User Tag List

Results 1 to 10 of 10

  1. #1

    Default Afghans Disguising Daughters As Sons For Social Status

    I've heard of people in oppressive, war-torn nations disguising their daughters as sons for safety & protection, but I was not aware the practice was done for social status reasons and was considered acceptable to boot.

    Bacha Posh
    When Azita Rafhat, a former member of the Afghan parliament, gets her daughters ready for school, she dresses one of the girls differently.

    Three of her daughters are clothed in white garments and their heads covered with white scarves, but a fourth girl, Mehrnoush, is dressed in a suit and tie. When they get outside, Mehrnoush is no longer a girl but a boy named Mehran.

    Azita Rafhat didn't have a son, and to fill the gap and avoid people's taunts for not having a son, she opted for this radical decision. It was very simple, thanks to a haircut and some boyish clothes.

    There is even a name for this tradition in Afghanistan - Bacha Posh, or disguising girls as boys.

    "When you have a good position in Afghanistan and are well off, people look at you differently. They say your life becomes complete only if you have a son," she says.
    Many girls disguised as boys can be found in Afghan markets. Some families disguise their daughters as boys so that they can easily work on the streets to feed their families.

    Some of these girls who introduce themselves as boys sell things like water and chewing gum. They appear to be aged anywhere between about five and 12. None of them would talk to me about their lives as boys.

    Girls brought up as boys do not stay like this all their lives. When they turn 17 or 18 they live life as a girl once again - but the change is not so simple.
    He says those families who do not have a son disguise their daughters as boys for good luck so that God gives them a son.

    Mothers who do not have sons come to the shrine of Hazrat-e Ali and ask him to grant them sons, he adds.

    Atiqullah Ansari says that according to Islam the girls who live as boys must cover their heads when they come of age.

    In Afghanistan, stories like this have become more common. Almost everyone has relatives or neighbours who have tried this.
    The tradition has had a damaging effect on some girls who feel they have missed out on essential childhood memories as well as losing their identity.

    For others it has been good experiencing freedoms they would never have had if they had lived as girls.
    Wiki link

    I find that last claim to be suspect, but maybe I'm just prejudiced because the practice seems abhorrent to me. One mother interviewed claimed her young daughter "wanted to do it for the family." I find that highly unlikely.

    I'd also like to know specifically what damaging effects were noted in girls that grew up to resent the practice and how the information was gathered. It seems like accuracy and data are not things easy to come by in remoter parts of Afghanistan. Are there studies on this sort of thing? I would think so, but probably under different circumstances in other parts of the world.

    I remember reading an article not too long ago about a couple in the U.S. that raised their child unisexually and didn't declare the birth sex until after the child was well into grade school and chose to identify with a gender. I'm not sure that this is really comparable though as that was simply a lack of gender direction whereas this was clearly gender misdirection.

    I'm sad that for so many females in the world, it is socially undesirable to have been born at all. Your thoughts.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  2. #2
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    isfp
    Enneagram
    4w5 sp/sx
    Posts
    8,595

    Default

    This is an example of why traditions are not self-justifying.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  3. #3
    figsfiggyfigs
    Guest

    Default

    Pathetic.

  4. #4
    Diabolical Kasper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Enneagram
    9w8 so/sx
    Posts
    11,544

    Default

    Why judge a different culture based on your own standards?


    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    One mother interviewed claimed her young daughter "wanted to do it for the family." I find that highly unlikely.
    I don't. Many children look to others for guidance, if they are being told by society around them that this is how you can help your family I'm sure there would be some children who would claim it as their own choice.

    Of course I find that sad that they can't be themselves and be treated just as well as a brother would be and afforded all the same opportunities.

    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    I'd also like to know specifically what damaging effects were noted in girls that grew up to resent the practice and how the information was gathered. It seems like accuracy and data are not things easy to come by in remoter parts of Afghanistan. Are there studies on this sort of thing? I would think so, but probably under different circumstances in other parts of the world.
    There's a very interesting book titled Women Who Become Men: Albanian Sworn Virgins (Dress, Body, Culture) that delves into the practice in rural regions of Albania, the practice is dying out now but most of these women who become men remain men through adult-hood and the reasons are varied, some seem more comfortable that way and may be transgendered in some form, some do it for the safety and security of their families, they may be the only man in the family, some do it for the status and opportunity it provides.

    The writer travelled around select and very rural areas in Albania to interview these men for the book, many were so accepted in their communities even their closest neighbors didn't know they weren't born male.

    We're talking about cultures where there are very ridged roles for men and women, places where simply cutting your hair short, changing your clothes and taking on a different role would have everyone around you perceive you to be male, sure doesn't happen around here or in any western city. Very traditional.

    It's an interesting read, finding a way of understanding why they did what they did through their own stories.

    It also goes the other way, look at Samoa for example:


  5. #5
    Permabanned
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    2,152

    Default

    Humans are weird. We tend to do weird things...

  6. #6
    Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    MBTI
    ENFP
    Enneagram
    6w7 sp/so
    Socionics
    IEI
    Posts
    2,841

    Default

    In Afghanistan, stories like this have become more common. Almost everyone has relatives or neighbours who have tried this.
    One would think, that if so many families practice this method of lying, that they would just accept that not having a son maybe isn't a bad thing, and thus not force their dsughters to cross-dress for status approval. Then again, this is also a society that actively oppresses it's women due to long held social tradition, so I'm doubtful of any significant social progess being made in this matter.

