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  1. #11
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    Not as it is used in academia. My BA (incomplete) was in Feminist Studies - and there are a wide range of Feminisms - not all of which fits that definition.
    Since my feminism has always been practical rather than academic I concede that particular point to you. In common usage: Nevah!
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    Well, here's the thing. I existed way before the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish version has its roots outside of Turkey, In other words, it was something that they adopted from their southern neighbors. Reasons for saying this. The fact is that this style of movement, centered in the hips and abdominal area, is African in origin. Reason for saying that? The fact that the overwhelming majority of dances that are based on this theme are to be found in Africa. It is my contention, based on observing the fact that the pelvic centered dances of North Africa, including Egypt, bare a striking resemblance to other dance forms found all across the continent. Therefore, the most likely route of transmition, was out of Africa, via Egypt, into the Eastern Mediterranian and then into Anatolia. One of the easons I strongly believe this is because the overwhelming majority of dances in the Eastern Med area and Anatolia are line and circle dances relying on stomping and footwork patterns, such as Debka. However, the Nile Vally has no tradition of Debka. Had the dance tradition migrated from North to south, it would stand to reason that this style of dancing would have also followed. However, what we see, is that pelvic centered dances in those regions are the exception rather than the rule when looking at the over all dance traditions.

    As far as the gender divide. As social dances go, this mode of dancing is unisex. In the Ottoman Empire Anatolia, only men and boys performed in public. Women performed in private for female udiences primarily. In Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, there were both male and female public performers. In Tunisia you can still see them and although the visability of male dancers today is limited primarily to the resort towns of the Red Sea, Turkey has seen a resurgence of the traditional Kochecks. So yes, there is cultural and historical precedent for male solo dancers in the region. But keep in mind that they all did their own variations of what we broadly label "belly dance". Therefore, what is done in Tunisia, is not identical to that which is done in Egypt, which is not identical to that which is done in Turkey.

  3. #13
    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    Well. As best as I can tell. In the past, men of all "persuasions" could be found as performers. In Egypt, there were the khawals, which is Egyptian slang for an effeminate man. My personal belief is that these were individuals who would have been classified as twin spirited in certain Native American societies, or intersexed or transgender in ours. The thing is back then, society tried to find a place for everyone to fit. So men who did not fall neatly into the male gender identity had to exist somewhere, so where they were allowed a place in society was in the field of entertainment. It may not have been a prestigious place, but it was a place. The coming of European colonialism however, has destroyed that place, at least in Egypt. I know they still exist in Morocco and I believe they do in Turkey as well. The kick in the head though is that at the time when they existed in Egypt, the country was ruled by Sharia law. Go figure! I chalk it up to the fact that they believed everyone had a right to life and the ability to provide for themselves in some capacity. A lot more humane than the Western influence post colonialist society of today!

  4. #14
    Moderator Shanazel's Avatar
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    I existed way before the Ottoman Empire.
    You're a lot older than you look.
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the unicorn " if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you."

  5. #15
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarik Sultan View Post
    Well. As best as I can tell. In the past, men of all "persuasions" could be found as performers. In Egypt, there were the khawals, which is Egyptian slang for an effeminate man. My personal belief is that these were individuals who would have been classified as twin spirited in certain Native American societies, or intersexed or transgender in ours. The thing is back then, society tried to find a place for everyone to fit. So men who did not fall neatly into the male gender identity had to exist somewhere, so where they were allowed a place in society was in the field of entertainment. It may not have been a prestigious place, but it was a place. The coming of European colonialism however, has destroyed that place, at least in Egypt. I know they still exist in Morocco and I believe they do in Turkey as well. The kick in the head though is that at the time when they existed in Egypt, the country was ruled by Sharia law. Go figure! I chalk it up to the fact that they believed everyone had a right to life and the ability to provide for themselves in some capacity. A lot more humane than the Western influence post colonialist society of today!
    In Oman the Xanith or Knaneeth still exist and they dance and I understand the term Khaneeth to be a derogatory term to be levied on males in general, but what I understand of Islamic law is there are various Hadith that allow for what is called half men to which the effeminate applied. As to what caused the Kochek to migrate was Turkey trying to align itself with European ideals in the nineteenth century, so yes damaging colonial attitudes again but I believe the kochek being booted out of Turkey followed one of them being executed for an affair with the Janissary which caused unrest within the ranks for in a society devoid of women Ottoman male life life was a lonely one and pederastry was common, where again different rules applied because as you say everyone as God's creation had a right to life and to find a place in it. And yeah I know it is a distasteful subject given our modern understanding but we cannot apply our standards on the past and other cultures and ignore much because we don't like it for to ignore removes much that might be useful. Not so long after the kochek were expelled the 'brothers of the spoon';Janissary were also disbanded to make way for the new military modelled on dominant European ideas.

