Tiwi (3,3,3,3,-,2;-,8)

Aranda (-,-,-,-,-,-;-,-;G3)





SCCS Ratings


Early and Age Asymmetric Marriage / Betrothal

Sex “Rehearsals”

Erosion of Aboriginal Patterns

Initiation: Sexological Implications

“Genital Parenting”

Meno- , Pubo- and Thelopoetic Concept of Coitus


Genital Morphology Preparation





“Nachiti! Murantani!” (No! White Man!)[1]


“ ’Bin da ’ba:ba:n ’ma:nu” (Wings fly away get it)[2]





Sexual behaviour development in Australia frequently enters discussions on initiations (e.g., Bettelheim)[3] and mores (Brongersma; Money)[4]. The (sexual) happiness of the Aboriginal child, however, is subject to academic dispute (DeMause, 1988)[5]. As far as the childhood case goes, the collected references portray a culture of sexual socialisation akin to Malinowski’s Trobriand case, a culture, however, largely bankrupt due to the introduction of the Occidental (see further).





SCCS Ratings


Only one Australian tribe is coded: the Tiwi (3,3,3,3,-,2;-,8). The Aranda (eHRAF) proved entirely unratable (-,-,-,-,-,-;-,-;G3).







The original Australians were famous for their coital precocity. Eyre (1845, II:p320)[6] noted that “the life of an Australian woman is nothing more than uninterrupted prostitution […]. From age ten she has intercourse with boys of 14 and 15” [etc.]. Howitt (1891:p60-1)[7] quotes O’Donnell on the Kunandaburi tribe: “[…]. Female children during their infancy are given by their parents to certain men or boys, who claim them as soon as they arrive at puberty, and often before”. The marriage is then consummated by the “Abija”, who helps dragging her away, and subsequently, by “all males in the camp […], not even excepting the nearest male relatives of the bride”, in a ceremony lasting for days. Thus, Howitt (1904:p260-1)[8] seemed to have assumed that prepubertal intercourse did not customarily exist in Australia. This may well be true judging from the marital context. As mentioned by Taplin (1879:p93)[9] among the southern Kukatha tribe no sexual intercourse occurred until after puberty. The age of native marital consummation was judged to be between 14 and 15 (Spencer and Gillen, 1899:p257)[10], and between ten and twelve (Malinowski, 1913:p257)[11]. On the other hand, premenarchal coitus in Australia was assumed to be common by Fehlinger ([1921:p125])[12] and mentioned by Piddington (1932:p83)[13] for the Karadjeri (Western Australia). Stanner (1933:p14, 15)[14] reports for North-Eastern (DalyRiver) tribes that although “sexual relations are not supposed to take place before puberty”, a betrothed girl may stay in camp with her future husband until this takes place. Anyway, “even before puberty children are making crude sexual experiments”.

Drechsel (1985:p747)[15] states:


“Die Jugend führt vor Beginn der Geschlechtsreife und vor Beginn der Initiation der Männer ein recht ungezwungenes Leben, in unserem Sinne fast antiautoritär. Sie übt schon frühzeitig mimetisch das Sexualverhalten ein. Die Erwachsenen förderen dies, und es dient ihnen zur Erheiterung. Sexualkontakte vor der Geschlechtsreife sind üblich. Mit dem Beginn der Initiation soll aber bei den Jungen Männern das lockere Sexualleben aufhören. Die Mädchen werden entsprechend den Abkommen mit etwa 9 Jahren ihrem versprochenen Ehemannen übergeben, der das Mädchen im Laufe der nächsten Jähre allmählich in die ehelichen Pflichten einweist”.


Adultery is condoned according to the institution of the so-called “Love Magic”, or more precisely, the Wongi institution, as it used to be widely distributed on the continent. Wongi relations would begin at age 14 for boys and age 11 for girls (p750). Róheim for the Aranda: “Let us suppose that a little girl has been promised to a man who is about the age of her father. She is hisnoa of course, according to the classificatory system of relationship, but he will not have intercourse with her till the signs of puberty become noticeable. These are: the development of the public hair, the breasts and, in a minor degree, the first menstruation. From time to time he will visit his bride and grease her, this being regarded as a sign of his love, as a sort of caressing and as a magical proceeding to make her breasts grow”.


Maddock ([1972] 1973:p58, references footnoted)[16] conveniently sums up some later observations on “coitarche” age: “A Tiwi girl took up cohabitation when eight or ten according to Jane Goodale (1962)[17], fourteen according to Hart and Pilling (1960); a Walbiri when nine or twelve (Maggitt, 1962, 1965)[18]; a Wanindiljaugwa when nine (Rose, 1960)[19]; and a Pidjandjara, among women married first at an unusually late age, when in her late teens or even early twenties (Yengoyan, 1970)[20]. The husband would probably have reached forty in Tiwi, thirty if Walbiri or Wanindiljaugwa and the late twenties if Pidjandjara”. Curr (1886, I:p107, as cited by Ronhaar)[21] speaks of cohabitation at age eight, Sadler (p8, as cited by Ronhaar)[22] at age ten. Von Miklucho-Maclay (1880:p88-9, as cited by Ronhaar)[23] speaks of age stratified sexual intercourse with girls before puberty.





Early and Age Asymmetric Marriage / Betrothal


As might be inferred from the preceding paragraph, early and age stratified betrothal is said to have been universal in many tribes[24], some times even before birth[25].


“In traditional Aboriginal society marriages are significant to the forging of alliances, and often betrothal arrangements are made when the prospective bride is very young, or possibly even unborn. A man may not marry until he has undergone a significant part of the lengthy initiation process: thus, at marriage a man will be in his twenties or even thirties. Often a man’s first wife is the widow of an older man, and his subsequent wives may be much younger. A marriage may be signalled by the simple act of a couple living together and being accepted as married by their kin. It has been noted that the mere act of a woman walking through a camp to join a man at his request may constitute a marriage ritual”[26].


