It might be hard to believe, but the notion of sex around the world can be very different depending on where you are. It's not always a cut and dry act - for some cultures it's seen as taboo, while others it's an open celebration that people love to partake in (and talk about). But how many of these alternative cultures do you really know about?
To say there are more than a few shocking examples is quite the understatement., here is a list of some of the most surprising and unusual sexual practices from around the world.Sambia Tribe Initiation from Boys to Men
One of the strangest sex practices we have come across has to belong to a particular Sambia tribe that live in Papua New Guinea. This highly unusual ceremony is essentially one that is designed by the tribe to induct adolescent boys into manhood. Various cultures around the world have different masculinization practices, such as bar mitzvahs where young Jewish boys become men in the eyes of their communities, but none stand out as much as the one the Sambia tribe practice. The whole thing kicks off when the boys are between 6 and 10 years old and consists of 6 separate stages.
First off, they are taught that women can be a danger to men so the boys are instructed to detach themselves from their mothers and other women in the tribe so they can learn to live without them. Next a sharp cane stick is stuck into their nostrils causing them to bleed… a lot. This is designed to teach them about pain and learn the ability to withstand it. Finally, the boys are then instructed to perform fellatio on the elders in the tribe and consume their semen. This ingestion of semen is seen as integral to becoming a man, as according to their belief, a man’s semen contains the masculine spirit which the young boys can only attain through its consumption.Donkey Lovers in Cartagena, Colombia
Adolescent boys are having regular sex with donkeys. This tradition is widely known and accepted in parts of Colombia as a rite of passage for many boys to become men. Fathers will often take their young boys out to teach them how to have intercourse with the farm animals. Once these young men get a taste of intercourse with donkeys it appears hard to give up. Many cases have been reported of married men repeatedly cheating on their wives with donkeys well into adulthood.
The practice itself is believed by Colombians to benefit the boys a great deal by giving them a means to practice having sex and better prepare them to please their future wives. As Colombia is an extremely catholic nation, pre or extramarital sex is extremely frowned upon. So, using Donkey’s is just a surprising loophole for horny youth. They also believe that having sex with donkeys will make their penises bigger as well as prevent them from becoming homosexual.Indonesia Pon Festival
Sexual celebratory ceremony taking place on the island of Java. In Indonesian tradition there is a celebration called Pon. The event is held seven times a year and during the festivities, revelers will hike up Gunung Kemukus, a hilltop Islamic shrine, found on the island of Java to take part in a holy ceremony to ensure good luck and fortune by having sex. Yeah, that’s right! Participants in the festival of Pon, must spend the night atop the mountain and have sex with a stranger if they want good luck and fortune to befall them in the future.
What is more is that tradition holds that this will only work if they have sex with the exact same person all seven times throughout the year during Pon. The ritual itself involves offering prayers and flowers at the grave site of Pangeran Samodro - one of the sons of a Javanese king. Participants then must wash themselves in a sacred spring and then find a stranger to do the horizontal tango with.Polyandry in the Himalayas
Polyandry is a unique form of polygamy which is surprisingly quite common among the Tibetan community of the Niyma. They are a relatively isolated society that live in the foothills of the Nyimba Valley, nestled on the western border between Nepal and Tibet. This society practices husband-sharing, where brothers in a family will all share a common wife to rear children. This practice traditionally stemmed from the need to avoid splitting what little valuable farmland that there is among multiple families. It’s also a consequence of the matriarchal culture that has developed among this Tibetan community.
Some experts also argue that this type of polyandry was developed in order to control birth rates in this region where living conditions are quite harsh, particularly in the long winters. While this polyandry served the peoples of this part of the Himalayas for centuries, this practice seems to be abating in recent years due to drastic economic changes taking place in their communities. The modern development of Nepal and Tibet has dealt a death blow to their traditional economic systems and as a result many of them have had to give up their usual economic activities which in turn has had the effect of limiting aspects of their lifestyles including polyandry.Iranian Pleasure Marriages
Since sex before marriage is considered a sin in many Muslim countries, including Iran, a lot of religious people have resorted to using so called ‘pleasure marriages’ as a sort of loophole.
