n Gender Questions - Sworn virgins, male and female berdaches : a comparative approach to the so-called 'third gender' people
|Article Title||Sworn virgins, male and female berdaches : a comparative approach to the so-called 'third gender' people|
|© Publisher:||UNISA Press|
|Affiliations||1 Central European University, Hungary|
|Publication Date||Jan 2013|
|Pages||112 - 125|
|Keyword(s)||Berdaches, Gender roles, Sworn virgins, Third gender and Transgender|
The phenomenon of sworn virgins in Northern Albania applies to women who, by taking a vow of celibacy, dressed and behaved as men (Young 2001). Berdache males and females are aboriginal North-American Indians1 who assumed the dress, occupation and roles of the opposite sex by changing in this way their gender status (Blackwood 1984; Schnarch 1992). This article is based on a comparative approach which looked at different cultural variations of sworn virgins, male and female berdaches. The reason for examining such practices is to show how gender and sexuality can be seen as culturally defined phenomena, embedded in society and not necessarily in biological sex. Therefore, it is important to look and think beyond labeling individuals based on Western gendered and sexual prescriptions, as is evident in the terminology. These categories do not fulfil the notion of gender normatively; they can be seen as cross-cultural gender variations that need to be analysed in greater detail.
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