Sexuality

There is a general perception by outsiders that Yuqui women are sexually aggressive. Bolivian nationals often find this exciting and will readily engage in sex with Yuqui women if given the opportunity. The Yuqui typically view this type of sexual conduct with outsiders as a seduction by the Yuqui woman because the woman has probably visited the man at night or arranged an encounter in the forest. These trysts are invariably discovered. If the woman involved is married, she is likely to be severely chastised or even beaten by her husband and perhaps by some of her male relatives. The offending outsider male is then told to leave. If the woman is unmarried and the outsider gets along well with her male and female relatives and wants to remain, he will be accepted into the community. Yuqui men, on the other hand, are quite timid with regard to Bolivian women. Sexual relationships between Yuqui men and Bolivian women are rare, and typically occur outside the Yuquisettlement and are initiated by the women.

The Yuqui view sex as a major source of pleasure, entertainment, gossip, and conflict. Virtually all the arguments that occur between individuals or groups of families within the band originate over food or sex. Women most often initiate sexual encounters, and do so by going off into the woods to make a "nest" (queesa). They set up their mosquito net along the hunting trail of the man they wish to seduce and then wait for him to walk by. The seduction may be about taking away the man from another woman out of spite, getting even with a husband, obtaining more meat, or securing a mate. Men seem incapable of resisting such a seduction and actually are not expected to. Virtually all Yuqui engage in this type of sexual activity throughout their adult lives and the "scandals" that it causes create exciting topics of conversation if not open conflict. In the past, these conflicts tended to be more physical, with wrestling, choking, punching, scratching, and biting occurring between males, between females, or between males and females over illicit sexual conduct.

What constitutes "illicit" behavior is always complex and largely based on context. Whether a man is providing food or commodities to a young woman's family may determine whether his sexual relationship with her is condoned. Married couples engage in spouse-swapping which causes no concern as long as all partners are in agreement. But if a woman or man has sex with another partner who has not been vetted by the spouse, then certainly there will be repercussions. Women comment that when they are tired or not feeling well and a husband requests sex, they might suggest the husband's brother's wife or some other close relative as a substitute partner. This behavior is considered entirely acceptable.

Sex is viewed as much a form of recreation as procreation, and displays of physicality may be part of the sex act. It is not uncommon for women and men to return from the woods, the place where most sexual activity takes place, with arms, neck, and face bitten and scratched. These are signs of having had pleasurable sexual activity, and everyone makes note of these love marks.

Finally, the Yuquibelieve that too much sex will turn a person's hair gray, something quite unusual for these people who normally gray very little as they age.

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