Growing Up Sexually



South America

IES: Brazil




IndexAmericasSouth AmericaBrazilRamcocramecra Timbira (Ge)






Nimuendajú (1946:p120-1)[1] stated that “some mothers try to accelerate the development of breasts by dealing with a daughter a few light taps against the nipples with their finger joints- usaully in the morning on waking up. Girls also practise this custom themselves. I once observed a ten-year-old girl who for this reason wore a broad grass strip tied tightly across the chest, with a little disk of charcoal over each nipple and under the grass strip”. On sexual life: “Nowadays only a minority of girls attain puberty as virgins. De facto most of them are already married at twelve or have had extramarital relations”. “Like their Apinayé cousins, the Ramkokamerkra firmly assert that menstruation is impossible prior to sexual congress. Such a theory is after a fashion intelligible for the Apinayé, whose girls with possibly few exceptions are actually deflowered before their first menses, but for the Ramkokamerkra it is utterly inconceivable […]. How the native theory of defloration as prerequisite to menstruation could persist is a complete enigma; and its occurrence in identical form among Eastern and Western Timbira proves that the idea is not an innovation”.

Lowie (1946:p499)[2] agrees: “The Timbira and Pau d’Arco oddly believe that menstruation is impossible for a virgin, but among the Apinayé most girls are actually married before puberty”.





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] Nimuendajú, C. (1946) The Eastern Timbira. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press

[2] Lowie, R. H. (1946) The Northwestern and Central Ge, Bull Bureau Am Ethnol 143[I]. Stewart, J. H. (Ed.) Handbook of South American Indians. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. Vol. 1, p477-517