Inherent in the gerontocratic marriage system, the elder effect a monopoly on the younger women and have more polygamous occasion. Elkin (1954:p123)[27] states that “infant betrothal is the normal thing; indeed a woman’s daughter is promised to a man or the latter’s son or nephew before she is born”. “Among Yuwaaliyaay people, […] infant betrothal appears to have been the norm”[28]. Among the aborigines of the Wheelman tribe a baby girl is betrothed to a youth or man; he “grows” her, or supports her growing up (Hassell, 1936:p682)[29]. Parker[30] notes on the Euahlayi tribe: “At whatever age a girl may be betrothed to a man [“There is often a baby betrothal called Bahnmul”] he never claims her while she is yet Mullerhgun, or child girl; not until she is Wirreebeeun, or woman girl”. Withnell[31]: “When the man considers it is time that he should take the damsel promised to him, he makes a demand to her father or uncle, and they order the girl to go to his camp […]” (p16). Similarly, Calvert[32] mentions that “[…] a female child is betrothed, in her infancy, to some native of another family, necessarily very many years older than herself. He watches over her jealously, and she goes to live with him as soon as she feels inclined”. Spencer and Giller ([1927, II:p469-70) also mention betrothal of Aranda girls “many years before the is born”. Radcliffe-Brown (1913:p184)[33] states that “marriages are arranged before children are born”. Provis writes in Taplin (1879:p93) of the Streaky Bay South aborigines that there can sometimes be seen “the incongruous spectacle of a little child betrothed to a grown man. The girl is called his Kur-det-thi (future wife). They sleep together, but no sexual intercourse takes place till the girl arrives at the age of puberty”. Schürmann writes in Woods (1879:p222)[34] of the Port Lincoln tribe that “long before a young girl arrives at maturity, she is affianced by her parents, to some friend of theirs, no matter whether young or old, married or single”. Howitt (1904:p197) for the Wolgal tribe reports that “a girl is promised as a mere child to some man of the proper class, he being then perhaps middle aged or even old”. Betrothal occurred when “quite young”, states Bonney (1884:p129)[35]. Child betrothal and marriage is noted for Arnhemland (Webb, 1944:p65)[36]. “A child a year old will sometimes be betrothed to an old man, and it will be his duty to protect and feed her, and (unless she is stolen by some one else) when she is old enough she becomes his wife. In the case of a husband’s death his wife belongs to the oldest man in his family, who either takes her himself or gives her to some one else” (Forrest, 1876:p317)[37]. Rowley stated that “[f]emale children are betrothed as soon as they were born” (Greenway, Honery et al., 1878:p262)[38]. Strehlow (1913): “Children are betrothed in infancy, usually at two or three years age. […] When the boy is ten or twelve years old, he is informed that he must wait for marriage until his beard has grown and shows its first grey hairs”. “Strehlow has set out the method of betrothal of a boy to a girl-child among the western Loritja people, and states that it is somewhat later than with the Aranda, say between four and ten years. My own observations lead me to believe that instead of the betrothal being arranged for the son it is more often arranged for the man himself” (Chewings, 1936)[39]. Rose (1960:p17)[40] notes for the Groote Eylandt Aborigines: “Girls are normally promised as wife to men 20 or 30 years their senior before birth”. However, she runs the risk of dying of being stolen by another man before puberty. Girls go to live with their husbands at age 8 to 10.

Thomson (1933:p509)[41] remarked: “There is in this society nothing approaching the sexual licence that Professor Malinowski [[42]] found to be the regular thing before marriage in the Trobriands. In the Koko Ya’o tribe a girl has normally no sexual experience before marriage, for she is married actually before puberty, even before she is physiologically capable of bearing children. Prior to this she lives at her parent’s fireside, and even during the day she is under the constant surveillance of her mother, whom she accompanies in her daily quest for food. The reason that the natives give for this child-marriage is that the girl will not be afraid of her husband if she grows up with him”. The Yolngu practiced prenatal betrothal (Money and Erhhardt, 1973 / 1996:p142)[43], and, together with eventual siblings, join the husband at menarche, at age 12 or 13. “Should a girl be taken prepubertally by her older promise man (in lieu of a bride price), then sex with her would be confined to his training her vagina in digital masturbation (“finger-dala”), until after the age of menarche. Only then would penile intromission begin”.


“According to the ideal of the past, by this time [adolescence] a girl should be securely ensconced in her marital household with a man she had been promised to from infancy if not before she was born. In 1981, however, this ideal was realised by no one” (Burbank, 1988:p102).




Sex “Rehearsals”


Sharp (1934:p430)[44] marks for the North-Eastern Yir-Yoront: “The sex dichotomy begins early in life [as seen in] obscene and abusive language, in modesty regarding in bodily functions […] in childish sexual experimentation, and formally, in the custom for small girls of wearing a pubic apron until the pubic hair appears and an artificial covering is no longer deemed necessary”. In Arnhemland, there is the establishment of a brother-sister taboo at age seven (Hiatt, 1964:p125)[45]. This gender awareness is outstanding in most tribes. A relative separation of the sexes occurs when boys join the (bachelor’s) camp(jiridji for some tribes), and girls joins the women’s camp. The age at which this occurs is variable, rising up to subincision age, which is predominantly postpubescent (Basedow, p124-5).


Genitalia and sexual maturity are important organising factors in everyday life; menarche, thelarche, pubarche, and ejacularche are commonly referred to by children as indicating age or age difference. Boys are (probably playfully) insulted by the exclamation kalu (penis) alputalputa (dry boy’s grass), which, according to Róheim (1938:p346) is “slanderous as it indicates that the boy’s penis is devoid of semen”.


Lacking a substantial (conscious) association with conception[46] (e.g., Lommel), many of the Australians regard all intercourse in the light of play. However, Strehlow (II:p52)[47] remarks that both Arunta and Leritja tribes enlightened their children on the reproductive cycle of animals. The matter of conceptive knowledge is discussed by Read (1918:p147-8)[48], who argues: “That among many savages [sexual] intercourse is common before puberty, and therefore resultless, seems to me unimportant; because the change of sexual life at puberty is deeply impressive and well known to savages”. I may remark here that this point awaits exploration. The idea may indeed be fostered by an absence of coital pause since childhood, combined with the observation that, for reasons not clearly understood, “the girls seem to be sterile for several years after puberty” (Wallace, 1961:p194).


Money et al. (1970)[49], on the Arnhem Land Yolngu, questioned that children learned from parents, except by chance; in fact, no sex education would be given. Instead they learn from “children scarcely older than themselves” up to teens spied in the bush. The “coital play” of four- to six-year-olds is performed in the context of playing house, and involves thrusting motions […], possibly with the use of intromission of a finger or stick. During middle childhood, “children may sometimes engage in sexual play. Heterosexual play is unlikely, and so is homosexual play between boys. The sexual play between girls is not unambiguously “homoerotic”, for it occurs as an improvisation in a game of house. When the time comes for the mother and father to have intercourse, then one girl improvises a penis with a piece of a stick, and puts it in the vagina of the other”. Thus, “[c]hildren’s play may include rehearsal of copulation, though childhood sex is not an unostentatious feature of the culture”. Young (prepubertal) boys would take the feminine role in interfemoral intercourse with older, “rebellious” adolescents. Róheim (1950:p141,169)[50]: “Homosexuality plays a conspicuous role in the life of a young girl [using] little sticks wound around at the end so as to imitate the glans penis [...]. All the virgin girls do this [...]. One of them plays the male role and introduces the artificial penis into her cousin’s vagina […] they then rub their two clitorises together [...]. At the age of eight or ten boys and girls frequently have their own little houses [...]. They do it first to their little sisters. Sipeta says that her older brothers every evening before they went to the girls would pet her this way”.


Money’s excursion notes and subsequent use of the concept “sexual rehearsal play” were contested by Colapinto (2000, see p86-91)[51], who posited some compromising allegations only partially contested by Money. Sexual rehearsal theory was first[52] verbalised in the 1970 article on Arnhemland Aboriginals, based on a two-week visit by Money in 1969. Money’s “observations” would be based on a single, dubious remark by a child, Colapinto argued, stating co-author Cawte denied every knowledge of the phenomenon [!]. This latter argument is quite contrary expectation given the existing literature even at that time. Moreover, five years before Money’s visit, Cawte (1964:p181)[53] wrote on a North-Western tribe: “The children, accustomed to their parents’ sexual intercourse, play sexual games at the age of four with the realism that would horrify a Western mother. The schoolteacher tries to teach them alternatives such as hide-and-seek [sic] but “they never get it off their minds”. (Arguing in favour of Money’s ideologies on paraphilic development, all “sexual perversions”, not paraphilias, occurred in subadults, and no adulthood paraphilias were mentioned here.)


