Encouraging Orgasms: The Mangaian People’s Sexual Education

The orgasm is widely viewed as the ultimate goal of recreational sex, so why is it so hard to achieve for so many people? Though the road of discovery toward the orgasm can be a complicated and frustrating journey, it can also be one filled with sexual self-discovery. Additionally, if the orgasm is thought of as the ultimate goal of recreational sex, one might wonder why so many people fake orgasm during sexual intercourse. In a study published by the Journal of Sex Research, researchers found that 76 percent of cisgender women and 26 percent of cisgender men admitted to occasionally faking an orgasm during sexual intercourse.1 However, the same study concluded that on average, most of the cisgender men refused to believe that their partner had ever faked an orgasm during sexual intercourse (which the statistics refute). Despite this apparent cisgender male tendency to find their own sexual practices to be satisfactory for their partner, 90 percent of cisgender men show a concern for their partner’s sexual satisfaction.1 So, why do so many people feel compelled to fake orgasms?

In most developed countries, children are taught about sexual education from a relatively young age. However, the quality of sexual education varies among programs. Many sexual education programs promote an abstinence-only policy—which, unfortunately, often restricts student’s access to helpful information about how to have safe sex. Other programs, while still hoping that students are not engaging in sexual intercourse, try to provide them with the knowledge of how to be safe if they do become sexually active. The topic of how to have pleasurable sex is rarely taught by educators, and in most cases, this is understandable, considering the ethical issues associated with promoting sex amongst young adults. It is generally assumed that parents and children will be speaking about sex in the privacy of their own home, which is true—to an extent. In a 2014 poll conducted by Planned Parenthood, 82 percent of parents reported that they had talked to their children about sex. However, the conversations were often about more surface-level sexual topics, due to the fact that many parents felt nervous about delving into more complex sexual issues.2 In another study, conducted by the Advocates for Youth in 2015, findings showed that 83 percent of teens were worried about talking to their parents about sex, due to fear of their reaction.3 These two findings illustrate a common cycle of ineffective communication between parents, who do not feel comfortable with bringing up important sexual topics, and their children, who are too afraid to explicitly ask about these topics anyway.

Now, let us imagine an entirely subverted society in regards to sexual education. What if sex was no longer a taboo subject, but instead a healthy and encouraged part of society? More importantly, what if the orgasm never had to be faked again because young adults were being taught how to perform sexually, with multiple orgasms being the end target? You are now imagining the world of the Mangaian Tribe.

History

The Mangaia Island (traditionally known as A’ua’u) is the most southern island of the Cook Islands located in the Pacific Ocean. Its name, meaning ‘Temporal Power,’ is relatively new and was given to the island when peace was finally achieved after 42 battles between rivaling groups.4

Sexual Education

The Mangaian Tribe has an open and communicative approach to the sexual education of its young adults. At as young as 10 years old, young Mangaian boys are encouraged to masturbate and explore their own genitalia. Sexual discovery is not repressed but is instead encouraged as a normal part of development. At the age of 13, young boys are circumcised by an older man and then isolated from society for two weeks. During this two-week period, the older man begins a period of sexual instruction for the young boy. He is educated on sexual intercoursepositions, and techniques with a heavy focus on one’s partner achieving orgasm multiple times. Once this period is over, the young boy begins a sexual relationship with an older woman and a period of coaching begins in which the boy can practice the techniques he has just learned. In the Mangaian Tribe’s sexual education, orgasm is taught as the main goal of sexual intercourse, and both men and women are encouraged to orgasm two to three times a night.5 While there is no circumcision or education ritual for young women, they are also encouraged to explore their sexuality. Young women are advised to have three to four partners before marriage in order to develop their preferences and gain a wider breadth of experience.5 However, men are considered the more promiscuous gender, and typically have more sexual partners than women within this culture. Young adults in the Mangaian Tribe often engage in frequent discussions about sexual intercourse with their family, and also often observe older couples engaging in sex. In the Mangaian Tribe’s culture, orgasm is not just a goal, but a standard part of all sexual encounters, with almost all men and women reporting a relative ease in regards to achieving sexual climax.5

Despite the Mangaian people’s open approach to sexual education and sexual discovery, it is not a utopian society. The Mangaian Tribe is still heavily patriarchal and despite their open encouragement of multiple sexual partners, sexual violence still occurs. When anthropologist Donald Marshall conducted a study on the Mangaian people in the late 20th century, he noted that men often beat women into submission when sex was refused.6

Concluding Remarks

A free and open discourse about sexuality is considered taboo in many countries. While some cultures try to promote safe sexual encounters, many others completely refuse to discuss the topic of sexuality. Although there is no doubt that conversations about safe sexual intercourse are crucial to the safety of younger generations, should they be supplemented with conversations about how to have pleasurable sexual intercourse? Or are some of these more sexually open cultures forcing young adults to awkwardly fumble through their early sexual experiences before they are ready to discover their own sexuality? There is beauty in the diversity of sexuality across the globe, and while the Mangaian people’s approach to sexual education may lie on the boundary of extremity, their practices are a small part of a much larger global sexual culture.

References

1. Dingfelder, Sadie F. (2011, April). Understanding Orgasm. American Psychological Association.

2. (2011, October 3). New Poll: Parents Are Talking With Their Kids About Sex but Often Not Tackling Harder Issues. Planned Parenthood.

3. (2015, April 16). Are Parents and Teens Talking about Sex? Advocates for Youth, n.d.

4. (2015, April 16). History of the Mangaia. Lonely Planet.

5. Diamond, Milton. (2004). Sexual Behavior in Pre Contact Hawai‘i: A Sexological Ethnography. Pacific Center for Sex and Society,University of Hawaii, Manoa.

6. Marshall, D. S., & Suggs, R. C. (1971). Human Sexual Behavior; Variations in the Ethnographic Spectrum. Basic Books, Inc.

Last Updated 4 March 2021.