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A `Different' Body? Desire and Virginity Among Gitanos

Paloma Gay-Y-Blasco
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Vol. 3, No. 3 (Sep., 1997), pp. 517-535
DOI: 10.2307/3034765
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3034765
Page Count: 19
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A `Different' Body? Desire and Virginity Among Gitanos
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Abstract

This article addresses anthropological conceptualizations of `sex' (as biology/nature) and `gender' (as culture). Anthropologists find it difficult to conceptualize gender except through a binary and reproduction-oriented view of sexual difference. Using data collected among Gitanos (Spanish Gypsies), the article illustrates how to understand the physicality of the body without abandoning the idea that maleness and femaleness are culturally constructed. Although these Gitanos see heterosexual difference as the basis of personal identity, the bodily element through which they define femaleness-the honra, or Bartholin's Glands-occupies no place in popular Western or anthropological imaginations. This article describes practices and understandings that contribute to the creation of Gitano femaleness. Just as the experience of being a woman or a man varies cross-culturally, so the body also differs.

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