I thought this article was true. I thought the Nacirema Tribe was totally legitimate and actually practiced these outlandish “ablutions!” I came to the part where it said that the Nacirema people view the human body as “ugly” and that it’s prone to “debility” and “disease,” so therefore the people perform these various ablutions to “avert the characteristics,” and my thoughts were that these practices are absolutely crazy and that these people are way too harsh in their views about the body. Well, of course, this was all before we discussed the article in class and I realized that this article is really a play on American culture, only a bit more twisted and interesting… to say the least.
To be honest, I’m not really sure how this article ties into transgender studies. I guess I see how the point of the article was to show how people criticize other cultures without knowing anything about them. See, I was comparing their practices to how we, in America, treat our bodies. I don’t think the practices I do are strange but to someone else, the way I use a hot iron to create a certain hair style, is probably bizarre. So after thinking about it, I suppose it ties into gender studies in that one cannot fully understand the life or practices of a gender variant person unless you are in indeed a part of the “non-normative” social group.
A part that I found especially interesting, as a point of comparison, was the so-called “medicine men” and “holy mouth men.” In fact, I found great humor in this as a point of comparison, because people pay professionals so much money, which consequently compromises their personal lives (due to the extreme fees doctors charge for their services). In is article I found the Nacirema people’s respect and knowledge-seeking tendencies absolutely absurd. But, in light of true American culture, we do pretty much the exact same thing. I know every culture probably has its own set of beliefs go towards heath care and the administering professionals, but I can’t help but wonder if remote African tribes have fees as outrageous as ours in America?
After reading this and learning that it was all false, I was chatting with my big sister online and just as we were saying our byes I told her to read this article and tell me her thoughts. So, a few days go by and she writes me an e-mail and in it, she is exclaiming how crazy this was and that she “would NEVER stick my head in an oven!” All I could do was laugh because she read into it the same as I did. I told her, of course, what it really was and she just went on and on about how much more sense it made. So, all in all, I think this is a really twisted and engaging way to get people thinking about what it means to belong to a certain culture.