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Asunto:[RedLuz] Gay Times in Oaxaca: Changing Celebrations of Third Gender
Fecha:Lunes, 8 de Octubre, 2007  20:52:45 (-0500)
Autor:Proyecto Interredes <lacasadelared>

Gay Times in Oaxaca: Changing Celebrations of Third Gender

Brenda Maiale
Department of Anthropology,
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

Muxe have long been considered members of a third gender among the
Isthmus Zapotecs of Oaxaca, Mexico.  Although they do not claim to be
women, muxe refer to themselves as feminine (afeminado) and are
generally employed in female vocations, often wear traditional female
dress, and take the passive role with men they choose as sex partners.
 Historically muxe were accepted as a well-integrated and legitimate
part of Zapotec culture.  However, Zapotec gender subjectivities have
begun to undergo dramatic change in the last fifteen years.

Transnational attention to the many political and economic crises
which affected the nation and the concurrent introduction of
technologies such as the internet have facilitated communication
within and across the Mexican national border.

Muxe can now participate on-line in global gay rights campaigns, AIDS
outreach programs, pan-Latin America gay chat rooms, and
other guides to Mexico's gay activities, and regional forums such as
the newly created  Muxe groups in Oaxaca use internet
chat rooms and bulletin boards to post activities such as the
muxe-sponsored fiestas which take place in Oaxaca City and the Isthmus
every few months. Although these parties began as a means to celebrate
muxe as a feminine Zapotec subjectivity which derived its significance
from traditional culture, activities at more recent parties suggest
that muxe have begun to redefine and reposition themselves in line
with global frameworks and Western-derived discourses on homosexuality
and gay rights.

In this paper, I analyze the significance of changes in muxe fiesta
structure and dressing practices for the re-negotiation of muxe gender
and sexuality in light of heightened global connectivity.  At parties
muxe held several years ago, they dressed like their mothers and
sisters in traditional traje, and the structure of the events deviated
little from standard fiesta structure.  At recent fiestas, muxe wear
sexually revealing clothes and often don corsets and mini skirts cut
from traditional dress, angering many Zapotec women.  At these events
drag shows are common features and condoms and lubricant are given out
in addition to the standard gifts from the hosts.

These practices suggest a transition from celebrating muxe gender to
celebrating muxe sexuality.  The emphasis on sexual practice also
suggests a new role for the body, and indeed many muxe are now
cultivating a leaner, harder look in contrast to the former ideal
which emulated the plump, full-bottomed Zapotec woman.  As muxe call
attention to their bodily differences and move away from sharing
gender roles with women, women now view muxe practices with suspicion,
and nascent homophobia is present in regions of Oaxaca in which a
third gender role had been well accepted.

Western discourses emphasize personal appearance and bodily expression
as primary markers of gender.  As muxe gender is constructed and
negotiated in line with these new frameworks, they no longer easily
fit older, local frameworks which define gender as an effect of
production and domestic activity.  An analysis of this contestation
yield key insights into the intersection of local and global
sexualities and gender identification.

VIII Encuentro Iberoamericano de Luz
Uspallata, Octubre 19-22
Informes e inscripciones:
Suma tu voz al nuevo viento!