Chromosomes, justice, and art… a follow-up

Thanks to everyone who commented and responded to the previous post.  The responses made me start thinking about another aspect of sexism in bellydance: that of the exclusion of males from belly dance circles.  The claim that bellydance is a “female-only” art form is historically inaccurate.  Men have belly danced, and were, in fact, entertainers to Ottoman royalty.

Here I’d like to bring to your attention the köçek dancing boys of the Ottoman Empire.  The köçek were entertainers, dressed primarily in female drag, and danced in the courts of the Ottoman sultans.  The culture of the köçek flourished from the 1600s to the 1800s, and started in the palaces and in the sultans’ harems.  Independent dance troupes helped spread the tradition of the köçek beyond the palaces and into greater Anatolia and the Balkans.  The dancing boys were, however, also available not only for entertainment purposes but also for sexual acts, available to the highest bidder.

Read more about the köçek here on Wikipedia.


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Reading about these boys reminds me a lot of the male actors in Renaissance England who lived their stage life in female roles – many times also being available for sexual acts to the highest bidder.
It makes me wonder if these were just things elder people groups used to legitimize homosexuality. The art form seems to have been in mimicking (burlesquing?) the female gender while retaining a male aspect.
I have no idea how this applies to modern male bellydancing, but thanks for bringing up a lot to think about. :)




Speaking of the Kocek, I recently found this great entry on them:




There’s no way to know, but I don’t think they were “legitimizing homosexuality.” I doubt such a concept existed. The link Desiree posted (thanks!) alludes to the different ideas that different cultures had about gender and sexuality. It wasn’t the straight (no pun intended) duality that we are conditioned to think in terms of.



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