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Author Topic: The Surrendered Wife
Luny
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So I've been spending a lot of time at my local library recently and I came across a book by this title. It was listed in the submission section of the catalog and as I am currently working on a novel about BDSM I decided to pick up a copy.

Much to my dismay, I found that not only does the book have nothing to do with BDSM but its actually a self-help book for women. I know you're thinking to yourself, "yeah okay what's the big deal?" After reading the first half of the book it turns out that what the author means by surrendered is that a wife should respect her husband and in doing so not point out his faults, not say a contrary word about or to him, not order him about, allow him to handle the finances and basically just keep your mouth shut. She even goes as far as saying that if you don't currently respect your spouse (or feel that the above is appropriate) that you should pretend and it will eventually come to you.

So my question is, do mean really want subservience from their wives? I thought that the point of marriage was to share your lives with each other. Doesn't that include honesty and tackling family responsibilities/problems together, or at least an equal divisions of labor(duties)? I cannot understand how lying to oneself and their partner can be advocated a a means to save your marriage. Can someone enlighten me?


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Everard
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Well, I SUPPOSE there are men out there who like that.

Personally, I'd say they are all jerks. But thats just me.


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Baldar
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Does Christianity speak of surrender of one's self? Is it to be condemned too?

Just as a side note, my wife and I have a shared partnership in our family. We have different responsibilities and mandates (which we discuss) but much like a CFO and CEO we are coequal in the decision making, both management and financial.


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Baldar
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I suppose I would wonder under what context the title was written.
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Falken224
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Actually . . . I've heard about that book in several places. Supposedly, for some relationships, the concept has been a miracle worker.

And yes, it is in line with what most people would agree are some of the 'biblical' guidelines.

However, the people I saw who actually did what was in the book and had it succeed, had a better marriage NOT because the wife was submissive, it was because the wife quit being controlling.

AHA! Perhaps we're on to something. I think that when both partners surrender the need to CONTROL the relationship, it's better. Suddenly there's no threat, communication flourishes and everybody's happy.

In marriages where the woman is the one who is excessively controlling, and the man is submissive, when that dynamic is suddenly and WILLINGLY altered, it makes a big difference.

But the solution in this book is NOT a panacea as the author would have you believe. In the case of my wife and I, we kind of went the OTHER direction. She finally said 'quit being so complacent and get off your ass and make a decision.' I said 'I would if you wouldn't always criticize the decisions I make.' So, after a long talk (or 2 or 3 . . . dozen) and a few communication classes, we're somewhere in the middle. I started taking some initiative in areas besides breadwinning and she quit insisting I 'do it her way.'

But . . . she is nowhere NEAR submissive. Furthermore, I don't think I'd like her as much if she was . . . life would be boring.

-Nate

[This message has been edited by Falken224 (edited September 27, 2002).]


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Luny
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That's is almost exactly what my husband said. He agrees that the author has some decent ideas but she takes her implementation too far (why does that sound familiar? )

She I believe based the title on the idea of implicit trust in one s husband, no matter how badly they screw up. She implies that none of these screw ups are permanent nor life threatening so a wife shouldn't worry about them. What, I'm supposed to just sit back and allow the utilities to be shut off and for us to be evicted an such and still not say anything? That's a load of crap.


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Tom Grey - Tigger
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"I solve the global problems: reducing poverty, hunger, unemployment in the world.
She makes the local ones: what she, and the kids, and too often I, wear; where we live; most furniture; what we eat of what we have (since I do the shopping most days on my way home from work). Of course I am capable and willing to make all the decisions, but if she's around, I'm not happy deciding and having her unhappy and/or changing the decision and complaining. (Like Nate, I expect).

I suspect this is a bigger issue with women who have more children, since they need the habit of firm opinions to get through the constant child resistance.

I am not one of the quiet husbands, and I want to share my life with my wife, and she with me (Men from Mars, Women from Venus helpful). But some of my quiet friends might well benefit from their wives at least understanding the idea of allowing him to get his way on more of the less important decisions to be made.


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Grant Morgan
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I think a successful marriage requires a "surrendered wife". And a surrendered husband.

