Are Men and Women Alike Around the Globe?
Sex in China and Samoa
The Don Juan of the village was a sleek, discreet man of about forty, a widower, a matai, a man of circumspect manner and winning ways . . . he noticed that Lola had reached a robust girlhood and stopped to pluck this ready fruit by the way . . . after three weeks which were casual to him, and very important to her, he proposed for the hand of the visitor . . . the rage of Lola was unbounded and she took an immediate revenge, publicly accusing her rival of being a thief and setting the whole village by the ears.
-- Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa
You must get her alone. The best time is during rest break. Then no one will suspect. Get her to drink some beer or wine and then start kissing her. Try to take off her shirt. Don't ask her; just do it! If she lets you kiss her breasts, then you have a chance to have sex. But women are strange. Most of the time unmarried women will not want to do anything but pet.
-A Chinese man's advice to his younger cousin
SOME AUTHORS HAVE ARGUED that the patterns of male and female sexuality identified in the United States vary drastically across cultures and may be totally absent and even reversed in some societies. There is not space in this book for a thorough review of the cross-cultural evidence. 1 But we can examine opposite extremes on one behavioral continuum-sexual permissiveness. Differences in sexual behavior have traditionally been most pronounced among the upper classes of agrarian kingdoms, where men vehemently strive to control female sexuality. 2 Even in relatively permissive cultures, however, casual sex for women diminished their value as mates and thus damaged their reputations. 3 Polynesian cultures were certainly among the most tolerant regarding women having casual sex; the People's Republic of China was one of the most restrictive, yet both these cultures reveal the sex differences in sexual behavior that we have seen in previous chapters.