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Human infants are born without any culture. They must be transformed by their parents, teachers, and others into cultural and socially adept animals. The general process of acquiring culture is referred to as socialization . During socialization, we learn the language of the culture we are born into as well as the roles we are to play in life. For instance, girls learn how to be daughters, sisters, friends, wives, and mothers. In addition, they learn about the occupational roles that their society has in store for them. We also learn and usually adopt our culture's norms through the socialization process. Norms are the conceptions of appropriate and expected behavior that are held by most members of the society. While socialization refers to the general process of acquiring culture, anthropologists use the term enculturation for the process of being socialized to a particular culture. You were enculturated to your specific culture by your parents and the other people who raised you. Socialization is important in the process of personality formation. While much of human personality is the result of our genes, the socialization process can mold it in particular directions by encouraging specific beliefs and attitudes as well as selectively providing experiences. This very likely accounts for much of the difference between the common personality types in one society in comparison to another. For instance, the Semai tribesmen of the central Malay Peninsula of Malaysia typically are gentle people who do not like violent, aggressive individuals. In fact, they avoid them whenever possible. In contrast, the Yanomamö Indians on the border area between Venezuela and Brazil usually train their boys to be tough and aggressive. The ideal Yanomamö man does not shrink from violence and strong emotions. In fact, he seeks them out. Likewise, Shiite Muslim men of Iran are expected at times to publicly express their religious faith through the emotionally powerful act of self-inflicted pain.
Shiite Muslim men in Iran ritually beating themselves bloody with hands and chains as an act of religious faith commemorating the death of Imam Hussein in 680 a.d.
Successful socialization can result in uniformity within a society. If all children receive the same socialization, it is likely that they will share the same beliefs and expectations. This fact has been a strong motivation for national governments around the world to standardize education and make it compulsory for all children. Deciding what things will be taught and how they are taught is a powerful political tool for controlling people. Those who internalize the norms of society are less likely to break the law or to want radical standard school social changes. In all societies, however, there are curriculum to assure individuals who do not conform to culturally defined a broad acceptance standards of normalcy because they were "abnormally" of society's norms socialized, which is to say that they have not internalized the norms of society. These people are usually labeled by their society as deviant or even mentally ill. Large-scale societies, such as the United States, are usually composed of many ethnic groups. As a consequence, early socialization in different families often varies in techniques, goals, and expectations. Since these complex societies are not culturally homogenous, they do not have unanimous agreement about what should be the shared norms. Not surprisingly, this national ambiguity usually results in more tolerance of social deviancy--it is more acceptable to be different in appearance, personality, and actions in such large-scale societies.
How are Children Socialized?
Socialization is a learning process that begins shortly after birth. Early childhood is the period of the most intense and the most crucial socialization. It is then that we acquire language and learn the fundamentals of our culture. It is also when much of our personality takes shape. However, we continue to be socialized throughout our lives. As we age, we enter new statuses and need to learn the appropriate roles for them. We also have experiences that teach us lessons and potentially lead us to alter our expectations, beliefs, and
personality. For instance, the experience of being raped is likely to cause a woman to be distrustful of others. Looking around the world, we see that different cultures use different techniques to socialize their children. There are two broad types of teaching methods--formal and informal. Formal education is what primarily happens in a classroom. It usually is structured, controlled, and directed primarily by adult teachers who are professional "knowers." In contrast, informal education can occur anywhere. It involves imitation of what others do and say as well as experimentation and repetitive practice of basic skills. This is what happens when children role-play adult interactions in their games.
young men undergoing rigorously standardized formal education in a Buddhist monastery
older adults being informally socialized for their role as retired senior citizens
Most of the crucial early socialization throughout the world is done informally under the supervision of women and girls. Initially, mothers and their female relatives are primarily responsible for socialization. Later, when children enter the lower school grades, they are usually under the control of women teachers. In North America and some other industrialized nations, babysitters are most often teenage girls who live in the neighborhood. In other societies, they are likely to be older sisters or grandmothers.