Be these accusations as they may, much can be said in the defence of Money’s “observations” as contrasting Euro-American concepts of coitarche. At the same time of Money’s visit, Abbie (1969:p202)[54] remarks: “The children, like children everywhere, play “grown-ups” and “mothers and fathers”, and being better informed than most white children they carry the game further and attempt to bring it to its logical conclusion. No doubt the more physically precocious succeed. […] Aboriginal parents tend to view it with amused indulgence provided the proper kinship relations are observed- in the north at least”. Róheim (1932:p91)[55] on Central Australian Aboriginals: “We may confidently affirm that there is no latency period in the life of these people, no period in which they do not make more or less successful attempts at coitus” (cf. 1956:p3)[56]. Róheim relates that “their only, and certainly their supreme, game was coitus” (Róheim, 1962:p207; 1941 [1969:p157])[57]. Róheim(1974:p76-120)[58] made an extensive study of children’s play sessions both in camp and in the bush using animal puppets. The play reveals much “orificial” material, and a large amount of coital enactments. Native dolls may also provide outlets of sexual material; in at least some tribes, the genital organs are said to be the “most prominent part” of the dolls (Hernández, 1941:p132)[59].


The doll case being typical of other societies (®Vol. II, §6.2.13), sex games appear to have been “typical”, in the sense of quasi-sexual / borrowed scripts. Warner (1937:p75)[60] noted house-playing among the Murngin. “They are fully aware of the sexual act and of sex differences. About the time facial hair appears upon a boy and the breasts of a girl swell, that is, when sexual intercourse is in their power and of interest to both, they start making love trysts in the bush. They may not copulate at first, but they simulate the act in close contact”. A forty-five year old man reveals of his childhood ([1958:p569-70][61]):


“When we little boys and girls played together we did it by ourselves so that no one could see. We were ashamed if we thought older people were watching and listening to what we were doing. We said things to each other about sexual intercourse and other sexual things which we did not understand. The other day I heard a little girl say to the little boy she was playing with, “You are my husband. I am your wife. Come have sexual intercourse with me”. That was the kind of thing we said to each other. I laughed because I remembered when we said those things and we did not know what they meant. She said it because it was part of their game. But when we grew larger we did find out and some of us became sweethearts”.


Richter (1962:p270-1)[62] reports:


“Die sexuelle Spielereien gehen, solange die Kinder noch klein sind, in aller Öffentlichkeit vor sich. Später nutzen Jungen und Mädchen die Ruhestunden der Erwachsenen aus, um sich in den Busch zu stehlen, Mann und Frau zu spielen und Erfahrungen auszutauschen. Mit 9 Jahren, stellenweise auch noch früher, haben kleine Mädchen ihren ersten sexuellen Verkehr; sie stehen dann also 2 bis 3 Jahre vor ihrer Menarche. Ihre ersten Partner sind meist ältere, bereits initiirte Jungen. […] Oft erweitern die Mädchen selbst oder mit Hilfe einer Freundin ihr Hymen mit dem Finger. […] Mutuelle Onanie zwischen Frauen und Mädchen ist weit verbreitet […]. Ebenso ist das Vorkommen von Päderastie belegt, und zwar nehmen sich 17- bis 18jährige Jugendliche, um die Zeit bis zu ihrer Verheiratung zu überbrücken, gern 10jährige Knaben als Liebhaber”.


Children learn about sexual relations “in broad outline” at a “very early” age (Berndt and Berndt, 1971:p118-9)[63]. Berndt and Berndt (1964 [1977:p164])[64]: “Sometimes children play at “husbands and wives” with separate windbreaks, making little fires and pretending to cook food. Sometimes there are games of adultery, one little boy running off with the wife of another[65]”. Kinship codes are enforced leniently. Berndt and Berndt (1946:p69)[66]: “[…] very small children try to carry out among themselves actions similar to those of their parents during coitus. […] Parents will joke about their children’s genitalia or immature erotic experiments, or ignore them as they feel inclined. Dozens of such examples from various parts of southern, central, and northern Australia might be cited if space were available. […] a boy of three or four years will call out in fun (knowing that he will provoke amusement from adults) that he wants to copulate, while an older girl will lift him up under the armpits, saying, “Ah, you want to [copulate] ‘longa me? Come on, [copulate], make ‘im long one ‘longa me”- at the same time lifting and rubbing him against the front of her body to the diversion of all concerned”. Hippler (1978)[67] also observed that “intersexual play occurs […] pelvic thrusting and lying on one another as well as genital manipulation are common”. Hiatt (1965:p105-6)[68] quotes the experience of a man who, presumably as a child himself, followed four children into the bush: “[…] The boys used saliva to lubricate the girl’s vaginas. They couldn’t get the penis in. Edgar called Dora “mother”, and Wallace called Charlotte “ZD”, but we were too young to care much about the wrong kinship categories. We just copulated with anyone. But I thought to myself, “The mother of those girls will be every angry when they find out what they’ve been up to” ”. Berndt and Berndt (1951:p86-7)[69] in Arnhem Land repeatedly sketched the attitude configuration typical of many Oceanic people: “When such activities are carried out in play with children of the same age or older, they usually cause much merriment among the onlookers, who make lewd and suggestive comments. The fact that such erotic play serves as a sexual stimulant to the children does not seem unduly to worry the adults, who say placidly: “He’s to young to have an erection”, or “Why, that child has only a small vagina, she won’t be ready yet for a long time” (see also Berndt, 1976:p6, 33, 126)[70]. Intercourse, however, may have been encouraged when “children [...] are invited by a mother, older brother or sister, or some other person, to indulge in sexual intercourse with an adult or a child of the same age [...]” (Berndt & Berndt, 1951:p21).

The Ooldea aboriginals believe that the ‘di:dji’pulka (age three or four to pubarche) has no sexual desires (Berndt and Berndt, 1943:p252-3, 276; 1944:224)[71]. Among Central Australians, boys and girls may not before puberty eat large lizard for if they do so they will acquire an abnormal craving for sexual intercourse[72]. However, latency is nonexistent: “Small children play in the bush away from the main camp. Although it is collective play, there is the tendency to choose partners after a time and to depart in pairs to the secrecy of the bushes” […] Bands of children wander on the sand-hills, often indulging in erotic play during such games as “father and mother” ”. The play may even reveal adult secrets: “Coitus a tergo was denied, yet it undoubtedly occurred as shown by the behavior of the children during the play hours […]” (Róheim, [1958:229])[73].


The crossing of sexual (copulatory) themes and child actors appears in Aboriginal mythology. The children also seem to participate in coitomimic behaviours as performed in mock rituals. Schidlof (1908:p9)[74] cites Buchner who noted childhood participation in such dances, in which “[…] bei dem Meke-Meketanz außerhalb des Reigens der großen mehrere kleine Jungen sich paarweise einander gegenüberstellten, einander umfaßten und nach dem Takte der Musik obscöne Bewegungen machten, die an Deutlichkeit nichts zu wünschen übrig ließen. Die anwesenden Eltern lachten und schrien vor Freude, namentlich die Weiber, die sich über das Gebahren ihrer sechsjährige Sprößlinge ganz außerordentlich amüsierten”[75].


Some later sources include Tonkinson (1978:p66-7)[76]: “For the first half-dozen or so years of their lives, the children usually play in mixed-sex groups and their games sometimes include “making camp” and “mothers and fathers”. This at times includes attempts at sexual intercourse, and the staging of adultery, elopement, and so on. This amuses adults, who turn a blind eye to such erotic play, although an older relative may mildly scold them if the couple concerned stands in an “incestuous” relationship, as a reminder about the correct behaviors they will have to observe as adulthood approaches”. Pilling (1992:p28)[77] mentioned “intercrural sexual stimulation” by two five-year-old boys, and masturbation of a dog by an eleven-year-old. Boyer et al. (1990:p292)[78] stated that “[a]lthough adult homosexuality is denied, many games involve heterosexual and homosexual cohabitation” in young Pitjatjatjara children. Coates (1997)[79] mentions anecdotal “sexual rehearsal play” when talking about the nonindigenous population, and deems it as common as anywhere. However, aboriginal “[g]irls were often given to their husbands while still prepubertal, but coitus did not usually commence until her breasts had grown. In this context, girls may have had their first sexual experience by the age of 9 and boys by the age of 12”.




