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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 10 C C HAPTER HAPTER 10 10 G ENDER ENDER Transcript for Author-Created Video Introduction to Chapter 10: Gender Chapter 10 covers the topic gender. I pair that topic with American Samoa. Most Americans probably do not know that American Samoa is a territory of the United States. They probably do know of an American Samoan who plays for their favorite NFL or Division I college football team. In fact 228 Samoans play at those levels. That number is truly amazing, given that the entire population of Samoa is about 60,000 hardly large enough to fill a typical football stadium in the United States. In contrast to the masculinity associated with football players, Samoans recognize a third gender which they call fa’afafine. They are men who dress as famous women such as Britney Spears, Madonna, or Kelly Clarkson. Their success in Samoan society comes from giving the most stunningly accurate imitation of these women. There is even a Miss Island Queen contest where very high-profile Pacific Islanders outside this transgender community are the judges. Last year a second grade teacher won the contest. Sociologists are fascinated by a society where both football players and fa’afafines are commonplace. Sociologists ask: “what is it about American Samoa that generates football players and fa’afafines?” They look for social forces in the society that support the existence of both groups in such a tiny population. Here I will mention two such forces; many more are discussed in the chapter. For one, American Samoan males have relatively few career opportunities. Consider that 1 in every 50 Samoans moves out of the territory each year because there are no employment opportunities. Consider also that one-third of all Samoan jobs are connected to tuna fishing and processing. With such limited opportunities is it any wonder that men are attracted to the high profile celebrity status associated with football and female impersonation. Second, Samoan society supports gender blurring in that it does not make sharp 152 Chapter 10 distinctions between men and women and boys and girls. For example, boys and girls take equal pride in fighting skills, first names are often gender neutral, and little boys and girls wear similar clothing (as opposed to the pink and blue options we see in the United States). In Samoa, youth are free to walk about hand-in-hand or with arms draped around each other. Perhaps what is most fascinating about studying American Samoa is what we also learn about gender in the United States. We dress our children in pink and blue; we would rarely, if ever, tolerate a transgender person as a 2 nd grade teacher; and we certainly don’t make it easy for same-sex adults to hold hands....
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2010 for the course SOCI 1301 taught by Professor Na during the Spring '09 term at Richland Community College.

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