Practical Sex-Ed

Mangaian Male - 1796 Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Mangaian Male - 1796
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Before Europeans came to the island, the people of Mangaia had no word for “virgin” or “celibacy.” Sexual frigidity was unheard of.

Anthropologist Donald Marshall  wrote about Mangaia, a sex positive culture in 1971. There, the children are separated into play groups by gender at four years old, and then the two genders are forbidden to be alone in public, even if related. Husbands and wives also avoid public displays of affection.

Yet, Mangaian stories are filled with passages describing explicit sexual details. Boys start to masturbate around eight years old and the girls begin around their first menstruation. When they begin to grow pubic hair, the parents bring in mentors and elders to teach their children about sex. The youths are taught about coitus and cunnilingus. The boys are shown how to suckle a breast and the girls are shown how to move their hips. The males are specifically instructed on how to make a woman climax several times before allowing themselves to orgasm. Later, their reputation as a lover will depend on this. The male sexual education is a two week long formal ritual including practical lessons with an experienced female.

Sex is very important to both genders. Yet, there is no traditional flirtation in this society. A long glance, a raised eyebrow, the position of a flower in their hair, or a message delivered through proxies is all they require. Then, after night falls, the young teens sneak out of their houses and have sex multiple times.

At age 15 they begin to meet in their home, often a one bedroom dwelling. The parents expect this because they want their children to have sex with many individuals to gain experience. The rules change when the sun rises, so the young lovers sneak back home before dawn.

The people of Mangaia are flabbergasted by the North American obsession with breasts. To them only a hungry infant finds breasts interesting. The male Mangaians are much more interested in the shape of a woman’s mons pubis.

We can learn a lot from this culture. Such as with education, we can teach youths to be safe and have fun. The most important thing to realize is how restricting our ingrained philosophy of purity and virginity is: we have been taught to be ashamed of a beautiful, natural, and enjoyable act. It`s time to reverse that thinking to unshackle those burdens.


Andrew Oliveira is a young writer who is currently strolling about Ottawa. He spends time between his writing, entertaining his cat Atticus, worshiping his muse and partner Barbara, saving virtual worlds from a plethora of crises with the power of his thumbs, and dusting his diploma from the University of Ottawa. His poetry has been published in Bywords and in Ottawater, and he has an enthusiasm for fiction, non-fiction, and scientific writing.

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