HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Gender & Orientation » History of Feminism (Group) » Portraits of Albanian Wom...

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 09:08 AM

Portraits of Albanian Women Who Have Lived Their Lives As Men

Stunning photographs; incredible story.






For her project Sworn Virgins of Albania, photographer Jill Peters visited to the mountain villages of northern Albania to capture portraits of “burneshas,” or females who have lived their lives as men for reasons related to their culture and society.

Many of the women assumed their male identities from an early age as a way to avoid the old codes that governed the tribal clans, which stated that women were the property of their husbands. Peters explains,

The freedom to vote, drive, conduct business, earn money, drink, smoke, swear, own a gun or wear pants was traditionally the exclusive province of men. Young girls were commonly forced into arranged marriages, often with much older men in distant villages. As an alternative, becoming a Sworn Virgin, or ‘burnesha” elevated a woman to the status of a man and granted her all the rights and privileges of the male population. In order to manifest the transition such a woman cut her hair, donned male clothing and sometimes even changed her name. Male gestures and swaggers were practiced until they became second nature. Most importantly of all, she took a vow of celibacy to remain chaste for life. She became a “he”. This practice continues today but as modernization inches toward the small villages nestled in the Alps, this archaic tradition is increasingly seen as obsolete. Only a few aging Sworn Virgins remain.

Thus, Peters wanted to capture this fading tradition before it disappeared forever. She also writes that she learned a great deal from her interactions with her subjects and their communities:

I learned that the Burrnesha are well respected within their communities. They possess an indescribable amount of strength and pride, and value their family honor above all else. Their absolute transition is wholly accepted, posited and taken without question by the people among whom they live. But most surprising, is they have very few regrets for the great deal they have sacrificed.


http://petapixel.com/2012/12/26/portraits-of-albanian-women-who-have-lived-their-lives-as-men/

8 replies, 2279 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Portraits of Albanian Women Who Have Lived Their Lives As Men (Original post)
ismnotwasm Aug 2013 OP
Squinch Aug 2013 #1
DURHAM D Aug 2013 #2
riverwalker Aug 2013 #3
seabeyond Aug 2013 #4
Gin Aug 2013 #5
libodem Aug 2013 #6
DreamGypsy Aug 2013 #7
theHandpuppet Aug 2013 #8

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 09:19 AM

1. For many, transvestism may have been the natural option, but it is a shame for the

rest of them they were required to give up their sexuality in order to have any rights.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 09:24 AM

2. Very interesting. Thanks for posting. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 09:31 AM

3. reminded me of this article

about women who fought as men in the American Civil War, many continued to live as men after the war.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2285841/The-women-fought-men-Rare-Civil-War-pictures-female-soldiers-dressed-males-fight.html

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 09:34 AM

4. i gotta get in and read the article. luv it. funny, can have male privilege as long as NO sex.

 

just everything about that says so fuckin much.

no sex, man. right.... pathetic, fuckin pathetic. the more i read on male domination, the more i see the weak, pathetic, embarrassing. i swear that is why there is an insistence on dominance.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 10:13 AM

5. Fascinating...thanks for posting

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 11:56 AM

6. Interesting

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 12:39 PM

7. "A woman is a sack made to endure."

From the Wikipedia article on Albanian sworn virgins:

A woman is a sack made to endure.
—Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjinit, 15th century AD


What would it be like to live in a culture/society where persons of your gender were considered this way?

The quote is from one of the written versions of the Kanun.

The Kanun is a set of traditional Albanian laws. The Kanun was primarily oral and only in the 20th century was it published in writing. There is only one Kanun since the ancient times commonly referred to the "Kanun of Leke" from which six later variations eventually evolved.

<snip>

The practice of the oral laws that Dukagjini codified in the Kanun may date back to the Bronze Age. Some authors have conjectured that the Kanun may derive from ancient Illyrian tribal laws. Other authors have suggested that the Kanun has retained elements from Indo-European prehistoric eras. Edith Durham, a British anthropologist[citation needed] suggested that the Kanun possibly dates back to the Bronze Age culture. Some other authors[who?] have suggested that there are many similarities between the Kanun and the Manusmṛti, the earliest work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism, which indicate a common origin.


Apparently some women were forced by circumstances to become burrnesha because the working male members of their family died, so a male substitute who would be allowed to work was needed to support the family. Here's a National Geographic video on the situation:

http://www.natgeoeducationvideo.com/film/466/sworn-virgins

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 06:07 PM

8. Fascinating

Thanks for posting this and to everyone who posted additional links.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread