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Sex: Ancient versus modern

Written by Yetunde Arebi
~Vanguard, Nigeria. Sunday, May 1, 2016

At birth, no one knows what sex means. But with age, exposure and maturity, we all get to know about sex.Our knowledge, ideas and beliefs about sex often times will depend largely on what our society stipulates it to be. Therefore, not all of us will have the same ideas and attitude about sex. What is right and proper differs from individual to individual and society to society. However, what we know and have come to accept as the norm about sex, sexuality and sexual orientation today, was not what it used to be many, many years ago in many cultures.

Interestingly though, some societies have yet to still evolve from the old rituals. For instance, virginity many years ago ceased to considered a virtue as young ladies seeking suitors were allowed to shop for Mr. Right by sampling potential young men in bed till they find one that could satisfy them the most! Shocking?

From puberty to reproduction to recreation, sex has a place in every custom and society and many of them have unique peculiarities of their own. And though most have long been taken over by cultural evolution and health reasons, many are still well entrenched in some societies to date. Let’s take a glimpse into some of the sex rituals performed by cultures across the world, so many of us will see that we have not done so badly at all, even with all our wild preferences and orientations.

*New Guinea, Australia: For many tribes here, puberty starts from about age six when the little boys are weaned of their mothers’ aprons. They are taken to a camp in the forest where they begin their training into manhood. For the Sambian and Trobriander tribes, this period spans about age 6-12 and the children are taught to start engaging in sexual activities, albeit as homosexual or gay men.

They are kept away from women and are encouraged to fellate and swallow the semen of older young men with the belief that it is the way they will grow into strong men. The stronger the men, mostly warriors, the better for the young boys. This is because the Sambia believes that at birth, everyone is born with something called a ‘tingu’. A woman’s tingu becomes mature once she begins menstruation, but not so easily for the boys. His tingu has to be developed and the only way to achieve this is by drinking the ‘man milk’ of older men till he reaches puberty at about 13 years.

Once he goes through a ritual involving nose-bleeding, he becomes qualified to provide mentoring with his man milk for other young men too. By age 20, he is ready to marry and the older men take him through another round of training; how to protect himself from the impurities of women. For example, when having intercourse, he must stuff mint leaves in his nostrils and chew on the bark in order to mask the smell of his wife’s genitals. He must learn to use only short strokes as deep penetration is not allowed to prevent being polluted by women.

After intercourse, a man must go to bathe in the mud in order to wash away female impurities he may have contracted from his wife. Even after marriage, he is not permitted to spend too long a period with his wife and must stick close to the men.Instructively, women are allowed as much sexual freedom as the men as there are no special stigmas accorded to sex. Intriguing here however, is that while everybody is allowed to engage in as much sex as they want, pre-marital meal sharing, more like dates, are not allowed publicly! (Today, most men, I’m sure will gladly embrace this!)

*For the people of Inis Beag, on the coast of Ireland, sex is considered high profile secret such that most think it is the most sexually repressed. Here, sex is considered a big strain on human health. Those who engage in it do so to the detriment of their health. Even then, they must have sex with their knickers on. This practice can also be found among some sects in Islam as even stripping naked while taking a bath is considered a bad omen, as it will drive away the good Jinns and allow the evil ones to attack one. During sex, a couple must only raise their clothes to gain access to the vital parts while some have improvised by having sex under the sheets. I’m very sure this can’t be so exciting!

*In Mangaia, a tiny Island in the South Pacific, we have some of the earliest and most advanced sexually educated society. Here, boys start sexual tutoring at age 13. Older women are contracted to teach them about pleasuring women and how to up their game by lasting longer and as well as self restrain. (Now, you are talking!) This is similar to reports associated with the Taoist culture in China.

Here, it is believed that a man’s semen contains most of his positive energy and life force and should therefore exercise constrain in releasing it. They are taught to have longer sex without ejaculating. And when they do, they are encouraged to release only a portion of it. Well, if the guy does not get blue balls (from inability to ejaculate after sexual stimulation) then, who am I to complain!

