You are on page 1of 4

Kelly Atkinson

27 January 2016
Journal 4: Fafafines in Samoa
1. The Fafafines are found in Samoa. Somoa is one of a group of
Polynesian islands in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and New
Zealand. This gender is the sex of a male but is raised a girl/female.
Unlike Western societies the specific role the Fafafines play in
Samoan society is acknowledged and accepted. Young boys in
families in Samoa are not necessarily homosexual or noticeably
different but they were born into a family that had plenty of boys
and not enough girls. The parents pick which boy or boys from the
family to help the mother, and as they grow and develop their role
in the house/society does not change. It is not discussed how the
boys felt about the process but in traditional culture they were
forced to be a woman. The boys were performing tasks that are
strictly for women therefore they are further raised as a female in
their society. As they get older, while still performing womens
work, they will marry ( usually a woman) and continue the same
Although this is how the Fafafines traditionally began, in todays
generation they are more likely to have chosen to live as a woman or
they are homosexual. Their parents will not encourage or discourage

the behavior of transitioning to be a woman. Although if the boys are

more feminine or enjoy dressing as a girl they can be recognized and
supported by their parents to be fafafine. They are allowed to follow
the path they choose which is very admorable. Samoan men can make
a fafafine a very valuable member of society because the main goal of
transitioning is so they can help the mother by doing the same job
while also contributing to the job a man does. It is a popular thing to
do in Samoa because they are hard working and always help the
community. Lorber asks the question what would happen if they
were? as in what would happen if a boy was mistaken for a girl and
vice versa. He states they would quite literally have changed places in
the social world. The boys in Samoa are a real life example of them
switching places in the social world because they do everything a
woman does plus the jobs of man.
2. Sworn Virgins in Albania and Five Genders in Indonesia are perfect
examples of the difference between sex and gender. One has no
control over their sex because they are biologically born with sexual
parts. Gender is a social construct and is proven through people
choosing to exist and coexist as a man or a woman in their
culture/society. In Indonesia there are five genders and they all play
a different role in society to keep the country in balance. The
genders different from man and woman are said to have spiritual
power because they can coexist with each other and understand
both sides of the spectrum. A good example from Indonesia of

another gender is the calabai in which the biological female lives as

a man. Lorber states that gender construction starts with
assignment to a sex category on the basis of what the genitalia look
like at birth. Sex categories become a gender status as one grows
and develops in their society. But in some cultures they are allowed
to choose what gender or are opted into another one due to lack of
enough of one gender and role. In Albania a woman can take a vow
of celibacy and opt to live as a man because there are not enough
boys in their family. Lorber clears up that gender is a learned
behavior from teaching, learning, emulation, and enforcement.
3. Gender is culturally constructed and is proven by the differences in
types of gender across the globe. In Indonesia there are five
genders but in the U.S. there are only two. One of transgender is
not considered to be a third gender in the U.S. but in other countries
such as Albania or Indonesia, other genders are supported and
constructed to support their culture. Lorber states that if gender
structures social life they have to be clearly differentiated. Gender
is practiced in everyday life and policies how men and women
should act. Gender and sex are not equivalent and is proven by the
difference in every culture. Men and women have different tasks
and are determined by if they are man or woman. But in some
countries that are more accepting of other genders, gender can be
decided by choosing people for different tasks. Such as 1. Talents,
motivations; 2. Gender, race, ethnicity. All of these things listed are

similar to how Albania and Indonesia perform gender. If a key

gender is missing or a lack of one gender is missing people can fill
the spot by acting their role in their culture.