Also known as Al-mut’ah marriage, it is usually only practiced in Twelver Shia Islam, the largest branch of Shia Islam. How it works is actually pretty straightforward. A specific duration of the marriage and dowry amount is agreed upon in advance and formalized in a verbal or written contract. So, a marriage can last anywhere from a few hours to a few years… anything is allowed really. The only restrictions are that the woman is not previously married and that after she must wait two menstrual periods before marrying again. Despite this process mostly being frowned upon, it is still quite common in Iran and occasionally practiced in areas of Iraq too. These day’s it’s mostly a loophole that is taken advantage of by the young who want to enjoy a love life without committing to a lifelong marriage.West Africa's Wodaabe Tribe
The Wodaabe tribe is a Fulani tribe in Niger, West Africa. In this tribe, marriages are always contracted in infancy, and their women can have as many sexual partners as they desire before marriage. This is because the men of this tribes are regarded as very vain, as it is believed that they are the most handsome set of men. The funny thing is that when you see their men, they are always carrying or moving about with mirrors. However, the Wodaabe tribe usually holds an annual festival called the "Gerewol" festival, during which men dress elaborately, wear some sort of make-up, and hold a beauty pageant of different types. Do you know the surprising thing about this festival? The men just dress to impress the wives of other men. The men of the Wodaabe tribe spend about six hours preparing themselves for their big moment, so that they can dance and show off in all their finery.
According to this tribe, beauty is judged by the whiteness of the eye, the firm straight bridge of the nose and white teeth. Therefore, the sole purpose of this make-up is just to accentuate these mentioned features. However as soon as the festival starts, three most beautiful women from the tribe are chosen to judge as the men display through a dance, moving in circles. Meanwhile, the wives of other men use the opportunity to admire the men they most desire to choose as their second husband. So, if a man successfully steals a wife without being caught, then the man automatically becomes her husband, and the union is accepted immediately. The reason is because the Wodaabe tribe is a well-known polygamous tribe, so the issue of wife stealing is widely accepted by them. Although most men do not wish their wives to be taken by another men, so they try all their best to prevent their wives from participating in the festival.Ceremonially Masturbate into the Nile
The ancient Egyptians held a strong belief that male masturbation was extremely important. It was even more important if it was performed by a god. When a god masturbated there was a belief that it was magical or even creative. To place the importance of male masturbation into context, and the reason the Pharaohs were required to masturbate into the Nile, you need only look at the god Atum. It’s said that he created the universe when he masturbated to ejaculation. Furthermore, the very flow of the Nile itself was said to be connected to the frequency of his ejaculations. It was for this reason that the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt were required to ceremonially masturbate into the Nile.Never-nudes of Inis Beag
The following refers to a rural community in Ireland according to research done in 1966. Although Inis Beag is still a small and largely secluded community today, these beliefs are no longer likely to be this conservative and are not representative of Ireland's beliefs as a whole.
Inis Beag, a small island off the coast of Ireland, is among the most naive and sexually repressive societies in the world. The islands abhor nudity, with adults washing only the parts of the body that extend beyond their clothing.
Even marital partners keep underclothes on during sexual activity. Premarital sex is essentially unknown, as is female orgasm. The husband invariably initiates sex, foreplay is limited to kissing and rough fondling of the buttocks, and the male-on-top position is the only position used.
The male has orgasm quickly and immediately falls asleep. Men believe that intercourse is hard on their health and will not engage in sex the night before an energy-demanding task. Moreover, they do not approach their wives sexually during menstruation or for months after childbirth.
The island women fear both menstruation and menopause. It is commonly believed that the latter can produce mental disorder. Thus, some women have retired from life in their mid-forties, and a few have even confined themselves to bed until death years later.
Sex education is virtually nonexistent. Parents merely trust that, after marriage, nature will take its course.Men of Mangaia
Mangaia, an island in the South Pacific Ocean, stands in sharp contrast to Inis Beag. Sex exists for both pleasure and procreation and is a principal interest and activity.
The Mangaian boy hears of masturbation at about 7 and begins the practice at age 8 or 9. At age 13, he undergoes the super-incision ritual (a slit is made on the top of the penis, along its entire length) and the expert who performs the surgery gives him explicit sexual instruction.
About two weeks after the operation, the boy has intercourse with an experienced woman who provides him with practice in various acts and positions. She specifically trains him in restraint so that he can have simultaneous orgasms with his partner.
The young girl receives similar expert instruction and will typically have three or four successive boyfriends between the ages of 13 and 20. Mangaian parents encourage their daughters to have sexual experiences with several men so that they can find a marriage partner who is congenial.
Boys aggressively seek out girls, typically having coitus every night. The average boy may have ten or more girlfriends before marriage.