North American mother informally socializing her daughter
baby in Bhutan under the care of an older sister
grandmother in North America helping to socialize her grandchild
During the early 1950's, John and Beatrice Whitiing led an extensive field study of early socialization practices in six different societies. They were the Gusii of Kenya, the Rajputs of India, the village of Taira on the island of Okinawa in Japan, the Tarong of the Philippines, the Mixteca Indians of central Mexico, and a New England community that was given the pseudonym Orchardtown. All of these societies shared in common the fact that they were relatively homogeneous culturally. Two general conclusions emerged from this study. First, socialization practices varied markedly from society to society. Second, the socialization practices were generally similar among people of the same society. This is not surprising since people from the same culture and community are likely to share core values and perceptions. In addition, we generally socialize our children in much the same way that our parents socialized us. The Whitings and their fellow researchers found that different methods were used to control children in these six societies. For instance, the Gusii primarily used fear and physical punishment. In contrast, the people of Taira used parental praise and the threat of withholding praise. The Tarong mainly relied on teasing and scaring.
Location of the societies in the 1950's cross-cultural study of child rearing practices
This cross-cultural study of socialization is provocative. Perhaps, you are now asking yourself what methods you would use to control the behavior of your children. Would you spank them or threaten to do so? Would you only use praise? Would you belittle or tease them for not behaving? Would you try to make your children independent and self-reliant or would you discourage it in favor of continuing dependence? At some time in our lives, most of us will be involved in raising children. Will you do it in the same way that you were
raised? Very likely you will because you were socialized that way. Abusive parents were, in most cases, abused by their parents. Likewise, gentle, indulgent parents were raised that way themselves. Is there a right or wrong way to socialize children? To a certain extent the answer depends on the frame of reference. What is right in one culture may be wrong in another. Even seemingly insignificant actions of parents can have major impacts on the socialization of their children. For instance, what would you do if your baby cried continuously but was not ill, hungry, or in need of a diaper change? Would you hold your baby, rock back and forth, walk around, or sing gently until the crying stopped, even if it took hours. The answer that you give very likely depends on your culture. The traditional Navaho Indian response usually was to remove the baby from social contact until the crying stopped. After making sure that the baby was not ill or in physical distress, he or she would be taken outside of the small single room house and left in a safe place until the crying stopped. Then the baby would be brought indoors again to join the family. Perhaps as a result, Navaho babies raised in this way are usually very quiet. They learn early that making noise causes them to be removed from social contact. In most North American families today, we would hold our baby in this situation until the crying stopped. The lesson that we inadvertently may be giving is that crying results in social contact. Is this wrong? Not necessarily, but it is a different socialization technique.
Children learn two broad categories of things during the socialization process. First, there are the common practices and institutions of a culture, including its language, style of dress, what is considered edible, the expected roles of mothers, fathers, teachers, etc. These things are relatively easy to observe by anthropologists and other outsiders visiting from a different society. The second thing acquired during socialization is a world-view. This is the
complex of motivations, perceptions, and beliefs that we internalize and that strongly affect how we interact with other people and things in nature. World-views are rarely verbalized by people, but they can be inferred by their actions. For instance, if you believe that most people are honest and will not cheat you, it is likely that you will be open and trusting of others. Most people are unable to describe their world-view beliefs because they remain in their mind as rather fuzzy assumptions about people, society, and existence in general. World-view is a set of feelings and basic attitudes about the world rather than clearly formulated opinions about it. These feelings and attitudes are mostly learned early in life and are not readily changed later. In small-scale societies, most people share essentially the same world-view because they are socialized in much the same way. In complex large-scale societies, however, there often is a large amount of variation in world-views. This is due to the fact that these societies often are culturally heterogeneous and have major differences in socialization practices.
