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Mixed MessagesCultural and Genetic Inheritance in the Constitution of Human Society$
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Robert A. Paul

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226240725

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226241050.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 23 July 2021

The Society of Men

The Society of Men

(p.176) Seven The Society of Men
Mixed Messages

Robert A. Paul

University of Chicago Press

Competition among men implicit in the genetic program must be organized and contained in any viable society. Men’s societies accomplish this by ritual and symbolic means. The case of Manambu men in Avatip, PNG, is examined as illustrative. Men’s societies in many cases assert superiority over women, and allocate the important ritual and religious cultural activities to themselves, relegating women to a domestic sphere identified with sexual reproduction. Men are also often assigned dealings with the supernatural, and with death. It is argued that the key distinction in many societies is not that between genders, but between the homosocial society of men, identified with the cultural program, and the mixed sex society of men and women, identified with sexual reproduction and the genetic program. Male appropriation of reproductive functions in symbolic form in “pseudo-procreation rituals” is examined.

Keywords:   men’s societies, male competition, Avatip, supernatural sphere, death, homosocial society, pseudo-procreation rituals

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