Erosion of Aboriginal Patterns


Tonkinson (1974:p122, 124)[80]: “Even their [preschoolers] periodic attempts to imitate the sexual activities of their elders are viewed by the latter with light-hearted indifference and do not provoke adult interference”. Tonkinson relates that missionaries set up dormitory systems[81] to break up the coital quests, with only partial success. This was already observed by Lommel (1949/50:p158)[82]: “Sexual intercourse starts at an early age, but is frowned upon by older people, as it should begin only after initiation. On the stations and missions old people lose their influence on the younger and alert persons who are able to understand the new law which is brought by the white men”. Still, “[t]here exists a special expression for sexual intercourse between young boys and girls: jan jan (Unambal and Worora tribe)”. By the time of 1981, a report by Hamilton[83] (p76, 104) suggests that coital play may have gone underground (or rather, bushward): “No activities that could be called “sex play” were ever observed in the camps and there was nothing to suggest that if they occurred out of sight of adults anyone was concerned. […] Adults deny the occurrence of homosexual play among the boys [ages 5-9] although they admit to heterosexual play between children before they can “understand” ”[84].


In 1935, Kaberry[85] would warn that “[s]ome missionaries have yet to grasp the elementary fact that needle work, cooking, housework and an occasional picnic do not in themselves constitute an adequate substitute for sexual experience” (p402). Despite these attractiva, Kaberry (1939:p66)[86] could report that “[c]hildren of both sexes romp together, fight, squabble, wrestle, and indulge in crude sexual play […] young girls of eight or ten play with the boys in the camp when the others are asleep at midday or away in the bush”. By the 1980s, Cowlishaw[87] refrains from discussing sexual behaviour socialisation altogether. This is remarkable given his earlier PhD thesis on the matter[88].


Exploring contemporary Australian Aboriginal adolescent sexualities, Burbank[89] suggests that the girls’ sexual and reproductive freedom is supported by the confluence of three factors: diminished force of ideologies that might circumscribe women’s behaviour, control of male violence, and cultural appreciation of both motherhood and children.




Initiation: Sexological Implications


Róheim interprets the sexual meaning of Aranda male initiation as follows: “It is quite evident that the mystery [of sex] revealed is the primal scene and that parental coitus is reenacted in each totemic ceremony. What are the principal differences between the original and the symbolic form? In the rite the end pleasure is not represented. The ritual offers another form of gratification to the son, that of interrupting the father in the sexual act. He is no longer excluded; he is initiated into the sexual mystery. This indeed is the “official”, that is, the conscious, meaning of the initiation rite, which introduces the sons into the hitherto forbidden realm of sex” (Eternal Ones of the Dream).

The boy typically enters a ceremonial curriculum before puberty. In the (mostly) postpubertal stages this variably included circumcision, or subincision[90] (mika) (overview by Engelhart, 1998:p69-73[91]; cf. Zeller[92]). The erotogenetic motivations, or effects, are debated (e.g., Basedow, p147-8 et seq.; Berndt, 1951).


Falkenberg and Falkenberg (1981:p77-8)[93] state that, although prohibited, immature uncircumcised boys from the Marinbata tribe, use prepubertal and neopubescent girls of their own clan after being turned down by older girls of other clans. They use secretions of a specific orchid (tjalamajin) applied to the penis as a lubricant; a modern substitute is soap. Precircumcision intercourse is discouraged by the adults males by the prospect of the induration of the preputial sinew, producing a more painful circumcision, and a blackening of the interior mucus, producing a stigma to be revealed at initiation. The boys, however, secure the others that this is untrue. Among the Warramunga the foreskin may be put in the burrow of a ground spider after circumcision, “[…] in which case it is supposed to cause the penis to grow” (cited by Róheim).





“Genital Parenting”

 (®Vol. II, ch.9)


Róheim states that Australian mothers “lie on their sons in the [female on top] position [[94]] and freely masturbate them” at night” (1950; 1964:p194, 231; see also 1974:p244[95]; also Berndt & Berndt, 1946:p69)[96]. According to Róheim (1932), mother and child may lie in intercourse position (p54), and mothers practice infant genital play (p55, 87). The father, but not the mother, is used to mouth and “gently bite” the external genitalia of the child, as if eating them (1932:p183). This is also observed by Boyer et al. (1990:p291)[97]. Equally, Hippler (1978:p235)[98] stated that among the Yolngu, “the child is sexually stimulated by the mother [...]. Penis and vagina [[99]] are caressed [...] clearly the action arouses the mother. Many mothers develop blissful smiles or become quite agitated (with, we assume, sexual stimulation) and their nipples apparently harden during these events. Children [...] are encouraged to play with their mothers’ breasts, and [...] are obviously stimulated sexually [...]”. Money and Ehrhardt (1973/1996:p142) add: “In former times infants might be pacified by fondling of their genitals, but this practice is not obvious today”.




Meno- , Pubo- and Thelopoetic Concept of Coitus

(®Vol. II, §11.1.1)


Meggitt (1962:p272)[100] says that Walbiri aborigines (Australia) regarded having sex with prepubescent wives as helping to induce maturation. This idea was seen in many indigenous tribes. As reviewed by Merlan (1986:p480-1, references footnoted)[101]:


“We find it reported across the continent that female sexual maturity is attributed to the actions of men, either through intercourse, the performance of rites, or both. Warner (1937:p75)[102] reports of the Murngin that they believe “menstruation is due to the sexual act […]”. Hamilton (1981:p19)[103] likewise reports of the neighbouring Anbarra people that all female informants agreed “no girl could “get blood” until a man had helped her by copulation”. Goodale (1971:p45)[104] says the Tiwi consider sexual intercourse “the direct and only cause of breast formation, growth of pubic and axillary hair, menarche, and subsequent menstrual periods”. Spencer and Gillen (1899:p459-60)[105] had reported men’s inducing female physical maturity among central groups by causing breasts to grow (cf. Berndt, 1950:p26; Kaberry, 1939:p97)[106]”.


The Aranda practiced thelopoesis (Drechsel, p730). Ceremonial thelopoesis was also seen in Queensland (Roth, 1897[107]:p174, as cited by Thomas, 1899:p254-5)[108].






A boy-wife system is known to have existed among the Aboriginal Australians around the end of the nineteenth century (Murray, 1992:p3-9[109]; Richter, vide supra; Strehlow, 1915:p98[110]; Klaatsch[111], as cited by Layard citing Radcliffe-Brown[112] and by Basedow, p147)[113], although its exact homosexual nature or function is variably interpreted (Karsch-Haack, 1911:p82-90[114] [also cited by Bryk, 1931 [1974:p115][115]; Róheim, 1929[116]:p189; Mathews, vide infra; Greenberg, 1988:p35-6[117]). The custom took place with boys until their first subincision, their status designated as Chookadoo [118] (age 5), or Mullawongah[119] (age 5-7). Other authors mention ages of 10 (Richter), 10-12[120], and 10-11[121]. The Mullawongah is brought in erection by manipulation, and the penis is inserted into the subincised penis of an elder, who then ejaculates (Purcell, 1893:p287[122]; Westermarck, 1908, II:p460, n5, 466[123]; Westermarck, 1909:p113, 117[124]; Merzbach, 1909:p388[125]; Karsch-Haack, 1911:p83; Adam, 1986:p29-30)[126].