  7. #7
    meinmeinmein! mmhmm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2,300

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasper View Post
    Why judge a different culture based on your own standards?
    exactly.

    it's like those people that are aghast at why mauritanian slaves--even
    though they've been "freed", some slaves still return to their owners.
    and totally forget how and why slavery is still so deeply entrenched into
    the psyche of mauritanians (that's in A-fri-ca)

    when i read little personal views on issues like these, all i see is
    just a reflection of how wide of a scope one has beyond their own world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Idealist View Post
    One would think, that if so many families practice this method of lying, that they would just accept that not having a son maybe isn't a bad thing, and thus not force their dsughters to cross-dress for status approval. Then again, this is also a society that actively oppresses it's women due to long held social tradition, so I'm doubtful of any significant social progess being made in this matter.
    ah yes. like homosexuality in all parts of the world.
    every normal man must be tempted, at times,
    to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag,
    and begin slitting throats.
    h.l. mencken

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mmhmm View Post
    when i read little personal views on issues like these, all i see is
    just a reflection of how wide of a scope one has beyond their own world.
    I'm making a value judgement about a cultural practice that I have limited information about, sort of like you're making a value judgement about posters that you have limited information about. We both reserve the right to do it.


    And I happen to think this embracing of multiculturalism attitude that is growing nowadays is not a bad one, but I think it can be taken too far. Just because practices happen 'somewhere else' and 'they just do things different there' doesn't mean it's off the table for discussion.

    But I'm sure you and @Kasper know this.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  9. #9
    Diabolical Kasper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Enneagram
    9w8 so/sx
    Posts
    11,544

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    And I happen to think this embracing of multiculturalism attitude that is growing nowadays is not a bad one, but I think it can be taken too far. Just because practices happen 'somewhere else' and 'they just do things different there' doesn't mean it's off the table for discussion.

    But I'm sure you and @Kasper know this.
    Not at all, but the outcome cannot be measured by the same standards, it's the causes that matter, and if they are based in inequality then it is not okay in my mind to accept that different cultures will simply be different.

    The way I come at it is this, the fact that little girls are being raised as boys in order to receive benefit isn't a huge thing to me compared to the fact that they need to be someone they are not in order to be given opportunity and overcome oppression. It's the value and expectations placed on women that is the issue, with topics like this it would be too easy to ask wtf are the parents doing that they'd put their daughters in that position, but that's not the issue, if it was then it would happen so rarely that you wouldn't hear about it except in sensationalist news that wants to shock. It's an issue in their wider society that says boys have more value, any fundamentalist society with ridged gender roles can be questioned and found guilty of pushing their children to be someone they are not.

    The question you raise about long lasting effects on these girls who are made into boys is an interesting one, imo how big an impact t has would depend on if they are expected to lie to everyone, if they can be themselves at home and if they enjoy the benefits. Having been in a comparable position for very different reasons I can assure you it would put them in many uncomfortable situations but if they know who they are, and they know their family does as well, and find they are afforded greater respect and opportunities the harm may be minimised. I compare them to the girls who are raised as girls and treated as lesser because of it, both situations cause harm imo. Those who are not given the chance of education would be the ones hurt for longer in life.

  10. #10
    Diabolical Kasper's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Enneagram
    9w8 so/sx
    Posts
    11,544

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by iwakar View Post
    And I happen to think this embracing of multiculturalism attitude that is growing nowadays is not a bad one, but I think it can be taken too far. Just because practices happen 'somewhere else' and 'they just do things different there' doesn't mean it's off the table for discussion.

    But I'm sure you and @Kasper know this.
    Not at all, but the outcome cannot be measured by the same standards, it's the causes that matter, and if they are based in inequality then it is not okay in my mind to accept that different cultures will simply be different.

    The way I come at it is this, the fact that little girls are being raised as boys in order to receive benefit isn't a huge thing to me compared to the fact that they need to be someone they are not in order to be given opportunity and overcome oppression. It's the value and expectations placed on women that is the issue, with topics like this it would be too easy to ask wtf are the parents doing that they'd put their daughters in that position, but that's not the issue, if it was then it would happen so rarely that you wouldn't hear about it except in sensationalist news that wants to shock. It's an issue in their wider society that says boys have more value, any fundamentalist society with ridged gender roles can be questioned and found guilty of pushing their children to be someone they are not.

    The question you raise about long lasting effects on these girls who are made into boys is an interesting one, imo how big an impact t has would depend on if they are expected to lie to everyone, if they can be themselves at home and if they enjoy the benefits. Having been in a comparable position for very different reasons I can assure you it would put them in many uncomfortable situations but if they know who they are, and they know their family does as well, and find they are afforded greater respect and opportunities the harm may be minimised. I compare them to the girls who are raised as girls and treated as lesser because of it, both situations cause harm imo. Those who are not given the chance of education would be the ones hurt for longer in life.

Similar Threads

  1. Angry Afghan leader assails Pakistan as haven for deadly Taliban attacks
    By Olm the Water King in forum Politics, History, and Current Events
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-10-2015, 11:29 AM
  2. [ENTJ] ENTJs what were you like as children? For instance your social life as a child/teen
    By Brian2626 in forum The NT Rationale (ENTP, INTP, ENTJ, INTJ)
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-10-2012, 09:59 PM
  3. How is this as "Type for Dummies"?
    By Eric B in forum Myers-Briggs and Jungian Cognitive Functions
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 11-04-2009, 08:44 PM
  4. Es have greater need for social acceptance?
    By Chloe in forum Myers-Briggs and Jungian Cognitive Functions
    Replies: 39
    Last Post: 07-29-2009, 04:34 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO