Yanmamo Essay

This essay has a total of 1383 words and 7 pages.


There are many differences between the South American Yanomamo culture and the North
American culture that we have adapted to, but just at there is culture diversity between
us, we have some similarities. The ethnography, which is chose, was “Yanomamo”
written by Napoleon A. Chagnon, anthropologists. Chagnon tells us how to it was to live
among the Yanomamo family, political and warfare system versus the American Culture.

The Yanomamo are of patrilineal culture, male oriented and very sexist. For some reason
they believe that, they are superior to women, so do some men in American culture.
However, they are jolted back reality when the law gets involved, unfortunately Yanomamo
men don’t have this wake up call.

Marriage is cross-cultural perspective. Yanomamo marriages are much different from that of
American marriages. Yanomamo women are treated as materialistic objects and promised by
their father or brother to a Yanomamo man in return for reciprocity. The reciprocity could
be another Yanomamo women or political alliances. The trades are often practiced in the
Yanomamo culture. Polygamy is also a part of the Yanomamo culture. Yanomamo women are kept
in the male’s possession. The Yanomamo man tries to collect as many wives as he
possibly can in order to demonstrate his power and masculinity. As polygamy in American
Culture is referred to as bigamy which is against the law.

Besides, polygamy, the practice of infanticide plays a role in the lack of women in their
society. Yanomamo prefer to parent a male child rather than a female child, so in case a
female is born she is killed at birth. This again proved their sexist beliefs that women
are inferior. Many Yanomamo women fearing their husbands kill a female infant to avoid
disappointing their so-called “better half”.

To the people of American culture certain procedures of murdering a new born baby would be
considered brutal, horrific and mutilation. But to the Yanomamo choking an infant to death
with a vine, suffocating the infant by the placing a stick across her throat, or simply
throwing the child against a tree and leaving it to suffer and then die is normal. Yet
some Americans would also suggest that abortion is just like murder also, so what’s
the difference!

When an acceptable child is born into a Yanomamo family the mother breast-feeds him for a
relatively long time. Children are nursed until they reach the age of at most, three or
four. As long as the mother breast-feeds she is less likely to be fertile. This is a
natural contraceptive. But if a new infant is born it will starve to death, because the
older sibling would drink most of the milk, specially if it is a female infant. Male
children grow up to be hunters and worriers. Female children although inferior (according
to the Yanomamo) are valuable objects of trade and political alliances.

A confusing aspect of the Yanomamo marriages is, even though polygamy is freely practiced
so is monogamy but only for the women. Adultery, just like in American culture, is
inexcusable to the Yanomamo. In this topic similarities make a breakthrough in both
cultures. If relationship between an American woman and an American man goes putrescent
and the woman becomes promiscuous violence is only expected by the man. The problem is
assault and battery charges can get you into a lot of trouble, not to mention how much you
would have to pay a lawyer. But Yanomamo mean get away with their violent retaliation for
being disrespected because again there are no laws protecting Yanomamo women not that
American women are always protected by the law, it’s just a myth.

The punishment for the Yanomamo women who is only suspected of having an affair with
another man is being beaten with a club, burned, shot with a barbed arrow, or the man
decides to detach a limb (ex. Arm, leg...) with an ax or machete. Even though it seems as
though women are expendable is this culture she may have some one who would aid her if she
needed help, her brothers.

A Yanomamo women’s endeavor and search for aid is not always successful espically if
her brothers are in a remote village that you could reach if you walked for a couple of
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