Types of World-views
Much of the pioneer research into the nature of world-views was done in the early 1950's by Robert Redfield. He concluded that world-views in all societies make some of the same kinds of basic distinctions in categorizing and relating to things in the world and the cosmos. He said that world-views distinguish humans from everything that is "not human." The "not human" is in turn subdivided into the realms of nature and the supernatural (i.e., everything that is beyond nature). World-views differ in how these three realms are believed to be related. Most crucially, they differ in how they see humans in relationship to nature and the supernatural.
realms of existence to which world views relate in one way or another
These differences in how people relate to nature and the supernatural led Redfield to conclude that there are two principal kinds of world-views. He referred to them as "mythological" and "civilized." Today, they are more often referred to as "indigenous" and "metropolitan" .
Those who have an indigenous world-view believe that humans are not separate from nature and the supernatural. Living creatures and non-living objects in nature as well as supernatural beings are thought to be human-like in their motivations, feelings, and interactions. They all are perceived as "thous" rather than "its." Animals, trees, rocks, spirits, and gods all possess human characteristics and can be involved with humans and their everyday concerns much the same way as other people. Even "inanimate" things in nature, such as rocks, are thought to potentially have human-like personalities. In other words, there is not a separation of people, nature, and the spirit world. Rather, there is an emotional involvement between them. Things in all three of these realms of existence can interact together just as humans do with each other. Indigenous world-views are common in smallscale relatively isolated societies such as those of foragers, pastoralists, and horticulturalists. Those who have a metropolitan worldview maintain an emotional detachment between people and the realms of nature and the supernatural. Animals, trees, rocks and other things in nature are thought to be inanimate--they are "its" rather than "thous" and do not have human personalities. This separation of humanity Spanish ritual of human domination over nature emotionally from nature allows people to exploit it (metropolitan world-view trait) with little care for its well being. For instance, the course of a river may be changed or a hill leveled by bulldozers without being concerned about whether the "spirit" in these natural objects will be angered. The ruthless exploitation of nature is seen as something very different from interacting with people. In the Western World dominated by the metropolitan world-view, humans are the only beings believed to have souls. Subsequently, the crime of murder only applies to the killing of people. Metropolitan world-views also generally distance humans from the supernatural world. The gods live apart from people. They do not interact with us in a direct human way. It is not in the realm of possibilities that a god will come to earth, participate as a warrior in a battle or marry a human. Gods are generally seen as otiose deities . That is to say, they established the order of the universe in the distant past and are now remote from earthly activities and concerns. Redfield's distinction between indigenous and metropolitan world-views is insightful and serves as a starting point for understanding what world-views
are all about. However, world-views are involved in more than just the orientation of humans to nature and the supernatural. They also are concerned with core values. These are the fundamental values that provide the basis for social behavior in society. They are what people believe is desirable or offensive, appropriate or inappropriate, and correct or incorrect. Core values entail such things as a belief in the rightness of "one man, one vote" in political decision making or the conviction that we should live in harmony with nature rather than try to dominate it. They also include beliefs that may be more nebulous, such as the feeling that all people are basically good or that evil deeds will always be punished eventually. Core values can vary markedly from culture to culture.
What Are Your World-view Beliefs?
It may not be easy for you to say what your personal world-view beliefs are because you probably have not critically evaluated them. One way of doing that is to think about opposing beliefs and consider which way you come out on the issues. In order to begin this process of self-evaluation, think about the following polar opposite positions and decide which ones you feel most comfortable with. This will give you some insight into your own core values and world-view.
1. Do you believe that things are interrelated in complex ways and that there are degrees of difference? In contrast, do you see things in terms of sharp distinctions? To put it another way, are issues usually black and white for you or do you see them as having gray areas? For example, is lying to a friend always wrong? Are some lies less bad because they are intended to prevent your friend from feeling bad about something or being disillusioned? 2. Do you prefer things to be unchanging and stable? Do you like to do things the same traditional way every time? In contrast, do you prefer to do things in new ways, and do you enjoy having a changing and unpredictable life? For example, when you go out to dinner, do you like to go to the same restaurant every time and order the same sort of food or do you like to take a risk and try new restaurants and foods that are unknown to you?