Both partners have to be willing to respect the other, not point out the other's faults, not say a contrary word about the other (I don't know so much about not saying a contrary word *to* the other) and not order the other about. As to who keeps the finances--that seems largely irrelevant.


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Kentuckian
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I have a very good friend who subscribes to this philosophy. She's a devastatingly intelligent and compotent human being whose opinions her husband cherishes. However, based on her reading of biblical mandates, his word is ultimately law and she must be completely submissive.

I find this a mind-boggling arrangement. My wife and I try to live in complete partnership, and I don't think I'd want it any other way.


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Tom Grey - Tigger
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Kent, does this mean you do the laundry half the time, cooking half, cleaning half; or have you divided the work some so you have some house jobs you mostly do, she has some she mostly does?

And is it fair? I know I only do about 20-30% around our house (clean up the kitchen, half put the kids to bed). This has been, and is, a big feminist complaint about men, in general; and even an occassional comment by my wife about me.

But she's not subservient. Not at all (both a medical doctor, and PhD research, now an assoc. professor).

Grant, I agree that not too much pointing out faults. But I think women, in particular, need to be able to "complain" about the tough life they have, and feel heard, and appreciated. And then they can go on. Men more often want to "fix things". And even feel that a women's communication of her troubles, which might be a complaint but might not, too often sounds like complaining; since the "fix" is the man doing more housework, which he's not so willing to do.

But the mutual respect is very important.

[This message has been edited by Tigger (edited October 06, 2002).]


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msquared
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Mrs. msquared has some comments to make so I am handing the soapbox over to her. Take it away Mrs. msquared.

As far as I'm concerned, the surrender issue has little to do with who does the housework or writes the checks or earns the money - the point is how decisions are made and directions set within the marriage, and how the marriage partners treat each other. I too feel that surrender on the part of both partners is a good place to start.

Looks like it boils down to how "adult" each partner's behavior is - constant criticism is a junior high thing; not paying bills is not terribly responsible, nor is charging what you can't really afford; and sitting in the recliner with the remote or on the couch with the chocolate and the romance novel while the other partner does the housework (forgive the stereotypes) shows real disrespect for that partner.

If you care about your partner, you're going to think twice about doing that to them. And for the same reason you're going to include them in decisions and respect their deeply-held beliefs. Doesn't always make holding your tongue, getting off your butt or reaching a mutual decision easy. In my opinion, that may be one of the draws of The Surrendered Wife - when one partner surrenders, it circumvents tough and sometimes painful discussions, not to mention the possibility that the marriage might run into an issue with the potential to destroy it.

msquared back. Dinner just came out of the oven so Mrs. msquared had to go eat. Thank you Mrs. msquared.


msquared

[This message has been edited by msquared (edited October 06, 2002).]


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Denelian
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i've avoided this topic because the idea of "surrendering" goes against my grain.

but there was this (failed) technic i tried when i was married. my ex WOULD NOT DO ANY HOSUEWORK. and we had multiple housemates who also would not do any housework. and visitors making HUGES messes (gaming gets messy, what with miniatures and books and cheetos) and i was doing it all.

i went i strike.

i stayed on strike until michael did work. which was effectivly until we got divorced <G>

thats not WHY we got divorced (it may have played a part. he wouldn't listen originally when i asked him to clean stuff up, so i quit talking. that happened with EVERYTHING)

but it might work with people LESS stubborn than either michael or I.

and we ARE still friends - we just could NOT live together!


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Kentuckian
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Well, I did say TRY... We're closer than many people I know, but not as close as I would like. For instance, I really can't cook... It's just not a skill I've ever acquired. Therefore, she does most of the cooking because she has the skill, even though we're both pretty tired at the end of the day.

But hopefully that will change as I learn more.

But what I think is more important than chores would be the decision making process. She does not submit to me, I do not submit to her. We talk through it and figure out the best solution. Neither of us has "veto" over the other.


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Tom Grey - Tigger
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Last night I prepared a huge goose dinner in "my American way" -- I went out and bought it, to go. (I had to teach the Slovak restaurant a few years ago about "to go"; but now it's OK).

I'm much better at most mexican style cooking, which is one of my favorites.

