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Date Created: 11/13/15
RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION Acceptance and Oppression Of Two Spirits and Hijras Marla Houston Ashford University Anthropology 101 Instructor Michelle Loose RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 2 Celebration and Oppression Of Two Spirits and Hijras We see a number of cultures that have an identified third gender The baku in the Philippines xaniths in Oman serrers among the Pokot people of Kenya Khan S et al 2009 Throughout these cultures people are being revered oppressed celebrated and mocked Specifically this will be a discussion of the differences between the Two Spirits of the Lakota Nation and the Hijra of South Asia and how both cultures have changed throughout the years from cultural evolution and colonization An example from Lakota Nation is an old Lakota word Winyanktehca has today been contracted to the simple word Wintke meaning twosoulsperson Schutzer 1995 Two Spirit people are revered in the Lakota nation they are considered sacred spiritual and mysterious When the European settlers arrived in the new world they worked to change multiple aspects of the Lakota nation including the treatment of the Wintke Wintke are called to transform their gender in dreams from their deity Schutzer 1995 stated that she was given a choice Lakota deities never order Her gender transformation was called for by the Spirits Shutzer 1995 Schutzer felt called by her ancestors the spirits that she worshiped and held sacred to change her life and her experience within that life Dreams of a different life chased her into the daylight hours and she made a decision to follow a scared path RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 3 that was protected by her own culture A culture that viewed gender differently than that of the Europeans that came in the 1700 s Crapo defines gender as social statuses and roles into which people are socialized based on cultural concepts about the sexes Crapo 2013 From a young age many children are shown the correct way to act for their sex informed of the behavior that is acceptable However in the Lakota nation children are not indoctrinated into the idea of different expectations for their gender In the Lakota language there are no personal pronouns and a child is simply a child until the age of four or five when he or she shows what which they are Schutzer 1995 This opens a path for these children to decide for themselves who and what they are in a society that will accept them regardless of their choice Along with the openness to gender identity the culture of the Lakota is such that the Wintke are not just accepted in their communities they are also revered As Schutzer 1995 describes We were consulted to divine the success of proposed battles We were tied closely to the war complex we were even a crucial part of it We treated the wounded we had custody of the scalps and carried these into camp We ran the victory dance that followed the raiders39 return Some tribal councils decided nothing without our advice We were called upon to conduct burials There are certain cures and uses for herbs H 9 known only to quotWintkes RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 4 With ownership of these duties came the symbolic system of religion for the Lakota The Wintke were an integral part of the Lakota faith and were called to perform some of the most sacred duties of the tribe Not only a sacred position but one of power as well Having input over tribal decisions making wartime decisions and even performing the Sun dance were all signs of the spiritual power they wielded in their rituals The cultural practice of having Two Spirits are related not only to gender roles but also to the division of labor the political organization and the symbolic systems of the Lakota When the European settlers came to the Great Plains the Lakota found themselves threatened in terms of their land culture and people Nothing was sacred to the settlers who saw the Native Americans as barbarians Lang stated that this was partial because the Lakota had a definition of gender that explicitly allowed for the construction of more than the standardly accepted two genders of male and female in the settler nation As cited by Keshena 2013 This was completely alien to a European JudeoChristian culture that had very defined approved and accepted behaviors from a rigid set of genders Due to this vast difference we see countless entries regarding abuse of Native Americans who exhibited twospirit behavior Roscoe states that During the Spanish conquest of the Turtle Island in which the settlers encountered TwoSpirits in virtually every nation they met the settlers reacted to Two Spirit people with everything from amazement to disgust and biblically justified violence As cited by Keshena 2013 Indeed since the Europeans first came into contact with North American Indians there have been reports of men dressing as women doing women s work and taking up the culturally defined roles of women in their communities Keshena 2013 The settlers had no way to explain these twospirits that clashed with their own RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 5 values The Lakota wintke reacted to colonialism by retracting back into the Lakota Nation for protection and safety However the wintke still exist to this day Regardless of the intent of the settlers to change this aspect of a people they didn t understand that wintke would still survive In researching the Lakota nation I wanted to avoid as much European JudeoChristian relativism as possible Both researches that I used were of the Native American culture and Schutzer was herself a member of the Lakota nation Due to using this method of researching the information I have provided certainly is affected by cultural relativism of the indigenous people of North America and their views towards the settler nation My heritage springs from the Choctaw nation which also in uenced my experience in studying the twospirits and how they have been treated by the European settlers The Hijra of Southern Asia face social exclusion abuse and ridicule They have a long tumultuous history within their culture Nanda 1999 argued that the tolerance and practical accommodation of socalled third gender people in India emanates from Hindu veneration of androgyny as cited by Hossain 2012 however multiple examples of intolerance abuse violence and social exclusion surface within their history Throughout the years a further degradation has occurred within their own culture The Hijra of Southern Asia are the accepted third gender in India Hijra are primarily men who have chosen to behave dress and in many ways imitate a feminine lifestyle With this choice also comes a decision on whether or not they will castrate themselves to their Mother Goddess Bahuchara Mata However contrary to what Crapo 2013 states Hijra are not required to undergo castration to become a Hijra As pointed out by Adnan