Fa'afafine in Samoa
Samoan and western discourses around the fa'afafine
Conceptualisations about gender, identity and sexuality
Gender: traditionally represented through gender-specific labour tasks in Samoa vs. bodily expression and appearance in western societies (Schmidt, 2003)
Identity: collectivistic, relational self in Samoa vs. internal and individualistic in western societies (Dolgoy, 2000; Mageo, 1998).
Sexuality: not a focus on ‘sexual orientation’ or sexuality linked to identity in Samoa vs. ‘gay’/’straight’ discourses in western societies (Mageo, 1996).
- Fa'afafine is not understood as 'homosexuals' in Samoa, but western academic literature seems to often use terms as ‘homosexuality’ and ‘transvestism’ when presenting fa’afafine (Schmidt, 2003).
- Many Fa’afafine are now expressing a sexualised hyper-femininity congruent with western gender constructs and ideals, which is largely discouraged by other Samoans (Schmidt, 2003).