The Anthropology of Sex

/Tag:The Anthropology of Sex

Sex in the West is a taboo subject and the truth about the sexual beliefs and practices of other cultures has been hidden from us. This series exposes the diverse and complex nature of human sexuality.

Lehnert And Landrock And The Nailiyat

How did I miss this? The photographs of Rudolf Lehnert and his publishing partnership with Ernst Landrock should have appeared when I was looking at photography. Thing is, these images are all over the net; on gallery and auction house websites (here and here), on blogs. Seems Lehnert and Landrock were something of a publishing phenomenon, particularly in France. Lehnert was the photographer and his work falls between ethnography and orientalist fantasy. After doing an apprenticeship in photography at the Vienna Institute of Applied Graphic Arts, Lehnert travelled to Tunisia (a French colony) in 1903, where he befriended the Berber [...]

Colonising Porn And Other Nonsense

From time to time I check in on Melinda Tankard Reist's site to see what she's up to. In the most part it's filled with material about marketing and the media. I don't have any objection to these campaigns. I'm no fan of our consumer culture or of modern marketing. It cheapens us all. No, what I look for is Melinda's real agenda and every now and then it slips through. As I have said before, Melinda is a conservative Christian who receives a lot of encouragement from the religious right, both materially and emotionally. I just wish that many [...]

Sexualisation And Dance

In his book The Wicked Waltz and Other Scandalous Dances, Mark Knowles explains that Christianity has always, periodically, had a little moral panic or two over sexualised dancing. This perfectly illustrates my point about how meaning changes over time and between cultures. For where there is dance there is also the Devil. For God has not given us our feet to use in a shameful way but in order that we may walk in decency, not that we should dance like camels. St John Chrysostom. According to Knowles the waltz was once considered sinful and provocative. Compared to earlier [...]

Clive Hamilton (3): Meaningful Sex

When the sexual revolution began to breach the wall of sexual repression it came first as a trickle then as a torrent, with no sign of surcease 40 years on, so that sex talk and erotic imagery pervade books, media, advertising, the internet and public discussion with a fascination that seems limitless. This is a constant theme of the moral conservatives – regret over the excesses of the sexual revolution. The problem is that they do not understand what the sexual revolution is actually about, at least, as defined the people who first used the term. The critical names here [...]

In Response To Emily

I'm new to Facebook: the result has been a reconnection to the 'Integral' community, especially some folks in SF (I had spent a week in SF in 2002 meeting various folks in the Integral community). It was through this revitalized connection that I was made aware of a paper written by a student at JFK University, Emily Ann Baratta entitled Integral Sexual Ethics. To give a little more context: I visited JFK in 2002 and had a pleasant lunch with some of the academic staff, one of whom was one of Emily's supervisors, Vernice Solimar. Of course, having written Integral [...]

The Anthropology Of Sex: The Female Breast

At some point in our history we chose to sexualize the female breast. Americans in particular seem to have fetishized the female breast, especially the nipples (something women share with men).This is NOT something we can blame the Judeo-Christians for. Whilst the Judeo-Christian tradition demands we cover our bodies in the name of modesty, it does not treat the female breast as sexual. Mary breastfed Jesus.Needless to say there are many cultures in which the female breast is NOT seen as sexual. So how did we begin to see the female breast as sexual? It's difficult to say. Certainly there's [...]

The Anthropology Of Sex: Japan

Bought a fascinating book yesterday, Sex and the Floating World by Timon Screech. It's a detailed, academic look at sexuality during the Edo period. Lots of interesting detail about erotic symbolism and sexual manners. It also provides a valuable contrast to Western assumptions. The author says that sexuality during the Edo period was a kind of fluid bisexuality. Both men and women could and often did, take same sex lovers. Indeed, homosexual relations were common and even institutionalised in some circumstances. 'Heterosexual' and 'homosexual' were not fixed, distinct human types, rather they were understood as activities. We could say the [...]

The Anthropology Of Sex: Virginity

In discussing sexuality one must always be wary of 'assumed norms'. A good example of this is the discussion around the physiology of the hymen, even its name assumes certain values because it is named after the Greek god of marriage, Hymenaeus or Hymen. Thus the name links the hymen to the act of marriage, yet the anthropological evidence suggests this is a minority view amongst cultures. Indeed, the 'assumed norm' even invades scientific explanations on the purpose of the hymen. Some have speculated that it is designed to protect the young girl's vagina from infection whilst also being [...]

Sex At Dawn

I had high expectations for this book. Most were fulfilled, some weren't. I think the authors engaged in excessive polemic and overstated their case. Unfortunately they have been caught out doing the very thing they accuse others of - being selective. The premise is controversial but I think largely correct. Our species evolved to be promiscuous, and monogamous, heterosexual marriage is a social construct. Using evidence from both anthropology and biology they make a convincing case that monogamous, heterosexual marriage is culturally specific. I found the biological argument fascinating. Why do women take longer to achieve orgasm and why [...]

Pilgrimage To Readings

It's getting to be a tradition. Around every six months (my birthday and Xmas) I go into Carlton and buy up big at Readings, perhaps the best bookshop in Melbourne and something of a Melbourne cultural landmark. This trip I bought: Sex at Dawn: the Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. You'll be hearing much more about this gem. For now I'll leave you with this quote from Alan Dixson at the beginning of chapter 21, The Pervert's Lament, in light of my previous post on paedophilia. Paraphilias are not universally present in human societies, [...]