At around age 18, the Mangaians typically have sex most nights of the week with about three orgasms per night. All women apparently learn to experience orgasm. Bringing his partner to orgasm is one of the man’s primary sources of pleasure.Sex in central Brazilian village
Sex in central Brazilian village seems to have plenty of sex. Sex is fascinating, the culture is highly eroticized, and there is an openness with children about sexual matters. For example, children typically know the names of their parents’ many extramarital lovers.
Men openly compete with each other for women’s sexual favors, often by bringing small gifts such as fish. At the same time, however, there is a high degree of gender segregation.
If a woman enters a “man’s” house and views what is forbidden, she may be taken to the woods and gang-raped. In every other respect, the culture is nonviolent.
Women are believed to have a much lower sex drive, there seems to be little recognition of female orgasm, and menstruation is understood to be dangerous. Dreams and fables speak to the culture’s sexual anxiety.
In myths, those who engage in extramarital sex typically die in fantastic ways. Although people seem to experience intense ambivalence and anxiety over sexuality, they continue their interest and vigorous pursuit of the activity.Genital "Worship" in Hawaii
These were times when Hawaiians embraced the most sacred place on the human body. They saw genitals as great ornaments. Holy, even. They were regarded with such reverence that there are still sites around Hawaii where they can be seen carved into the rock. The reason? They were said to be totems that enhanced fertility when visited.
Genitals were regarded so fondly on the islands that Hawaiians even took to naming their own, and publicly chanting them. Songs were sung, dances were performed in their honor, all to celebrate the spiritual power, also known as mana, Hawaiians believed resided within.In Rural Austria, women feed armpit-flavored apples to their suitor
In rural Austria, young women do a ritual dance with apple slices stuffed in their armpits. After the dance, each gives her slice to the man of her choice, and he then eats it.Girls of the Trobriander Tribe engage in sexual acts from age 6
The Trobriander Tribe from Papua, New Guinea embrace sexuality from an astonishingly young age. Boys start engaging in sexual activity from the age of 10-12, while the girls start from 6 years! Isn't that illegal?The Kreung Tribe builds love huts where teenaged girls can have sex with different men till, they find the one.
With the Kreung Tribe in Cambodia, the elders build a love-hut for their teenage daughters. Different boys spend the night here day after day, until she finds a suitable partner, who is then with her for life.In Ancient Greece, men took young boys as lovers.
For Ancient Greeks, sexual identity didn't depend on gender and preference but on who was the active penetrator and who was the penetratee(?). The active role was associated with higher social status, while the passive role meant youth and femininity, or 'boy love' in other words.In certain Nepali tribes, brothers share one woman.
Some Nepali tribes in the Himalayas practise polyandry. Basically, all the brothers share one woman, so that they don't have too many children for their limited farmland.Adolescents of the Muria Tribe, Chattisgarh, can 'practice' sex without emotional attachment.
The Muria Tribe from Chattisgarh have a very sexually liberated culture. They have mixed-sex dormitories where adolescents are sent to practice premarital sex, sometimes with a single partner and sometimes serially. They are discouraged from becoming emotionally attached to their partners.Women of the Guajiro tribe must make a man 'fall' to make love
Colombia's Guajiro people have a ceremonial dance. If a woman trips a man during the dance, they must have sex.References:
Messenger, John C. Inis Beag: Isle of Ireland. Long Grove: IL: Waveland Press, 1983. ISBN 0-88133-051-5, OCLC 10578752
John C. Messenger, "Sex and Repression in an Irish Folk Community", in Donald S. Marshall and Robert C. Suggs, eds., Human Sexual Behavior: Variations in the Ethnographic Spectrum, 1971. Basic Books, New York.
John C. Messenger, Ines Beag Revisited: The Anthropologist as Observant Participator. Publisher: Salem, Wisconsin: Sheffield, 1989. ISBN 0-88133-408-1
John Messenger, Peasants, Proverbs, and Projection. Central Issues in Anthropology April 1991, Vol. 9, No. 1: pp. 99–105 doi:10.1525/cia.19184.108.40.206
[ Marshall, Donald S. Sexual behavior on Mangaia. Human sexual behavior (1971): 103-162.
Harris, Helen. Rethinking Polynesian Heterosexual Relationships: A Case Study on Mangaia, Cook Islands in William Jankowiak ed Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience? (1997)
Gregor, Thomas. The Mehinaku: The Dream of Daily Life in a Brazilian Indian Village. 2009