The 6 Craziest Beliefs Entire Cultures Have Held About Sex

#3. Multiple Partners? Multiple Fathers!


In an interesting twist on the "babies take a lot of sex" belief, many communities in the Amazon believe not only that a baby is built over time, but that if a mother has had multiple sex partners over that time, her baby will have multiple fathers. After all, if a baby is built of sperm over time, who's to say it has to be just one man's sperm? Lowland South Americans looked at this question, shrugged, and said that clearly, a baby had one mother -- and however many fathers she happened to have slept with in the last nine months.

"I hope he has at least one of your eyes."

So Why Do They Believe It?

The crazy thing -- crazy to Western minds, at least -- is that having more than one dad was totally cool. There was no scandal, and dads weren't angsty about who was more the father. Mothers weren't ashamed, husbands didn't mind, and kids ... hell, the kids loved it. Two dads means twice as many birthday presents and that you get twice as good at playing catch. Or rather, two dads means that there are two men giving you and your mom food when food is scarce, and two dads means that if one of them dies, you have a spare.

No, seriously. These are actual benefits observed by actual researchers (except for the parts we made up). Science has finally proven '80s sitcoms right: Having two dads is awesome.

"Don't worry, just aim for Daddy Jim -- he'll catch you if you suck."

As for the ladies ... well, first off, they get to choose their sex partners. It may not sound like much, but think about it -- much of human history has seen women having very little say in who they screw, so you've got to give any system that corrects that problem props. And not only do they get to choose; they get the added benefit of having two or more men providing for their kids.

And for guys, it's a giant stress reliever. Anthropologists used to think that no culture anywhere had men who "shared" wives without freaking out about it, but Amazonian cultures proved them wrong. Under the multiple-dad system, paternity is never challenged, just added to, so everybody calms the hell down: They sleep with whomever they want, joke about sex all the time, and don't go around getting into duels over who slept with whom. If some guy slept with your wife, he just has to help take care of the kid -- who is still your kid, too.

"Honey, do you think you could narrow down your standards? Every dinner is becoming a full-on festival."

#2. Babies Come from Ghosts


Here's how pregnancy worked on the Trobriand Islands: First, someone died. Then he became a baloma (what we might call a ghost) and chilled on the Island of the Dead, where he never got old and presumably spent his days sipping on drinks with little paper umbrellas in them. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us, but eventually he got bored of the whole immortal island paradise thing, so he decided to transmogrify himself into an infant and zap himself into the womb of one of his female descendants. How exactly the ghost-baby got from point A to point B isn't clear -- it involved either floating back to Trobriand on driftwood or discount airfare, depending on which islander you asked.

"Ma'am, we need to discuss your sonogram."

If that just sounds like standard reincarnation, here's the important part: This whole process was completely unrelated to sex, and no (living) man was involved in the baby-making in any way. According to baffled anthropologists, Trobrianders genuinely had no understanding that intercourse could make you pregnant -- pregnancy was 100 percent thanks to Casper the Vagina-Crawling-Up Ghost.

So Why Do They Believe It?

You can't exactly blame the Trobianders for coming up with such a supernatural explanation when they were practically living on contraceptive yams (yes, apparently that's a thing). It turns out that if you're unintentionally on birth control most of your life, it's actually pretty hard to make the sex-pregnancy connection, and ghosts start to make a whole lot more sense.

"Ew, that kid is dressed as a fetus!"

Also -- and there's no delicate way to put this next part, so we're just going to come right out and say it -- Trobrianders started having sex as kids, and kept right on keeping on as they grew older. Teen sex with no consequences, group sex on the regular, partner-swapping like it's no big deal -- anthropologists said that Trobrianders "begin their sexual life young, lead it indefatigably, and mix their lovers freely." That's right, indefatigably. Their life was one epic, never-ending Spring Break.

After all, when you don't think of sex as part of procreation, there's really only one explanation left as to why we have these weird dangly bits: They're fun! The Trobrianders thought of sex as a sort of universal hobby and a way to pass the time. Ghosts took care of the baby-making, and there were no population explosions thanks to the Morning After Yams, leaving the islanders free to have, like, all the sex, all the time.

"Who ordered dongs?"

#1. No Female Orgasm = No Baby


Believe it or not, most cultures understood that babies come from sex. In Elizabethan England, however, they thought that babies only came from a particular kind of sex ... good sex. If the gentleman was ye lumpish two-pump lout who left ye lady unsatisfied, there was no chance she'd end up in the family way.

It's pretty obvious that the male orgasm is crucial to conception, but today we look on the female orgasm as sort of the cake-topper of baby-making -- a great and wonderful thing, sure, but completely extraneous (of course, there is some contention on the subject). But back in Shakespeare's day, people assumed that the female orgasm released a "female seed" that was absolutely essential to conception. The clitoris was viewed as a sort of inside-out wang that, just like the male equivalent, released a seed into the womb during orgasm. That's the sort of logic you get from people wearing ruff collars.

"'Tis true!"

Oh, and remember when Todd Akin said that women can't get pregnant if they're raped? Yeah, Elizabethan England was basically teeming with Todd Akins, because if a woman ended up pregnant, she obviously enjoyed it. So you can imagine how your average rape trial turned out. And of course, some women who were having terrible sex were still getting pregnant, so they tended to blame it on demons.

And this wasn't just a superstition propagated by the unwashed masses -- it was seriously in all the medical books of the day. You'd think all it would take to disprove such a harebrained theory would be the aftermath of a single Elizabethan prom night, but hey, maybe Shakespeare and his bros were just that good.

"To tongue, or not to tongue. There's only one answer to that question."

So Why Do They Believe It?

At the time, England was pushing to increase its population to counteract all the plagues and general filth and stuff. And if you're trying to convince your population to do way more boning, which woman is more likely to drop her farthingale: one who's looking forward to a face-melting orgasm, or one who's lying back and taking it for England?

"Get back here and finish this shit off ... I'm tired of being called barren!"

From now on when we picture Elizabethan England, it's just female orgasms, everywhere. Elizabethan ideas of conception might have been biologically wrong, but for approximately half the population, they were oh, oh, oh so right.

For more from the realm of boning, check out 6 Depraved Sexual Fetishes That Are Older Than You Think and 5 Inspiring Religions That Worship Penises.

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