3. Do you like to take unnecessary personal physical risks or are you content with the safe path through life? For example, do you enjoy rock climbing, surfing big waves, or other sports that inherently involve a high risk for your safety? Do you get bored when you are not looking forward to such risky activities? When mentally calculating the risk potential of an activity, you probably compare it subconsciously to your own personal internal anxiety-security scale. High risk activities move you in the direction of anxiety. Low risk ones move you toward security. At which end of this scale are you the happiest? Does security mean boredom for you or comfort? 4. Do you prefer competition or cooperation? For example, do you like games in which there are clear winners and losers or would you rather spend your time in non-competitive activities in which winning is not a goal? It is worth noting that businesses in the Western World run on the basis of competition with each other. The winners make more money and the losers go broke. Likewise, most of our sports are highly competitive. Baseball, football, soccer, and track events are designed to result in winners and losers. Are you comfortable with this?
World-view and the Perception of Time
One aspect of world-views that has an important impact on the way we live our lives and interact with each other is how we perceive and use time. Most people in the Western World today think of time as being fixed in nature. It is seen as something from which we cannot escape. Time for us has segments or compartments which are discrete and constant in duration. These time segments (seconds, minutes, hours, etc.) are arbitrary creations. They are not natural divisions in nature. We fix time slots for activities and usually work on them only within the bounds of these slots. When the time slot is over, we usually quit what we are doing, finished or not. Most office and factory workers work for a predetermined number of hours and minutes. When the time is up, they usually quit working and go home, whether their assigned task is completed or not. In contrast, people in some traditional Arab societies view the activity as being more important than the time period. They start at one point in time and go on until they are finished or interrupted.
Common Egyptian postage stamps with images of ancient Egyptian glory (indication of a strong national focus on the past rather than the present) Do you think that these North American office workers will continue working when quitting time comes? Why?
World-views also involve a focus on the past, present, or future. Most North Americans are strongly oriented toward the future. This is especially true of young adults. Their focus is usually the immediate foreseeable future of a few years. Most college students are willing to work toward degrees even though it often means that they must delay establishing a career, getting married, and having a family. They do this because they expect a future payoff. That future is most often viewed as being only a few years away. In contrast, the Chinese traditionally have focused on several generations in the future. As a result, people often work hard, sacrificing their lives, so that their family will be wealthy in their children's or grandchildren's generation. It will be interesting to see if this pattern of long term goal oriented sacrifice persists as China continues to rapidly embrace Western cultural influences. World-view orientations can also involve looking to the past as a more glorious utopian era. In Egypt, most of the postage stamps have images of ancient Egyptian rulers, buildings, and other artifacts from antiquity. This serves as a national reminder of the "great times" of Egypt in the past. Likewise, when former President Ronald Reagan talked about the importance of family values, he often referred to the time in America when he was growing up. The 1920's and 1930's were in a way a golden age for him.
An individual's personality is the complex of mental characteristics that makes them unique from other people. It includes all of the patterns of thought and emotions that cause us to do and say things in particular ways. At a basic level, personality is expressed through our temperament or emotional tone. However, personality also colors our values, beliefs, and expectations. There are many potential factors that are involved in shaping a personality. These factors are usually seen as coming from heredity and the environment. Research by psychologists over the last several decades has increasingly pointed to hereditary factors being more important, especially for basic personality traits such as emotional tone. However, the acquisition of values, beliefs, and expectations seem to be due more to socialization and unique experiences, especially during childhood.
an exuberant emotional tone
Some hereditary factors that contribute to personality development do so as a result of interactions with the particular social environment in which people live. For instance, your genetically inherited physical and mental capabilities have an impact on how others see you and, subsequently, how you see yourself. If you have poor motor skills that prevent you from throwing a ball straight and if you regularly get bad grades in school, you will very likely be labeled by your teachers, friends, and relatives as someone who is inadequate or a failure to some degree. This can become a self-fulfilling prophesy as you increasingly perceive yourself in this way and become more pessimistic about your capabilities and your future. Likewise, your health and physical appearance are likely to be very important in your personality development. You may be frail or robust. You may have a learning disability. You may be slender in a culture that considers obesity attractive or vice versa. These largely hereditary factors are likely to cause you to feel that you are nice-looking, ugly, or just adequate. Likewise, skin color, gender, and sexual orientation are likely to have a major impact on how you perceive yourself. Whether you are accepted by others as being normal or abnormal can lead you to think and act in a socially acceptable or marginal and even deviant way.
