1. Compare and contrast identity formation among Canada’s First Nations and New Zealand’s Maori.
2. Environmental hazards are often located near disadvantaged social groups. Discuss.
3. Discuss when the Women’s Liberation or Gay Liberation or the North American Civil Rights Movement did and did not conform to the definition of a ‘new social movement’.
4. Compare and contrast the social roles of the Indian Hijras and the North American Two Spirit People.
5. Macionis and Plummer (2012) suggest that ‘black feminism’ critiques the “white and middle-class women’s movement” (p. 410). Discuss.
6. Critically assess the tensions between local and global sexual identities in non-western countries.
The aim of this essay is to discuss the identity and position of the third gender in the society. This essay is completely based on the identity crisis of the third gender and will be focusing on the conditions of these individuals with special features irrespective of countries. The exploitation and ignorance for these individuals are seen to be same in the north America as well as India. They undergo several crises for which the mainstream social thinking and understanding or consideration of gender are responsible (Devine, Savage & Scott, 2005, p. 172). Very few societies in this world have really taken care of these people considering them a gifted part of the society and respect their two-way thinking capabilities and unusual talents. In both the cases of the North American Two Spirit People and the Indian Hijras are considered to function in the systems of multiple gender and seen to be different from the mainstream which has increased their vulnerabilities in the recent times.
Thesis statement: the situation of the Indian Hijras and North American Two Spirit People has no difference and all face the same ignorance and oppression from the society.
Third gender or the third sex is the concept based on which the individuals of the human society are categorized. The word third is actually understood to consider other gender beyond man or woman. According to the biological perspective, the human chromosome may have uncommon variations in the sexual dimorphism which create a degree of ambiguity leading to be known as intersex. From the very beginning of the building of human societies, these people were present in the communities and considered to be special having uncommon qualities to either create good or bad for the humanity. The Hijra is a term given to the intersex people, transgender or eunuchs in the south Asian countries. They associate themselves as Kinnar, the mythological beings with excellent talents of singing and dancing. The Two Spirit People are the indigenous North Americans who fulfill the ceremonial role of the third gender in the communities (Jacobs, Thomas & Lang, 2013, p. 103). There are some very ignorable differences among hoards of similarities among these to communities separated by the huge distance of land.
Both the Indian Hijras and the North American Two Spirit People play a very important role in the religious life of their respective societies. However, this is much more emphasized in the case of Indian Hijras. In earlier times, the Hijras are legitimated by their devotion to the mother Goddess, particularly the ‘Bahuchara Mata’- the goddess who is considered to be the direct patron of the Indian Hijras as a symbol of sacrifice, mutilation and purity (Nanda, 2015, p. 373). There are several myths regarding the dual gender of lord Shiva and the female personification of Krishna- the gods with whom the Indian Hijras identify with. Devoting to Goddess, emasculation and asceticism, the Hijras gain a special prestige and power. It helps them to curse or to bless such type of spiritual roles at the time of celebrations like weddings and child births and the Indian society do respects that to a great extent. On the other hand, North American Two Spirit People perform several rituals and spiritual roles. The North American Two Spirit People are valued for their significant contributions to the tribes, notwithstanding of their gender attributed that they exhibit (Chaudhary & Shukla, 2017, p. 39). They too, gain prestige by means of performing important spiritual role. They are also very strongly connected with the supernatural experiences such as their dreams and visions. It is believed that they give medicines to every problems of real life as they are directly connected to goddess and the spirits. Hence, most of the common public respect and fear them but it is to note that the prestige and power of the Hijras in this regard seems to be of much greater.
Role of Indian Hijras and North American Two Spirit People
As mentioned before, both the Indian Hijras and North American Two Spirit People are the most burdened and exploited sections of the human society (Connell, R. (2017, p. 36). In the Muslim rule in India the Hijras were appointed to be the watchdog of the harem where the women of the palace used to stay. They were most loyal as the Indian mythology states hence had positive role in protecting the holy buildings since the ancient time. Though they are considered to bring good luck to the new born baby that now create scope for their living in the contemporary Indian society, is a far cry from the social standing they experience actually. On the other hand, the North American Two Spirit People are also the sufferers of rumor and tyranny of the western religion which had been true from time immemorial (Haralambos, 2013, p. 129). Due to lack of information of these people, the rumor and gossip continue to flourish which associated them with supernatural. Therefore, they were at the risk of suspicion of the witchcraft, significantly in cases of death or failed harvest. There have been several instances of murder in such cases from time to time (Hale et al., 2013, p.22).
