Re: Foucault, Freud and Sex--why the secret?

Patrick Powers (
26 Nov 1994 16:50:13 GMT

Among the headhunters of Borneo the single young women often take many
lovers, and the assignation is carried out in the longhouse where
everyone lives without much privacy, and is a source of merriment. I
recall that often this is done in the same room with the "sleeping"
parents. It seems to me that it would be possible to have separate
dwellings, so they appear to actively prefer this arrangement, with
the closeness of everyone living in one house like a big family.

In Russia the housing shortage is so great that married couples
often live in a one-room apartment with relatives. However those
involved do not much care for the clumsy arrangement, with the
relatives pretending to sleep at strategic moments, so this seems
strictly a temporary adaptation to undesirable circumstances.

Others have mentioned sexual freedom in Tahiti. The Eskimos and
headhunters have similar customs, with strangers encouraged to father
children. It seems to me that this is common in cultures with small,
isolated populations and very likely is to protect against inbreeding.
The question is, is this practice universal in such cultures?