I like this somewhat heavy upright vacuum, but we got a second roller vacuum, so the kids can help. Turns out to be fine for both adults to vacuum (a Sat. "morning" habit).

I think who does "how much" work is really an issue; and likely to become more important over time than the decision making process. My happy marriage includes a lot of easy work -- so much easy work it's hard.

But another stereotype is the woman who "accepts" the man until marriage, and THEN is trying to change him (and making frustratingly little progress at it). Most women should "surrender" the idea of changing the men very much.


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Locus
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I think the point that has been missed is that most people cannot truly change their behavior.

It makes little difference if the book suggested that wives should stand on their heads to get their husbands to listen to them nagging. If nobody follows its suggestion who cares what quality the suggestions are? (kinda gets us back to the tree falling in the forest debate)

I feel that few relationships between strong willed people will work out if neither ever yields happily.

Anyone inspect the rediculous lengths men will go to please women? It's not all one sided. Things fall apart when it's one party that does all the groveling and the other that recieves all the worshiping.

Oh ..and to address the men who claim not to want a surrendered wife who never challenges them...I suspect it's because they've found greater satisfaction in being idolized by a partner they respect and admire.

Funny how the difficulty of the conquest lends value to the prize. Me personally? I got sick of fighting windmills when I was a teenager.


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Tom Grey - Tigger
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More difficulty, more value. Seems right.

But also the test of compromisability, to some extent. If getting the relationship was so hard, and is valued so much, surely some compromises are OK, too.

The stereotypical problem of the men seems to be to do all the work in "attaining", climbing the mountain, finishing the picture (of the hat...), getting the woman to love/ marry him. Then to relax, and want to be done with the effort.

It might be that the nagging wife just needs him to keep putting in more effort. I'm sure there are cases, individual nights even, where a woman would be better off not complaining. But prolly not always -- that is, for most women, always "not complaining" would be too much.

For some women, it's quite likely that "never complaining" can greatly increase their enjoyment in the relationship.


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Myriam
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Luny,

Marriage is a partnership! It is built on such principles as faith, compassion, empathy, respect and probably most important - forgiveness.
Burdens and responsibilities are shared!
The partnership, the worth of each contributor to the marriage, wife and husband both, is equal and mutual.

However, there are indisputable differences in the nature of a man and a woman. Those differences, when applied righteously and under lawful status, complement each other and help each other unfold highest individual potential.

Man and woman are equal but they are not the same. And there's a big difference between equality and sameness. Both parties are entitled to disagree, speak their mind, contribute new ideas, share their feelings, as long it is done in a respectful, kind, and forgiving manner.

However, I do think that both parties at times need to be humble and submit to the other's will. Personally, what comes to mind as more accurate than just submission, more than blind obedience, which is most generally suggested by the word surrender, is the term unconditional trust.

Mutual trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship. It is faith's younger sister. It is kin to courage and optimism.

So, in finally trying to answer your question:

Yes, there are men out there who do want servile, frail, naive women that keep their mouth shut and do what they are told by their husbands, even in our "civilized" Western society.

But there are also those who respect themselves and therefore, respect those of the opposite gender. There are those men with enough confidence and self-esteem to know that they do not need to conquer and subject the woman of their heart in order to make themselves feel more in charge.
They know they are 'a woman's hero' for the person that they are, for their kindness, their humor, their tactfulness and their respect towards that woman.

Men do need a great deal of trust from women. They need to feel assured that their wives feel safe under their care. They do want to be her 'knight in shining armor'.

Women have just as important needs. The task of a married couple includes recognizing and asking about the needs of one's spouse, and then showing an active willingness to meet them within the limitations given.


There are women out there today who demand subservience in husbands. I think that is just as wrong as the flip side.

Let’s evaluate really quick:

We women tend to complain and fret about everything and anything, especially when we feel left out, exhausted or simply unappreciated. The book, I am guessing here, sounds like it is trying to give you a time out in order to get your thoughts organized. In that process you might find it easier to think about your spouse as of the man you have come to love and trust.

Also, women have the unpleasant knack to try and change their husbands little quirks. (Yes, those quirks can drive you up the wall.)

