Gender over the Life Cycle

Gender differences are denoted early in life. The chaqaloq, or nursing baby, is not referred to in gendered language, but by the time a child can walk, terms specify gender. Children collectively are bolalar, a Turkic term, or farzandlar, a Persian term, but these can denote only male children. More precise terms combine the term for son or daughter with the word for child: o'g'il bola, "boy child," or qiz bola, "girl child." Qiz means daughter, girl, or virgin, and is used until a female is married. The girl who grows older without marrying is referred to as qari qiz, "old maiden." O'g'il, "son or boy," is used from the age of walking until puberty. An adolescent male may be called yigit, an ancient Turkic term for a male warrior.

Marriage changes gender terminology. When a female is engaged and is first married, she is called kelin, "bride or daughter-in-law." After she has children, she is referred to as xotin, "wife or woman." Rarely, women generically are referred to as ayollar, connoting female and adult without reference to marital status or children. However, xotin-qizlar, "married women and girls," is a more traditional way to refer to all females together. The transition from qiz to kelin to xotin is one of increasing social respect.

Men are also expected to marry. A young man who does so is kuyov, "groom or son-in-law." As he grows older and has children, he becomes er, "husband or man." Men can be referred to collectively as erkaklar, connoting male and adult, which corresponds to ayol as a term indicating biological sex.

The elderly can be referred to collectively as kek-salar. The term kampir means elderly woman, while qari can mean either elderly person or elderly man. A joining of the terms, qari-kampir, means an old married couple. An old married man may refer to kampirim, "my elderly wife." Married women of all ages routinely call their husbands, xo'jayinim, "my husband," but this term for husband also means owner. Some male terms also have collective use, such as odamlar, meaning either people or men. An individual can be referred to in gender-free language, such as inson or kishi, both meaning "person."

Socialization of Boys and Girls

A child's birth may be celebrated with a beshik toi, or cradle celebration, when at 40 days, the baby is first placed in a cradle. Another feast marks the transition from infancy to toddler, and the family watches as a symbolic lump of dough is rolled between the legs of the child who has just learned to walk. At this point, girls and boys are dressed differently and referred to in gendered terms. In Uzbekistan, both boys and girls begin to attend school at age 6 or 7. At age 6, both boys and girls traditionally were thought of as becoming responsible for their own actions, able to sin, and liable to punishment for their actions. Boys undergo circumcision when their age is an odd number (3, 5, 7, 9), but although this is an important moment, it is not seen as a transition between one stage of life and another. The boy is still a boy until he reaches biological adolescence.

If possible, parents hold a circumcision toi, "feast," for male friends, kin, and neighbors. The boy's father and male relatives prepare pilov, a rice and lamb dish, outdoors, and guests arrive at dawn. The boy is dressed in a gold-embroidered robe and cap, and may be brought to the feast on a festively attired horse. At the feast the Qur'an is recited by an imam or a respected elder, and male musicians play traditional music. Women do not join this feast, but they host their women relatives indoors, with dancing and feasting. Guests present gifts of money to the boy, often tucking them under his pillow after he has had his foreskin cut and is in bed recovering. Girls are not circumcised.

Boys and girls are expected to be obedient and obey their elders, both adults and older siblings. Girls are taught to clean, and by age 10 may start the morning by sprinkling water and sweeping the courtyard and its entrance. Boys and girls help with gardening and fruit picking, and are pressed into work for the cotton harvest. In families that carry out bazaar trade, boys may begin working in childhood, carrying produce, pushing carts, or cooking. Until the 1930s, when the Soviets introduced universal coeducation at the primary level, restrictions on interaction of boys and girls beyond puberty were strict; girls began to veil and were not allowed out of the house unchaperoned.

Puberty and Adolescence

In some Uzbek communities, the onset of menarche was marked by a celebration that included giving the girl a veil, the paranji and chachvon, a large robe that is worn draped from the head, and a horsehair veil that falls from the top of the head, covering the face and chest. However, some Uzbek girls were veiled before menarche, and others did not veil. This rite of passage disappeared in Soviet Uzbekistan with the end of traditional veiling and the transfer of ideas concerning age to correspond with school cohorts. The transition from boy to young man, yigit, can be associated with graduation from middle school and entrance into the army, or into some form of higher education.

As mixed education became normal, strictures on interaction relaxed for teenagers. However, dating or spending time alone with a member of the opposite sex between puberty and engagement is unacceptable.

Adolescent girls demonstrate baking skills by bringing dishes to gatherings. Adolescent boys do not face the same expectations regarding domestic activities, but because men prepare certain dishes, such as pilov, for male celebrations, adolescent boys often learn to cook. In adolescence, both boys and girls begin to enter patterns of socializing that will last a lifetime. Girls attend women's gatherings, and boys accompany their fathers to men's.

Middle Age and Old Age

Age brings an increase in power for both men and women. Married couples usually live with the husband's parents, or in housing arranged by his parents. In a courtyard house, daughters-in-law are usually subject to their mother-in-law's demands. While a married couple continue to live with the husband's parents, those parents exercise extensive control over their children and grandchildren. Children are taught to defer to elders; grown children are expected to conform to their parents' wishes and seek their advice in major decisions.

At major life cycle feasts, as well as on religious holidays, men and women all go to the same house, but usually are seated separately, when possible in entirely separate rooms. There are occasions that only men celebrate, such as the groom's party before a wedding. Women alone celebrate the viewing of recently married brides during Ruza Hayit, the feast following Ramadan. Before the Soviet period socializing was so separate that women were entertained by women dancers and musicians, and men by male musicians and by boy dancers, bachcha, who dressed up like girls.

Men and women attend religious gatherings more frequently as they age. At a memorial gathering at the Festival of the Sacrifice for someone who died in the past 3 years, women participants usually meet indoors, while the men meet in the courtyard. Among the women, the eldest is seated in the place of honor, with her back to the wall and facing the entrance door, with all others seated in order of age, down to the least respected position, whose occupant has her back to the entrance door. Women recite prayers and scripture, again beginning with the eldest, although a woman who has extensive knowledge of the Qur'an, usually an otin, may be the main reciter. The men's gathering is similar.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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