culturally deviant hair style chosen by these North American women to mark their socially marginal lifestyle
There are many potential environmental influences that help to shape personality. Child rearing practices are especially critical. In the dominant culture of North America, children are usually raised in ways that encourage them to become self-reliant and independent. Children are often allowed to act somewhat like equals to their parents. For instance, they are included in making decisions about what type of food and entertainment the family will have on a night out. Children are given allowances and small jobs around the house to teach them how to be responsible for themselves. In contrast, children in China are usually encouraged to think and act as a member of their family and to suppress their own wishes when they are in conflict with the needs of the family. Independence and self-reliance are viewed as an indication of family failure and are discouraged. It is not surprising that Chinese children traditionally have not been allowed to act as equals to their parents. Despite significant differences in child rearing practices around the world, there are some similarities. Boys and girls are socialized differently to some extent in all societies. They receive different messages from their parents and other adults as to what is appropriate for them to do in life. They are encouraged to prepare for their future in jobs fitting their gender. Boys are more often allowed freedom to experiment and to participate in physically risky activities. Girls are encouraged to learn how to do domestic tasks and to participate in child rearing by baby-sitting. If children do not follow these traditional paths, they are often labeled as marginal or even deviant. Girls may be called "tomboys" and boys may be ridiculed for not being sufficiently masculine.
risky activities which until the late 20th century were allowed only for males in most societies
There are always unique situations and interpersonal events that help to shape our personalities. Such things as having alcoholic parents, being seriously injured in a car accident, or being raped can leave mental scars that make us fearful and less trusting. If you are an only child, you don't have to learn how to compromise as much as children who have several siblings. Chance meetings and actions may have a major impact on the rest of our lives and affect our personalities. For instance, being accepted for admission to a prestigious university or being in the right place at the right time to meet the person who will become your spouse or life partner can significantly alter the course of the rest of your life. Similarly, being drafted into the military during wartime, learning that you were adopted, or personally witnessing a tragic event, such as the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York, can change your basic perspective.
Are there Personality Types?
We often share personality traits with others, especially members of our own family and community. This is probably due largely to being socialized in much the same way. It is normal for us to acquire personality traits as a result of enculturation. Most people adopt the traditions, rules, manners, and biases of their culture. Given this fact, it is not surprising that some researchers have claimed that there are common national personality types, especially in the more culturally homogenous societies. During the 1940's, a number of leading anthropologists and psychologists argued that there are distinct Japanese and German personalities that led these two nations to view other countries as trying to destroy them. The concept of national personality types primarily had its origins in anthropology with the research of Ruth Benedict beginning in the 1920's. She believed that personality was almost entirely learned. She said that normal people acquire a distinct ethos, or culturally specific personality pattern, during the process of being enculturated as children. Benedict went on to say that our cultural personality patterns are assumed to be "natural" by us and other personality patterns are viewed as being "unnatural" and deviant. She said that such feelings are characteristic of all people in all cultures because we are ethnocentric. Benedict compared the typical personalities of the 19th century North American Plains Indians with those of the farming Pueblo
Indians of the Southwest. She said that the bison hunting Plains Indians had personalities that could be typified as being aggressive, prone to violence, and seeking extreme emotional states. In contrast, she said that the typical Pueblo Indian was just the opposite--peaceful, non-aggressive, and sober in personality.
