Sexuality

Sexuality is an open topic. Much joking, comment, gossip, and teasing involves erotic allusions. Accusations of failure also sometimes focus on sexual themes. Therefore children become acquainted with sexual practices and rules in a frank way, although it should be noted that sexual acts are mainly performed in privacy outside the village.

To practice sex, which is taboo before reaching puberty, a girl needs to be prepared by the mother or grandmother some time before adolescence. In some areas the older woman will remove the hymen and thus "open her channel." This act is in accord with the principle that women control the reproductive domain, as has been described in the context of the first menstruation ritual and which is also true for all circumstances of childbirth. Young children are seldom rebuked for sexual play. However, at the age of 6-10 boys are told to bind up or hide their penis and girls are admonished not to expose their private parts and sit or move with caution so as not to allow indecent views.

Each act of sexual intercourse is considered a contribution to a future birth. Therefore, sexuality is closely linked to reproduction. After birth, a post-partum taboo is obeyed for about 15-18 months, the time a Yanomami child needs to learn how to walk. After sexual relations are resumed, the next child is hoped for after about another year. Shamans have to obey a sex taboo after initiation as the spirits dislike erotic sex.

Extramarital relations are frequent and in many cases they are accepted, if the kinship system favors the bond. In visiting events it might even be considered a gesture of generosity to allow sexual relations between the guests and the hosts. However, at times of intergroup conflict, love affairs are taken as a justification for the fission of a village community.

Homosexuality seems to be exceptional. It may be acted out, especially in play situations among young boys or girls, but it does not exist as a form of cohabitation.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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