Son: You keep reading all the time, don’t you get bored?
Father: Oh no. Never! There’s no pleasure more immense than reading.
Son: Well I agree that it’s educational but aren't the Internet and television more entertaining and efficient?
Father: I’m in love with the written word. I enjoy a visually tantalizing website and I appreciate a well-produced movie but nothing touches me the way an eloquent sentence can.
Son: OK, why don’t you tell me something you’ve read a long time ago. Something that stuck in your mind and touched you.
Father: Um, any topic in particular?
Son: Not really. A story that made you think hard when you first read it and still intrigues you now.
Father: Let me think. Well OK! You know what anthropology is?
Son: The study of people I suppose. Come on tell me.
Father: American anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) is perhaps the most renowned social scientist of all times. Her research on sexuality in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures is as influential and controversial today as it was back in the 1960’s. You don’t mind that we talk about sex and sexuality, do you?
Son: Not if you don’t.
Father: I need to ask you something first. Do you think boys are inherently more aggressive than girls?
Son: As far as I’m concerned girls are worse. Boys are bullies but dumb. Girls are sneaky and cunning. If I have a fight with a boy we can beat each other up fair and square. Girls start crying and stuff. They make me feel guilty. They are so mean. Go on with your story about Margaret Mead.
Father: Sure. Well there was this nudist tribe she studied. You know the people didn’t wear any clothes and walked around naked. She discovered that the sexual drive of the teenagers was just about the same as in other clothed tribes but that in fact the boys were less aggressive than their clothed counterparts.
Son: What about the girls? Were they less devious?
Father: You need to let me continue then you come up with your own answers. So anyway, she then carried out an interesting experiment. She randomly picked a group of toddlers. She made the girls wear mittens and the boys cover their ears with earmuffs at all times in public.
Son: What? She’s crazy! And they let her? I mean the parents.
Father: This is not the point, you have to let me finish. The toddlers grew up and became adolescents. Dr. Mead followed them from a distance with a notebook in hand and a pair of binoculars. Then what she had thought might eventually happen actually did, with an alarming frequency.
Father: A girl lured a boy away from the others and when she was sure no one was watching she jumped the unsuspecting victim, removed his earmuffs, took off her own mittens and...
Son: What? Tell me what she did to him?
Father: She stuck a finger in his ear and made him cry in pain.
Father: So what do you think?
Father: This has nothing to do with it. What do you think?
Son: I think danger made the girls act in this violent way. Well not really danger but I don’t know the right word...
Son: What’s that?
Father: Another time perhaps.