Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America
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- Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
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- Dimensions (in):6 x 0.7 x 9
- Publication Date:June 17, 2000
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In many Native American tribal societies, it was not uncommon for some men to live as women and some women to live as men. In this land, the original America, men who wore women’s clothes and did women’s work became artists, ambassadors, and religious leaders, and women sometimes became warriors, hunters and even chiefs. Same-sex marriages flourished. Berdaches—individuals who combine male and female social roles with traits unique to their status as a third gender—have been documented in more than 150 North American tribes. By looking at this aspect of non-Western culture, Roscoe challenges the basis of the dualistic way most Americans think about sexuality, and shakes the foundation of the way we understand and define gender.
Will Roscoe makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of both Native American culture and alternative gender construction in this extension of the groundbreaking research in The Zuni Man-Woman. More than 150 tribes across America have members who engage in some form of gender identification beyond "male" and "female." Roscoe's study reveals how integral these third and fourth genders, and same-sex marriage, have been to the tribes' societies, in contrast to the intolerance demonstrated by the Judeo-Christian culture of the descendants of European invaders. His analysis of these tribes, rooted in the empirical evidence of their histories, also provides a fascinating counterpoint to theories about homosexual identity rooted solely in modern, Western preconceptions.
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