What is your stance on gay marriage and should it be legal? Are you in a relationship currently?

Research methods:
I picked out 15 women and 16 men from the campus at our school: U of M Dearborn to fill out questionnaire’s and ask follow up questions. Several of the men and women I talked to were staff members and one man I spoke with did not attend U of M but was listening in on a race seminar. Ages ranged from 20-55 and ethnicities varied. Most of the participants were Caucasian, however, I also interviewed: 1 Arabic male and 4 Arabic females, 1 man from China, 2 black men, one man from the UK, 2 Hispanic men and 1 Hispanic female, 1 German man and 1 Hispanic-Native American girl who was in a relationship with a black man I also interviewed.

I interviewed a total of 7 faculty members, 2 of them...
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