Benedict's views were especially popular in the 1930's among early feminists such as her student Margaret Mead. This was because if personality is entirely learned, it means that feminine and masculine personality traits are not biologically hard-wired in. In other words, culture rather than genes, makes women nurturing towards children and passive in response to men. Likewise, culture makes men aggressive and domineering. If this is true, these stereotypical behaviors can be altered and even reversed. Polynesian woman Mead carried out ethnographic field work among the Polynesian and Melanesian peoples of the South Pacific to find examples of societies in which femininity and masculinity have very different and even opposite characteristics from those found in the Western World. She began her research in Samoa in 1925 where she discovered a relaxed adolescence in which sex is talked about freely by boys and girls rather than hidden or suppressed.
NOTE: In 1983, J. Derick Freeman argued that Margaret Mead was wrong in her assertion about a relaxed Samoan adolescence in regards to sexuality. He described Samoan society as being comparatively puritanical as a result of Christian missionary influences. Other researchers have countered by saying that Freeman did most of his fieldwork a generation after Mead and that Samoan society may have changed in that time.
Most anthropologists today believe that Benedict and her students went too far in their assertions about the influence of culture on personality formation and in discounting heredity. They also tended to over simplify by defining people who did not share all of the traits of the "national personality type" as being deviants. It is more accurate to see the members of a society as having a range of personality types. What Benedict was describing was actually the modal personality . This is the most common personality type within a society. In reality, there is usually a range of normal personality types within each society. In the early 1950's, David Riesman proposed that there are three common types of modal personality that occur around the world. He called them tradition oriented, inner-directed, and other directed personalities. The tradition-oriented personality is one that places a strong emphasis on doing things the same way that they have always been done. Individuals with this sort of personality are less likely to try new things and to seek new experiences. Those who have inner-directed personalities are guilt oriented. That is to say, their behavior is strongly controlled by their conscience. As a result, there is little need for police to make sure that they obey the law. These individuals monitor themselves. If they break the law, they are likely to turn themselves in for punishment. In contrast, people with other-directed personalities have more ambiguous feelings about right and wrong. When they deviate from a societal norm, they usually don't feel guilty. However, if they are caught in the act or exposed publicly, they are likely to feel shame. Advocates of Riesman's concept of three modal personalities suggest that the tradition-oriented personality is most common in small-scale societies and in some sub-cultures of large-scale ones. Inner-directed personalities are said to be more common in some large-scale societies, especially ones that are culturally homogenous. In contrast, the other-directed personality is likely to be found in culturally diverse large-scale societies in which there is not a uniformity in socialization processes and there is considerable anonymity for city dwellers. While Riesman's analysis of personalities was insightful, critics have pointed out that individuals may have characteristics of all three of his identified modal types. For instance, most North Americans probably do not feel guilty about exceeding speed limits when they are driving on freeways, however, they would feel very guilty hitting someone with their car and would likely call the police. In other words, for some infractions of the law they are other-directed
(or shame-controlled), and for others they are inner-directed (or guiltcontrolled). Likewise, many people like to do some things in the same way every day but seek new experiences in other areas of their lives. You may like to wear the same style of clothes and spend your leisure time at the same place with your friends most days. However, you may easily get bored eating the same kinds of food every day and regularly try new restaurants when you go out to eat. In other words, you are tradition-oriented for some things but not others.
Rites of Passage
People throughout the world have heightened emotions during times of major life changes. These stressful changes may be physiological or social in nature. They are usually connected with personal transitions between important stages that occur during our lives. These transitions are generally emotionally charged--they are life crises. Most cultures consider the important transitions to be birth, the onset of puberty, marriage, life threatening illness or injury, and finally death. Graduation from school, divorce, and retirement at the end of a work life are also major transitions in modern large-scale societies. During the early 20th century, the Belgian anthropologist, Arnold Van Gennep, observed that all cultures have prescribed ways for an individual and society to deal with these emotion charged situations. They have ritual ceremonies intended to mark the transition from one phase of life to another. Van Gennep called these ceremoniesrites of passage . In North America today, typical rites of passage are baptisms, bar mitzvahs and confirmations, school graduation ceremonies, weddings, retirement parties, and funerals. These intentionally ritualized ceremonies help the individuals making the transition, as well their relatives and friends, pass through an emotionally charged, tense time. Most rites of passage are religious ceremonies. They not only mark the transition between an individual's life stages but they reinforce the dominant religious views and values of a culture. In other words, they reinforce the world-view.