The situations of Indian Hijras and North American Two Spirit People are the same as the information about them are constantly neglected. In this recent time also when the medical science has developed so much, the two spirited are confused being gay. This is the reason why they are being associate with the LGBTQ terminology (Costanza-Chock &Schweidler, 2017, p. 160). There are misconceptions regarding these people which do not allow the society to think that two spirit people are blessed by the Creator for being able to see life though eyes of both genders. They are not gay which is all about attraction to the person of same sex but it is more about embodiment of the two genders residing in one person. These people are not the part of new age movement but were present in the North American society for centuries and showcased their importance in the medical science. Similarly, the Indian Hijras are not accepted in the common families and forced to live in the Hijra community. The term Hijra has Semitic Arabic origin where hjr means leaving one’s tribe. This reveals the tradition of separation of these people from their normal lives and support themselves by doing some particular jobs which the society ask or expect them to do.
Exploitation and Discrimination Faced by Third Gender
In the Indian society, the education of third gender is still uncommon and leading a normal life is impossible (Nanda, 2015). Despite the fact that the situation has change quite in support of the government, the social ignorance has continued to flow. For the Two Spirit People of North America there has been a number of social agencies are working so also for the Hijras in India and other south Asian countries. To build the support system in favor of the two spirited people and the Indian Hijras the research on them is needed. The work places and universities however have started to implement the positive campaigns in support of these people to bring them in the mainstream of the society, this growth is painfully slow. In India, new laws have been passed to empower this gender by making government IDs, access to the equal schooling, employments as well as the social programs. In North America, several programs are aiming to reduce oppression and discrimination of these people in their families, communities and allover society (Giddens, A., & Griffiths,2008, p. 357).The LGBTQ movement has given assurance to the North American Two Spirited people to bring them in the main stream by reducing their physical challenges and freeing the sexuality from questions of dignity and equality. However, the effect has not yet been well defined and established to secure these people from facing social discrimination through unrest.
As mentioned before, these people were once considered having special powers to bring both bans and boons in the society, it was the strategy to secure the rights of these people and secure them from facing the social discrimination in the name of religion but this apotheosis lost its importance with time. Now the third gender are also not considered common but in a negative way. They are forced to leave their families and beg or find work as prostitutes as the government does not ensure their employability like others (Nanda, 2015, p.414). Therefore, with the acknowledgment of citizenship and granting of civil rights for the Indian Hijras and North American Two Spirit People do not effectively support the progressive movement, but increasing discrimination among people.
Therefore, it can be concluded that Indian Hijras and North American Two Spirit People though are separated by miles of distance feel common in their sufferings due to social discrimination and ignorance. Despite the fact that there are several rights and policies present in the administrative context of the countries but these are not applicable until the perceptions of the people regarding third gender will not change. The more they will be separated from the common people the less their advantages will be. This is the reason why ore research on this topic and awareness is needed.
Chaudhary, N., & Shukla, S. (2017). The third gender and their identity in Indian society. In Resistance in Everyday Life(pp. 35-48). Springer, Singapore.
Connell, R. (2017). Masculinities. 5th ed. Cambridge: Polity.
Costanza-Chock, S., &Schweidler, C. (2017). Toward transformative media organizing: LGBTQ and Two-Spirit media work in the United States. Media, Culture & Society, 39(2), 159-184.
Devine, F., Savage, M., & Scott, J. (2005). Rethinking class (pp. 163-185). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Giddens, A., & Griffiths, S. (2008). Sociology (5th ed., pp. 338-380). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Hale, J., McDougall, Elizabeth, Lim, Mee-GaikK, & Washington, Tracy. (2013). Phenomenology of Two-Spirit Identity: Reservation to Urban Social Landscapes, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.
Haralambos, M. (2013). Haralambos & Holborn sociology (5th ed., pp. 101-153). London: Collins.
Jacobs, S. E., Thomas, W., & Lang, S. (Eds.). (2013). Two-spirit people: Native American gender identity, sexuality, and spirituality. University of Illinois Press.
Nanda, S. (2015). Hijras. The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, 501-581.
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