What Women Want-What Men Want: Why the Sexes Still See Love and Commitment So Differently

By John Marshall Townsend | Go to book overview

Conclusion Coping with Sex Differences and Cultural Change

In the theoretical background, as opposed to the descriptive and normative content of this book, I would, if I were writing it today, lay more emphasis on man's specific biological inheritance from earlier human forms and also on parallels between Homo sapiens and other than mammalian species. I believe I underestimated the fruitfulness of comparisons between human beings and birds, for example, where the importance of vision, the requirements of shelter, and two parents for the care of the young provide more than a pretty figure of speech for explaining the facts of life to children.

-- Margaret Mead, Male and Female

The two chamberlains, who were to carry the train, stooped down with their hands toward the floor, just as if they were picking up the mantle; then they pretended to be holding something in the air. They did not dare to let it be noticed that they saw nothing. So the Emperor went in procession under the rich canopy and every one in the streets said, "How incomparable are the Emperor's new clothes! what a train he has to his mantle! how it fits him!" No one would let it be percieved that he could see nothing, for that would have shown that he was not fit for his office, or was very stupid. No clothes of the Emperor's had ever had such a success as these.

-- Hans Christian Anderson, The Emperor's New Clothes

ALTHOUGH A FEW CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGISTS have sought to isolate a core of cross-cultural universals they could call "human nature," by and large, they have emphasized how much human behavior varies in different societies. 1 Cultural differences are the anthropologist's stock and trade. After all, if people were the same everywhere, there would be no need to travel to exotic lands to study them. A study right in one's own backyard could deliver the same information. Anthropologists have thus been inclined to look for the exotic and to gloss over or ignore the familiar. This bias is particularly apparent in the study of sex differences. In the pages to follow, we will see

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