Sunday, May 23, 2010

Five Genders

Last year on The National Geographic channel I saw a video on the 5 gender system based on the Bugis culture in Indonesia. When I created this blog 4 days ago, I thought of this story immediately and decided I must write about it!

In the US we have a simple way of viewing gender =Male or Female= Some will say this is the correct and only way to view gender and others will disagree. However it is undeniable that there lies a third group, transgender. Transgender is misunderstood and an underrepresented minority group in the US. However, that is not the case for all over the world.

In Indonesia, the Bugis culture has a gender system where they recognize and accept 5 genders, because they realize the acceptance of the differences among people brings balance and harmony in the world. The genders are oroane, calabai, bissu, calalai, and makkunrai. Oroane is a masculine male and makkunrai is a feminine female. These two are the only acceptable genders based on the norms of the US. Then we have calabai which is a feminine male (see picture), meaning they are biologically male but they hold social roles, occupations, and habits of a female. Calalai is the exact opposite of calabai. Calalai is biologically a female, but they hold social roles, occupations, and habits of a male. However, calabai and calalai do not want to become or be considered a female nor a male, so they are given a separate identity. The one that is the most interesting is the bissu, because they incorporate elements of all genders. I find this to be most noticeable in their appearance, because they could be wearing a dress, have a flower in their hair, and have makeup on, but have long beards and be carrying around a knife at the same time.
In their culture there is no reason why they can not be accepted by everyone as long as they are a good person and work hard.

Many things in this world are viewed as not black or white or right or wrong... meaning there is a grey scale, a place for when something is not quite right or wrong. So how come gender can not be viewed and accepted all over the world as being on a continuum?

Does this gender system really bring balance and harmony into the world? I am not quite sure of the answer, but I assume that it contributes to having less violence, more happiness and peace in the world.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Who am I and why psychology, culture, and everyday life?

I think to better understand my blog one will need to know a little about me and where I am coming from, so here it goes....

To begin with, my name is Mindy. I was born in NYC, but I am not anywhere near being a New Yorker. I lived most of my life on the Island of Aruba, and recently moved back to the States, where I am currently living in Minneapolis, MN. So I am slowly transforming from an Islander back to an American. Crazy right? So I think I became really interested in culture since I am half American and half Argentine, but grew up in Aruba and had my share of traveling and being exposed to many different cultures. Every part in the world represents millions of different things which sets them apart from one another, which I find so intriguing. As I learn more I will post more!
Like everyone else my life has been turned upside down and took some twists and turns many times, but everyone’s experience is different. I like to think about life in general and having meaning in life a lot. I think experiencing the best and worst of life and then reflecting on it to be a very important part of self-growth. Thus, I like to make a section about everyday life, and I don’t mean everyday life in my life ;-)
Psychology. The reason for that is simple. I am majoring in Psychology at the University of Minnesota. I am fascinated with everything and anything that is linked to psychology. I would love sharing my findings of things that I am learning about psychology along the way.

I think this sums it up.

Thanks for your interest.