WOGEO (Papua New Guinea)


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Menarche on Wogeo occurs late, at around or after age 17 (Hogbin, 1935:320-1)[1]. Equally, Hogbin (p320) states that “[t]he sexual life of the islanders does not begin until about the age of 16 or 17 or later […]”. Hogbin (1946a)[2], as the title of his later article might suggest, answers negatively on the question of paradoxia on Wogeo. Masturbation is regarded as preparatory (H., p188).[3] Although knowledge of sexual intercourse is gained by age eight or nine (before, they are told that babies grow on trees, where they are to be picked), “[…] the youngsters do not carry out experiments for themselves”. The “awakening of the sexual impulse” (a rather eurocentric concept) is placed at pubescence, “at least for boys”. In his article on childhood (1946b)[4] he gives a further (modest) clue to his argument: “[…] play marriages, common elsewhere in Melanesia, do not take place”. (Hogbin, 1943)[5] on Wogeo infants does not report sexual observations. Hogbin (1945, as cited by Marinkelle, 1976:p47)[6] argues that homosexual relations are expected in adolescence, until heterosexual relations are permitted after initiation after about age 19. This would contrast girlhood situation, heterosexual relations being encouraged (and rewarded) from sexual maturity onward.

So the possible absence of Paradoxia seems strange in this “permissive” society (Ford and Beach (1951:p190), where “sexual matters are freely discussed by adults in the presence of children [although] parents take some precautions against their own children observing them in intercourse”.









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] Hogbin, H. I. (1935) Native culture of Wogeo, Oceania 5:308-37. Critial passage quoted by Ashley-Montagu, M. F. (1937) Infertility of the married in primitive societies, Oceania 8:15-26

[2] Hogbin, H. I. (1946a) Puberty to marriage: a study of the sexual life of the natives of Wogeo, New Guinea, Oceania 39,3:185-209

[3] Cf. Peet, M. (1960) Opvoeding bij Primitieve Volken. Tilburg [Holland]: Zwijsen, p72

[4] Hogbin, H. I. (1946b) A New Guinean childhood: from weaing till the eight year in Wogeo, Oceania 16,4:275-96. Reprinted in Middleton, J. (Ed., 1970) From Child to Adult. New York: Natural History Press, p134-62


[6] Hogbin, H. I. (1945) Marriage in Wogeo, New Guinea, Oceania 15:324-52; Marinkelle, A. B. (1976) Leertheoretische gezichtspunten, in De Ruyter, H. & Van der Zijl, L. (Eds.) De Seksuele Ontwikkeling van Kind tot Volwassene. Vol. I. Leiden [Holland]: Stafleu, p42-60