Who they are?



Sworn virgins ( "Virginas" )

Considering social relations from the gender perspective, difference and specificity of one gender opposing the other is what comes first, while gender relations, differences and conflicts can be observed not only as the product of a given social context but also as the elements which constitute, move and shape the given social reality.

Identity is based on passionate relations of an individual with “other” phenomena which emphasize the differences and potentially destabilize individual identity. We can conclude that the identity is built through realization of oneself but is affirmed by the social environment, and its basic characteristics include multilayer and variable features. To an individual, identity is not just merging of social roles and affiliations, but can be understood as a dynamic whole in which different elements act complementary and inconsistently.

Patriarchal and traditional society in the Balkans where reproduction of a male offspring is the essence of its maintenance and existence, by turning the unworthy female children into male, reestablishes social balance and in this a bit unorthodox way defies the extinction of the traditional way of life. Assuming the characteristics of the other gender (without changing sex), sworn virgins in the Balkans, like Hijra in India, transfer them into the third gender category.

Subversive power of the third gender ist the violation of the stability of all identities, and when the third gender wears a traditional costume the question of identity becomes even more complicated. By presenting themselves in male and female traditional Balkan costume, sworn virgins form visual discrepancy, which evokes the existing instability and frailty of individual identity.