As someone born in the Midwest, my earliest notions of “sexual rituals” involved little more than splurging on a four-course meal at Applebee's, which was to be immediately followed by a marital commitment of sixty-plus years of uncomfortable silence.
What little I knew outside of these things I had gleaned from stumbling onto the warbling picture of a blocked-out Playboy Channel at two in the morning, or from passing notes in school, only to have a teacher intercept and read them out loud to the entire class.
In any case, some cultures around the world go way beyond our Amish-extremist-by-comparison standards for sexual rituals. To say there are more than a few shocking examples is quite the understatement. Whether it's mutilations, traditions, or seemingly trying to knock out a bucket list of every tip Cosmo conjures up, here is a list of some of the most bizarre sexual rituals around the world.
Semen Drinking in Sambia
If campus bar crawls have taught us anything, it's that taking that extra shot before last call is the true testament of an ability to hold our alcohol. Of our true strength, if you will.
But in Papua New Guinea, the young boys of the Sambia Tribe are taught to be men - to be "warriors" - in a much more grueling series of traditions that all culminate with possibly the strongest shot of all: a cup of semen from the tribe's elders.
Members of the Sambia Tribe believe that, from early on, boys need to detach themselves from their mother, and embrace their masculine side. It is said that consuming this semen represents the moment a boy enters manhood. In some cases, the boys are instructed to perform fellatio on the elders themselves as often as twenty times per day.
Certainly a difficult task to achieve manhood. Not to mention the boys are forbidden from seeing their mothers during this time, are ritualistically beaten each day, and even have cane sticks shoved into their nostrils to help them build up a pain tolerance.
All of which could certainly also pass as "sexual practices" in some places.
Sex with Donkeys in Cartagena, Columbia
We've all heard stories about fathers taking their sons on a trip to "buy" their first sexual experience. While it's not quite as prevalent now, it wasn't too long ago that such a gesture was seen as a right of passage. A strange way to enter manhood via a few awkward moments with what was surely a very patient prostitute.
Well, that's nothing compared to what goes down in Cartagena, Columbia.
Here, it's a well-known tradition to enjoy sex with some of the local farm animals. The reason? Because pre-marital sex is a big no-no in the largely Catholic country. Thus, a loophole in the system: donkeys.
To make matters worse, or, at least more complicated depending on your view, the locals believe that sex with donkeys will eventually make them more powerful lovers, and even allow their penises to grow beyond their natural state.
Truly, Mexico's infamous "Donkey Shows" have nothing on Cartagena.
Permanent Wife-swapping in West Africa's Wodaabe Tribe
In the United States, we've been known to practice a fun-but-equally-infuriating game called "Yankee Swap" during the holiday season. The rules are simple: bring a gift to the gift exchange, and everyone else takes turns swapping and stealing for what could either be an amazing present - or another coffee mug warmer that will certainly be re-gifted next year.
In the case of West Africa's Wodaabe Tribe, they take Yankee Swap very seriously...
But not everyone brings a gift.
And they certainly don't bring coffee mug warmers.
And instead, they try to steal your wife.
Sound fun? Apparently, it's all fair game with members of the Wodaabe, who, every year during their Gerewol Festival, don elaborate makeup and costumes in order to woo potential brides by performing a dance called togu for them. To the Wodaabe men, they believe the togu dance is so powerful that it can make married women fall in love with them.
The catch? Sometimes it actually works. And if the female member of the tribe decides to run away with her potential suitor, then all is fair in love and war (and dance), and the tribe must publicly recognize the new couple.
Public Masturbation into the Nile in Ancient Egypt
In the past, Native American tribes often performed a rain dance, a ritual that was said to summon rain clouds and give way to a prosperous harvest for the year. More rain meant more crops could grow.
But in ancient Egypt, the pharaohs took the idea a little bit further. They believed that Atum, the Egyptian God of Creation, created the universe from his ejaculation, and that the Nile River is the direct representation of that miraculous torrent.
Thus, in hopes of receiving plentiful amounts of water for their people, the pharaohs were said to mirror Atum's act - and masturbate directly into the Nile itself.