Index EuropeHungary


For a note on formal sexual education, see Grassel and Bach (1979:p291-3)[1]. Vincze[2] speaks of “behavioral rules concerning decency [being] strict and very similar to Puritan or Victorian mores” in peasant Hungary. Hence,


“[p]arents make no attempt to teach their children about sex and conversation about sex is considered taboo in the family. From many girls, their first menstrual period comes as a shock. It is supposed that upon marriage they learn matters of sex from their husbands. Boys have ample opportunity to learn, since sex is a popular topic in groups of young men. Occasionally, a company of boys surrounds a married man, believed to be expert in sex and easy to talk to, and listen to him attentively. In mixed-sex company, boys do not talk openly about sex. If they drop a few remarks, the girls supposedly do not notice them. However, if a boy takes too much liberty (e.g., telling a dirty joke), the girls are expected to feel scandalized and to reprimand him with harsh words, or even attack him physically. […] Sometimes older boys tease younger ones and try to trick them into confession [of masturbation] by saying “You know, guys who masturbate grow hair on their palms”. If the addressee betrays himself with a surreptitious glance at his palm, be becomes the target of laughter. On occasion, boys are warned by adults about the consequences of masturbation: “you will end up in a madhouse” or “You are wasting your spinal marrow”, they say. Parents tend to ignore their children’s masturbation even if they discover it. […] Premarital sex, especially for women, is forbidden. Chastity in unmarried girls and faithfulness in married women are highly valued” (p34-5).


“Children may occasionally use an obscene word, but for them casual swearing is forbidden. This prohibition lasts until they reach their sixteenth birthday, the time when a child, in accordance with the cultural rule, achieves the status of legény (unmarried young man) or eladó lány (literally: girl for sale, i.e., marriageable girl) [prohibition is more severe for girls after age 16]. Parents usually enforce the prohibition, but any adult member feels that it is his or her duty to reprimand the child if he or she transgresses. Some families permit very young male children to imitate adult swearing habits. The little boy’s clumsy swearing is received with hilarity and the neighbors often comment: “He swears just like his grandfather,” (or somebody else in the family), recognizing the particular style of the child’s model. Since the permissiveness does not have the approval of the majority, parents justify their attitude by saying: “He is too young, he does not know what he says”. This permissiveness is usually of short duration” (p36-7).


Jávor[3] marks a definite double standard in socialization policies. A girl’s is performed in “negative terms”: they are requested to develop “passive virtues” of modesty, and not to “cross your legs” (p411-2).


“While parents go to great lengths to make their children understand what is expected of them in sexual behavior, in terms of conduct appropriate for their sex, physiological aspects of their sexual identity are governed by great circumspection. Although children watch television without any restrictions and frequently hear adults refer to animal genitalia when they swear, they are almost totally ignorant when it comes to their own body and its functions. Parents do not even attempt to enlighten their sons concerning the consequences of courtship, as they regard this solely as the girls’ problem” (ibid.)



Additional refs:


·        CRLP (2000) Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reproductive Lives: East Central Europe, p49-77

·        Németh, E. & Galambos, G. (1984) Sexualbeziehungen von 14- bis 18jährigen Schulern aus dem Komitat Csongrad (Sudungarn), Ärztl Jugendk 75,1:7-19

·        Németh, E. (1985) Acceleration - sexuality. Certain characteristics of the sexual life and physical maturity of 14-18 years old secondary school children, Acta Biologica 31,1-4:197-205






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

Last revised: Dec 2004


[1] Grassel, H. & Bach, K. R. (1979) Kinder- & Jugendsexualität. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften

[2] Vincze, L. (1985) Hungarian Peasant Obscenity: Sociolinguistic Implications, Ethnology 24,1:33-42

[3] Jávor, K. (1989) The Socialization of Boys versus the Socialization of Girls: Dissimilar Gender Roles in two Hungarian Villages, East European Quart 23,4:409-18