The idea of pretending suggests that you should sit back and think calmly. After you find that your husband’s quirks are not infringing upon your personal freedom or present an imminent threat to your health and emotional well being, you could probably try to be more flexible.

Self-deception, however, is not a way to improve a marriage. Lying to your self will cause you to lose respect for yourself and your spouse. It will make the situation explosively dangerous. Woman and men both are equipped with a conscience that provides the way to judge good from evil. When your spouse does something that is abusive or perverted, you will know it. Condoning unrighteous behavior will eventually kill your spirit and that of your husband. So, if your spouse demands something from you that is plainly evil, you are entitled to act. You do not have to be silent.

It is essential to not judge evil things good and good things evil. It will cause much grief. You do not have to accept any unrighteous dominion. Pointing fingers won’t get you far however. Self-assessment is appropriate more often than not.

The key is not pretending, or lying, or deceiving yourself. The point to mend any relationship is to learn to communicate non-defensively, and to maintain an attitude of faith, optimism and forgiveness.

Kind regards,
Myriam



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Kyle French
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I'm just curious... about the original book... Who was the author? I'd be surprised if it wasn't a woman.

Very few men I that I respect are willing to touch that subject with a 10 foot pole. Nevertheless it's very difficult for a Christian to ignore the passage in Ephesians that tells wives to "submit to your husbands." It's there. YOu have to either abide by it, or explain why it's complete bull. Fortunately, the passage includes "Submit to one another," and "Husbands love your wives." Apparently, if the husband doesn't have to submit to the wife, then the wife doesn't have to love her husband. This would be a very strange way of interpreting the passage.


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Luny
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Actually it was a woman, but I can't think of her name right now.

I was really just wondering what the rest of the world thought about it cause I thought it was a load of crap and I couldn't figure out how it could be a best seller.


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Locus
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What's one more load of crap in this world?

People will try virtually anything to escape loneliness and failure. (the number one and two biggest afflictions in our culture)

The gist of that advice may very well work for some people.


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Kyle French
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I don't know necessarily that it was a load of crap (I'd have to smell the book). Probabably it was just half of the picture. I'm doing a paper in a chaucer class at school discussing different understandings of the idea of submission. It's part of the "marriage question" in the Canturbury tales, if you're familiar.

KB


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Luny
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No actually I haven't had the chance to read that yet. I'll have to pick it up.

I have had a lot of time to reflect on perception lately though and I guess that its not a load of crap just because it doesn't fit with my specific situation.


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Pete at Home
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My wife pinned me for our first kiss, proposed to me, and holds the purse strings. There are certain issues on which she defers to me, and there are other issues where I defers to her. In the election yesterday, there were candidates and issues where she convinced me to vote her way, candidates and issues where I convincer her to vote my way, and candidates and issues where we agreed to disagree and voted differently. In my religion, that is the way that it should be. In marriage neither party should have all of the power or influence, and spheres of influence are rarely designated by gender; instead, they are worked out over time.
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Puretext
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I'm embarrassed to say it, but if somebody proposed to me, I would turn her down. I suppose I have some control issues to deal with.
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Locus
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Why would you turn her down? (Assuming you had the ring in the box ..and she beat you to the punch by two minutes?)
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Puretext
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I can't say, exactly. Except that, I have a hard time seeing myself dating a girl who would want to do the proposing. I tend to go for quiet, thoughtful girls. Quiet thoughtful girls, as a rule, tend to go for those little formalities. I tend to go for those little formalities.

It's sort of like those people who tell me that a person's religion should not be an issue when falling in love and getting married. "You can still be a happy couple if one of you is a Christian mystic and the other is an athiest," they say, "Just don't discuss religion." It just wouldn't happen.

That said, I'm daing a girl who wants to be a doctor, and with my interests, I'll probably be at home with the kids for the first 10 years or so. But she's a quiet girl who isn't going to propose to me. Dictate how she expects to be proposed to, yes, but propose herself? Not a chance.


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Locus
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Based on that response ..I wouldn't say you have control issues...you just know what works with you.

Better than wasting your life trying round pegs in square holes(and wasting the lives of others too).

Myself? I like spicy women with quirks. No set in stone qualifiers...just the kind that fathers pray their little girls won't grow up to be.


