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Lindsey: Let's use this to represent the spectrum of sexuality across cultures. On this end, a culture anthropologists call Inis Beag, the most sexually repressed. My culture in the United States is about here... well, sometimes here, sometimes here, but NOT HERE. What's the most sexually liberated culture?

(Sexplanations intro plays)

Here's the planet. Between Australia and South America in the Pacific Ocean is a cluster of islands called the Cook Islands, the most Southern of them: Mangaia, the most sexually liberated culture in the world. In the 1970's Donald S Marshall studied Mangaia and learned that sex was to them the way money or religion or football are to us. Mangaians not only cared about and approved of sex, they encouraged sex. As much of it, with as many different partners, for as long as possible from an early age. The opposite of Inis Beag.

Here's what Marshall observed. At age four, boys and girls who once ran around naked together were integrated into sexual segregation. Boys and girls, men women, brothers, sister, husbands, wives, all separated. They'd all go to events together, sleep in one big open room, but on different sides. Around age 7, 8, 9, 10 boys learned about masturbation and tried it frequently but not too much.

Once puberty began, determined by pubes and a retractable foreskin, boys would then undergo super incision, which meant the father would invite an "expert" or sometimes two to take his son to someplace secluded like the beach or a mountain stream, and there, make a lateral incision along the top of his penis as far up as the stomach. Over the next two weeks, while the cut healed, the expert would teach this now man how to pleasure women. Lessons in cunnilingus, breast suckling, serial orgasms, and simultaneous orgasms. Then this new man would be paired with an older woman who'd run him through the practice sessions, including penetration, at which point she'd remove the lateral incision scab with her vagina.

Having taught this enough, I know some of you are squirming, deep breath, let's proceed. Girls also masturbated as children, for them it was by pressing their thighs together or rocking on their heels, and as they aged they also received instruction from older mentors on how to orgasm. With orgasm then being such a given for all parties, the goal of sex is instead endurance and matched reaction. In Marshall's words ultimate sex is when the male's climax is "achieved simultaneously with the peak of his partner's pleasure."

How did this happen though, with the separation of sexes? Systems, non-verbals, they'd figure out ways quickly and cleverly because now that they were trained, having sex was like a competition. Who could have the most sex, with the most partners, and be the most satisfying. Often, a man investigated beforehand how he could sneak into the open space room where the girl slept with her entire family. Ideally, he'd reach her and she'd be into it, the parents wouldn't wake or they'd listen silently for their daughter's pleasure and hope for marriage.

Sometimes she'd expect coaxing, like sweet talk, which put him at risk for breaking segregation code. Other times, if rejected or rushed, he'd try by force. Even the most sexually liberated culture has a relationship with sexual violence.

Let's say the girl is enthusiastic about her night visitor tough. She'll date him for a while, then another guy, and another guy, because she's told the more partners, the less likely she is to get pregnant. Pregnancy supposedly comes from spending too much time with one man. Typically she does get pregnant, which is traditionally the move to marriage and monogamy... ish. And more babies.

What else might you find interesting about Mangaia? Out of 2,000 on the island, there are a few noted to be intersex or what we might call trans. There was no known use of sex toys or devices except the occasional pillow to prop up the woman's hips. Greatest fear is this word, "tiramate" translated "dead penis" or you probably guessed it, impotence. Though there was same sex contact between youth and mentors, homosexuality wasn't not considered present on Mangaia at the time of the study.

And that's just a summary, there's so much to learn about Mangaia. Sex there was, and may still be, the way they communicate, earn prestige, and a sense of identity. It's a place and a people that stimulate my curiosity, what is it like now? I'm working on a strategy to visit and learn about Mangaia. If you have any contacts, funding, sources, brilliant ideas, or concerns about my ambitions, please let me know in the comments. I'll keep you posted on what comes of it as long as you stay curious.