Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Understanding

So I’ve come quite a ways in understanding the culture of the Hijras since beginning this blog. Although at first I couldn’t understand why anyone would leave their families to do something as drastic as changing their gender, I now understand that at times you have to put yourself first and do what pleases you, or in the cases where the Hijras are kicked out, you do what you need to do to live happily without your birth family.

The Hijras are performers, and as someone who has seen multiple plays in which my friends were acting, I have seen how simple it is for people to perform different roles. Even though the Hijras are not performing a fictional role, they are performing ‘gender roles’ which essentially means that they are performing the third gender. In the class for which I am writing this blog, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, we discussed how gender is not a function of sex, instead it is a role that people perform in society. This is why it is possible for multiple genders to exist within one culture. The behaviors or gender roles that the Hijras perform let the society they live in know who they are and what gender they associate themselves with. As I mentioned in earlier entries, the Hijras do not consider themselves to be women when they are becoming a Hijra, and only some of them consider themselves to be women once the operation is complete. Generally they consider themselves Hijras, or the third gender of India.

Although there is still one aspect of Hijra culture, the homosexuality of some of the prostitutes, I understand why the Hijras want to become Hijras and why they are willing to go to such lengths to become who they feel they really are.

Works Cited:

Nanda, Serena
1999 The Hijras of India: Neither Man nor Woman. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

2 comments:

Zach Ariah said...

It is evident that you have placed aside your cultural lenses while learning about the Hijra culture. And it is obvious that you “immersed” yourself, as much as possible, to gain a clearer understanding of this cultural practice, and that you have come to respect and make sense of such a different lifestyle. The rites of passage that one undergoes to become a Hijra are frightening, but deserving of admiration. You explained, with comprehension of the practices, the identity issues and the Hijra lifestyle as well as the social, political and religious difficulties that Hijras face. They have been marginalized and excluded from society, yet they are still needed. The comparison of how Hijras view themselves with the way that the rest of India views them is fascinating. It is also interesting to compare India’s perspectives with how American culture, or western culture in general, views the Hijra lifestyle. Obviously we are much less accepting and tolerating of such practices. This is partly due to our lack of religious culture. The unit we did in class was very interesting, and your blog not only reinforces, but also promotes tolerance (understanding) of this cultural practice.

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