So what did you do to earn your manhood? At the very worst, some of you had to read a prayer or two from a select holy book, maybe a distant uncle sent you a few bucks. Your parents start bugging you about getting a job and force you to move out by the time you're 20, or maybe 35.
But in some parts of the world, manhood is still something you earn.
When you're a member of the South Pacific Vanuatu, by the time you get to be eight-years-old or so it's high time to prove your masculinity. And what better way to prove you're ready to take on the challenges and responsibilities of adult life than stripping naked and bungee diving off a rickety 100-foot-tall platform?
Oh, and instead of stretchy bungee cables, they use vines. Those things that have been known to drop grapes and tomatoes every once in a while. They will show absolutely no give when you run out of slack and you're still hurtling toward the earth at hundreds of miles per hour. That will show no remorse when you plummet to your death. Vines.
The ritual is intended to impress both the gods and the ladies. Maybe you're thinking, "Hey, tourists do that sort of thing all the time! That's not so terrifying!" The Vanuatu people also realized that and decided that the gods would only be impressed if the boy's head touched the ground.
Jump, plummet 100 feet, hit the ground, don't die. We're not sure why the Vanuatu need to appease gods, because if you can pull off that combo, you're damned immortal in our books.
Waiting until you're a teenager to get circumcised should be terrifying enough, but a lot of indigenous tribes actually do that as a rite of passage. The Aborigines decided they had to find a way to multiply the terror that surrounds your typical teenage penis-cutting incident. Brace yourself:
The ceremony begins by taking a 15- to 16-year-old boy to a secluded place with a number of tribesman. Then begins a several-hour-long chant that's supposed to relax the boy, but we're assuming will do absolutely nothing if he knows what's coming.
Then, two men get on their hands and knees together, and the boy clambers on top of their backs. If ever in the future you find you're in need of a late-in-life circumcision, we challenge you to replace the operating table with two nearly-naked, chanting tribesman. While they do their cutting, the boy is expected to show no signs of pain. You know, because only children feel pain when their penises are cut.
Then, with that fresh in his mind, they make him wait about a week. That's when a second operation is performed. Jens Bjerre, one of the very few men to have witnessed this ceremony, documented it in his book, The Last Cannibals:
"A hole was pierced right through his sex organ near the root, and there was inserted into it, at either end, a splinter to keep the aperture from growing together again. The object was to ensure that henceforth the urine and the sperm would be ejected through this little hole high up on the sex organ, instead of by the normal channel."
Guess what they're all watching.
Just let that soak in for a minute.
The idea is these guys can now have sex without impregnating a woman unless they cover the newly made hole.
In case you've forgotten, or blocked it out, all of this is done with no anesthetic to ease the pain, other than a bunch of men repeating the same phrase over and over again.
Around ages 12 through 15, when most boys are worried about being picked last for kickball, Ethiopian boys of the Hamar tribe are expected to make a leap of pure holy-mother-of-pearl faith over a row of cattle who serve a fate worse than those at a Burger King farm. When these cattle aren't being jumped, stepped, or fallen onto, they're probably more than happy to maul the poor sucker who trips and face-plants.
That guy made it look pretty easy, didn't he? For a real life equivalent, imagine trying to run and jump over your car four times. And that all your family and friends are gathered around to watch you. And the car is a living squirming thing. And that you have to jump over the squirming car about four consecutive times without falling. That you only get one shot. That if you fall, you can forget manhood, a potential wife, and respect from your relatives. That's right, in this reality there's actually a way for you to fail puberty. You couldn't even speak in class without your voice cracking under the pressure, and you think you're going to be running wind-sprints across a herd of cattle?
Stop: Hamar Time.
Once the Hamar boy passes the cow-jumping test, he earns the respect given to a man and also becomes a eligible to participate in the Hamar women-beating ceremony, where the girls of Hamar happily volunteer to prove their devotion to their husbands by being ceremonially hit and whipped. If some woman should ever object, we're assuming a simple, "Hey, I jumped over those cows earlier," trumps any argument she can muster.
The idea of getting force-fed hallucinogens in order to become an adult will appeal to a lot of you. But this isn't that Grateful Dead concert you remember so well. Boys of the Algonquin Indian tribe of Quebec were brought to a secluded area, often caged, and then given an intoxicating medicine known as wysoccan.
This stuff contained the deadly datura, an extremely dangerous hallucinogen that is said to be 100 times more powerful than LSD. Yes, to the Algonquin people, manhood took the form of spending 20 days in a completely deranged state that included a racing heartbeat, amnesia and hypothermia. If the Beatles had been ballsy enough to graduate from LSD to datura, their musical influence probably would have been deterred due to all of their subsequent songs sounding roughly like a donkey giving birth to a tractor.
The whole idea of this drug-induced party was to force any memories of being a child out of the boy's mind. Unfortunately, memory loss tends to affect, well, everything, including memory of their family, how to speak, or even who the hell they were.
If boys showed recognition towards their childhood after returning to the village, they were taken back and given a second dose and the pleasure of having to cheat death again.
As screwed up as the Algonquin ritual is, the Matis, a small Brazilian tribe, top them pretty handily.
The ritual for recruiting boys into the ranks of their hunters begins with dumping a bitter poison directly into their eyes, allegedly in order to improve their vision and enhance the senses. We're sort of interested in how many different combinations of toxic liquids the Matis shamans shoved into their eyeballs before finding a winning formula that didn't dissolve them into a white, gooey mess.
The next series of trials includes beatings and whippings, but those look like Matis massages compared to the final trial. The concluding test revolves around an inoculation of Phyllomedusa bicolor, which is basically Latin for "local frogs that just happen to secrete nature's death juice."
Don't you dare fuck with me.
After burning an area of the skin, the frog goop is injected with the use of a wooden needle. The poison is said to increase strength and endurance. However, those enhancements must come after the unbearable lightheadedness, vehement vomiting and violent relieving of the bowels. After all, REAL men don't need innards.
Once the boys prove themselves able to withstand these trials, they are treated to performing them before every future hunt they partake in. Actually, thanks anyways but we think we'll keep playing with our Tonka trucks over here guys.
If you liked that, you'll probably enjoy our look at The 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World. Or you can get a somewhat pornographic look at the Star Trek universe watching the Star Trek TNG Rap video (warning: extreme graphic and perverse language within). Or head to the brand new Official Cracked.com Store and become a startlingly attractive walking advertisement for our site.