Female-men, male-women, and others: constructing and negotiating gender among the Baganda of Uganda

Not all males are men and neither are all females women. A historical review of gender in Buganda confirms that gender is a construction and that the gendering process, based partly on biological factors and partly on arbitrary and cultural traits, relates dialectally with social, cultural and political forces that have shaped Buganda’s society. This essay examines this history to chart the construction and negotiation of gender among Baganda from the eighteenth century. The construction of gender in the realm of royal authority within the palace will be contrasted with gender construction among Baganda commoners outside of the palace. Aspects of gender construction in relation to the Catholic church are also briefly considered. While male-dominance and man-power have remained dominant in gender relations, with female-subordinance and women-submission still apparent, these positions have not been stable over time. Baganda females have not been passive receptors of cultural dominance, but have instead challenged their position whenever opportunities have arisen. In Baganda gender constructions, boundaries have remained fluid and have shifted over time. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: Female-men, male-women, and others: constructing and negotiating gender among the Baganda of Uganda
Author: Nannyonga-Tamusuza, Sylvia
Year: 2009
Periodical: Journal of Eastern African Studies
Volume: 3
Issue: 2
Pages: 367-380
Language: English
Geographic term: Uganda
External link: https://doi.org/10.1080/17531050902973004
Abstract: Not all males are men and neither are all females women. A historical review of gender in Buganda confirms that gender is a construction and that the gendering process, based partly on biological factors and partly on arbitrary and cultural traits, relates dialectally with social, cultural and political forces that have shaped Buganda’s society. This essay examines this history to chart the construction and negotiation of gender among Baganda from the eighteenth century. The construction of gender in the realm of royal authority within the palace will be contrasted with gender construction among Baganda commoners outside of the palace. Aspects of gender construction in relation to the Catholic church are also briefly considered. While male-dominance and man-power have remained dominant in gender relations, with female-subordinance and women-submission still apparent, these positions have not been stable over time. Baganda females have not been passive receptors of cultural dominance, but have instead challenged their position whenever opportunities have arisen. In Baganda gender constructions, boundaries have remained fluid and have shifted over time. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]