Albanian Virginity: Front Page News?
- Albanian Virginity: Front Page News?
Followup: Muslim Virginity, Times Front Page
by Joachim Martillo
Ethnic Ashkenazim Against Zionist Israel
On June 25, the New York Times published another non-news socio-
cultural front page feature article
ex=1215230400&en=b2b6e6e97edf845c&ei=5070&emc=eta1> that addressed
the gradual disappearance of sworn virgin institution among Muslim
and Christian Albanians. Here is the description of the practice:
For centuries, in the closed-off and conservative society of rural
northern Albania, swapping genders was considered a practical
solution for a family with a shortage of men. Her father was killed
in a blood feud, and there was no male heir. By custom, Ms. Keqi,
now 78, took a vow of lifetime virginity. She lived as a man, the
new patriarch, with all the swagger and trappings of male authority
including the obligation to avenge her father's death.
The new article addressed Muslim conceptions of sexuality as did the
previous story entitled Surgery Offers Muslim Women Illusion of
l?ref=todayspaper>, but this time the Muslim aspect was deemphasized
and mentioned only in a single paragraph on the second page:
In Albania, a majority Muslim country in the western Balkans, the
Kanun [or traditional Code of Conduct of Leke Dukagjini] is adhered
to by Muslims and Christians. Albanian cultural historians said the
adherence to medieval customs long discarded elsewhere was a
byproduct of the country's previous isolation. But they stressed
that the traditional role of the Albanian woman was changing.
Another paragraph on the article's first page indirectly indicates
that some Albanian Muslims follow this practice:
Ms. Keqi lorded over her large family in her modest house in Tirana,
where her nieces served her brandy while she barked out orders. She
said living as a man had allowed her freedom denied other women. She
worked construction jobs and prayed at the mosque with men. Even
today, her nephews and nieces said, they would not dare marry
without their "uncle's" permission.
Even though the New York Times is a questionable source for
information on sociology and cultural anthropology, the material in
this report provides evidence both of
* the diversity within the Muslim world with regard to sexuality
and also of
* the crossing of religious boundaries by various practices and
customs associated with gender.
The earlier article discussed hymenoplasty and revirgination within
an essentialist framework that implicitly denigrated Muslim
attitudes or behavior
* assumed to be uniform or undifferentiated throughout the
Islamic world and
* supposed to be completely distinct from Christian or Jewish
beliefs and practices.
In contrast, the analysis of sworn virgins refrains from the usual
NY Times disparagement of Muslims and
Islam<http://tinyurl.com/yrjncm> probably because of the apparent
similarity of "sworn virgin" customs to transvestitism and
transgender ideals vociferously defended by the Gay International,
which is a term used by Columbia Professor Joseph Massad to describe
Western homosexual politics in his recently published book entitled
Modern Western gay politics has almost certainly no connection to
the very ancient and once fairly common institution of sworn
virgins. Greek myths associated with Artemis and Atalanta are almost
certainly based in legends of sworn virgins while the Biblical story
of Sarah probably contains some core elements associated with a
related sworn virgin mythology.
Remnants of the "ideology" associated with sworn virgins seem to
have persisted in both Christian and Jewish cultures in the respect
and honor accorded to the British virgin queen Elizabeth I and to
Channa Rachel Werbermacher, the Maid of Ludmir, who functioned as a
Hassidic Rebbe during the nineteenth century.
Queen Elizabeth eschewed marriage in order to avoid losing authority
to a male king while Judaism generally rejects the combination of
scholarly authority and marriage for women as indicated by
l>'s account within his commentary on Babalonian Talmud tractate
Avodah Zarah 18b of the suicide of the second century CE Talmudic
sage Beruriah after she was seduced by one of her husband's students.
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