Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Smithsonian World

  • Gender: The Enduring Paradox
  • Rating: *****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $49.95
  • Date: Copyright 1991. Released 1991.
  • Descriptors: Sociology. Anthropology. Sex roles.
  • Production Information: Live action. Color. 60 min.
  • Production Company: WETA, Washington
  • Available from: PBS Video 1320 Braddock Pl. Alexandria, VA 22314-1698 (703)739-5380
  • Cataloging: 305.3 Sex differences - Psychological aspects||Sex roles
  • Print Entry #: 2:1389
  • Reviewer: David Hoppe

    Gender: The Enduring Paradox offers a circuitous, complex journey through the questions and issues relating to the biological fact that female and male human beings are not the same. But how different from one another are they? While stopping short of drawing any definitive conclusions, this program charts a course as gracefully sinuous as the bodies of the dancers who provide its leitmotif, raising resonant questions and delivering provocative information along the way.

    Less than 13 percent of American families fit the stereotype of a female homemaker/male breadwinner configuration. Nevertheless, this image persists in society, even haunting those who reject it. Produced for the Smithsonian World series, this video assembles a tremendous array of anthropologists, sociologists, writers, psychologists, and assorted other researchers and observers, who all point out not only the paradoxes inherent in humankind's sexual identity, but also the poignancy.

    After probing the roots of cultural imagery and stereotyping, the program goes on to explore the ramifications of these constructs as they apply to violence against women and the dilemma of the black experience, in which women are compelled to adopt male attitudes without the concomitant acquisition of power. The respect for androgyny as being "blessed by two spirits," found among some Native American tribes, is addressed, raising the question that lies at the heart of this program: can our society learn to simultaneously embrace human differences and equality?

    This elegant production presents the variegated tapestry of human gender without resorting to oversimplification. Production values are topnotch throughout, a live-action blend of evocative imagery and handsomely presented talking-heads sequences - talking heads, it should be added, that have consistently striking things to say.

    This video is recommended for use in high school and college classes as well as for adult audiences. Anyone pondering questions of gender will find it an enlightening viewing experience.

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