Something to be Learned From Everyone Essay
The Nambikwara tribe has a very different societal structure compared to our own. The leader of the tribe is a chief, who is hand-picked by the chief before him. Once a man is chosen to be chief there is no rule that states that the man must accept, and a lot of times the chosen man will refuse.
In this case the acting chief will need to choose another successor. The tribe’s chief is expected to have certain characteristics and has certain responsibilities that he must follow. In return for fulfilling all of his obligations the chief is allowed to have more than one wife.Polygamy and homosexuality are common among the Nambikwara tribe, and although their tolerances of these lifestyles are commendable, I don’t think that they are a reasonable model for our culture to follow. Although the entire Nambikwara tribe is not polygamist, it is interesting that they seem to be very tolerant of polygamy. The only polygamist in the tribe is the chief. His first wife has the traditional role of a wife, as we would see it in a stereotypical marriage in our own culture.
His other wives are chosen from the tribe, and are considered the most attractive and healthy young women in the tribe.Their role in the marriage is not traditional at all, and Levi-Strauss says, “They are, indeed, more mistresses than wives…” (Par. 10). The privileges of this type of polygamist relationship are obvious. The chief is able to have a sexual relationship with as many young beautiful women as he wants, but also maintain a “traditional” marriage with his first wife. What has always been interesting to me is in polygamist relationship in our society, the wives have always claimed to never have issues with jealousy.Levi-Strauss reports, “The wives generally live together in harmony, and, although the lot of the first wife may seem thankless, she seems to feel, or at any rate to show, no bitterness as she toils away while her husband and his little playmates amuse themselves…”(Par. 11).
Even though there is a clear cultural difference between the polygamist that live in our own society and the polygamists that live in the Nambikwara tribe it seems that the women feel the same about issues of jealously. The polygamist marriage of the chief affects the entire tribe. The chief reates disequilibrium between the number young men and women in the tribe. The young men must either remain single until they are older or marry older women who have most likely been married before, their options are very limited (Par. 12). I imagine that this disequilibrium creates a lot of problems in the tribe, the main being reproduction. Do the ages of the male and female members of the tribes create problems when they are trying to reproduce? Women have a smaller window to reproduce and if the young healthy women are being married off to the chief, I wonder if this plays a part in the rest of the tribe’s ability to reproduce.
It is also interesting that the men in the tribe seem to have no real issues with the fact they have limited choices of women. I find it hard to believe that the men in our own culture would be so passive to this notion. The young men of the Nambikwara tribe often turn to homosexual relationships to release their sexual tension. These homosexual relationships are very different from the ones that we know in our own society.
To begin with, these relations are usually only among the adolescent boys. There is no underlying shame or embarrassment that comes with these relationships and the tribe perceives it as completely normal and innocent. Homosexual relations are only allowed between adolescent boys who stand to one another in the relations of crossed cousins cases, that is to say, in which one partner would normally marry the other’s sister and is taking her brother as a provisional substitute” (Par.
13). When Levi-Strauss asked another member about these relations they all answered with the following, “They are two cousins who make love together” (Par. 14). I believe that if there were limited amounts of females in our society there would be a percentage of the male population that would also turn to homosexuality.
It would become a natural development in our society as it has become for the Nambikwara society. One might say that this would never happen in our society, men or women would never turn to homosexuality because they had lack of options. But I disagree. There is a well-known scientist named Alfred Kinsey. Kinsey created what is called the Heterosexual/Homosexual rating scale.
Basically Kinsey believed that humans are not just heterosexual or homosexual. There is a scale, on one side there is extremely heterosexual and on the other side there is extremely omosexual. After years of research and interviews he found that most people are neither extremely heterosexual nor extremely homosexual, their sexuality lies somewhere in between on the spectrum.
I think that if we lived in a society where the opposite sex was limited some people would turn to homosexuality in order to release their sexual tension. Another reason I believe that people would turn to homosexuality if there was a lack of options for their desired sex is the known sexual interactions of incarcerated men and women in prisons.Heterosexual men and women often turn to homosexuality in these facilities, not because they considered themselves homosexual but because they have a lack of options and need a way to release their sexual desires with another person. Humans are sexual beings, and sex and intimacy are a part of living a healthy life. I don’t think that our particular culture will never be able to follow the Nambikwara tribe.
Our culture in the United States is based on hard-work, individualism, and equality and the Nambikwara tribe have different values.I think that we could definitely learn and benefit from their tolerance of these lifestyles but to me it seems like both polygamy and homosexuality are forced in this culture. The young women are married off and “playmates” for the chief and the young men have limited options for women their own age and turn to homosexual relations. Men and women in our society are very independent and strong. We are always fighting for equality, and what we believe in. The Nambikwara tribe seem to go with life as it is put in front of them, something I can never imagine the people in our culture doing.