Who said that men's primary interest is engaging in ritual?
June 22, 2010 8:45 AM   Subscribe

'Men, if left to their own devices, would engage endlessly in rituals.' Can anyone tell me who said this, or something like it? I think the quote might have been part of a discussion about anthropology/religion that contrasted women's inherent practical nature versus men's symbolic preoccupation.
posted by Jackson to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is it possible that "men", in this context, means "humans" or "humankind"?

Forgive my question; that was just my first reading of the quote (naturally, disregard if you're positive it relates to gender difference). Do you remember where you came across it?
posted by hot soup girl at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2010

Response by poster: It was definitely a gender comment. It seems like it might have been a Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell kind of writer, though not necessarily either one of them.
posted by Jackson at 10:48 AM on June 22, 2010

Hmmm. Jung's remarks on women often balanced their "closer connection to the earth" with them having an animus, which, according to his theories, made them inherently closer to spiritual ideas, which (again according to him) would be why women are often the first to adhere to new theories in psychology and so forth. Whereas men, often having their heads in ideas, needed their anima connection to bring them closer to reality. This was also a half-joking, half-serious way he (and many of his women followers, for instance Marie-Louise von Franz) explained his coterie of female Jungians. Campbell too had similar ideas. I think if either of them said that, it's probably only half, or even a quarter, of the actual context involved. Their ideas really don't lend themselves well to soundbite quotes; divorced from context they can be entirely misunderstood.
posted by fraula at 11:38 AM on June 22, 2010

Sounds like Bettelheim's Symbolic Wounds:

Bettelheim presents an account of his examination of initiation rites in present-day pre-literate societies and suggests that circumcision and related rituals may be the expression of male fascination with, and jealousy of, female sex apparatus and function. Broadly evaluating prevailing notions regarding puberty rites, ...

In my opinion his best book, and his most surprising and original work.

The excerpted quote from the Google books squib may be a little misleading. As I recall, he is of two minds especially about circumcision, as to whether it is generally originated and maintained by males or females.
posted by jamjam at 11:45 AM on June 22, 2010

Personally, it runs against my experiences. If anything, women are more concerned with ritual... although the ratio of elderly Catholic women vs men might be skewing that.

Just 2 pence; not an answer in any way, of course.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:58 PM on June 22, 2010

This made me think of a Barbara Kruger image - does this help at all? If not, it's a nice picture.
posted by dihutenosa at 4:39 PM on June 22, 2010

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