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Taboo issue in Armenian Culture


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#1 DoC

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 10:06 AM

Why is sex such a taboo issue in Armenian culture? Is it rooted in religion? Just curious about people's thoughts on this issue.

#2 Gayane

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 11:13 AM

Oh, we're going to have fun with this topic, I can just tell...lol...Doc, a little inside comment, you'll find out soon enough

I'll express my own humble opinion somewhat later. I want to give everyone a chance to jump in with their thoughts first.

#3 levonyeshilian

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 11:29 AM

Because we're middle-eastern!!!!!!!Who may deny this?
DoC,I thought you were open to anything.. ..

#4 DoC

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 01:44 PM

Oh I am open to anything, it's just that my family (the armenian side) and armenian friends rarely kid around about sexual topics. It's considered SO serious of an issue. I just wish people would just relax and enjoy one of the wonders of being alive!

#5 dragon

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Posted 23 February 2001 - 02:40 PM

Unfortunately, the answer of your question still is in the ancient centuries...Armenian people has suffered a lot by ''khavaramid hokevor hayrer'', then Ottoman Empire, turkish mentality, which is still founded in armenian blood...

This is not armenian character, this is turkich-islamic approach for sex, which has been viewed as a sin and bad thing in all these centuries.

I'm not telling that we armenian people must become western minded (i.e. ''live for sex and only for sex''), no, but he has to change his look for the sex, starting from the point, that sex is a must, if you have to live balanced life.

About side-effects... we have to move to part 2

#6 levonyeshilian

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Posted 24 February 2001 - 07:50 AM

Dragon,
What's real Armenian character on sex?Is
breaking sex taboo a must to clean our blood and for vengeance of our sufferings?
I'm really proud of being eastern minded if sex is the issue.

#7 MJ

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Posted 24 February 2001 - 07:58 AM

Let me also introduce a thought, which might be related to the subject of Armenian perception of or taboo on sex, and let's see if we can explore it.

Dancing is an artistic form of communication or a form of a ritual. It is likely that it has started from the ritual. From ancient times, people have danced to perform a ritual making it rain, for example, to inspire others to start a war, etc, or it has been an expression of human sexuality.

Outside its ritualistic context, I think that the dancing is entirely an expression of human sexuality and desire. Only some forms of it are more explicit about it, and others are less explicit.

Now, I think that one thing that we can observe is the lack of dancing between individual partners in Armenian national dance forms. It is always a group dance -"shurdjbar."

Any theories explaining this phenomenon, and how does it explain the traditional attitude of Armenians towards sex? What can we read about the Armenian attitude towards sex looking at the Armenian dance?

I am not trying to make an impression that I know the answer. I don't.

But I sense with my spinal chord that there is a connection.

#8 Gayane

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Posted 24 February 2001 - 09:40 AM

Martin, I think you take too narrow a view of dance. I do agree that its origins may have been ritualistic. Here I think we need to distinguish free-form dance from traditional dances characteristic of a specific culture. First, the former. Dance has evolved through time to encompass so much more than expression of sexuality or desire. A good dance (well choreographed) and a good dancer can express a wide range of emotions. I see free-form dance as an incredible venue for self expression.

That said, you may have a point about traditional armenian dance as a reflection of our cultural values, but it has less to do with sexuality than with other aspects of our culture. The woman in most, if not all, armenian dances is frail, modest, submissive, weak. Compare that with the unpologetically strong, aggressive, and dominating role of the male dancer. Consider the implications. (As almost a sidenote, I think the collective nature of most of our dances points to the extreme reluctance of our culture to accept the value of individuals without the confines of a group membership. The individual as self has almost no value. But I digress.)

I think you may have compared armenian traditional dance to latin dances. Again, I see the difference not in terms of expression of sexuality, but expression of culture as a whole (latin cultures tend to be more passionate, more expressive, etc), with sexuality being but one aspect.

With respect to expression of sexuality in armenian dances, I'll agree that the modest (for lack of a better word) armenian woman in most of our dances is almost lacking in sexuality. This is hardly surprising given the expectations and the sexual mores of our culture as they apply to armenian women.

