Gender over the Life Cycle Socialization of Boys and Girls

At birth, children were typically given the names of animals hunted by their fathers shortly before or after their birth. There were animal names used for girls and others designated for boys. Names were also chosen that described certain characteristics of the child: Yeyudetsa (fisheye), or Amachi (light skin). The Yuqui also used teknonomy, referring to someone, for example, as "your husband's sister." Today, the Yuquiselect Spanish names for their children.

Boys are more highly valued than girls because they will become hunters and provide women and their children with meat. In traditional Yuquisociety, if the firstborn child were a girl, little notice would be paid to her and in some cases, these first-born females failed to thrive. The children of Saya were given great latitude in their behavior, enjoying play periods or helping female relatives gather fruits and other foods in the forest. The children of slaves were expected to begin to assist their Saya masters as soon as they were old enough by carrying infants, collecting firewood and keeping fires burning, preparing game, and generally attending to the needs of their masters. Often, however, children were left in camp to attend to their own needs while adults went off on hunting trips. Little formal training occurred with either sex.

Boys and girls begin sexual experimentation at an early age. If brothers and sisters are caught engaging in sexual activity, they are punished with a few blows to the back with a bow stave, and made to sit away from the fire. However, sexual behavior is considered a normal part of life and little attention is paid to sexual play among children as long as it is not actual intercourse with a sibling. Even so, among adults, sexual alliances and actual or perceived misconduct (see below) are often the cause of violence among the Yuqui and is a constant source of intrigue and gossip.

Since contact, boys and girls attend school and are socialized as Bolivian nationals. The gender roles of Hispanic culture are taught in school by Bolivian schoolteachers or missionaries, which, with each successive generation, are gradually reconfiguring traditional Yuqui gender roles. The Yuquiare very attuned to conforming to the expectations of outsiders in terms of what constitutes "civilized" behavior. As a consequence, they experience a strong sense of shame when they are criticized or called "savages" (Chori) by local peasants. Thus, as they spend more time with outsiders, young Yuqui consciously work to affect many of the behaviors that they feel will bring greater acceptance when they are out in the world.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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