Just like any other cultural institution, biomedicine can be observed and described using an anthropological view. The point is not to say which culture-specific medical systems are correct or incorrect. Rather, it is to draw comparisons, describe, and understand those systems. Biomedicine is just one type of medical system, and is used to refer to the structure in place here in the U.S. As described in the first lecture of this week’s materials, this is an important concept because it describes how we study one aspect of societies objectively.
Dichotomies are prevalent in every society. There are very simple and universal dichotomies, such as day/night, light/dark, or hot/cold. There are also more unique dichotomies, not only in the way they are termed but in what they represent. Women/man varies form culture to culture, as well as good/bad, right/wrong, or healthy/sick. How one describes the differences and similarities between two ends of a dichotomy varies according to the views they were taught and the lifestyles they have experienced. In the U.S., there is a pretty common distinction between gay vs. straight. Many people have trouble understanding anything in between, and therefore get frustrated with people who explore the world in between the two terms. Although it is becoming more accepted to be gay or bisexual, I think that the dichotomy is still a pretty clear one in our culture. In other cultures, it isn’t always referred to in the same way. Sexual acts between two males or two females aren’t always taken as seriously and categorized but can be more casual and not hold as much meaning. It is interesting to see how gender roles and distinctions between the sexes are viewed in different cultures.
I do believe that dichotomies are sort of innate in human nature. They are all around us, for one. It is very easy to draw distinctions between things such as night and day. At the same time, when approaching concepts that are more embedded in culture, we cannot say that the actual terms or meanings are completely natural. It is obvious that they vary across the world. The actual existence of dichotomies, though, is inevitable and instinctual in my opinion. You are born with the ability to compare things. The way you compare things depends on your surroundings and experiences. It is almost important to remember that the extremity of the use of dichotomies can vary from one culture to the next.