* They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, give her one and …….! Not so for the women of the village of Mehinaku in Brazil. Here, all that a man has to do traditionally to gain a woman’s attention is to give a gift of fish and the deal is sealed.(Tufiakwa!!!)

*In Judaism there is a long list of sex dos and don’ts that couples must adhere to. While sex is a no-no before marriage, sex is seen as the ultimate bonding between a man and a woman and a religious responsibility. Procreation sex is not high on the list as children are not considered a must in marriages. Sex is allowed only in time of joy and a man must never force himself on his wife. No means no! Marital rape not allowed. When drunk or quarreling, a man is not permitted to jump on his wife.

The women will love this! In Judaism, sex is a woman’s right, not a man’s. A man has a duty to provide regular and pleasurable sex to his wife on demand. Sex is one of a woman’s basic rights besides feeding and clothing by her husband and conditions can only be modified through Ketubah, a marriage contract. A man’s consistent refusal to engage in sex is enough grounds for his wife to sue for divorce!!

*A coronation rite in ancient Sumeria reminds me of the play ‘The king must dance naked’. To win the confidence of his people that he has been indeed chosen by the goddess to rule, the king must engage the chief priestess of the temple in a sexual bout in full glare of his subjects. The intensity and pleasurable expressions of the chief priestess is the confirmation that the king has the blessing of the goddess and the eager audience rejoices.

For them, this means good harvest and prosperity. This ritual is attributed to be the source of most of the oldest erotic poetry. God save the king if the priestess fails to approve of his bedding skills!

*In the Marquessas Islands, parenting was taken as a very serious business. Parents taught the children mainly by example and not what they say. Thus, kids learn to have sex by watching their parents display.

*In ancient Egypt mythology, Atum, the god of creation was said to have created the universe by releasing himself. According to sex and society, “even the ebb and flow of the Nile was thought to be caused by Atum's ejaculation. This concept spurred the Egyptian pharaohs to ritually release themselves into the Nile to ensure an abundance of water.” Thus, back then self stimulation into the River Nile was a common occurrence.

This is perhaps similar to the practice by ancient paganism groups in the Middle East who conducted mass masturbation ceremonies with the intent of achieving increase in crop productivity. The team is led by the most successive member while others follow and try to reach orgasm at about the same time. This epic performance according to them will ensure a favourable harvest of crops from the fertility gods in the coming season.

*We all know that homosexuality dates as far back as medieval times. In ancient Greece, this was very significant and nobody raised an eyebrow if a man wanted to roll in sh.t or not. What was not allowed was men of similar age group and social class indulging in the game.The belief was that being at the bottom was feminine and so was belittling of men to be in such a position. A man can only subject himself to that position if the man on top was of a higher social class or more successful. Still not far from the truth these days, in our part of the world, I guess!

*Though Islam is perceived by most as a very strict religious practice, unknown to many, there are loopholes where practitioners can let down their hair sexually without getting on the wrong side of the law. For instance, for you to accuse a married woman of adultery, you must provide at least three witnesses to testify that they actually saw her being humped by a man other than her husband. Without these eye witnesses, testimonies against her will be regarded as rumours and untenable.

Similarly, ‘Sigheh’ is a practice whereby a couple can agree to get married for a stipulated period of time, then divorce. Anything they do together is allowed during this period. This practice is still on even in strict Iran and many Muslim communities, including Nigeria. A form of trial marriage or live in marriage, I think.

*For the Kreung tribe in Cambidia, love huts are constructed for teenage girl preparing for marriage. Not for them, purity, chastity and virginity, brides must be experienced and familiar with the kind of man they want to settle with. So, they are given permission to sample the men, till they find the right one. Night after night, they are allowed to mate with potential suitors until the most skilful or the most lousy picks the ticket, depending on the taste of the intended bride. Hmm! Good for both sides, don’t you think? Do have a wonderful weekend!

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