Sexuality

Male and female attitudes toward sexuality are both natural and healthy, in most respects. Until the arrival of missionaries in 1894, men and women wore few items of clothing within the home. Both wore leather briefs, sometimes decorated with a fringe or beadwork. Women wore wide ribbons of leather crisscrossed across their breasts. These ribbons, to which were attached beads and amulets, were both decorative and protective. Small children often wore no clothing inside the small warm traditional dwellings. Missionaries instilled a sense of embarrassment and shame in regard to covering the body that had not existed prior to their arrival. The traditional Yupik society also included, as a part of its social and religious organization, an accepted system for extending family boundaries and responsibilities through formalized spousal exchanges. These relationships were passed down generationally through the male line. Two men from different lineages became partners and gained rights to each others spouses. These were named relationships.

Women's menstrual blood was considered dangerous, and care was taken to prevent a menstruating girl or woman from touching or stepping over any hunting implements. Additionally, women were not expected to go out in the hunting boats because their presence could keep game away from a hunter. While some of the feelings about menstrual blood seem to have disappeared in the present, attitudes about a woman's presence in a hunting boat still prevail.

Lovemaking, premarital sex, and attitudes toward sex are quite relaxed, as are attitudes toward other bodily functions such as elimination. It is not at all uncommon, for example, for a young unmarried couple to sleep together in either of their parents' homes. In the present-day communities, as elsewhere in the United States, however, spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends are expected to practice fidelity. When someone in a recognized partnership is unfaithful, the cuckolded partner is often jealous and hurt, and such behavior has been known to precipitate domestic abuse. In general, women are expected to practice modesty to a greater degree than men but, overall, modesty is expected only when outsiders are present.

Both young men and young women begin to cover themselves when they become teenagers. Before that, modesty is not a major concern. In the past, sexual expressions, both heterosexual and homosexual, were recognized ter-minologically. Such expression does not seem to be an issue, although some sexual joking does occur when someone is known to be homosexual.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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