Growing Up Sexually



South America

IES: Brazil


WARI’(Western Brazil)


IndexAmericasSouth AmericaBrazilWari (Pakaas Novas)





“A pubescent Wari’ girl’s sexual maturation and physical growth are held to develop first out of a special relationship to the moon, whose influence is loosely thought of as a stimulus to breast development and menstruation. The second, more direct stimulus (upon which the efficiacy of the first depends) is a cross-sex transfer of body fluid: the first time a girl has sexual intercourse, the infusion of semen (a blood product) is said to transform her blood so that it increases in quantity and strength. This sparks a growth spurt: the girl grows fatter, stronger and- a point that Wari’ emphasize- able to do women’s work in planting, harvesting, and processing food. […] The infusion of semen is thought to be prerequisite not only for menarche but for every menstrual period in a woman’s life” Conklin, 2001:p153, 154; cf. 147, 160)[1].


“Prior to the contact, girls ideally (and often in practice) married and began to have sexual intercourse before they began to menstruate. The ideal that a husband should “grow” his young wife’s body is analogous to a father’s responsibility to contribute semen to the growth of the fetus in his wife’s womb and to contribute meat, fish, and vegetable foods to feed his children. Wari’ do not mark female puberty and menarche with any ritual […]”. Boys were instructed by older men “to control their sexuality by respecting other men’s wives” (p158).





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] Conklin, B. A. (2001) Women’s blood, warriors’ blood, and the conquest of vitality in amazonia, in Gregor, Th. A. & Tuzin, D. (Eds.) Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia. Berkeley [etc.]: University of California Press, p141-74