Discussion Board Forum #5 – Ch 3

Chapter 3: Culture – Body Ritual among the Nacirema

Read the link below and carefully and explain your thoughts about this particular culture. How does Body Ritual among the Nacirema help us understand our own views of other cultures and how we are viewed by other cultures? What are some American rituals that might seem odd to someone from another culture, or even from another planet?

https://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/miner.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


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———————————————————————Next, read and respond to at least two other students’ posts.

1.As I read through the story of Nacirema all I felt is strange and fascinating. The story spent a large part on the cleaning of body and teeth, especially the healers that perform the’rituals’ in the ‘shrine’ is more than I can understand. If the ‘shrine’ often does not provide a cure and cost people a lot of hard-earned money than why does almost everyone held such a strong belief and misconception that it can help you? The story mentioned that people going back to the ‘teeth man’ year after year even though people’s teeth continue to decay, than what’s reason to keep going back there then?

The Nacirema people have such strong belief that month is an important part of daily ritual and I can see the point in this statement. We use our mouth to eat and socialize and one can’t survive without one’ mouth and the daily ‘ritual’ of rising and brushing is understood. But going to the ‘teeth man’ to suffer and it does not provide a significant purpose but merely following routine is more than I can understand.

The ‘listener’ make people feel better by drive’demon’ out of their head. By talking and provide reasoning to the client’s immediate or long ago discomfort and drama is an effective way to make people feel better. The other routine’ritual’ including shaving both in men and woman is such an unique standards on beauty alone with the misconception that the human body is an ugly and prone to disease. Changing one’s body type is only useful if comes from one’s own willingness and the level of health of each individual. In other words, only if someone is sick with their own diet, habit or lifestyles than we can judge if one is ugly because having a healthy body and mind is being truly beautiful rather than superficial means. If a behavior contribute to one’s happiness and healthy, than it can be consider a habit worth keeping.

The body ritual of Nacirema shape us to see other culture with less frequent hygienic as less civilized society and it can twist our point of view and not being able to fully understand other culture. we are probably viewed by other culture as over sentative on personal hygene and not focus our attention on spirtual searching. Some of the American habits might seems odd becasue their standard of happiness and beauty is not set on health of body and mind but rather an illusion.

2.I went through a serious of different feelings while reading Body Ritual among the Nacirema as a result of my ethnocentric beliefs. First, I found it so sad that the Nacirema view the body as an ugly vessel for disease. I tried to imagine what the strange ritual performed in front of the shrine was, and I also felt sad that the Nacirema feel shame in their bodies and that this is why they perform their individual ritual in private.

As I read further, I began to make connections with our hygiene practices and soon realized that this was a story of accepted “normal” routines in American life as observed through the eyes of some sort of alien visitor- I quickly imagined this was an episode of The Twilight Zone. I realized that although it is widely accepted that failing to brush your teeth does result in poor hygiene and even lead to poor health, it seemed extreme, yet painfully true, that failure to do so would absolutely result in loss of friends, rejection from your partner, and the loss of teeth as observed in the article.

I think it may be strange for an alien visitor to see how much trouble and money is spent on trying to improve one’s physical appearance before stepping outside of the home. This includes everything from hair coloring and cutting, shaving and waxing of body hair, grooming facial hair, make up, and cosmetic surgery. For example, a foreign visitor accustomed to a more conservative lifestyle where the body is holy and treated as a temple may be repulsed by a woman laying ‘butterflied’ for a Brazilian wax. These behaviors may be interpreted as raunchy, obscene, and grounds for a stoning.

Another thing that may be seen as excessive is the amount of clothing an accessories that we wear. For people with much simpler lifestyles and to whom clothing is meant to be useful, the use of a man’s tie or bowtie may be especially mind-boggling. They really serve absolutely no purpose but are accepted as items of distinction/class.

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