    As to hip dance being of African origin I don't doubt, but what I'm on about is male public dancers, what would have been seen by the public and there reported where there is European accounts of male public dancers in Turkey. As to what they were dancing European accounts appear not to describe belly dance as we know it where perhaps what we know as belly dance is perhaps no more than a hundred years old. What I am suggesting is what was Turkish as a mixture of surrounding influences migrated to Egypt and other places to mix again with what was local and wanted to undoubtedly become what we know today. But male public dancers existed in the region in antiquity and so there is no reason why males should be excluded today, especially in countries that have nothing to do with the regions concerned where of those countries they need to learn one cannot take what suits and deny the rest for that is reinterpreting another's history and culture, where if allowed unchallenged the danger is the re education of the concerned cultures themselves, where perhaps we are already seeing that as what the colonial influence did, where maybe it will be found in time where perhaps we can expect a backlash against the west?

    I understand in some Islamic countries transgender is common as it is seen as a cure for homosexuality, where as trans/ visually half men, existing rules apply and there is no longer a problem.

    Oh and edited to add somewhere in what I've read, accounts from the past were male public dancers in Turkey, given the Janissary who would be armed, the dancers dancing with swords of which I wonder could such be another possible origin of the modern dancing with swords thing, where I have noticed the majority of swords in modern dance use appear to be of the Turkish Kilij design, which I guess would be the dominant design where the Ottoman ruled but the kilij is known to be well balanced ?
    Last edited by khanjar; 10-30-2013 at 10:41 AM. Reason: scatterbrain

  6. #16
    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=khanjar;228297]In Oman the Xanith or Knaneeth still exist and they dance and I understand the term Khaneeth to be a derogatory term to be levied on males in general, but what I understand of Islamic law is there are various Hadith that allow for what is called half men to which the effeminate applied. As to what caused the Kochek to migrate was Turkey trying to align itself with European ideals in the nineteenth century, so yes damaging colonial attitudes again but I believe the kochek being booted out of Turkey followed one of them being executed for an affair with the Janissary which caused unrest within the ranks for in a society devoid of women Ottoman male life life was a lonely one and pederastry was common, where again different rules applied because as you say everyone as God's creation had a right to life and to find a place in it. And yeah I know it is a distasteful subject given our modern understanding but we cannot apply our standards on the past and other cultures and ignore much because we don't like it for to ignore removes much that might be useful. Not so long after the kochek were expelled the 'brothers of the spoon';Janissary were also disbanded to make way for the new military modelled on dominant European ideas.

    [COLOR="#FFD700"]Okay. Here's where I have a problem with people outside a culture interpriting it through the lense of their own. In the article there is a lot of emphasis on the sexual relations between the Janissaries and the Kochecks. Here's the thing to understand where that is concerned. It had nothing to do with the dance or types of dancing they did. It was the result of what happens when you have a group of men who are not allowed to have relationships with women. They were not allowed to get married. So just as in other spaces that are segragated in this manner, (prison), the only alternative is relations with the same sex. It was not homosexuality as we understand it today. This was a legacy of the sexual perceptions of the ancient world. A grown man is the active partner. He plays the male role, active. Young men not of the age of marriage are not considered fully men and so assume the passive, female or receptive role. Once they reach the age of maturity, this stops. In fact, most kochecks upon arriving at the age of adulthood got married and established other businesses.

    Sexual relationships of this type were not limited to the kochecks. The young page boys of the palace were also available for these sort of relationships. Neither was this limited to the Ottoman Empire. During Shakespearian times, all public performances were done bymen and young boys. It is a well known fact that these boys were also, "approachable". Let us not forget the institution in Western society of the castrati. Many of whom would also perform female rolls, (but not all and not all the time) and were also "approachable".

    In Feudal Japan, the Samori also had similar relationships with their younger tutors, even though they also had wives. Once again, the concept of what was the male sexual role and the female. I could go on and on citing this sort of thing. Europeans at the time were obssessed, (SP), with the sexual proctivities of the Turks as a way of discrediting them. Had they been a bit more honest and looked closer to home they would have seen the very same thing prevalent in their own societies. Let's not forget the not too secrate, secrate of what the lads in English boarding schools would get up to. Rather than singling specific cultures out for scrutiny, I think this sort of thing speaks volumes as to the tre nature of the scope of human sexuality in general, as opposed to the approved "cultural ideal".

    Now, to address the issue of the 1857 ban. It had absolutely nothing to do with who was getting up to what with whom. Even within Western society, the cultural constuct of human sexuality into neat categories of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual did not exist. That idea did not come into being till the late 19th and early 20th century by the medical and psychiatric establishments and as such, is every bit as much as a construct as attitudes regarding the role of male sexual supremacy in other societies. People tend to do what society gives them permission to do. We do hear of the sin of sodomy in western society, but no one had the notion of their identity being dictated by their sexual behaviors.

    So what was the 1857 ban really all about? Establishing order among the military. The kochecks were the only form of public entertainment and there were many troups. Competition was very high and people, just as today with sport teams, had their favorates. And just as with sport teams today, supporters often clash in violent outbursts. Imagine suggesting that the violence of soccer houligans was down to the fans fighting over the sexual attentions of the players. There were so many riots that the government put a ban on their peformances. As a result, many of them migrated to different countries to find work.

    As to the dress. Once again, westerners getting it wrong. They did not dress as females or half females. What they wore was a costume. What all Turkish men wore undrr their kaftans were pants, and a fitted shirt with long sleeves. Like Seikhs, under their turbans they let the hair grow long often times. This had nothing to do with trying to be feminine. In fact if you look carefully at most miniatures, most of the kochecks have shaved heads with only a few locks of hair sticking out. Another custom. Sometimes under the turban the head was shaved, except for one long lock. You can see this with depictions of wresterlers. Now did the kochecks sometimes dress in drag? Yes, when the entertainment called for it. A pantomime, or skit where a female role was required. Very much like Shakespearian England, Kabuki theater in Japan or Chinese Opera. And yes, if we really have to go there, just like in Western society, with Opera singers and Ballet dancers and actors and actresses, performers were often "available" for a price.



    In this context I use the term Belly Dance as an umbrella term to describe all the hip centered dances of North Africa and the ME as many people do, whether social or performance. I'm not speaking about Raks Sharki which is a 20th century development based on the older traditional foundations.

    The fact is, when it came to dance specifically, kochecks performed many different styles, not just one. And they did a lot more than just dancing. They were well rounded entertainers. It's just that people tend to focus on their dancing, and one form that they did, while ignoring everything else.



    I understand what you are saying, but I see very little evidence of Turkish influences in the dances of Egypt or other North African countries. In Egypt, the only thing I see is the finger snap which is of generic Central Asian origin. However, as stated before, Egypt has no tradition of line and circle dances which make up the majority of Turkish dances. Even the pelvic centric dances of the kochecs is very different in character from Egyptian dance. It is my guess that when they moved to Egypt, they adopted the style that was already there and expected of the local clientele.

    But on a further note, you are right that given the history of male solo dancers in the region, there is no legitimate reason to exclude males from performing. The nightclub culture that developed in Egypt in the 20th century was heavily influenced by European culture and became the dominant form found in the media and embraced by the ruling elite. Older traditions were seen as less favorable and eventually declined in popularity. However, in the performances of Shakuku in Egypt, we can see a shadow of that older tradition. The dancing boys of the Red Sea resorts and the backup dancing boys of modern Shabbi singers in a lot of ways is an assertion of the local culture that was frowned upon and surpressed by the ruling elites.

  7. #17
    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    It wasn't seen as a cure for homosexuality as the notion of a homosexual identity did not and in many ways does not exist in those societies. Yes, due to recent Western influences many people have adopted our cultural construct, but for many people, the role of a man is clear. Mature men are expected to get married and raise families. As long as he fullfils his social and familial obligations, what he does in his own time is his own business. A man is a man because he functions in the sexual role of a man, he is active. Whether that active role is with a younger male, or a submissive male or a female, or all of the above, he is still the man. What is not sanctioned is our cultural understanding of a homosexual identity, that is a mutually reciprocated relationship, or activity between two men. That is a concept that is alien because it excluded the possability of fullfilling the role of husband and father, or continuation of the family line. Not to say of course that those things don't happen. Of course they do, just like everywhere else on this dirt ball we call home, but it is done with extreeme discretion and often, not spoken of. Therefore, the men who are considered transgendered in those societies, xist outside the role of "real men". However, the roles are not perceiebed to be as fixed as they are in our culture, for any man, who can display the capacity to function as a man sexually and fullfil the expected obligations is no longer considered intermediary, but a man. Thus to make it simple; a man who availes himself of the services of a male prostitute is still seen as a man because he is using that man as a woman. The transgendered man is fullfilling the female role of providing "the man" with an avenue of sexual release. Nothing more. This is the attitude whether we are talking about certain societies in the Pacific, India, Central Asia, Latin America or certain regions in North Africa.

