General Question

zina's avatar

In what cultures is sex a not-private affair?

Asked by zina (1653points) July 10th, 2007

It could be a general sentiment or for certain occasions. I have heard of sex of newly-weds in front of their grandparents (in an African culture, unfortunately I'm not sure which), public ceremonies in various cultures that involve sex (or sometimes rape), different standards in terms of household members being able to *hear*, etc. I'm curious to learn more about that, particularly in terms of how people think/feel about sex as not an intimate act.

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7 Answers

sjg102379's avatar

Sex as a private act is really a pretty modern concept, even in America. It requires a lot of personal space and privacy, which until the past century of affordable housing with seperate bedrooms for each family member, was not available. In England, through the middle ages, when a king and queen went to bed for the first time, the entire court would tuck them into bed, then stand outside the door and listen, and check the sheets for blood in the morning. The sheet-checking still happens in many countries where a woman's virginity is still a very important commodity (I can think of Uzbekistan and Guatemala, just off the top of my head).

marabu's avatar

I learned in History-class about a custom in the dark ages that when a man and a women who where villeins to a sovereign (as where most of the farmers to the one who owned the next castle) married, the sovereign had the right, and usually asserted that right, to get the first night with that woman.
Hope I described that correctly considering my english skills :P

glial's avatar

I knew a guy once who had sex in front of his bride's parent..Somalia ....i think... Not sure if I could "perform" personally...;-)

skfinkel's avatar

In White Dawn, a book about the interaction between a handful of surviving sailors from a ice-bound whaling boat and an Eskimo tribe, a sense of difference in the needs of privacy and intimacy between the sailors and the tribe emerges. When a relationship develops between a sailor and an Eskimo woman, the notion of monogamy and privacy the sailor brings to the situation are in stark contrast to what has been the tradition there before. I'm guessing the time of the book is the late 1800's. And this is a novel.

gailcalled's avatar

@marabu; congrats on lovely English and clarity of expression. You are right about the custom of the middle ages. It was called "le droit du seigneur " but it was a private act. This is one of the major themes of Mozart's opera, The Marriage of Figaro,"

hossman's avatar

Droit du seigneur is actually a category of rights granted the lord of an estate, including exclusive hunting rights, etc. The specific right you are referring to is "jus primae noctis" and there is no concrete historical evidence, at least in Europe, that this practice was anything but fictional. Even if it did actually exist, it probably wasn't exercised all that often. Considering the desire to avoid bastard progeny that might be rivals to legitimate inheritors, as well as the even poorer hygiene and health of the lower classes than the already pretty filthy nobility, and disapproval of the Church, it is doubtful such a right would be enforced. Besides, if the lord was the type of person to rape young women, why would he need to wait until their wedding night?

gailcalled's avatar

As usual, you are clear, accurate and easy to read. Always a pleasure.. However, Pierrre Beaumarchais (and then Mozart) did use the "jus primae noctis" as the jumping- off-point for Figaro. And there certainly were plenty of bastards in many of the royal families of Europe. And the Church's disapproval didn't stand in the way of, say, Henry VIII, who was an extremely busy bee...altho w. the unwashed ladies of the court, rather than the unwashed lower classes. I enjoy the fact that you troll for older questions, from time to time, and your summer fresh tomato salad is one of my faves. (I have tomatoes and basil growing in pots on my porch).

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