Albanian Women Swearing Virginity to Live as Men


KRUJE, Albania -- In Albania, where culture is dictated by patriarchy, some women are taking vows of celibacy and living their lives as men.

These “sworn virgins”, or burrneshas in Albanian, save the honor of their families by becoming a proxy patriarch. As Albania modernizes and women’s rights improve, this dying custom is still being practiced by women in small villages.

The burrneshas, translated as “he-she”, custom is one that has existed historically in Albania, dating back to the fifteenth century. In the Balkan tribal communities, they followed a Kanun law, according to The Huffington Post. They also say, Kanun law is particularly restrictive towards women as it “prohibits women from voting, driving, earning money or wearing pants.”

This law also mandated that tribal clans had to outcast any families without a male figure. Because of internal tribal warfare, however, men in the families were often killed. Women in families then faced a dilemma, how they could maintain their family’s honor. If there was a virginal female in the family, though, they could to assume the role of patriarch and become a man to save the family.

Part of the burrneshas transition to becoming a man means taking an oath of virginity. A photographer who documented burrneshas, Jill Peters, wrote on her website about these women saying, “Becoming a sworn virgin or burrnesha elevated a woman to the status of a man and granted her all the rights and privileges of the male population.” She continued, “In order to manifest the transition, such a woman cut her hair, donned male clothing and sometimes even changed her name. [… ] Most importantly of all, she took a celibacy vow to remain chaste for life.”

Even though these women are faced with the obligation of preserving their family’s honor by living a restricted life, unable to have a family of their own, they do not see it as a burden. Peters told Slate, “None of them had regrets. They’re very proud of their families, of their nephews and nieces.” Because of the sacrifice these women make, they are actually treated as respected individuals in their community.

In many cases, living as a burrnesha is liberating for Albanian women for whom marriages are arranged and lives restricted to the household. Pashe Keqi, a burrnesha, told The New York Times how she felt freer living as a man saying, “I was totally free as a man because no one knew I was a woman.” She continued, “I could go wherever I wanted to and no one would dare swear at me because I could beat them up. I was only with men. I don’t know how to do women’s talk. I am never scared.”

With modernization spreading in Albania, women are gaining more rights and with that the burrnesha tradition is diminishing. Thus, the older generations are believed to be the most authentic burrneshas because they were forced into the lifestyle—as opposed to women today that are not under as much pressure. Qamile Stema, the last burrnesha in her village told The New York Times, “We respect sworn virgins very much and consider them as men because of their great sacrifice. But there is no longer a stigma not to have a man of the house.”

Slate reports that actually only a few dozen burrneshas still practice, mostly in remote areas. As the country continues to modernize progress for women, the burrnesha tradition will become obsolete.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

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Anti-Gay, Racist, Duck Dynasty Patriarch


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 23:41 p.m. DST, 21 December 2013

Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Photo Courtesy of Best Movies Ever News

LOUISIANA, United States - Controversy began to stir this week when “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson made anti-gay remarks during a GQ interview. Another statement has been released from the controversial interview; this time, the star addresses the black community during the pre-civil rights era.

On the show, Phil Robertson, 67, is portrayed as the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch. Over the years he’s beat substance abuse, devoted his like the God, and has become a small-screen celebrity from the backwoods of Louisiana.

During a GQ interview with Drew Magary, the star stated “…the pre-civil rights era was not bad for black people”.

GQ quoted Robertson, stating “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person… Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them.

I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field… They’re singing happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say ‘I’ll tell you what: These doggone white people’- not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

According to Robertson, the African-American’s he witnessed before the civil rights movements of the 1950’s appeared happier than they do today. The Huffington Post states, “Jim Crow laws enforced a system of subjugating African-Americans in the South but upholding racial barriers for years after the Emancipation Proclamation”. During this time, the Southern states were known for segregation and the many forms of oppression, which often included “race-inspired violence”, according to notes.

Concern over Robertson’s remarks has been brought to A&E, the broadcast channel for “Duck Dynasty”. The Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP collaborated in a letter sent to the president of A&E:

“We want to be clear why Phil Robertson’s remarks are not just dangerous but also inaccurate. Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African-Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn’t see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street. And his offensive claims about gay people fly in the face of science. In fact, it’s important to note that every single leading medical organization in the country has said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender] -- it’s not a choice, and to suggest otherwise is dangerous.”

During the GQ interview, Robertson referred to homosexuality as a sin and continued to speak about the sexuality right in a negative light. After making headlines, A&E announced Robertson would be suspended from the show indefinitely. According to the Huffington Post, “The network emphasized that his beliefs are in contrast to those of the network”.

Although times were very different during the pre-civil rights era, it is hard to believe Robertson thought blacks were happy, and he never witnessed the mistreatment of an African-American, whether verbal or physical. Louisiana, a Southern state known for many violent act during this time, still faces race issues today; even hosting several active Ku Klux Klan groups throughout the state of Alabama.

Broadcast stations are constantly faced with the embarrassment of their stars speaking out about their offensive experiences with African-Americans. Paula Deen, southern celebrity chef, was booted from the Food Network earlier this year, due to her use of the “N” word. CBS fired Don Imus, host of Imus in the Morning, in 2007, for his racial remarks toward the Rutgers women’s basketball team; calling them “nappy headed hoes”.

