Other Cross Sex Relationships

Respect is a fundamental value in Luyia cultures. Though the nature of particular relationships varies with the individuals involved, relationship styles can be categorized along a continuum ranging from hierarchical relationships of respect, formality, and restraint to relationships among equals marked by familiarity, informality, and joking. In the former, obedience and deference are expected. Only the latter may include discussion of sexual matters and lewd joking.

Respect relationships occur in hierarchical dyads, as between parents and children. Fathers are the most respected, especially by daughters, while relationships with mothers are more free and emotionally warm—though one must always respect one's mother. Disobedience to a parent is a failure of respect—a challenge to the status and authority of the senior person— and is quickly punished. Mother-son and mother-daughter bonds tend to be strong throughout life. Many women say they "fear" their fathers-in-law (husband's father and his brothers and male cousins) and avoid them by not shaking their hands (the usual greeting), sitting in their presence, eating with them, and so on. Sons-in-law are similarly respectful to mothers-in-law. The one person in the parental generation with whom junior females (and males too) may have a joking relationship is a father's sister (senge), who can be a confidant and sexual adviser.

In contrast, brothers and sisters—linked by the bridewealth that makes the marriages of each possible— enjoy a more free and open relationship. Sisters often go to their brothers when they have marital difficulties and other problems. A woman may be very free with her brothers-in-law, who are potential husbands if her husband dies and she is inherited by one of them. Even in these relatively egalitarian relationships, however, sex and age make males "more equal" than females, and older "more equal" than younger.

Grandparents and grandchildren are usually very free with each other. They make sexual jokes and, if of opposite sex, call each other "husband" and "wife." A grandfather and grandson call each other "brother," and grandmother and granddaughter call each other "cowife." Traditionally, children slept in their grandmother's house, listening to her stories and advices, and many still do. However, grandmothers' roles as educator and adviser have diminished greatly as schools, churches, and other institutions provide alternative ideas and practices that grandmothers (usually with no formal education or much experience outside their home areas) often know little about. Nevertheless, children enjoy being with grandparents, perhaps in part as a relief from sterner relationships.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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