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Revisiting "Woman-Woman Marriage": Notes on Gikuyu Women

From: NWSA Journal
Volume 12, Number 1, Spring 2000
pp. 1-23 | 10.1353/nwsa.2000.0015


Studies of women who marry women in Africa are relatively few in number and generally dated, with few recent contributors. Based on interviews in central Kenya with Gikuyu women involved in "woman-woman marriages," this study critiques the extant literature, focusing on two key issues. Most authors have perceived narrow conditions and functionalist purposes for explaining woman-woman marriages. Our interviewees typically express complex reasons for marrying women, suggesting that woman-woman marriage is a flexible option within which women may pursue a range of social, economic, political, and personal interests. We also critique the concept of "female husband," suggesting that while the "husband" role can be male or female, the term is not so easily separated from the male connotations it implies in western contexts.