In some Native American tribes, a man may take on a non-Native American gender role. This is called a berdache or esmenak, meaning “same age” in French.
A berdache performs duties traditionally assigned to women such as serving in the kitchen, running the laundry room, and managing the house. They also tend to be caregivers for older people and handicapped individuals.
The term esmenak is defined as a person who lives in both the male and female sex roles. They govern the home, care for children and elderly needs, and even perform tasks usually assigned to men.
While this may sound strange, it comes with a responsibility. If you are looking to expand your personal skillset, look into this unique roleplaying experience.
Two different types of berdaches
There are two main types of men in Native American tribes: the warrior and the berdache. As the name suggests, a berdache is a man who lives with and performs tasks for women.
Both male and female warriors may be berdaches, making this unique cultural position exciting. Having a male role model and sexual partner in common is not something you will find in every tribe, so being involved in such a relationship with an outsider is rare.
The term berdache derives from medieval Latin and means “man to woman” or “woman to man.” While some tribes do not use gender-specific pronouns, most do not consider them offensive either.
Berdaches and their significance to their tribes
While most people imagine a berdache as a male Muslim cleric, it is rare for a non-cleric to undertake this role. Instead, the role is filled by a male who serves as an advisor and cultural representative.
This role varies from tribe to tribe, but all have one thing in common: They are viewed as “other” and viewed as “nothing” when it comes to marriage and family. This can be confusing for both parties, who do not understand what this “something” means or how it affects things like marriage, family, and culture.
These tribes believe that if they allow this person into their community that they will lose their independence. This belief is so strong that some tribes even prevent people from entering with the intention of taking advantage of them.
What happens during the initiation?
When a male warrior takes on a Berdache, they undergo a symbolic, ritualistic journey. This happens usually after winning a fight or competition. During this time, the male must endure many things, including being stripped of all weapons and being dressed in rags. He must also be drunk and sleep next to the Berdache during the night.
After this happens, the male must agree to associate with the Berdache and live together as husband and wife. He must also accept that he is not his own father, and he cannot take care of him. At this point, the male becomes a member of the Berdache tribe!
On some tribes, such as the Lakota tribe in North America, this initiation happens repeatedly throughout a man’s life.
What are the benefits of being a berdache?
There are several benefits to being a berdache in some Native American tribes. For example, you can serve as a companion and spokesman for the tribe. You can work as a agronomist or agriculturalist, helping grow and harvest crops for the tribe. You can be an expert in herbal medicine or folk medicine, helping the tribe with their medical needs.
As an old man, you can take on another role as a spiritual leader. As someone grows older, you can continue to play these roles as you enjoy life and don’t need any help from your retirement job.
These roles allow you to contribute to the community in many ways which is why so many people are interested in being a berdache.
Are there any disadvantages to being a berdache?
While being a berdache can be socially or physically challenging, it can also be quite beautiful. As the male member of an ethnic group, he has access to secret practices and rituals that other members of the group don’t.
As a member of an isolated and sometimes persecuted group, you have a responsibility to show others your culture and let them learn about you through your art. As you may know, art is very important in your culture because itbahcazalasays. You must be able to master your craft in order for others to recognize you.
Because of how special being a berdache is in your ethnic groups, it is important to find a berdache who is willing and ready to join an ethnic group. An ethnic group is a collective identity that one person or one community shares with another, usually across many years of shared practice.
Why were some berdaches revered?
While not an exclusive part of Native American culture, some tribes were devoted to berdaches – or men-at-arms. Berdaches spent a significant amount of time on horseback, wielding a sword or lance.
This was a very powerful role to complete in a tribe, and berdaches were highly respected members. They were often leaders, strategists, and Horsemen in their tribes.
Horsemanship was one of the most important skills for Berdaques to have. A Berdadche could command any animal: horse, buffalo, even sea monster! If he needed something done quickly, he would enlist the help of a ber-bache.
Despite their importance in the tribe, berdaches weren’t always revered as gods. In 18th and 19th century Europe, they were often vilified as “Berdache Men” because they occupied a role that was traditionally reserved for women. This discrimination continued into modern times, but it did not entirely erase their status as warriors.
What role did the berdache play in their tribe?
In some Native American tribes, the berdache plays a significant role in the tribe. This is the case when a male warrior takes on a Berdache.
As we mentioned earlier, a berdache is a male member of an ancient tribe who has sex with women. A berdache can be viewed as a female warrior.
Because of his position in the tribe, the berdchek must learn how to fight and stay fit. He must also learn how to be secretive and stealthy when required.
It can be hard for a male berdchek to understand why he must take on this role. He may feel like it is something he was born to do. However, this is not normal behavior for men in this position.
Were there female equivalents to berdaches?
Some tribes did exist where a male would take on a Berdache role. The Rapanui tribe of New Zealand is one such tribe.
The Rapanui believed that spirits lived inside the human body, and that these spirits influenced human bodies in ways that were unknown. This believed in spirits was very strong, and it influenced how the tribe looked at people outside of their community as well.
As a result, the tribe was very careful about what clothes people wore, how they walked, and what they said. People who didn’t conform to these standards were looked down upon and punished.
This was very hard-hitting leadership, but it did mean that there were times when men had to wear women’s clothing and walk like women. This was a role transition for men, so they took on some of the clothing and walking style of the Berdache.