Cultural Diversity around the World
How does the sworn virgins of Albania help to explain what gender is?
The term gender role is used to signify all those things that a person says or does to disclose him or herself as having the status of female or male. Depending of our gender, society dictates what is expected of us; our attitudes and behaviors. Biologically, gender classifications are universal, we are either born as a male or female however, each culture has it owns guidelines for what is appropriate for our sex. Society is the responsible for the meaning of masculinity and femininity and the Sworn Virgins of Albania are a perfect example of this concept. They have shown to the world that a biological woman can do the work of a man and function in each of the male’s social roles with the exception of marriage.
How was the custom and practice of the sworn virgins functional for this society?
I think that there are many reasons why a woman in Albania would have wanted to take this vow. The “Sworn Virgins” is a practice that had been carried on from traditions which stem from the Albanian culture. It is the result of a society where women for centuries had virtually no standing. The practice became functional because, women who wanted to enjoy the same rights had to resort to this measure to share an equal standing with the men. Besides the reason of gaining social equality with men, these sworn virgins also took their oath due to other practical reasons such as to become the head of the family due to the lack of a male heir.
How do symbols underlie and maintain women becoming men in this society?
The act of being a sworn virgin, despite empowering women, actually reinforces patriarchy in the Albanian society. To some extend, the feeling that they’ve got to be a man at the head, reinforces this theory. So in reality, it is the image of a man in society that enables one to be able to enjoy the rights of one, and not the...
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