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Anthropological Tourists

Anthropological Tourists

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Mead & the Young Sex Mavens
Mead & the Young Sex Mavens

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Published by: Judith Gelernter Reisman, Ph.D. on Dec 06, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/27/2013

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38 SALVO Issue 15
B
ack in the Roaring Twenties,
Columbia University’sFranz Boas (1858–1942), the “ather o Americananthropology,” was maneuvering to break what hecalled the “shackles that tradition has laid upon us.”To that end, Boas supported the “feld work” o young an-thropology students, including Margaret Mead, who set outto prove what Boas wanted her to prove: that happy primitivepeople had better sex, younger, than uptight Westerners.
Anthropological
Tourists
Mead & the Young Sex Mavens
 attacking an anthropological icon.But Freeman persevered, and in1999 published
The Fateful Hoax-ing of Margaret Mead,
in whichhe retraced Mead’s brie time onthe islands o Manu’a in the mid-1920s and revealed her eldworkas an anthropological antasy de-signed to conrm the theories oher mentors, Franz Boas and RuthBenedict.Mead had interviewed, atbest, 68 girls through an inter-preter, as she knew little Samoan.Freeman, who learned the lan-guage well, ound that Samoanscustomarily joke and infate talk osexual behavior. On one particularoccasion, in answer to Mead’s sug-gestive questions, two
Christian
Samoan young women laughinglysaid they had wild, uninhibited,and promiscuous sex. Mead tooktheir acetious answers seriously,and used them as the basis or herdepiction o their island as a para-dise o ree sex with no jealousyand no rape. But Freeman oundthat jealousy and rape were notuncommon and that a girl’s virgin-ity was critical or marriage.Even ater the publicationo
Hoaxing,
many reused to ac-cept Freeman’s ndings and stillteach Mead’s bad research today.Yet Freeman’s obituary (he diedin 2001) in the
New York Times
 acknowledged: “His challengewas initially greeted with disbe-lie or anger, but gradually wonwide—although not complete—acceptance.”
Ford & Beach
Margaret Mead was not the onlysource o suspect ndings thatmade their way into mainstreamanthropology, and rom thereinto American society ater WorldWar II. Drs. Clellan Ford and FrankBeach were, like Boas and Mead,determined to rid the world oWestern sexual mores.Ford, who took his Ph.D. romYale in sociology and later taughtthere, lived on the Fiji islands or
COLUMN
p
//Hazmats_with Judith Reisman/
In 1925, the 23-year-old Mead,recently married to the rst o herthree husbands, went to Samoa,stayed or less than a year, andreturned to the U.S. claiming thatSamoan society was an “uninhib-ited,” ree-sex society with no jealousy, no rape, and great sex.On the basis o this exploit, she gother Ph.D. and eventually becameone o the most celebrated o allanthropologists.Mead described her sexual par-adise in
Coming of Age in Samoa
 (1928),
 
a book that caught theattention o a young New Zealand-born anthropologist, Derek Free-man. Expecting to nd the sexualutopia Mead had depicted, hewent to Samoa in 1940 and livedthere or three years, studying andworking as a schoolteacher.
No Paradise
To his considerable disappoint-ment, Freeman (later a proessorat the Australian National Univer-sity) ound that Mead was wrong.Ater years o doing his own eldresearch, he published
Margaret Mead and Samoa
:
The Makingand Unmaking of an Anthropo-logical Myth
in 1983. In the pre-ace he
 
admits:In my early work I had, inmy unquestioning accep-tance o Mead’s writings,tended to dismiss all evi-dence that ran counter toher ndings. By the end o1942, however, it had be-come apparent to me thatmuch o what she hadwritten about the inhabit-ants o Manu’a in easternSamoa did not apply tothe people o western Sa-moa. . . . Many educatedSamoans . . . had becomeamiliar with Mead’swritings about their cul-ture . . . [and] entreatedme, as an anthropologist,to correct her mistakendepiction o the Samoanethos.A erce storm erupted whenHarvard University Press publishedthe book, which many saw as

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