Growing Up Sexually


IROQUOIS(North-American Natives; Canada)


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See also: North-America Non-Natives



“Early sexual curiosity and experimentation were regarded as a natural childish way of behaving, out of which it would, in due time, grow” (Wallace, 1972 [1969:p35])[1][135]. At puberty, a ceremonial gathering takes place with requires abstinence of sexual activity, “which they had been free to indulge, to the limits of their powers, before” (p37). There is also a “mild puberty ritual” at menarche.


Newhouse (1998)[2]:


“Traditional Aboriginal societies [...] believed that sexuality was powerful. It was awakened at puberty, and in many societies, there was a series of rites and rituals for both boys and girls which were designed to instill within the individual an understanding of the nature of this power and the way in which this power was to be harnessed and used. These rites taught men their duties and obligations as men, and more importantly, their duties and obligations as sexual beings. They were not to use their sexuality to cause harm to others, and were to respect its power”. 


A personal experience contrasts this image:


“I grew up in a traditional Longhouse household in the Six Nations community. I did not learn the things there that I have talked about. It has been hard to uncover them. I grew up learning about sex and sexuality from those around me. I learned to hide and deny my own sexual nature. I learned these lessons from those around me. I felt shame at my first sexual experiences, and I learned to regard my own sexuality as shameful and dirty. Sex was something that one did in the dark. I learned to be afraid of the power of my sexuality”. 














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

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1][135] Wallace, A. F. C. (1972[1969]) The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca. New York: Vintage Books

[2]Newhouse, D. (1998) Magic and joy: Traditional Aboriginal views of human sexuality, Canadian J Human Sexuality 7,2:183 et seq.