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(Clifford Geertz)"Life without fathers or husbands"

"Life without fathers or husbands by Clifford Geertz describes the Na tribal society in
Southern China that has completely different structure than any other group. The Na group
concerns a matrilineal, in this culture descent the children are claimed to be the fruits of their
mothers looms and join their mothers group .Children are considered relatives of their mothers
but not of their fathers .There is a lot of sexual interaction between those who are "unrelated"
This prevent incest from occurring in the society as the society defines it. Geertz stated" There is
no marriage. So both men and women can have as many patrons as they want .Sexual intercourse
occurred through last night "visit" from men and the purpose of sex is to procreate .Women dont
go for sex because she may be scorned for breaking rules set by their God.

As early as 1656, the Manchurian Qing, troubled by succession problems among


barbarian tribes, decreed that the chiefs of such tribes, including the Na, must marry in the
standard way (81). The Na was forced to conform to the ideas of another culture resulting to
Cultural Assimilation Those in the higher social classes, with property to maintain, married to
protect their possessions and status. Those with nothing to lose continued to engage in
depraved, backward (81) sex. As a result, 50% of adults have syphilis and many women are
sterile. Later on, rules implemented by the government (such as, forcing women to marry the
genitors of their children) proved ruinous (82) for the Na. The government later shifted its
emphasis on educating the Na, rather than punishing them. The Na was forced to conform to the
rules of another culture. This change brought "Cultural Revolution" that robbed Na of their
culture and forced them to ascribe to what was considered normal. Although the Na had, to me,
unconventional ways, the loss of a culture is sad. Geertzs chapter was a specific, extended
example that was balanced. It explained the Na society and remained considerably neutral. It
mentioned the dangers of such free sex. In America, I associate open sex with diseases and I
know multiple partners are dangerous however when reading about the Na, I was left with
curiosity and unanswered questions but I enjoyed there openness and how their culture
functioned differently from mine. Apparently Geertz brought to light the concept of cultural
assimilation and revolution vividly.