But this is turning into a dissertation, so I think I'll stop for now.

p.s. great topic for a future paper/ position statement I'll author. Thank you, Martin

#9 dragon

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Posted 24 February 2001 - 11:33 AM

SEX in armenian character never been an issue. It was only LOVE. Equal LOVE for woman & man. What was forbidden for woman, was forbidden for man too. The public opinion & judgment was tough for man too.

Now nobody cares for love, man has the right to run after women & he get the name of ''GENTLEMAN''. More woman, more gentleman he is!

Armenian women are abused all the time. They have no right to express about their feelings in public, if they do, they only get bad names.

Armenian women are victims all the time. They have to capture their feelings, or lie on themselves & on public as well.

As for dancing, Armenian dances are more spiritual than a real ''body language'', as our literature & culture are. ''Shurchbar'' is an expression of collective feelings, for ''mardagan'' purposes. ''Menk enk, mer sareru'' is a typical expression for that.

I would open a center one day and encourage armenian girls to express their emotion, passion and aggressivness through dances. I like dancing very much & I do it not to satisfy people who are looking at me, but to satisfy myself first. I dance as if nobody is there except myself, which makes me dance very lovely & proffesional way.

Armenian, Spanish, Rock & classical tangos are my favourites.

#10 MJ

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Posted 25 February 2001 - 12:59 AM

Gayane,

Are you telling us that the "nazankov u yerazankov" dance of Armenian women is reflection of the artistic beauty of women's body and its plasticity, or is it a reflection of her intellectuality and philosophical orientation? Similarly for men.

On a more serious note, I still think dance is about sex. I am not saying that the dancer is on the stage to sexually and explicitly market himself/herself. And I am not talking about the Academic Dance (like ballet), either. The dance duets I think are sort of ritualized preludes of sex. I am not implying this as a practical matter, but as a matter somewhere deep in the subconsciousness. The solo dances sort of says: "Here I am," and perhaps also subconsciously. Now, the "shurdjbar" has still to be understood from this perspective. It may still be about sex, but perhaps not sex as passion or pleasure, but a duty of continuation of the race. I don't know. I am just thinking loudly.

Aristakes Lastivertsi, an Armenian historian of the 11th century, attest to the fact that the Armenian attitude towards sex in that era at least, has been quite casual. He attests that Armenian women have had the reputation of the most beautiful women in the region, and their behavior has been quite “emancipated.” This phenomenon is reflected even in the medieval Armenian poetry, most explicitly in the “Hayrens” of Nahabed Quchak. Interestingly enough, even the ordained monk of the Armenian Apostolic Church - Quchak has been, has found hard to resist the beauty and playfulness of Armenian women. It has been the era of Armenian early post-renaissance, and an era of large-scale immigration (bandkhtutiun) of Armenian men, which perhaps has created a climate of emancipation of women. In some ways this “opening” might’ve even been resulted from the exile and migration of Paulicians - just a thought. In the opinion of Lativertsi, the troubles of Armenia in his era have primarily been due to the behavior and the beauty of the Armenian women – the foreign invaders have been motivated by the desire to poses them. This is an opinion of a “Vardabet,” however, and has perhaps to be discounted from the point of view of a political and geopolitical conceptualization of the processes of the era.

As in other Christian countries, in Armenia too, the sexual relationship has become quite casual in the post-renaissance era. I think the backwardation of the role and the dimishing of the freedoms of the Armenian women, subsequently, is indeed a result of the centuries old Islamic dominance.

As to the subject of dance and spirituality ... spirituality is a reflection of men’s/woman’s search for God, and the path to eternal life. At least it is a manifestation of a search for the most fundamental question of human curiosity: “Why am I.” And in this sense, I can not possibly find any evidence of such search watching the Armenian dance, or any other dance, whatsoever. And, clearly, in the light of this argument, the feeling of “menk enk mer sare@” has not much to do with spirituality.