As for the actual performance involved, Mathews (1907:p158-9)[127] writes [orig. footnotes]:


“This custom [boy companions for men] has given rise to a widespread belief among the white population that pederasty is practiced; but from very careful inquiries made by friends at my request, I am led to the conclusion that the vice indulged in between the man and the boy is a form of masturbation only. A resident of the VictoriaRiver informs me that girls who are too young to admit of natural intercourse with them are sometimes used by the men in precisely the same manner as the boys, except that the little girls do not accompany them. I have original descriptions of how the vice is carried out, but the details are not suitable for publication.  Mr. E. T. Hardman, during his travels in the Kimberley district of Western Australia in 1883-4, observed the custom of single men being presented with what he calls “a boy wife”. He says: “There is no doubt they have connexion, but the natives repudiate with horror and disgust the idea of sodomy”[128]. Mr. A. G. B. Ravenscroft published some details in 1892 of this practice among the Chingalee tribe at Daly Waters in the Northern Territory, which go to confirm my statement that the indulgence is practically masturbation[129]”.


Rose (1960:p20, 221-2) mentions no homosexuality as part of the “guardian/initiate institution” among the Groote Eylandt Aborigines, which practice had broken down around 1940. He does note their social equivalence to girls:


“[i]n the same way as a girl is promised as wife to a man, her brother is promised before or shortly after birth to his sister’s prospective husband as an initiate. After the boy is circumcised as about 9 years he goes to live with the older man and remains with him until he is about 17 years old, when he is ceremonially released […]. The initiates could be stolen, or exchanged as gifts in the same way as young girls could be”.


This custom of boy servants was noted by other ethnographers[130] not mentioning sexual transactions, boys of pubertal age being “caught”, greased, ochred, and instructed in return of his waiting upon his Ganitch (sister’s husband).

During the Bora ritual for Kamilaroi boys (Mathews, 1896:p333-4)[131], “obscenity” takes place between the men and the boys.


To complete matters, here’s Havelock Ellis (1927)[132]:


“Finally, among another allied primitive people, the Australians, it would appear that homosexuality has long been well established in tribal customs. Among the natives of Kimberley, Western Australia (who are by no means of low type, quick and intelligent, with special aptitudes for learning languages and music), if a wife is not obtainable for a young man he is presented with a boy-wife between the ages of 5 and 10 (the age when a boy receives his masculine initiation). The exact nature of the relations between the boy-wife and his protector are doubtful; they certainly have connection, but the natives repudiate with horror and disgust the idea of sodomy[133]. Further light is thrown on homosexuality in Australia by the supposition of Spencer and Gillen that the _mika_ operation (urethral subincision), an artificial hypospadias, is for the purpose of homosexual intercourse. Klaatsch has discussed the homosexual origin of the _mika_ operation on the basis of information he received from missionaries at Niol-Niol, on the northwest coast. The subincised man acts as a female to the as yet unoperated boys, who perform coitus in the incised opening. Both informed Klaatsch in 1906 that at Boulia in Queensland the operated men are said to "possess a vulva."”


Genital Morphology Preparation


Introcision (the enlargement of the vaginal opening by tearing or cutting the perineum) was practised among some of the aboriginal Australians (Aranda, basically) in order to facilitate the first experience of sexual intercourse (Head, 1978; Cook, 1979; Huelsman, 1976)[134], which may have been immediate, forceful and with multiple partners (Favazza, 1987:p159)[135]. [When a young woman of the Queensland tribes shows signs of puberty, two or three men take her away, and she has to submit to intercourse with all. After this, she is considered eligible for marriage[136]. See however Pringle (2004)[137].] The Spinifex group also practised ritual hymenotomy, but did not include ritual intercourse. The pubic hairs are shaved to “make it nice and ready for coitus”. Its timing was after menarche, at age 14 to 15 (Drechsel, p730). The Walbiri and Tiwi did not practise introcision.

Kubary (as cited by Ronhaar)[138] states that among the Wakka,


“[t]he mothers make the girls fit for copulation prematurely, by breaking the hymen with their fingers. This operation is secret, it is true, but takes place all the same. The mother moreover admonishes the girl to demand proper payment for her favours. The mother sees to it that at the copulation no inconvenience is experienced due to the early age of the girl, by regularly stretching the vulva by little rolls of leaves […]. The mother sends the child out on her first sexual adventures”.


Lommel[139] speaks of the Wunambal tribe when mentioning


“[…] a rather clumsily executed defloration to make a girl “ready” for intercourse. After that, so it is said, a girl lived for some time until her marriage in promiscuity with all those men to whom she was according to her relationship an eligible wife. This custom still prevails, so I was told, in missions where it is officially prohibited and therefore practised secretly at night only. […] The crude defloration is performed by an elder man of the same marriage-group as the girl. He, so I was told, wraps round his finger some thread spun from kangaroo-hair, and executes the defloration with it. After that the men of her intermarrying group who happen to be present have intercourse with her” (p159, 160).







Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology, Berlin

Last revised: Mar 2005


[1] Spoken by a “grandmotherly figure” to eleven to fourteen-year-olds engaged in horseplay, as observed by Pilling (1992:p29), cit. infra

[2] Sung in girl’s flower chasing. See Berndt and Berndt (1944:p225), cit. infra

[3] Bettelheim, B. (1962) Symbolic Wounds. New York: Collier Books, p64

[4] Brongersma, E. (1987) Jongensliefde, Deel 1. Amsterdam: SUA, p123-4

[5] DeMause, L. (1988) On writing childhood history, J Psychohist 16,2:135-71. Cf. id., The Emotional Life of Nations, Ch. 6. Also Bennett, cited by Lake, M. (1993) Colonised and Colonising: the white Australian feminist subject, Women’s Hist Rev 2,3:377-86, at p381, 382

[6] Quoted by Ploß and Bartels, II. See Eyre, E. J. (1845) Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia [etc.]. London: Boone. Vol. 2. “Puellæ teneræ a decimo primum anno, et pueri a decimo tertio quarto, inter se miscentur”.

[7] Howitt, A. W. (1891) The Dieri and Other Kindred Tribes of Central Australia, J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland20:30-104

[8] Howitt, A. W. (1904) The Native Tribes of South-East Australia. London: Macmillan

[9] Taplin, G. (1879) The Folklore, Manners, Customs and Languages of the South Australian Aboriginals. Adelaine

[10] Spencer, B. & Gillen, F. (1899) The Native Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan

[11] Malinowski, B. (1913) The Family Among Australian Aborigines: A Sociological Study. London: London University Press. See also Benedict, R. ([1948]) Child marriage, in Seligman, E. R. A. & Johnson, A. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. New York: MacMillan. Vol.III, p395-7, p396

[12] Fehlinger, H. ([1921]) Sexual Life of Primitive People. London: Black

[13] Piddington, R. (1932) Karadjeri initiation, Oceania 3,1:46-87. Thus, “[…] girls are married and may have sexual intercourse with their husbands before puberty […]”.

