Sexuality is a very powerful force that can create and destroy the human body, the family, the community, and even the cosmos itself. The Nahua belief in hierogamy is based on the assumption of heterosexuality between the masculine and feminine forces in the universe. Cross-dressing occurs in rituals, particularly when men put on the attire of Spanish colonial women. Homoerotic play occurs among boys, but the Nahuat of the sierra norte de Puebla rarely manifest homophobia despite the tendency of some mestizos to label as "homosexual" those Nahua men whom they consider sexually passive with women. No lesbians came to my attention, although lesbian sex probably does occur.

The Nahua believe that they must manage sexuality with a number of respect rules governing the relationship between men and women. They convey these rules by telling stories that describe men and women loving each other excessively (cimi motazohtah), resulting in the death and destruction of the family. Sometimes the man and woman are brother and sister, and their excessive love drives them to commit incest. Avoidance rules for managing sexuality include the separation of adolescent brother and sister, strict rules of dress according to which a woman conceals her pubic area from a man, and little open expression of emotional excess. Brothers will admonish their younger sister for showing excitement in public (Taggart, 1992).

Any form of sexual transgression, particularly sex outside marriage, is called tahtacol (tlahtlacolli), a word that originally meant "to be in a state or disorder or broken" (Burkhart, 1989). With the influence of Christianity, tahtacol (tlahtlacolli) became a synonym for sin (pecado) and the two words occur together in Nahua versions of Adam and Eve. The Nahua do not place much importance on preserving a woman's physical virginity, although they do fear that mestizo men will sexually take advantage of their maiden daughters. Maidenhood is extremely short, as girls marry soon after puberty.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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