Growing up sexually: a world atlas
November 9, 2007 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Growing Up Sexually: A world atlas and encyclopedia of cross-cultural practices in the sexual enculturation of children. The project overview gives context for the site, which is a subproject of the frighteningly comprehensive International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. Primary author of site is an M.D. No images, text may not be safe for work.
posted by Rumple (32 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite


 
First link - Mormons. Heck, yes! Bow-chicka-wow-wow.
posted by SassHat at 7:36 PM on November 9, 2007


Wow, is that ever thorough. Frighteningly comprehensive, indeed.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:40 PM on November 9, 2007


Some of the more interesting accounts include:
Copper Eskimoa>
Ona (Yahgan)

New Ireland
Marquesas
Lesotho
posted by Rumple at 7:46 PM on November 9, 2007


Borked the Ona link.
posted by Rumple at 7:48 PM on November 9, 2007


I just learned a lot about Japan:

“The average Japanese today sleeps with his or her children until the children are ten or fifteen years old”

Western observers even today often notice that Japanese mothers masturbate their young children during the day in public and at night in the family bed-in order, they say, "to put them to sleep”

Japanese mothers often teach their sons how to masturbate, helping them achieve first ejaculation in much the same manner as with toilet training. A “mental health hotline” in Tokyo recently reported being flooded with calls about incest, 29 percent of them with complaints such as that the mother would offer her body for sex while telling the son, “You cannot study if you cannot have sex. You may use by body”, or “I don’t want you to get into trouble with a girl. Have sex with me instead”

Parents usually have intercourse with the children in bed with them; and "co-sleeping," with parents physically embracing the child, often continues until the child is ten or fifteen. One recent Japanese study found daughters sleeping with their fathers over 20 percent of the time after age 16.

Co-bathing is equally significant, continuing until the age of six and beyond. Mothers sometimes wash their children even after they have reached adolescence. Although sexual motivations are vigorously disavowed during these activities, research reveals a pattern that links co-sleeping and co-bathing to incest. For boys, this incestuous activity with mother is so traumatic that the notion of sexuality with other females is repugnant, marriage is often impossible, and fears of impotence are common.

Excerpting just the shocking bits leads to me copying the whole entry over.
posted by phrontist at 8:12 PM on November 9, 2007


Japanese mothers masturbate their young children during the day in public and at night in the family bed-in order, they say, "to put them to sleep” ...

Japanese mothers often teach their sons how to masturbate, helping them achieve first ejaculation in much the same manner as with toilet training.


Can we get some actual Japanese people in here to either confirm or deny this? Because until then I'm calling some serious "OMG FOREIGNERS ARE CREEPY" bullshit on these articles.
posted by Avenger at 8:18 PM on November 9, 2007


The Japan article has 77 footnotes - that's a start.
posted by Rumple at 8:28 PM on November 9, 2007


loljapanese
posted by exlotuseater at 8:34 PM on November 9, 2007


Previously. And MeTa.
posted by meehawl at 8:40 PM on November 9, 2007


Can we get some actual Japanese people in here to either confirm or deny this? Because until then I'm calling some serious "OMG FOREIGNERS ARE CREEPY" bullshit on these articles.

Get over it sexually repressed occidental ... you creep me out !!
posted by riderace at 9:01 PM on November 9, 2007




well, i'll try anything once.
posted by mr_book at 9:11 PM on November 9, 2007


In case you miss the URL for the middle link above, it's from Martijn, which is a Dutch version of NAMBLA.
posted by meehawl at 9:12 PM on November 9, 2007


It feels like some of the information is out of date or biased by the status of the person they're talking about. For example the 'African American' section describes sexual behaviour of this niche as if it were only ghetto culture and even then, only from research from the 1970's.
posted by Phalene at 9:14 PM on November 9, 2007


Rumple wrote: The Japan article has 77 footnotes - that's a start.

Well! It has footnotes! Golly, they're never wrong, or biased, or out of date. No siree.....if its got footnotes it must be true!

Actually, most of the objectionable quotes above appear to come from a single source. I probably could have told you that just by reading it, though.
posted by Avenger at 10:01 PM on November 9, 2007


Calling the website Growing Up Sexually (GUS!) is a bit of a giveaway, isn't it? And as soon as I saw the HTML, I thought, errrr... On top of that, look at the examples and text. In short, if this is supposed to be covert, it's epic fail IMO.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:04 PM on November 9, 2007


The site strikes me as a compendium of previously written sources on the transmission of sexual knowledge and practice cross-culturally. Some of these are old ethnographic or historical sources, while others are recent scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals. I didn't see it as a stealth project to promote pedophelia, but maybe I am very naive. I've read a lot of ethnographies and they are full of accounts of practices, sexual and otherwise, which we may not like or agree with. This doesn't mean we have to approve of them, but they should not be automatically taboo topics for inquiry. Cross-culturally, sexual norms do indeed vary widely. The author, one Diederik F. Janssen, might have an interest in childhood sexuality that goes beyond what you or I might consider healthy, but there is no sign on google at least that he is a pedophile (that is, there aren't even any sites I could find that suggest that). The GUS is hosted on a university server, and derives from a project started in the 1920s.

