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Re: [SACC-L] Student Question About Third Gender

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  • Laura Gonzalez
    Hey Nikki, That is a good question. I love when students make me think. I m by no means an expert on either hijras or Native American two-spirits (their
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 29, 2013
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      Hey Nikki,

      That is a good question. I love when students make me think.

      I'm by no means an expert on either hijras or Native American "two-spirits" (their preferred self-identifier). I did read a more recent ethnographic book (which I can't find right now�) on modern Native two-spirit culture and their resistance to the swinging homosexual lifestyle of bars and hooking up -- a third-gender struggling to maintain/recapture their identity in a modern Western world that only recognizes two genders. This book only dealt with biological males who take on a two-spirit identity. There wasn't any focus on biological females. The lack of focus could have been just this particular study, or it could be that since the title "two-spirit" speaks mostly to this particular population, females with "manly hearts" weren't addressed.

      Another book which is in the stack of India books by my bed is Serena Nanda's "Neither Man nor Woman," about the hijras. Since I haven't read it yet, ahem, I won't comment on what she has to say, but I am really looking forward to reading it. In my field experience and in what I've read before about hijras, again, I haven't come across data on females. I didn't meet any hijras who appear to be intersexed but with primarily female chromosomes (what I mean is to say who appeared to be primarily female� funny how it's difficult to find the terms to talk about this correctly�). All hijras that I'm familiar with both in reading and in India appear to be predominantly male, either intersex with mostly male chromosomes, or males with gender identity conflicts.

      Hope this helps, Nikki.

      Laura

      On Apr 28, 2013, at 12:29 PM, Nikki Ives wrote:

      Hello Everyone! A student in my cultural online class has asked a good question and I told her I would ask my colleagues about it. Here is her question:

      "Do cultures and societies that have a third-gender, tend to lean more towards acceptance of an alternative gender for one biological sex, over another? For example, the text mentioned that some Native American societies have alternative genders, known as berdaches (biological man), and ��manly-hearted woman�� (biological woman) (Kottak 2012: 151). What I am wondering is that, are there Native American societies who recognize and respect berdaches as a gender but not ��manly-hearted women�� and/or vice versa; also, does this type of discrimination occur among other societies with alternative genders?"

      I don't really know much about Native American culture and third gender attitudes but I know many of you have done a great deal of work with Native American cultures, so I thought I'd bring this to you. Also, Laura - I thought of you and your blog posts about hijras.

      Any thoughts?

      Thanks!
      Nikki

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Mim.
      Thought I d throw my two cents in on this, even though I am not an expert on the topic by any means ;0) Best answer to the question from my perspective: Well
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 29, 2013
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        Thought I'd throw my two cents in on this, even though I am not an
        expert on the topic by any means ;0)
        Best answer to the question from my perspective: "Well it depends on the
        specific identification of alternative genders and their definitions by
        the individual societies that recognize alternative genders." Even
        American and other Western cultures have recognized alternative genders
        that although have not been completely codified into legislative
        recognition, are recognized socially, at least to some degree. This is
        why we have terms like transgender, transvestite, androgynous, "Butch,"
        "Femme," etc. It is important to consider that even if an
        identification of a gendered type is not legitimized, it may often have
        some altern role within the society, contributing to cultural
        dissonance, but still necessarily a part of the cultural scope of
        possibilities.
        In some Native American cultures, each alternative classification was
        its own gendered type (for instance, the term Berdache was not applied
        to transgender or transvestite females, and in fact was a French term to
        accommodate a misinterpretation of alternative gender of certain
        biological males who had different social and sexual roles than other
        biological males). Gender is a fluid construct, not a rigid one, and
        should only be apply to socio-cultural roles and tasks engendered by the
        culture of study. Increasingly we are learning that the assignment of
        sex is more fluid than was once thought, often based on gender
        stereotypes, not on biological facts, like hormone production,
        phenotypical presentation, and chromosomal assignment (at least until
        recently - point in case, how many of us know where we fit into the
        norms of what we have assumed our biological sex to be without having
        detailed tests of said factors?).
        I could go on, but nobody wants this, I'm sure ;) Instead, here are
        some links to review and consider:
        http://www.socqrl.niu.edu/forest/SOCI454/Berdache.html
        <http://www.socqrl.niu.edu/forest/SOCI454/Berdache.html>
        http://www.old.li.suu.edu/library/circulation/Dean/anth1010edRoscoe1988F\
        all11.pdf
        <http://www.old.li.suu.edu/library/circulation/Dean/anth1010edRoscoe1988\
        Fall11.pdf>
        http://soar.wichita.edu/bitstream/handle/10057/1786/LAJ_16.1_p35-45..pdf\
        ?sequence=1
        <http://soar.wichita.edu/bitstream/handle/10057/1786/LAJ_16.1_p35-45..pd\
        f?sequence=1>
        http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_social_history/summary/v035/35.3\
        trexler.html
        <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_social_history/summary/v035/35.\
        3trexler.html>
        http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/lanmen
        <http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/lanmen>
        http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/97crs4ns9780252066450.html
        <http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/97crs4ns9780252066450.html\
        >
        https://admin.vancouver.wsu.edu/sites/admin.vancouver.wsu.edu/files/two-\
        spirits-discussion.pdf
        <https://admin.vancouver.wsu.edu/sites/admin.vancouver.wsu.edu/files/two\
        -spirits-discussion.pdf>

