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Sexual prosperity - Essay Example

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Summary
The establishment and maintenance of sexual propriety are important things for almost any society, especially in the adolescent stage between childhood and adulthood when sexual behavior is in an especially grey area. Both the !Kung people and the Mehinaku, studied by Marjorie Shostak and Thomas Gregor respectively, have vastly different sexual structures from our own…
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Sexual prosperity
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Sexual prosperity

Kung and the Mehinaku and our own practice of sexuality is the age at which children are exposed to sexuality. As a base approximation, it is fair to say that our society shields children from sexuality the most, followed by the !Kung and finally by the Mehinaku, who have very few qualms with their children experiencing sexuality. In the !Kung society, parents do make an effort to avoid exposing their children to sexuality overly much, often by waiting for their children to fall asleep to have sex or else trying to go off somewhere private whilst their children are cared for by someone else (Shostak 95). They also, however, make frequent sexual jokes and experience sexuality as a integral part of their humor, meaning that children will certainly become curious about sexuality and try to crack the code of their parent’s sexual language. The Mehinaku take this to an even greater extreme, tacitly allowing their children to experiment sexually with each other in games of “house,” and doing very little to shield their children from sexual congress, allowing their children to “watch older kin” when they are engaging in sexual activity together (Gregor 142). One of the primary reasons for this openness about sexuality with children in both these societies, compared to the relatively closed western society, is privacy. Shielding children from sexual activity is simply an impossibility in small, tight-knit communities like the !Kung (who live in villages of around thirty people (Shostak 98), or the Mehinaku, whose entire population consists only of a few hundred people. Furthermore neither society places significant value on virginity, as openly stated by Shostak (98), while premarital sex is freely accepted by the Mehinaku (Gregor 143). One of the other main differences between sexuality in these two societies and our own is sexual contact outside of marriage. While sexual contact outside of marriage is present in all three societies, in ours it is considered incredibly taboo in our society, with public disclosure often ending a marriage. This stands in stark contrast to extramarital affairs in the !Kung and Mehinaku societies, which, while ostensibly not allowed are incredibly common and tacitly accepted if they are subtle enough. In !Kung society, affairs outside of marriage are relatively common, but “not openly condoned” so it is important that the lovers know how to “play by the rules” when engaging in extramarital affairs (Shostak 118). If this is done, then usually affairs are relatively permitted. Jealousy still exists in !Kung society, and young married couples may actually come to blows over extramarital affairs, but as people mature it becomes more and more important to be discreet and keep things out of the public eye, meaning that often even when an extramarital affair is suspected or known it will be ignored or dealt with stealthily. Mehinaku society has a similar tendency to allow extramarital affairs so long as the couple are sensible enough to be discreet (Gregor 147). It could be argued, however, that our society is actually very similar to these two in the acceptance of extramarital affairs, seeing how public they have become (eg. Bill Clinton) and how often they are portrayed and tacitly accepted in media. The Mehinaku and the !Kung both have drastically different expectations of their children’ ... Read More
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