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Pete at Home
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Ugh. I would never have married a woman who would dictate how she would be proposed to ... sounds passive-aggressive. I like aggressive. That's not to say that I was not intimidated when my wife proposed to me, but fortunately for me I was able to get over it and think about it rationally.
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msquared
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This reminds me a bit of an article I saw in one of those Brides magazines all engaged women go crazy over after you pop the question.

They had a time line/list of things to do before the wedding. You know like: Six months until wedding call caterer. Year before wedding reserve reception hall, etc...

The joke thing about it was that one of the last things on the list, about 4-6 weeks before the wedding was to find a groom.

msquared


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Animist
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I have some fun comments to add, particular in reply to these words of Myriam's:

"However, there are indisputable differences in the nature of a man and a woman. Those differences, when applied righteously and under lawful status, complement each other and help each other unfold highest individual potential.

Man and woman are equal but they are not the same.

Yes, there are men out there who do want servile, frail, naive women that keep their mouth shut and do what they are told by their husbands, even in our "civilized" Western society."

Gender roles are for the most part a cultural universal, but the way they are divided in traditional Western society (aggressive male, passive female, etc) and the way other cultures divide them are very different.

Among the Tchambuli of New Guinea, for example, women are seen as the "aggressive" sex, they do the majority of the work and all of the marketing. Men, on the other hand, stay at home, are seen as emotional and sensitive, are prone to being catty with each other and tend to worry a great deal about what women think of them. It's basically the reversal of traditional roles in civilized culture (Western Eastern or In The Middle).

Another New Guinea group, who are PROBABLY the Tsembaga Maering (but might be someone else) has another different way of organizing gender. Males are seen as aggressive and females passive, but males are also seen as sensitive, emotional, and irrational, much as women often are in our own culture.

Another interesting thing to note is that among many traditional tribal peoples gender roles, while strictly enforced, are also mutable: Among the Plains Indians a man could choose to be a "berdache" and live as a woman; many (though not all; the Teton Lakota, if I recall correctly, are one exception) also allowed a "manly-hearted woman" to take on the role of a man.

It's particularly ironic that you said "Yes, there are men out there who do want servile, frail, naive women that keep their mouth shut and do what they are told by their husbands, even in our "civilized" Western society," because patriarchy tends to develop and strengthen with civilization.

Forgive me if what I just said was completely irrelelvent to the topic, but gender is something I find rather fascinating, and I like to find every opportunity I can to confront conventional assumptions about it.

(Sources for this post, in case you're wondering, include: Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Cultures by Margaret Mead, Cooperation and Competition in Primitiev Cultures by Margaret Mead ed., Man's Rise to Civilization by Peter Farb, and Cultural Anthropology by William Haviland,


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Animist
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Oh, and as for the book and discussion: I think the will to dominate is something we're enculturated with at an early age, and in my own relationship (I live with my girlfriend) I tend to act more the submissive, "surrendered," out of an intentional effort NOT to dominate.
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Pete at Home
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Erm... Margaret Meade is a farce. Her work in Samoa has been shown to have been a fabrication. For example, she depicts the Samoans as non-patriarchal and sexually promiscuous, which is an utter focking joke.
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Pete: I had the same conversation with my editor a month ago, interestingly enough.

It's true that a lot of her work IN SAMOA has been discredited, but I've also seen some very good counter arguements on that count. Also, the people who attack her work in Samoa usually note the fact that elsewhere (Manus, Arapesh) she returned again and again to verify her data over time, while she did not in Samoa.

Sexual promiscuity is quite common among other Polynesian and Micronesian peoples (see Nest In the Wind, by Martha Ward, for example, about the people of Pohnpei).

The information on the Tsembaga comes from a lecture by Prof. Richard Scaglion, on the Plains Indians from Peter Farb and from the account of them in Cooperation and Competition, but I don't have a copy of that book in hand to find out who...


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Pete at Home
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Hmm. I read some first hand accounts from the Samoans whom she had lived with and interviewed, and I had the impression that her account was not merely shoddy scholarship, but outright misrepresentation. In terms of sexual anthropology, she seems to approach Kinsey in sheer brazen mendacity.
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