And Avenger, yes I will take the footnotes over the opinion of some anonymous internet person such as yourself. I have no idea if the Japan article is actually accurate or not, yet probably the last person to give an unbiased opinion would be the Japanese person you would like to see comment.
posted by Rumple at 10:17 PM on November 9, 2007


1.) It figures that it would be Dutch.

2.) Just as people used to read anthropology for pornography, this is pedophile porn in a thin scholarly disguise.
posted by amba12 at 10:25 PM on November 9, 2007


Just as people used to read anthropology for pornography

You'll pry my National Geographics from my cold, dead, hairy hands, you bluenose.
posted by dhartung at 10:42 PM on November 9, 2007


What. The. Fuck.

I've lived in Japan nearly half my life, and I have no fucking idea what they're talking about. It's like reading an article about America which says:

"It is not unknown, in America, when a son reaches 15, for the father to masturbate and ejaculate in the son's ear. There are occasional reports that the son's ear is then licked clean by his mother."

What I can say is true: parents sleep in the same bed with their kids far longer than the US. My kid is 2, and he still sleeps in our bed. He'll probably get his own bed around 3 or 4, dunno.

Parents bathe with their kids until quite late...but that's really fucking misleading, because public bathing is not uncommon. Sure, I might take a bath with my son when he's 10. And I might go on a vacation to a hot spring tomorrow and bathe with 15 male strangers, from ages 1 to 99. It would be way, way stranger if the situation was that Japanese would bathe with perfect strangers of any age whatsoever, but would avoid bathing with their own family like the plague.

And that's about it. The rest is all absolutely bizarre. My wife (who is Japanese) has also never heard of any of this stuff.
posted by Bugbread at 6:43 AM on November 10, 2007


"I have no idea if the Japan article is actually accurate or not, yet probably the last person to give an unbiased opinion would be the Japanese person you would like to see comment."

Uh...so, when a researcher says "Japanese do A in private" (which, unless the researcher has been hiding spy cameras in houses, means "Japanese have told me that they do A in private"), you're likely to believe him, but the last person whose opinion you'd want would be that of an actual Japanese person?

That's so illogical I don't even know how to approach it.
posted by Bugbread at 7:02 AM on November 10, 2007


I think many of the Japan references are at least twenty years old.

We sleep in the same bed as our son, and he's five, but he'll be getting his own bed in a few months. In the meantime, my wife and I reserve another room for...intimacy. Canadian/Japanese families we know have the same sort of setup (don't know about the intimacy part), as does my Japanese sister-in-law's family. My nephew, now 15, has had his own room for years.

Still, there can be a "strong" bond between mother and son in Japan. Family friends, a mother and her 15-year-old son from Japan, came to stay with my parents in Canada. My mother gave the son a room downstairs to sleep in, while the mother slept upstairs. My mother, who watches Leno, could hear the son creeping up the stairs every night, to go and sleep with his mother. It creeped her out

The mother in this story is also a "benkyo-mama", for whatever it's worth.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:50 AM on November 10, 2007


To be fair, this post led me to this comment:
To be fair, I work at a cow anus factory and we see this kind of shit all the time.
posted by wakko at 2:19 PM on January 26
Which made me laugh out loud.
posted by y2karl at 7:51 AM on November 10, 2007


That's so illogical I don't even know how to approach it.

Actually, it is logical, because the researcher has likely talked to a lot of Japanese people, the researcher themself is frequently Japanese (look at the references), the researcher is more than likely aware of how people practice deception when put into a social science setting, the researcher is more than likely a trained bullshit detector, the researcher may have a very well informed knowledge of Japanese culture, history and a cross-cultural view that transcends even an average Japanese person, etc.