Hossain 2012 in his paper Beyond Emasculation Being Muslim and Becoming Hijra in South Asia there is no single RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 6 royal road to hijrahood in Bangladesh There are both emasculated and nonemasculated Hijra Hijra who are house holding men and those who are exclusively feminine identified As children a preference for wearing female clothing enjoying household duties music and dancing isn t always viewed negatively in male children Most often the mothers are the most willing to indulge and encourage this behavior Only when these boys were outside the safety of their mothers where they were often viewed as oddities and made fun of by other men of the community Khan et al 2009 However in the Indian culture an Unusual feminine development of early childhood tarnishes the family image Khan et al 2009 as the family is put under more pressure by their community and society that does not accept the Hijra then the behavior of the Hijra becomes condemned by their own family Due to the lack of acceptance Hijra often have to live a double life Khan et al 2009 goes on to report that They wear female clothes and adopt feminine names while visiting peers However they wear male clothes and adopt male gestures while living with or visiting relatives This duality is compounded by the physical and verbal abuse received while they struggle with their identity This condemnation increased when England began trading within India in the 1600 s and into the 1800 s when their control was the strongest Unfortunately as the Hijra were not widely accepted already the European JudeoChristian value system further oppressed the Hijra and contributed to their shaming in the Indian culture This is very similar to the Lakota Lal 1999 as sited by Hossain 2012 said the apparent recalcitrance and irreducibility of Hijra to any neat conceptual category not only troubled the British colonial mind and the European scholarly RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 7 imagination but also posed a direct challenge to the classificatory imperatives of the colonial administration The decision for the Hijra to move out of their family home is precipitated by finding likeminded feminine presenting men Khan et al 2009 Finding other Hijra allows for the building of a community in order to provide protection support and business opportunities Which gives an opportunity to earn money for living expenses Hossain 2012 identifies that Hijra have two practices constituting hijragiri the quintessential occupation of the sadrali Hijra Primarily they perform the badhai which is taking a newborn especially male child in the arms and dancing with the child before demanding gifts in cash and kind as well as having a specific geographical area in which the Hijra is the only one who is allowed to collect alms Hossain 2012 Because the Hijra do still perform important social and religious functions they have a small place in the Indian culture however outside of those roles they are faced with oppression in the form of discrimination and violence Only some Hijra are in a position to perform the badhai or have a place to panhandle In India today there are Hijra who are working as sex workers as they can find no other work These Hijra who work as sex workers often face sexual harassments by forceful unprotected sex The Hijra sex workers were exploited by clients mugged and beaten by hooligans but never received any police support Khan et al 2009 In gathering research I used two main sources for my information on Hijra in Southern Asia Both researchers presented a view of support of the Hijra and finding a way to raise them up out of their oppression and protect their health Both researchers used extensive interviews RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 8 with Hijra to find not only a view separate of Judeo Christian values but to discover the Hijra s own answers for their current situation In studying both the TwoSpirits of the Lakota Nation and the Hijra of Southern Asia I found myself affected by a negative outlook on England s colonization of both communities While my own beliefs are in the Judeo Christian realm I allow more room for gender freedom as I am a feminine presenting lesbian and contrastingly my partner is masculine presenting I have my own bias against those that do not accept others outside of a binary system for gender I know this in uenced my research to have a negative outlook on those who were not accepting of the era or Wintke While the Lakota Nation strives to honor and give a place of safety to the Two Spirit individuals the Hijra of South Asia have very little in the way of support While both the Two Spirits and the Hijra perform religious rites the Hijra do not receive the same level of respect and reverence Colonization has affected both of these cultures in negative ways however only one of these cultures has managed to resist these changes with any degree of success In modern day America we are now seeing a movement for transgendered people and their acceptance into our society New laws are being passed and legislation being written to either exclude or include these people into our society There are lessons to be learned from both the Lakota and Southern Asian people s treatment of their third gender These lessons can be applied to our own growth as a nation in acceptance of transgender inclusion Acceptance and protection have allowed the Wintke to feel safe and provide valuable services to their community Persecution and oppression have placed the Hijra in a poverty state RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION 9 with very little value to provide for their community In conclusion we have seen varying treatment of these individuals who do not fit into a system of specified gender identification These vast differences can be attributed to their societies own view of a third gender and colonization of both cultures There is a correlation between how these people are treated and within their own contributions to their society Reference Crapo R H 2013 Cultural anthropology San Diego CA Bridgepoint Education Hossain A 2012 Beyond Emasculation Being Muslim and Becoming Hijra in South AsiaAsian Studies Review 364 495513 doi101080103578232012739994 Khan 8 Hussain M Parveen S Bhuiyan M Gourab G Sarker G amp Sikder J 2009 Living on the extreme margin social exclusion of the transgender population hijra in Bangladesh Journal Of Health Population And Nutrition 4 441 Keshena E 2013 TwoSpirit People Gender Variance amp Resistance in Onkwehonzwe culture Onkweho nwe rising Retrieved from httponlltwehonwerisingwordDresscom20130518twospiritpeoplegendervariance resistanceinonkwehonweculture RUNNING HEAD ACCEPTANCE AND OPPRESSION Schiitzer Marjorie 1994 Winyanktehc Two Soul Person European Network of Professionals in Transsexulaism Retrieved from httDWWW2endercentreor2auresourcesDolare archivearchivedarticlesWinyanktechahtm 10
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