Sabrina Salas
In “Culture as given, Culture as Choice”, anthropologist Dirk Van Der Elst examined how humanity defines culture differently. All over the world, people believe in different culture, beliefs, and traditions. In chapter one, the author discusses how women in different parts of the world do not go the extra mile to get a man’s attention. For example, he mentions how traditional Muslim nations forbid women to entice men. I completely agree that women should not go the extra mile to get a man’s attention. Furthermore, he indicates how some cultures limit sexual dimorphism to its “natural” parameter. For instance, females can only wear skirts and males cannot wear makeup. Some cultures have specific categories for what females and males can and cannot do. In my culture, growing up a man could not wear a dress and a woman always had to dress lady like. I always disagreed with this belief. In the future when I have my family my son can wear a dress or even get his nails painted. In addition, if my daughter wants to mow the lawn or wear basketball shorts I will accept that. I disagree completely that whatever sex you are you cannot do what the opposite sex does.
Some days I would realize that I take life for granted. I never really noticed how grateful I am to walk this earth every single day. In chapter one, the author introduced a little section titled “You”. It examined how I am unique and extraordinary. The chapter broke down the concept of how low chances that my mother and father had me. How I am one in a trillion, however on page 11 the anthropologist states, “You and I share over 99% of our genes”. It is amazing how we are rare, however, in physical ways we are mostly the same. Chapter two “Primary Drives” page 18 he explains how the “Shakers” a religious community had ideas on the equality of the sexes and equal property. The shakers beliefs were women on one side and men on the other. This also meant no marriage, no sex, and no kids. The only way they can have kids is if they adopt orphans and they can only be raised by the female figure. I oppose this belief because how can you have a community with no family, no love, and no support? In today’s society growing up without, a father in a child’s life is devastating. Some children who grow up and did not have a father in their life go down the wrong path or are emotionally damaged.

“The only universally recognized purpose of marriage is to create a safe environment in which to raise children”, page 84 chapter four. I contradict this statement because of many reasons. There is more to marriage besides raising children. In my opinion, the point of marriage is to love someone unconditionally and to show commitment to one person for eternity. Marriage is a precious gift that lasts forever. Some couples that commit to one another and get married do not think about having children. They rather focus on each other, travel the world or spoil one another. Another reason why I strongly disagree with this statement is that you can create a safe environment for your children without marriage. Particularly, many couples today have children but do not get married. Many people now believe that getting married is not a big deal. For example, my aunt has been with her boyfriend for 15 years and they have two beautiful girls and are not married. They believe marriage is just a piece of paper and that paper does not define the love of their family. There are plenty of couples that are caught up in the idea of marriage and raising kids, that they end up not being ready. This may lead to a divorce and an unhealthy relationship with co-parenting or an unhealthy relationship between the parent and child. Furthermore, a spouse can be dishonest with their partner or break their vows. When this happens a wife or husband will agree to stay in the marriage because of their kids. I strongly disagree with a person staying in a marriage because of their children. To create a safe environment to raise your child it starts with a happy mother or father. You have to be happy for yourself, if you are not happy with yourself you will never create a happy and healthy environment for your children. Sadly, there are many single mothers today that are raising children by their selves with no help from their spouse. However, these strong, courageous, hardworking women create a warm, caring, joyful, and healthy environment for their children. Finally, I believe the purpose of marriage is not strictly focused on creating a safe environment for raising children but also that you do not need a marriage to create a healthy environment to raise children.

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The anthropologist states, “You are not the person you were ten years ago-or yesterday; and tomorrow you will be more different yet”. This statement I cannot challenge. As I grow older every day, I change. I change physically, mentally and spiritually. I also create my own personal culture. Throughout my childhood, my parents always told me I was enrolling in college. Growing up, in my culture, my mother and father told me repeatedly that college was the only way to be successful. Well since I am in college I now know college is not for everyone and that there are many other options when trying to have a successful future. See, as I grew older I realized that I am changing and evolving. I once thought college was the only way to pursue a wealthy career and now I know differently. I chose the path to go to college because I knew college was right for me, not because my parents forced me.
In chapter 12, the author discusses education. He explains that the purpose of schooling is so that the youth can become replacements for those who now do what needs doing. I comply with what the author says regarding the purpose of schooling. However, in today’s society education has changed into standardized testing. Educations main concern is if you have the knowledge to pass a test. Only focusing on test scores is outrageous. As the author said we need to prepare our young. We should be teaching them life essentials such as cooperation skills, reasoning, and basic communication. This will help the young tremendously in the real world. Lastly, the author examines higher education. He mentions two reasons on why people enroll in college and he offers great advice to college students. The two reasons for receiving a higher education is good living as a specialist and increase adaptive potential. The reason why I am a college student is because I want a wealthy career. I want to give back to my parents because they sacrificed so much for me. One great advice that he gives is to “go for it”. Do not stop because the work is getting to hard or life is becoming too stressful. When I was younger I always struggled with confidence. I always had people tell me I could not do certain things, however, all that changed. As I grew into a young adult my culture changed and I believed in myself and I always went for it. An examination of this book has revealed that the authors main focus was to advise individuals to construct their own culture. Throughout the book the author explains why and how cultures are structured and developed. Of course, I am not going to agree with everything the anthropologist states, however this reading gave me a great start in creating my own culture. When I finished reading this book I asked myself “What type of culture do I have?” and “What culture do I want to be a part of?”. The answer to that question is still a mystery. One might conclude that my culture will always change and I am okay with that.