Although the Dynasty star was brought up during a time where homosexuality was not accepted, especial living in the South, it is imperative for these networks to make it clear to the small-screen stars, that these types of situations and statements are unaccepted and intolerable.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe

The End of 'The View'? Elisabeth Hasselbeck Fired


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 22:25 p.m. DST, 10 March 2013

Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Host of 'The View' ABC Daytime Television Show, Photo by Mary Rose Ongo

United States - Us Weekly has reported that Elisabeth Hasselbeck of ABC Daytime Television show “The View,” is being fired. According to a source who wishes to be unidentified, after the show’s market researchers realized her views towards politics did not agree with the show’s audience, they gave Hasselbeck the boot, following co-host, Joy Behar.

With Hasselbeck appearing on the show for almost ten years, it came as a shock to viewers and critics when numerous media outlets reported Hasselbeck’s dismissal.

According to the Huffington Post, following the Us Weekly report, TV Newser also reported a similar story, citing two sources who confirmed Hasselbeck was leaving.

However, a spokesperson also confirmed with Alex Weprin, a TV Newser contributor, that Hasselbeck has a “long-term” contract. When the contract was signed has not been stated.

Following Hasselbeck's departure, “The View” will be without two of its longest-running hosts. The cast has remained the same since 2007 when Rosie O’Donnell and Star Jones were replaced by Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd.

Audience members professed that they often looked forward to the manner in which Hasselbeck expressed her very conservative views; as well as the spirited exchange which followed by Goldberg and Behar. The bipartisan nature of the show was a key factor to its success according to viewers who were sick of being fed bland, non-confrontational or controversial fare during this time slot.

The Huffington Post reported, “Hasselbeck’s exit would also leave the show without one of its main sources of conflict.

The choice to remove this conflict by firing Hasselbeck, has the effect of reducing the producers' ability to differentiate the show from the plethora of programming that deals with “women’s issues.”

The net effect is that the producers have stereotyped women viewers as only interested in hearing about fluffy issues such as “how to win and keep your man,” or celebrity tales of sin and redemption, or in being spoon fed the latest must have fashions which, given the demographics of the audience, are typically designed for women half their age and size.

It remains to be seen if they will reconsider their decision, or if this show has peaked and will quickly descend into mediocrity.

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The Vagaries of Fame | Melissa King Porn Scandal


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 00:32 a.m. EDT, 8 March 2013

Melissa King, Miss Delaware Teen USA 2013 # 2, Photo by Daniel Bayu

USA - The production company responsible for surfacing the pornographic video of ex-beauty queen Melissa King, the former Miss Delaware Teen USA, has released the video of King reading a legal release on camera before her explicit sex acts.

According to ABC News, the teen resigned from her position as Miss Delaware Teen USA on 26 February 2013, after a pornographic video appeared online possibly featuring King. Although King denied that it was her in the video, other evidence proves something different.

In a video released by the video’s production company, a female appearing to be King reads a release stating she is participating at her free will, and is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, says the Huffington Post. The female also states that she participates in beauty pageants to an interviewer behind the camera.

A representative of the site that hosted the video, told TMZ that the teen approached them about the performance. They also stated that King was interested in continuing in other scenes, however, producers were not interested. King was allegedly paid $1,500 for the video titled, “Miss Teen Delaware Confession.”

Reports read that the former beauty queen also has two outstanding warrants in Ocean City, Maryland from 2010. The charges include possession of alcohol by a minor, and theft-charges. King has yet to turn herself in.

With all of the prior scandals that have surfaced over the years, it is baffling why King would believe she would not get caught. Once an individual enters the spotlight, anything and everything from their past will surface, whether good or bad.

We live in a time when anything you do or have done, is documented and saved for a lifetime, especially when it is uploaded to a portal like the Internet.

King has received a $250,000 offer from porn site, YouPorn, to produce a video. There has been no statement given whether King will deny or accept the offer.

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The Onion Apologizes to Quvenzhané Wallis?


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 00:41 a.m. EDT, 3 March 2013

Quvenzhané Wallis, Photo Courtesy of Disney ABC Television GroupUnited States - As viewers were glued to their television screens during the Oscars on Sunday night, “Americas Finest News Source," The Onion, issued an apology to 9-year-old Best Actress nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis. The site posted an offensive slur on their Twitter page, towards Wallis.

During the live broadcast of the Academy Awards ceremony, a site contributor suggested, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt right? #Oscars2013."

The Onion’s CEO, Steve Hannah, issued a letter on the false news outlets Facebook page, apologizing for the post and claimed immediate action would take place.

According to the Huffington Post, the letter reads: “On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude an offensive- not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however, biting.”

After being criticized by followers and other Twitter users, the tweet was deleted about an hour after being posted. According to the news source, Huffington Post, Hannah has confirmed they have “instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again”. However, a situation like this should not have occurred at all. Bashing and degrading a 9 year-old girl is horrendous behavior. Hannah claims the persons responsible have been dealt with accordingly.

In the past, The Onion is has not confronted controversy in this way. As the site is humorous, it typically addresses conflicting situations in a not so serious way as they did in 2011 when a shooter in Washington, DC was on the loose. The parody site said, “This is satire. That’s how this works”.

Although the site finds humor out of serious situations at times, there is no excuse as to why anyone should attack a child, especially during such an extravagant evening. Not many children are nominated for awards as elite as an Oscar.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe