Albanian women choose celibacy to become men

This is a great example of how culture and personal interactions help us develop our ideas of gendered identity.  In this case, people who are born biologically women in Albania choose (or are told as children) that they are male.  They then act as, dress as, and perceive themselves in ways that are associated with masculinity.  The pictures in this article are fascinating.

3 thoughts on “Albanian women choose celibacy to become men

  1. This article caused me to rethink our own cultural thoughts on gender. These women chose a life a celibacy in order to become the heads of the family. In exchanging their female self for a life of promised chastity, they can become the patriarch of the family, taking care of their parents as they age or raising “bastard” children without shame. Reading this made me consider what women in our culture give sacrifice in order to be the “heads” of the family. Sometimes in the United States, women are ridiculed for being successful businesswomen because they are not spending “enough time” with their children. Likewise, in our current economy it is almost necessary for women with families to work but they are expected to serve the role of a “super-mom”, which is sometimes impossible. I think culture really does have a strong affect on a person’s perception of gender, identification, and their personal selves. Both in the United States and in Albania women feel pressure to care for the families, both old and young. However, due to the difference in culture, Albanian women and American women do different things to achieve that goal.

  2. I found this to be odd. The idea behind this is not to challenge gender identity or a search for equality. This culture is so determine to have a “head of the family” that they have their children change genders because women cannot run a family. This idea does support the performative theory, however. The theory states that we create gendered identity through dress, posture, facial expression and everyday practices. The women that take the oath in the article change all of these things and fool everyone to believe that they are men.

  3. This post is beyond interesting. I can’t believe that women can actually “convert” to being a man just by being celibate. But it does rise some questions for me. Why do some of these women choose to do this? The article says that some women choose to make this decision in their early teens, some young as 14. Does that not seem to be a little young? Do they not realize what they could be potentially doing to their life? They may never be able to have kids of their own and continue their family linage. Also, if they take the oath so young, do they know that they can never turn back? It says that one burnesha took the oath at 14 but realized later in life that she wanted to be a woman again, but couldn’t go back on her change. It’s so mind-boggling that these “women” can make such a drastic choice at such a young age. Also, when these “women” convert to becoming a man, does this change their sexual orientation? I get that they cannot have any sexual relations due to their new change, but is there any way that they are attracted to other women at all? And if so, does that make them lesbians? I have so many questions for this article. It definitely made me think.

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