That (New York Times goes National Geographic) was the reaction of one of my co-workers to the Times completely fascinating A-1 piece on the 40-some remaining “sworn Virgins” in rural Albania —now-elderly women who took an oath of virginity sometime around age 20 in order to live and be treated as men. It is a tradition which “can be traced to … a code of conduct passed on orally among the clans of northern Albania for more than 500 years” and under which “the role of a woman is severely circumscribed” and while “a woman’s life is worth half that of a man, a virgin’s value is the same: 12 oxen.”
After reading this part…
They dressed like men and spent their lives in the company of other men, even though most kept their female given names. They were not ridiculed, but accepted in public life, even adulated.
…I had another thought: maybe the next American woman who decides to run for president should look into this?
Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.