So, versus the random anonymous person on the internet claiming to be Japanese? Logical in my books.
posted by Rumple at 11:09 AM on November 10, 2007


the researcher has likely talked to a lot of Japanese people

Why don't you ask Janssen directly? His footnotes in GUS seem to be frequently secondary, not primary, sources, and he's currently "independent", not affiliated. Here's one of his websites on "boyhood" (coupled with a journal, Thymos, which he set up along with Miles Groth in Wagner), and another on "Men's Studies". Here's one of his papers that isn't a lit review.
posted by meehawl at 12:31 PM on November 10, 2007


meehawl: what's your point? The guy isn't an Anthropologist (he has a B.A. in Anthro and an MD). He is collating works, many of which are ethnographic, some of which are secondary - but scholarly ones. Some of them may be poorly chosen, but, for the ones I am familiar with, e.g., Gusinde's 1931 Ethnograqphy of the Yamana, his excerpts are real.I'm the one taking him at face value, so, uh, why don't you ask him?

The great strength, and the great weakness, and hence the central paradox of cultural anthropology is that it produces a description and interpretation of culture that many members of that culture might disagree with or not recognize.

Anyway, as a compendium of out-of-context snippets from a diversity of cultures, this is an interesting project. I'm not vouching for its accuracy or worth or that the author has virtuous motives.
posted by Rumple at 12:56 PM on November 10, 2007


what's your point?

Research is political.
posted by meehawl at 1:00 PM on November 10, 2007


Research is political.

Agreed - we can't know anything.
posted by Rumple at 1:13 PM on November 10, 2007




he has a B.A. in Anthro and an MD

Also, it's worth noting, I guess, that an "MD" in Europe is not the same as the classic physician's degree awarded within in the US. It's primarily a thesis-based research degree into biomedical research or the sociology of medicine. European medical degrees are awarded through a different stream as as a BA+MA/MS combination. Euro medical doctors could of course go on to obtain a Euro MD, but few do.
posted by meehawl at 1:59 PM on November 10, 2007


Rumple writes "So, versus the random anonymous person on the internet claiming to be Japanese? Logical in my books."

Very well. As a random anonymous person on the internet claiming to be a westerner living in Japan, hopefully it is logical for me to refute the following statement:

"Western observers even today often notice that Japanese mothers masturbate their young children during the day in public"

If this were even today often noticed by western observers during the day in public, I, a western observer who has been in public during the day frequently in the last 12 years, would have seen it at least once. Or seemed something which seemed vaguely suspiciously like it. I haven't seen anything which could be even misconstrued as a mom jacking off her son.

I have talked to a lot of Japanese people, and a lot of Westerners in Japan. I have heard about this from neither. And while perhaps the Japanese are all involved in a conspiracy to do this often in public places while denying it (which is a lousy way to lie; you should lie about stuff you do indoors or with few witnesses), I have a hard time believing that all the Westerners I've talked to, who are so keen to point out aspects of "weird Japan" like maid cafes and the goth-lolis in Harajuku, don't find "jacking your kids off in public" interesting enough to mention.

I am aware of how people practice deception when put into a social science setting. Luckily, whether I've personally witnessed something "often carried out in public" is not a social science setting, unless you're implying that being in public is, itself, a social science setting, at which point we reach 100 on the surrealness ladder: "Japanese people wank their kids in public. This is often noticed by Westerners. However, Japanese lie about it. Thus it is not noticed by Westerners."

I am also aware of how people practice deception when working in a social science setting. For example, on the "writing interesting theses" end. Given the choice between believing that I have been in a continuous hallucinatory state for over a decade, or that either this researcher or the other researchers are bullshitting, I'm going to have to go with the latter.

I'm not a trained bullshit detector, but luckily whether or not something is often done in public doesn't depend on this skill.

I probably don't have a very well informed knowledge of Japanese culture, history and a cross-cultural view that transcends even an average Japanese person, but luckily this is not required to witness people jacking their kids off in public.

So, basically, while the researcher is far more versed in Japanese history, far more experienced with gathering information, and far more tuned into deception avoidance, and while I am relying on my own much smaller sample set of personal experience, the fact that I have over a decade of this personal experience, plus what I consider reliable information from other foreigners with no vested interest in obfuscation, regarding an issue which is being described as "often occurring in public", points to either the research collator lying, distorting facts, or working with primary research sources which are either lying or distorting facts.
posted by Bugbread at 5:43 PM on November 10, 2007


I'm Bengali, and none of the things claimed to be Bengali are true of my experiences, or that of my (rather traditional) family, or my parents and grandparents. No menstrual celebration, for one.

I agree with bugbread - the sources are fishy. Sounds like it came from really old, unupdated research where researchers would look at one thing happening and think "ooh! this is indicative of EVERYONE in that culture!" Sort of like assuming all Americans eat hamburgers 24/7.
posted by divabat at 8:00 PM on November 10, 2007


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