[14] Stanner, W. E. H. (1933) The Daly River tribes, a report of field work in North Australia (cont’d), Oceania 4,1:10-29

[15]Drechsel, P. (1985) Geschlechtsreife und Legitimation zur Zeugung bei den australischen Ureinwohnern, in Müller, E. W. (Ed.) Geschlechtsreife und Legitimation zur Zeugung. München: K. A. Freiburg, p717-58

[16] Hart, C. W. & Pilling, A. R. (1960) The Tiwi of North Australia. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

[17] Goodale, J. C. (1962) Marriage contracts among the Tiwi, Ethnology 1:452-66

[18] Meggitt, M. J. (1962) Desert People: A Study of the Walbiri Aborigines of Central Australia. Sydney: Angus & Robertson; Meggitt, M. J. (1965) Marriage among the Walbiri of Central Australia, in Berndt, R. M. & Berndt, C. H. (Eds.) Aboriginal Man in Australia. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, p146-66

[19] Rose, F. G. G. (1968) Australia Revisited. Berlin: Seven Seas

[20] Yengoyan, A. A. (1970) Demographic factors in Pitjandjara social organization, in Berndt, R. M. (Ed.) Australian Aboriginal Anthropology. Perth: University of Western Australia Press, p70-91, see p89

[21] Curr, E. M. (1886) The Australian Race. Vol. I. Melbourne & London; Ronhaar, J. H. (1931) Woman in Primitive Motherright Societies. Groningen [Holland]: Wolters / London: D. Nutt, p329

[22] Ronhaar (1931:p329), op.cit.

[23] Von Miklucho-Maclay (1880) Einige Mittheilungen über die Mika-Operatione und über das sexuelle Leben der Australier. Verhandlungen der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte; Ronhaar (1931:p330), op.cit.

[24] For some references, see Brown, A. R. (1913) Three Tribes of Western Australia,  J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 43:143-94, p185; Howard, G. E. (1964) A History of Matrimonial Institutions. New York: Humanities Press. Vol. I, p181. Coates (1997): “Infant betrothal was an important aspect of Aboriginal cultures and was often associated with men’s ritual activities, especially circumcision. In the Western desert region, for example, the main circumciser had to promise one of his daughters to the novice in compensation for having ritually “killed” him. Girls were often given to their husbands while still prepubertal, but coitus did not usually commence until her breasts had grown. In this context, girls may have had their first sexual experience by the age of 9 and boys by the age of 12”. Also Crul, Th. W. (1942) Het Huwelijk bij de “Ethnologische Oervolken”. Dissertation. Leiden [Holland]: A. W. Sijthoff, p83 et seq.; Wood, J. G. / Rissik, G. H. (1875) De Onbeschaafde Volken […]. Rotterdam: Jacs. G. Robbers, p72: “De verloving geschiedt op zeer jeugdigen leeftijd; het meisje is dikwerf toegezegd als zij nog een kind is”.

[25] Westermarck, E. ([1901]) The History of Human Marriage. London: MacMillan. Third ed., p214. Westermarck refers to Waitz-Garland (vi, p772); Wilkes (II, p195); Sturt (II, p284 et seq.); Bonney, J Anthropol Instit 13:[129, 301); Cameron J Anthropol Instit 14:[352]

[26] Fryer-Smith, S. (2002) AIJA Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Benchbook for Western Australian Courts. Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Incorporated []

[27] Elkin, A. P. (1954 [1938]) The Australian Aborigines: How to Understand Them. 3rd ed. London

[28] Keen, I. (2002) Seven Aboriginal marriage systems and their correlates, Anthropological Forum 12,2:145-57, at p147

[29] Hassell, E. & Davidson, D. S. (1936) Notes on the ethnology of the Wheelman tribe of Southwestern Australia, Anthropos 31,5/6:679-711

[30] Parker, K. L. (1905) The Euahlayi Tribe: A Study of Aboriginal Life in Australia. Edinburgh: T. & A. Constable, Printers to His Majety

[31] Withnell, J. G. (1901) The Customs and Traditions of the Aboriginal Natives of North Western Australia. Roebourne

[32] Calvert, A. F. (1894) The Aborigines of Western Australia. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Limited, p22

[33] Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1913) 'Three Tribes of Western Australia, J Royal Anthropological Instit Great Britain & Ireland 43:143-95

[34] Woods, J. D. (1879) The Native Tribes of South Australia. Adelaide

[35] Bonney, F. (1884) On Some Customs of the Aborigines of the River Darling, New South Wales, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 13:122-37

[36] Webb, T. T. (1944) From Spears to Spades. 2nd ed. Melbourne

[37] Forrest, J. (1876) On the Natives of Central and Western Australia, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 5:316-22

[38] Greenway, Ch. C., Honery, Th. Et al. (1878) Australian Languages and Traditions, J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 7:232-74

[39] Chewings, Ch. (1936) Back in the Stone Age: The Natives of Central Australia. Sydney, Australia: Angus & Robertson, limited

[40] Rose, F. G. G. (1960) Classification of Kin, Age Structure and Marriage amongst the Groote Eylandt Aborigines. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag. Cf. p69-73

[41] Thomson, D. F. (1933) The Hero Cult, Initiation and Totemism on Cape York,  J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 63:453-537

[42]®New Guinea, Trobrianders

[43] Money, J. & Ehrhardt, A. A. (1973/1996) Man & Woman, Boy & Girl. London: Aronson

[44] Sharp, L. (1934) The social organization of the Yir-Yoront tribe, Cape York Peninsula, Part I, Oceania 4:404-31

[45] Hiatt, L. R. (1964) Incest in Arnhemland, Oceania 35,2:124-8

[46] Montagu, A. (1937) Coming into Being among the Australian Aborigines. Florence, KY, US: Taylor & Francis /Routledge. The psychodynamic peculiarities of the ignorance are discussed by Róheim, G. (1938) The nescience of the Aranda, Br J Med Psychol 17:343-60

[47] Strehlow, C. (190-20) Die Aranda und Loritja Stamme in Zentral-Australien. Frankfurt am Main: Baer & Co. Vol. II

[48] Read, C. (1918) No Paternity, J Royal Anthropol Inst Great Britain & Ireland 48,Jan-Jun:146-54

[49] Money, J., Cawte, J. E., Bianchi, G. N. & Nurcombe, B. (1970) Sex training and traditions in Arnhem Land, Br J Med Psychol 47:383-99. Reprinted in Kearney, G. et al. (Eds.) (1973) The Psychology of Aboriginal Australians. A Book of Readings. Sydney: John Wiley’, p395-416; also in Byrne, D. & Byrne, L. (1977) Exploring Human Sexuality. New York: Harper & Row, p78-88; and in Money, J. & Musaph, H. (Eds.) (1977) Handbook of Sexology. Amsterdam: Elsevier, p519-41. See also Money and Ehrhardt (1973/1996:p141-4), op.cit., and Money, J. (1976 [1986]) Childhood: the last frontier in sex research, The Sciences 16,6:12ff. Reprinted in Money’s 1985 Venuses Penuses. Buffalo: Prometheus, p520-5, see p521-2. Comment on the article in Brown, W. A. (1972) Letter to the Editor, Br J Med Psychol 45:p85-6

[50] Róheim, G. (1950) Psychoanalysis and Anthropology: Culture, Personality and the Unconscious. New York: International Universities Press

[51] Colapinto, J. (2000) As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. New York: HarperCollins

[52] The theme of coital reheasal play was prevalent in his 1968 Sex Errors of the Body [p69], and in an earlier article in 1963. See Money, J. (1963) Psychosexual development in man, in Deutsch, A. (Editor-in-chief) The Encyclopedia of Mental Health. New York : F. Watts. Second printing. Vol. 5, p1678-1709

[53] Cawte, J. E. (1964) Tjimi and Tjagolo: ethnopstychiatry in the Kalumburu people of North-Western Australia, Oceania 34,3:161-90

[54] Abbie, A. A. (1969) The Original Australians. London: Frederick Muller. Atkinson, Alan and Aveling, Marian, p202

[55] Róheim, G. (1932) Psycho-analysis of primitive cultural types, Int J Psycho-Anal 13,1:1-224

[56] Róheim, G. (1956) The individual, the group, and mankind, Psychoanal Quart 25:1-10

[57] Róheim, G. (1962) The Western Tribes of Central Australia: Childhood, in Muensterberger, W. & Axelrad, S. (Eds.) The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, Vol. II. New York: International Universities Press, p207. See also Róheim, G. (1952) The anthropological evidence and the Oedipus complex, Psychoanal Quart 21:537-42, p537-9. Róheim (1932:p87): “In playing with the children, I was […] able to get irrefutable proof of Melanie Klein’s view, viz. that onanistic phantasies were the stuff that games are made of”.