[ February 24, 2001: Message edited by: MJ ]

#11 Artur

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Posted 25 February 2001 - 07:46 PM

Let me tell to Dragon. That it has nothing to do with islamic invasions and whatsoever. It is purely religious and traditional morals. The thing is that a girl has to be clean before marriage, and to be clean to give a birth to a child ("karmir khndzor" tradition ) For me it is a disgrace when girl has a man before the marriage, and it is totally immoral.

Moreover, it is a sin in our religion. And in the Bible it is strictly forbiden to have sex before marriage. It is said in the holy book that It is better to marry earlier than to commit a sin.

The problem is that armenians who live in western socities have been affected with all the freedom thought etc. and their mentality is similar to american. However not all families are like that.

But, the main reason for girls restricting themseves for having sex before marriage are not traditions or religion, but that it would be difficult to find a husband being not a virgin.


Artur

#12 shiner

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Posted 25 February 2001 - 08:43 PM

Religiously speaking it is just as immoral for a man to have sex before marriage as it is for a woman. Thus I don't think there should be a double standard concerning this issue applied to men and women using religion as the reason.

#13 Pilafhead

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Posted 25 February 2001 - 09:34 PM

quote:
Originally posted by MJ:
I think the backwardation of the role and the dimishing of the freedoms of the Armenian women, subsequently, is indeed a result of the centuries old Islamic dominance.

Just a side note...

The reason so many of the cabaret singers in Istanbul were Armenian was because under Islam, turkish women could not sing on stage. In these cases, Islam would have indirectly caused some level of liberation for Armenian women.

#14 gamavor

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Posted 25 February 2001 - 09:38 PM

This is another myth that must be discarded. The attitude towards sex greatly reflects, upbringing, socio-cultural environment etc. Armenians are not different from most of the people with regard to sex (esp. the male half, famous for its southern temper and sex drive). My impression is that Diaspora Armenians from Middle East and Turkey are more conservative but deemed more open minded in their respective societies, while Armenians from other parts of the world are more conservative in their more open societies, so there is a kind of a balance.

P.S. Garo I miss the spell check..er!

#15 Nunush

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Posted 25 February 2001 - 09:47 PM

I see some good points in regard this topic. Artur, Dragon's point was informational fact, it wasn't an opinion. Yes, we are influenced by Islam. If you look at the similarities of the cultures and read some history, you'll agree with Dragon (I'm not trying to critisize or be sarcastic )
Dragon, the following comment:
"Armenian women are abused all the time. They have no right to express about their feelings in public, if they do, they only get bad
names" is very generalized.
We do have conservative thinking and attitude about sex. Any moral, dignified, valuable person, regardles of nationality, won't speak about sex openly. You choose your audience very carefully, before you open a subject. So, there should be some balance where and when to bring up the sex subject. Of course we talk about sex with friends, collieges, but not at your family reunions, where you have your elders. So, our culture deserves the respect If its educational, there is no problem to bring it up. I do read alot and share information with my friends and family, I even advise my bro, nothing wrong with that.

#16 gamavor

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Posted 25 February 2001 - 09:53 PM

Oh, I forgot!

Lets broaden the topic. How about the most unusual place you have had sex? Don’t spare us the details.

#17 DoC

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Posted 26 February 2001 - 08:55 AM

Gamavor,
Good to know that there are still some kinky Armenians out there... oh God, we're going to Hell! ;p

#18 MJ

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Posted 26 February 2001 - 09:26 AM

quote:
Originally posted by DoC:
Gamavor,
Good to know that there are still some kinky Armenians out there... oh God, we're going to Hell! ;p


I think you have missed his sarcasm ...

#19 LISA

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Posted 26 February 2001 - 09:58 AM

quote:
Originally posted by gamavor:
Oh, I forgot!

Lets broaden the topic. How about the most unusual place you have had sex? Don’t spare us the details.


LOL!

But seriously, I think this topic can even be tied in with the Domestic Violence in Armenia topic. Tell me what you all think?

Are some of these women staying with abusive men because they fear they will be deemed "dirty" and will never have the possibility to marry again and enjoy a healthy relationship? Your thoughts?

#20 Nunush

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Posted 26 February 2001 - 09:59 AM

I think you guys are having too much fun with this subject. Get back to work, NOW!




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