Negotiating Gender: Calalai in Bugis Society

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In this paper, I examine the subjectivities of female-bodied individuals who for a complex range of reasons do not identify as women [makkunrai (B)], and nor do they aspire to be men [oroané(B)]. In negotiating their gender identity, calalai' engage with a variety of discourses that shape their lives. In describing the cultural environment in which calalai' identity is formed, I examine three key elements in an attempt to provide the setting in which gender negotiations take place: the concept of siri' [shame], state ideology, and Islam. What comes through in each of these sections is that there are very clear notions of what women should be like and also the consequences for a woman who refuses to conform to these ideals. For instance, a woman who does not marry heterosexually and bear children potentially causes her family shame. It also becomes clear that there are no models available for women who do not adhere to these dominant discourses. In attempting to develop a gender identity, dominant ideology circumscribes masculine females to model their identity on men.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalIntersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context
Issue number0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Indonesia
  • gender
  • Culture
  • Sexuality
  • Sulawesi
  • Bugis

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