[58] Róheim G. (1974) Children of the Desert. New York: Basic Books. Vol. I

[59] Hernández, Th. (1941) Children among the Drysdale river tribes, Oceania 12,2:122-33. Hernández (further) remains silent on sexual life.

[60] Warner, W. L. (1937) A Black Civilization. New York: Harper

[61] Ibid., rev ed.

[62]Richter, B. (1962) Kinderleben bei den Eingeborenen Australiens [Teil II+III], Prax Kinderpsychol & Kinderpsychia 3:266-71; 294-303

[63] Berndt, C. H. & Berndt, R. M. (1971) The Barbarians. London: C. A. Watts & Co.

[64] Berndt, R. M. & Berndt, C. H. (1964 [2nd ed., 1977]) The World of the First Australians. Sydney: Ure Smith. See also Bettelheim, B. (1954 [1962]) Symbolic Wounds. London: Thames & Hudson, p64-5

[65] Adults pretend erotic advances at babies jokingly calling them husband and wife, and commenting on the size of their penis. “In some areas children are said to have no sexual desires before they are about five or six years old. […] From about six or seven onward […] they spend a fair amount of time in erotic play, or in talking about it, even in the pre-pubertal period when the tendency for the two sexes to keep their play activities is more clearly distinct than before”.

[66] Berndt, R. M. & Berndt, C. H. (1946) The eternal ones of the dream, Oceania 17:67-78

[67] Hippler, A. (1978) Culture and Personality Perspective of the Yolngu of Northeastern Arnhem Land: Part I-Ear1y Socialization, J Psychol Anthropol 1:223-44

[68] Hiatt, L. R. (1965) Kinship and Conflict. Canberra: Australian National University

[69] Berndt, R. M. & Berndt, C. H. (1951) Sexual Behaviour in Western Arnhem Land. New York (NY): Viking Fund

[70] Berndt, R. M. (1976) Love Songs of Arnhem Land. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

[71] Berndt, R. M. & Berndt, C. H. (1943) A preliminary report of field work in the Ooldea region, Western south Australia (con’d.), Oceania 13,3:243-80; 14,3:220-49

[72] Spencer & Gillen (1899:p471-3), op.cit.; Crawley, E. (1927) The Mystic Rose. New York: Boni & Liveright. Vol. I, p232-3

[73] Róheim, G. (1958) The Western tribes of central Australia: their sexual life, in Muensterberger, W. & Axelrad, S. (Eds.) Psychoanalysis and the Social Sciences. Vol. V. New York: International Universities Press, p221-45

[74]Schidlof, B. (1908) Das Sexualleben der Australier und Ozeanier. Leipzig: Leipziger Verlag

[75] Schidlof (1908:p12) further names Ribble and Rubania as having noted child-child coitus.

[76] Tonkinson, R. (1978) The Mardudjara Aborigines. New York (Etc.): Holt, Rinehart & Winston

[77] Pilling, A. R. (1992) Homosexuality among the Tiwi of North Australia, in Murray, S. O. (Ed.) Oceanic Homosexualities. New York & London: Garland, p25-31

[78] Boyer, R. M. et al. (1990) An ethological and Rorschach study of three groups of Australian Aboriginals: the Yolgnu, the Pitjatjatjara and the “Dark People” of Bourke, in Boyer, L. B. & Brolnick, S. A. (Eds.) The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, Vol. 15: Essays in Honor of Paul Parin. Hillsdale, US: Analytic Press, p271-310

[79] Coates, R. (1997) Australia, in Francoeur, R. T. (Ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. New York: Continuum, Vol. 1. Quoted from the online edition

[80] Tonkinson, R. (1974) The Jigalong Mob. Menlo Park, CA: Cummings

[81] See also Burbank, V. K. (1988) Aboriginal Adolescence. New Brunswick & London: Rutgers University Press

[82] Lommel, A. (1949/50) Notes on sexual behaviour and initiation, Wunambal tribe, North-Western Australia, Oceania 20:158-64

[83] Hamilton, (1981) Nature and Nurture: Aboriginal Child-Rearing in North-Central Arnhem Land. Canberra: Humanities Press

[84] Indeed, “the intense fantasy games which European boys of this age indulge in […, including “doctors”] were apparently absent”.

[85] Kaberry, Ph. M. (1935) The Forest River and Lyne River tribes of North-West Australia, Oceania 5:408-36

[86] Kaberry, Ph. M. (1939) Aboriginal Woman. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

[87] Cowlishaw, G. (1982) Socialisation and Subordination Among Australian Aborigines, Man New Series 17,3:492-507

[88] Cowlishaw, G. K. (1979) Women's Realm: A Study of Socialisation, Sexuality and Reproduction among Australian Aborigines. PhD thesis, University of Sydney

[89] Burbank, V. K. (1995) Gender Hierarchy and Adolescent Sexuality: The Control of Female Reproduction in an Australian Aboriginal Community, Ethos 23,1:33-46

[90] E.g., Spencer, B. (1914) Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia. London: Macmillan & Co., Ch. 3; Pounder, D. J. (1983) Ritual mutilation. Subincision of the penis among Australian Aborigines, Am J Forensic Med Pathol 4,3:227-9; Jones, I. H. (1969) Subincision among Australian western desert Aborigines, Br J Med Psychol 42,2:183-90; Morrison, J. (1967) The origins of the practices of circumcision and subincision among the Australian aborigines, Med J Aust 21;1,3:125-7; Cawte, J. E., Djagamara, N. & Barrett, M .G. (1966) The meaning of subincision of the urethra to aboriginal Australians, Br J Med Psychol 39,3:245-53; Lobdell, J. E. (1975) Considerations on ritual subincision practices, J Sex Res 11,1:16-24; Róheim, G. (1949) The symbolism of subincision, Am Imago 6:321-8; Singer, P. & Desole, D. E. (1967) The Australian subincision ceremony reconsidered: vaginal envy or kangaroo bifid penis envy, Am Anthropol 69,3/4:355-8; Cawte, J. E. (1968) Further comment on the Australian subincision ceremony, Am Anthropol 70,5:961-4; Basedow, H. (1927) Subincision and Kindred Rites of the Australian Aboriginal, J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 57:123-56. Also Berndt, R. M. (1951) Subincision in a non-subincision area, Am Imago 8:165-79

[91] Engelhart, M. (1998) Extending the Tracks: A Cross-Reductionistic Approach to Australian Aboriginal Male Initiation Rites. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International

[92] Zeller, M. (1923) Die Knabenweihen. Bern: Paul Haupt, p66-78

[93] Falkenberg, A. & Falkenberg, J. (1981) The Affinal Relationship System. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget

[94]Illustrated by Thomson, in White, I. (1993) Kinder der Traumzeit, in Van de Loo, M. & Reinhart, M. (Eds.) Kinder: Ethnologische Forschungen in Fünf Kontinenten. München: Trickster Verlag, p367-81, see p377. This position is also associated with certain rituals.