Marriage is an important rite of passage in all cultures. Note the military symbolism and ritual acts of this formal religious wedding in Canada.
Rites of passage in many cultures are used to mark the socially recognized transition to sexual maturity. Among some of the indigenous societies of Africa and Australia, intentionally painful genital surgery has been an integral part of such rites of passage. For boys, this usually involves circumcision and/or subincision . Circumcision is removing all or part of the foreskin of the penis, usually with a knife. Subincision is cutting into the side of the penis or making a hole entirely through it. For girls, genital surgery connected with rites of passage usually involves clitoridectomy (or "female circumcision") and/or infibulation . Clitoridectomy is cutting off all or part of the clitoris and sometimes all or part of the labia. Infibulation is partially closing off the opening to the vagina by sewing, pinning, or clamping part of the vulva. Many Native American societies publicly celebrated a girl's first menses. For instance, the parents of girls among the Luiseño Indians of Southern California proudly announced to the community that their daughters were beginning to menstruate and becoming women. The girls were partly buried in heated sand at this time. They were not permitted to scratch themselves or eat salt, and they were given instructions by older women about the physiological changes that were occurring and how to behave as a woman and wife. For most North American girls today, public announcements that they had begun menstruating would be considered humiliating. However, it was a matter of personal and family pride in many Native American cultures. While boys do not experience such clear physiological markers of transition to adulthood as menstruation, their rites of passage to this new status in some cultures are more severe than for girls. Among the cattle herding Barabaig culture of East Africa, the boys' heads are shaved and their foreheads are cut with three deep horizontal incisions that go down to the bone and extend from ear to ear. This scarification leaves permanent scars that identify a male as having received "gar." Sometimes, the incisions are deep enough to show up on the skulls. Among the Luiseño Indians, boys had to undergo severe ordeals such as laying on red ant mounds and not crying out from pain as they were repeatedly bitten over long periods of time. They were also
given toloache , a powerful hallucinogenic drug that made them ill and apparently sometimes caused their death. Among some Australian Aborigine societies, a boy being initiated was expected to repeatedly hit his penis with a heavy rock until it was bruised and bloody. He also had several of his incisor teeth knocked out with a sharp rock by the adult men who were instructing him in the duties and obligations of manhood and the secrets of their religion. All of these rite of passage rituals were intended to be painful in order to increase the importance of the transition to adulthood.
NOTE: Over the last several decades, major women's rights organizations in the Western World have focused attention on eliminating clitoridectomy and infibulation in Africa, the Near East, and among immigrants from those areas. In order to demonize these cultural practices, they refer to them as "genital mutilation" and usually insist that it is violence against women done as part of the male repression and control of women. The latter assertion fits Moslem dominated countries more than the non-Moslem sub-Saharan African societies that follow these practices. The reality in many non-Moslem African societies is that the surgery is performed by older women and is an integral part of the initiation of girls into the world of women. Men usually are not allowed to be involved in anyway. Continued political pressure from the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and other groups has resulted in many Western governments and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopting as an important goal the global repression of clitoridectomy and infibulation. Some indigenous African women's organizations have responded angrily. Most notably, a Masai Tribal women's group from Kenya has accused European and North American women of practicing cultural imperialism. In a sense, they are saying that Westerners need to get beyond their ethnocentrism to see the importance of clitoridectomy and infibulation for women in the societies that do it. They say that these practices are crucial parts of their cultures and that they do not want to give them up. Some other women's groups in Kenya are opposed to the continuation of clitoredectomy but often resent the "interference" of European and North American based organizations in their culture. There are now also the beginnings of organized movements in North America and Europe aiming to stop the routine surgical circumcision of male babies and episiotomy of women during childbirth. For more information and views on all of these issues, go to the Related Internet Sitessection of this tutorial.