        This is, as they say, a can of worms type of subject. And could easily
        be expanded to other non-Native American Non-Western cultures for
        discussion (as our colleagues have already offered). Sometimes it is
        not the gender that is the question, but rather the roles associated
        with the gender.
        Mim. Roeder, M.A.AnthropologyButte Community College

        --- In SACC-L@yahoogroups.com, Nikki Ives wrote:
        >
        > Hello Everyone! A student in my cultural online class has asked a good
        question and I told her I would ask my colleagues about it. Here is
        her question:
        >
        >
        > "Do cultures and societies that have a third-gender, tend to lean more
        towards acceptance of an alternative gender for one biological sex, over
        another? For example, the text mentioned that some Native American
        societies have alternative genders, known as berdaches (biological man),
        and “’manly-hearted woman”’ (biological woman)
        (Kottak 2012: 151). What I am wondering is that, are there Native
        American societies who recognize and respect berdaches as a gender but
        not “’manly-hearted women”’ and/or vice versa;
        also, does this type of discrimination occur among other societies with
        alternative genders?"
        >
        > I don't really know much about Native American culture and third
        gender attitudes but I know many of you have done a great deal of work
        with Native American cultures, so I thought I'd bring this to you.Â
        Also, Laura - I thought of you and your blog posts about hijras.
        >
        > Any thoughts?
        >
        >
        > Thanks!
        > Nikki
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Deborah Shepherd
        That s very true. The contrast of wife or mother versus maiden seems more important than biological male versus female. ... From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 29, 2013
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          That's very true. The contrast of "wife" or "mother" versus "maiden" seems
          more important than biological male versus female.

          -----Original Message-----
          From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
          Dorothy Davis
          Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 8:53 AM
          To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Student Question About Third Gender

          Thanks Deborah,
          The key seems to be being nulliparous...no kids. like the Cheyenne "Manly
          hearted Women".


          On Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 5:17 PM, Deborah Shepherd <shephdj@...> wrote:

          > **
          >
          >
          > Hello, Nikki
          >
          > Here's a very different example. Viking scholars working with Old
          > Norse literature surmise that females who were still maidens could
          > adopt masculine behaviors. The suggested reason for this is that the
          > Norse believed in the inheritance of characteristics such as valor and
          > fighting skill. If a warrior had no son, it would be possible for his
          > daughter to substitute as a son until she married. Then she would be
          > required to behave and dress as a woman. However, since she had been a
          > virtual son for a period of time, she would then be able to pass down
          > her father's heroic qualities to her son. This interpretation has been
          > offered as an explanation for Anglo-Saxon weapon burials where DNA has
          > proven that the deceased was a female.
          >
          > Here are some sources:
          >
          > Clover, Carol
          >
          > 1986 "Maiden Warriors and Other Sons," Journal of English and Germanic
          > Philology 85 (1): 35-49.
          >
          > Dommasnes, Liv Helga
          >
          > 1991 "Women, Kinship, and the Basis of Power in the Norwegian Viking Age"
          > IN Social Approaches to Viking Studies, ed., Ross Samson. Glasgow:
          > Cruithne Press, 65-73.
          >
          > I have my own paper on the subject (1998) posted online:
          >
          >
          > http://www.academia.edu/456066/The_Elusive_Warrior_Maiden_Tradition_Be
          > aring_Weapons_In_Anglo-Saxon_Society
          >
          > Deborah Shepherd
          >
          > From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
          > Of Nikki Ives
          > Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2013 2:29 PM
          > To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
          > Subject: [SACC-L] Student Question About Third Gender
          >
          > Hello Everyone! A student in my cultural online class has asked a good
          > question and I told her I would ask my colleagues about it. Here is
          > her
          > question:
          >
          > "Do cultures and societies that have a third-gender, tend to lean more
          > towards acceptance of an alternative gender for one biological sex,
          > over another? For example, the text mentioned that some Native
          > American societies have alternative genders, known as berdaches
          > (biological man), and "'manly-hearted woman"' (biological woman)
          > (Kottak 2012: 151). What I am wondering is that, are there Native
          > American societies who recognize and respect berdaches as a gender but
          > not "'manly-hearted women"' and/or vice versa; also, does this type of
          > discrimination occur among other societies with alternative genders?"
          >
          > I don't really know much about Native American culture and third
          > gender attitudes but I know many of you have done a great deal of work
          > with Native American cultures, so I thought I'd bring this to you.
          > Also, Laura - I thought of you and your blog posts about hijras.
          >
          > Any thoughts?
          >
          > Thanks!
          > Nikki
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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