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Gender on the EdgeTransgender, Gay, and Other Pacific Islanders$
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Niko Besnier and Kalissa Alexeyeff

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838829

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838829.001.0001

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Representing Fa‘afafine

Representing Fa‘afafine

Sex, Socialization, and Gender Identity in Samoa

Chapter:
(p.73) Chapter 4 Representing Fa‘afafine
Source:
Gender on the Edge
Author(s):

Penelope Schoeffel

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824838829.003.0004

This chapter examines three anthropological theories suggesting that fa'afafine is a social institution in Samoa that function as negative models for the psychosexual reinforcement of masculinity, or as gender or sexual surrogates. The first explanation, proposed by Bradd Shore, argues that the alleged institutionalization of fa'afafine reinforces masculine psychosexual development. The second, articulated by Jeannette Mageo, rests on a notion of gender surrogacy in which some boys are socialized to assume women's roles in order to balance the household division of labor when families have a shortage of girls. The third explanation, advanced by Douglass Drozdow-St. Christian, claims that some boys are socialized to be sexually effminate as sexual surrogates. The chapter challenges these three views, noting in particular the assertion that the institutionalization of transgender males reinforces masculine psychosexual development, which it says is contradicted by the aggressive socialization of Samoan boys to conform to ideal norms of masculinity.

Keywords:   fa'afafine, Samoa, masculinity, gender, sexual surrogates, psychosexual development, gender surrogacy, transgender, socialization, sex

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