Transgender and henna, separation of sexes, and little boys


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Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 21, 2002 at 16:02:54:

In reply to: Transgender and henna, the precepts posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 21, 2002 at 16:00:28:

(please ignore the oddly placed ?'s. Something between word doc and
the forum script scrambles some punctuation marks and turns them into ?'s)

SO ?.

The Middle East and North Africa evolved societies that had, on the
surface, very rigid gender roles, where people with penises are to
perform VERY MANLY role, and people with vaginas are to perform a VERY
FEMININE role. To a certain extent, keeping up appearances worked. As
long as a person could perform gender satisfactorily, what was done in
private, with all concerned keeping each other?s secrets, was simply
not on the radar. Until someone got nosey or vindictive, and then
things got dangerous.

The separation of sexes set up some difficult situations.

When a boy was young, he stayed with his mother, who often heaped
adoration on her little darling. A healthy son was her meal ticket,
retirement plan, health care policy and bank account. A woman?s name
changed when she had her first son. Instead of ?Cathy? she would be
?Mother of John?. Without a son, she was vulnerable to repudiation
(divorce). Infant mortality was around 30%, so having the SON, and
keeping him ALIVE was EVERYTHING. The son might eventually bring home
a wife, in which case mommy could finally stop working so hard.

So ? young boys were the DARLINGS. Living with the women, he might
learn to dance, sing ? he?d be indulged and pampered, taken to the
women?s bath, played with his sisters, aunts and all the women. A
rude shock was on the way. When the boy matured a bit, and noticed
something was different about women, and began to react to it, he was
thrown out of the women?s quarters. This often coincided with his
circumcision, when he became a man. That would have been somewhere
between age 4 and 14 in North Africa. One day, the boy was told that
there?d be a BIG party, and he?d ride on a pretty white horse, and get
dressed up like a bride, with henna, kohl, a veil, and a sheep would
be killed in his honor and there?d be a big feast and all the
relatives would come ? and he?d be excited, and knew vaguely that he?d
be a man and that it had something to do with having a penis. And then
?? OOOOOOOWWWWWWIIIIIEEEEEEE with the knife and no anesthesia, blood
and not only that but he couldn?t run to mommy and sisters and cry.
He had to be a man now, and couldn?t live with the women anymore.

 


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