Men Are Animals-Matthew Gutmann

Quick Summary- Men are Animals was presented by Brown University anthropologist Matthew Gutmann. This lecture analyzed whether or not gender roles are determined by genetics. The audience was shown a series of anecdotes from a variety of settings: the first setting was Mexico, where Mr. Gutmann spent some time living. During his time there, he told of subway cars that didn’t allow men on them because they were worried that men would rape women, and of how people were wary of him when he was alone, because they thought he would rape women. When he asked why this was, people told him that it was just in men’s nature to rape and these precautions would hinder this primitive instinct. The next anecdote was one of a US soldier who was told that after his time serving he finally became a man by his commanding officer. The soldier did not understand what about violence made him more of a man than he was before he was deployed. The next anecdote was of an Oakland AA meeting where members blamed their alcohol addiction on their heritage, instead of poor decisions that they’ve made. The final anecdote was one of Emily Martin, who studied how people try to explain men’s nature at a microscopic level, even though what is actually happening is quite the opposite of the connection people try to make. Mr. Gutmann then concluded by saying that people have reached the same comfort in biology that they used to have in religion. He said how much easier it is to blame biology than it is to call someone it just crazy. Overall, the moral of his story was that biology is not destiny.

This lecture connects to the A.P. United States History course quite a bit actually. The founders of America claimed that liberty and freedom were unalienable rights of human beings. But this lecture rather challenged the concept of any human ideals in the world being predetermined. It shows that people are taught liberty and freedom by their ancestors by means of books, or word of mouth. With this knowledge, it can be theoretically implied that any government could work if people had no knowledge of different governments. This also connect to later A.P. United States History topics such as the United States prosecuting communists in the 50’s, because the United States thought that all communists had similar intentions, or the United States putting Japanese-Americans into internment camps during the Second World War, because they thought all Japanese people had the potential to be spies.

Another connection this lecture makes to our curriculum is how gender roles impacted our growth as a nation. Mr. Gutmann’s lecture showed how wrong gender roles truly are, because there is nothing in peoples genes that determines how well they will do something. But apparently our forefather were to too blind to notice this and were just brainwashed by their fathers and mothers. This lecture showed that with all of our new knowledge we should be able to break down gender barriers as quickly and efficiently as ever before.

Overall, this lecture opened the audience’s eyes to the misconceptions people have about mankind. It made the audience think about how different the world may be if nothing was set in stone before people were born. And finally, I left the a question hanging in the air: Who or What is really to blame?


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