[95] Róheim, Op.cit; Róheim, G. (1964) The Western Tribes of Central Australia: The Alknarintja, in Muensterberger, W. & Axelrad, S. (Eds.) The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, Vol. III. New York: International Universities Press.

[96] Op.cit. Also cited by Duerr, H. P. (1988) Nacktheit und Scham. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp. Vol. 1 of Der Mythos vom Zivilizationprocess. 2nd ed., p201/416n25

[97] Op.cit

[98] Op.cit.

[99] Berndt and Berndt (1946:p69) did not note stimulation practised on females.

[100] Op.cit.. Also cited by Merlan (1986:p490n15), cit.infra

[101] Merlan, F. (1986) Australian Aboriginal conception beliefs revisited, Man, NS 21,3:474-93

[102] Op.cit.

[103] Op.cit.

[104] Goodale, J. (1971) Tiwi Wives: A Study of Women of Melville Island, Northern Australia. Seattle: University of Washington Press

[105] Op.cit.

[106] Op.cit.

[107] Roth, W. E. (1897) Ethnological Studies among the North-West-Central Queensland Aborigines. Brisbane: Edmund Gregory, Government Printer

[108] Thomas, Th. I. (1899) The Psychology of Modesty and Clothing, Am J Sociol 5,2:246-62

[109]Murray, S. O. (1992) Age-stratified homosexuality: introduction, in Murray, S. O. (Ed. ) Oceanic Homosexualities. New York & London: Garland, p3-23

[110] Strehlow, C. (1913-5) Das soziale Leben der Aranda und Loritja-Stämme in Zentral-Australien, Veröffentlichungen aus dem Städtischen Völker-Museum 1,4:1-108. Strehlow writes: “Pederasty is a recognized custom among the Arunta and has a name, kwalanga. It prevails especially among the Western Loritja and tribes north of the MacDonnell Range, the Katitja, Ilpara, Warramunga, etc. Commonly a man, who is fully initiated but not yet married, takes a boy ten or twelve years old, who lives with him as a wife for several years, until the older man marries. The boy is neither circumcized nor subincized, though he may have ceased to be regarded as a boy and is considered a young man. The boy must belong to the proper marriage class from which the man might take a wife”.

[111] Klaatsch, H. (1907), Report Austral Assoc Adv Sci 11:[581-2]

[112] Cited by Layard, J. (1942) Stone Men of Malekula. Ondon: Chatto & Windus, p487n2: “[…] according to Professor Radcliffe-Brown quoting from Klaatsch, in the southern part of the Kimberley district of Western Australia, where there is a 4-section system of kinship, the rules governing homosexual intercourse are in fact similar to those governing marriage. That is to say that it is there the custom for a man before marriage to take as a boy-lover a member of the prescribed kinship section from which he must later obtain his wife, and who is therefore sociologically equivalent to the wife’s brother and sister’s husband, such intercourse being forbidden with a boy of any other kinship section as strongly as if the relation were a heterosexual one. The custom differs from that among the Big Nambas in that, in Western Australia, homosexual intercourse is not usual after marriage […]”.

[113] Passing references in Martinson, F. M. (1973) Infant and Child Sexuality: A Sociological Perspective. St. Peter, MN: The Book Mark, p111; Martinson, F. M. (1994b) The Sexual Life of Children. Westport, Conn: Bergin & Garvey; O’Carroll, T. (1980) Paedophilia: The Radical Case. London: Peter Owen

[114] Karsch-Haack, F. (1911) Das Gleichgeschlechtliche Leben der Naturvölker. München: E. Reinhardt

[115] Bryk, F. (1931) Die Beschneidung bei Mann und Weib. New Brandenburg: Gustav Feller. English transl. by David Berger, MA (1934) Circumcision in Man and Woman. New York: American Ethnological Press, and AMS Press (1974)

[116] Róheim, G. (1929) Dying Gods and Puberty Ceremonies, J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 59:181-97

[117] Greenberg, D. F. (1988) The Construction of Homosexuality. Chicago & London: Chicago University Press

[118] Hardman, E. T. (1889) Notes on some habits and customs of the natives of Kimberley district, Proc Royal Instit Anthropol 1,S,e:[p73-4]

[119] Purcell, B. H. (1893) Rites and customs of Australian Aborigines, Zeitschr Ethnol 25:286-9, see p287

[120] Strehlow (1915:p98), op.cit.,; Ford, C. S. & Beach, F. A. (1951) Patterns of Sexual Behavior. New York: Harper & Row, p132

[121] Kaberry (1939:p257), op.cit.

[122] Purcell, B. H. (1893) Rites and customs of Australian Aborigines, Zeitschr Ethnol 25:286-9, see p287

[123] Westermarck, E. (1908) The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas. London: Macmillan & Co. Vol. 2

[124]Westermarck, E. (1909) Sexualfragen. Leipzig: W. Klinkhardt

[125]Merzbach, G. (1909) Die Krankhaften Erscheinungen des Geschlechtssinnes. Wien & Leipzig: A. Hölder

[126] Adam, B. D. (1986) Age, structure, and sexuality: reflections on the anthropological evidence on homosexual relations, J Homosex 11,3/4:19-33

[127] Mathews, R. H. (1907) Notes on the Aranda Tribe, J Proc Royal Soc New South Wales 41:146-63

[128] Proc Roy Irish Academy, Series 3, Vol. I, p74 [orig.footnote]

[129] Trans Roy Soc S Australia, Vol. 15, p121 [orig.footnote]. See Ravenscroft, A. G. B. (1892) Some habits and customs among the Chingalee tribe, Northern Territory, S. A., Trans Roy Soc S Australia 15,2:121-2

[130] E.g., Howitt, A. W. (1885) The Jeraeil, or Initiation Ceremonies of the Kurnai Tribe, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 14:301-25, at p324

[131] Mathews, R. H. (1896) The Bora, or Initiation Ceremonies of the Kamilaroi Tribe. Part II, J Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 25:318-39. “Most of the positions and gestures are very obscene, and some of them disgusting”.

[132] Ellis, H. (1927) Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume II: Sexual Inversion. 3rd ed.  []

[133] Klaatsch, Some Notes on Scientific Travel Amongst the Black Populations of Tropic Australia. Adelaide meeting of ‘Australian Association for the Advancement of Science’, January, 1907, p5 [orig. footnote]

[134] Cook, R. (1979) Damage to Physical Health from Circumcision (Infibulation) of Females. A Review of the Medical Literature. World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt; Huelsman, B. R. (1976) An anthropological view of clitoral and other female genital mutilations, in Lowry, T. P. & Lowry, T. S. (Eds.) The Clitoris. St. Louis, Mo.: Warren H. Green, p111-61

[135] Favazza, A. R. (1987) Bodies Under Siege: Self-mutilation in Culture and Psychiatry. Baltimore: JohnsHopkinsUniversity Press

[136] Westermarck, Marriage, Vol. 1, p171

[137]Pringle, H. (2004) The Fabrication of Female Genital Mutilation: The UN, Walter Roth and Ethno-Pornography. Refereed paper presented to the Australasian Political Studies Association Conference, University of Adelaide, 29 September - 1 October 2004 []

[138] Ronhaar (1931:p340), op.cit.

[139] Op.cit.