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?
1. Semen Drinking in Sambia
In Papua New Guinea, the young boys of the Sambia Tribe are taught to be men – to be “warriors” – in a grueling series of traditions that culminate with possibly the strongest shot of all: a cup of semen from the tribe’s elders.
Members of the Sambia Tribe believe that, from early on, boys need to detach themselves from their mother, and embrace their masculine side. It is said that consuming the ejaculate represents the moment a boy enters manhood. In some cases, the boys are instructed to perform fellatio on the elders themselves as often as 20 times per day.
Certainly a difficult task to achieve manhood. Not to mention the boys are forbidden from seeing their mothers during this time, are ritualistically beaten each day, and even have cane sticks shoved into their nostrils to help them build up a pain tolerance.
2. Sex with Donkeys in Cartagena, Columbia
We’ve all heard stories about fathers taking their sons on a trip to “buy” their first sexual experience. While it’s not quite as prevalent now, it wasn’t too long ago that such a gesture was seen as a right of passage. A strange way to enter manhood via a few awkward moments with what was surely a very patient lady of the night.
Well, that’s nothing compared to what goes down in Cartagena, Columbia.
Here, it’s a well-known tradition to get lucky with some of the local farm animals. The reason? Because pre-marital relations are a big no-no in the largely Catholic country. Thus, a loophole in the system: donkeys.
To make matters worse, or, at least more complicated depending on your view, the locals believe banging donkeys will eventually make them more powerful lovers, and even allow their peens to grow beyond their natural state. Truly, Mexico’s infamous “Donkey Shows” have nothing on Cartagena.
3. Permanent Wife-swapping in West Africa’s Wodaabe Tribe
In the United States, we’ve been known to practice a fun-but-equally-infuriating game called “Yankee Swap” during the holiday season. The rules are simple: bring a gift to the gift exchange, and everyone else takes turns swapping and stealing for what could either be an amazing present – or another coffee mug warmer that will certainly be re-gifted next year.
In the case of West Africa’s Wodaabe Tribe, they take Yankee Swap very seriously…
But not everyone brings a gift. And they certainly don’t bring coffee mug warmers. And instead, they try to steal your wife.
Apparently, it’s all fair game with members of the Wodaabe, who, every year during their Gerewol Festival, don elaborate makeup and costumes in order to woo potential brides by performing a dance called togu for them. To the Wodaabe men, they believe the togu dance is so powerful that it can make married women fall in love with them.
The catch? Sometimes it actually works. And if the female member of the tribe decides to run away with her potential suitor, then all is fair in love and war (and dance), and the tribe must publicly recognize the new couple.
4. Public “Release” into the Nile in Ancient Egypt
In the past, Native American tribes often performed a rain dance, a ritual that was said to summon rain clouds and give way to a prosperous harvest for the year. More rain meant more crops could grow.
But in ancient Egypt, the pharaohs took the idea a little bit further. They believed that Atum, the Egyptian God of Creation, created the universe from his ejaculation, and that the Nile River is the direct representation of that miraculous torrent.
Thus, in hopes of receiving plentiful amounts of water for their people, the pharaohs were said to mirror Atum’s act – and “relieve themselves” directly into the Nile itself.
5. The Never-nudes of Inis Beag
Located just off the coast of Ireland, Inis Beag once took its native Catholicism to the extreme. Home to several close-knit families, this remote location taught its citizens that sex is merely a duty, never to be enjoyed. Thus, the goings-on at Inis Beag are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum of some cultures.
Among the island’s uber-strict rules, there was to be no tongue kissing or fondling; even speaking of the deed was completely forbidden, as was instructing women about the nature of their own bodies, including menstruation and menopause.
While certain cultures have exhibited similar practices, perhaps the strangest of all here on Inis Beag involved underwear, and the fact it was virtually never removed. This certainly complicated things for the townspeople as far as making more townspeople, but they nevertheless adhered to these guidelines, even going to far as to only change their underoos in complete isolation, and even then under the cover of their own bed sheets.
6. Trying to Get with the Same Random Stranger Seven times in Indonesia
The concept of a “hall pass” is relatively new: in an effort to fix an ailing marriage, a spouse can grant his or her partner a one-time free night to sleep with anyone they choose, no questions asked.
On one hand, this could potentially be a dream come true. On the other, it could also be the equivalent of a “Monkey’s Paw”-type wish that will only come back to wreak further havoc on a marriage that’s already in a disastrous state.
While this in itself could qualify as a bizarre sexual practice, it doesn’t quite go to the extreme the way Pon does. In this celebration, participants, married or not, hike the mountain known as Gunung Kemukus, where they seek to get lucky with a random stranger. The goal? To earn good luck for the rest of the year, of course. The catch? One must find – and bang – the same person during all seven celebrations for the entire year to truly earn good fortune.
7. Genital “Worship” in Pre-contact Hawaii
So far, we’ve covered a lot of ground in the world of not covering a lot of things up. But there’s one area we haven’t quite grazed yet: the genitals.
Specifically, those genitals from pre-contact 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.
8. Brothers Sharing Brides in the Himalayas
Now that we’ve got genitals out of the way, we can get back to something a bit more taboo – polyandry. Specifically, multiple husbands. But even more specifically, husbands who also happen to be brothers who totally don’t mind sharing a wife.
While it’s understood that most cultures would frown on polyandry, in the Himalayas, it’s seen more as a practical way of living. Sure, it makes the notion of “one-in-a-million” seem a little less special, but the idea behind this way of life evolved because of how Himalayans must adapt to their environment.
On this mountain range, there is very little land, and thus, very little room for many families.As a result, resources are limited, and it makes more sense for a single woman to have multiple husbands, versus the other way around.
So how do these relationships work exactly?
One word: scheduling. Needs must be met, and every family carefully organizes how their time is spent, which husband tends to which job, and who’s turn it is to lay with their wife. Sort of like a chore wheel, but with baser instincts lumped in as well.