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Fascinating Twist on Gender From Albania

June 27, 2008

Qamile Stema ( aged 88 ) is one strong man, chaste vagina and all

Photo: NY Times

The New York Times recently published an article on a fascinating gendering tradition out of Albania that is now becoming uncommon. Back in the day, Albania considered a woman to be worth 1/2 the value of man, yet a virgin (female) maintained the same value: a dozen ox. Should your family or community be short on men, usually due to war and violence, a virgin woman could become a man by pledging to give up family and sexual intimacy. She then looks, lives, and enjoys the power of a man in every way but sexually. This custom is becoming less common as feminism and western ideals (not all feminist) catch up over in Albania, thanks to western (I accidentally typed “waster” the first time, which may have been more accurate) television shows. I have enjoyed discussing concepts like “wife” as a de-gendered term with my students recently, and this article took the word “man” to that level as well. Have a read! Signing up is free, if The NY Times asks you to do so to get to the article.

NY Times Article – here

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