    Sword dance. I don't know of this. I tend to think not because it's not something the koches are known to do, either in the past or in the present. However, there were combative dances where swords were used, such as in Syria, in Egypt there is also an old tradition of dancing with machettes and knives or switch blades. In North Africa the Tuaregs do a dance with swords as do the Beja in Egypt Sudan and Eritria. However, none of those dances involve the kind of balancing we see in the typical BD community and even so, its not something seen in any of the countries done by belly dancers in Egypt, Lebanon or Turkey. At least not that I have seen.

  8. #18
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    In support of the above, I once had an interesting conversation with an ex-con who admitted using (raping?) a man in prison. That man was a "queer". He, the man I was talking to, wasn't because he was on top. When I challenged this I had to quickly back down (he'd done time for murder).

  9. #19
    V.I.P. Tarik Sultan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kashmir View Post
    In support of the above, I once had an interesting conversation with an ex-con who admitted using (raping?) a man in prison. That man was a "queer". He, the man I was talking to, wasn't because he was on top. When I challenged this I had to quickly back down (he'd done time for murder).
    Alrighty then!

  10. #20
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    Like I said a distasteful subject often ignored because of the lens of modern perceptions where it may offend some... but history is history one cannot pick and choose what they like and don't like for history is what it is warts and all, where much learning can be had if one puts aside one's scruples and just accepted what was was and that was that.

    But curious doesn't anyone think the males that hung from cranes in Iran are the passive partners of male sexual relations where the active part is untouched where as Kashmir suggests with some males it's any port in a storm, homosexuality doesn't even come into it.

    I research this stuff because I know what I am as a male that can't be a male as would be described in ancient societies and modern through being congenitally infertile and asexual. Impotent used to be the terminology as in I cannot father heirs and why such as what I am would find employ in ancient societies where heirs were important, where there is much written in the Talmud and Roman law where particularly the latter they even described temperaments which are surprisingly accurate. I am seeking my place in this western world where the subject of inter sex is far out there, but in ancient societies some past and some still existing not only were the societies aware of differences they even catered for them, where they don't in the west where in my case I can be only male or trans gender and I can have synthetic hormones to make me more male or other where I have no desire whatsoever to be any different than I am for whatever created me designed me to be this way and it is society that has to understand the differences there are amongst humans for we are not to be 'fixed' as we can't entirely for although more male we still can't father children in most cases and the synthetic testosterone or oestrogen is not without it's health problems where it already is diseases that are thought to affect women only we as males are also subject where too many medical professionals are unaware until it's too late.

    Me and belly dance I always longed to do it and have been through hell and high water in my journey with this dance where in the UK people are more conservative in that males don't dance let alone belly dance for sure if they do they must be gay or part of a couple, where I am not gay I'm inter sex that is congenitally female despite being phenotypically male. I can't help my compulsions I love to dance and only wish I had the bravery to take up dancing earlier, but my bravery to do this was hard won for before at all opportunities I kept out of any possibility of exposure to others where even in work credit due to myself I deflected onto others. I have a goal in belly dance and that is to have the confidence to perform for others as others do where dance buddies that started with me have gone on far past my level now where I know I hold myself back through being unsure of myself as my mind flits between places, generated confidence rescinded in seconds, I can belly dance I have been told often enough where I on most occasions won't let myself, through lack of self confidence and a problem with self expression- yeah I can follow precisely but lead or free dance no chance.

    I may never reach my goal that so many others may find easy but I keep trying in the hope one day my mind will straighten out where I glut myself with classes in the hope it becomes so familiar there is nothing else left other than to attain my goal or else quit.

    As to the homosexuality question understand where one is out there on the fringes one cannot judge others for the past or indeed the present, where oneself is not easily understood or even accepted for what one naturally is and that in this so called modern advanced society where we may look in disdain at what went before us, for everything we see is through our societal garnered perspective where we may negate what we truly feel ourselves.

    I search for males in near and middle eastern dance to licence myself in what I love doing so much.

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