The Universality of Incest Lloyd DeMause part two
The Universality of Incest
Journal of Psychohistory 19 (2) Winter 1991
describes graphic crimes of abuse
The bibliography in two parts
Fathers who allowed their girls to reach puberty without being married were condemned by their religion to hell. Therefore, the first child usually was born shortly after the onset of puberty, almost always dying during childbirth because of the physical immaturity of the mother.(114) When attempts to outlaw child marriage were made in 1929, nine volumes of testimony were published by the Age of Consent Committee, most of them defending child marriage. The complaint was that it was the foundation of the Indian family, since “the girl-child must ‘get herself disciplined’ [raped] through actual consummation of marriage ‘to look upon one individual…as her lord and husband…”(115)
Mayo said most of this committee testimony was too obscene to even repeat in its insistence on the necessity for child sex. The Committee was overwhelmed by those who insisted that the children were so oversexed that by the time they were seven years old that child marriage was their only salvation. “Little children, both boys and girls, they lament, naturally develop an unnatural, perverted and exhausting precocity, under the stimulus in which they are steeped” – that is, the family incest during the first seven years. Mayo reported numerous testimonies that blamed the little girls for their rape, claiming that early marriage was an absolute necessity, since “Cupid overtakes the hearts of girls… at an early age… . A girl’s desire for sexual intercourse is eight times greater than that of males.. When there is appetite, it is the best time for giving food…”(116)
The result of this early incest was a society where adult sexuality was considered extremely dangerous, where people suffered agonies of guilt every time they engaged in sex with their spouses, where all sexual intercourse between men and women was considered polluting and where popular movies still frequently need detailed rape scenes to satisfy the male audience. (117) As might be expected, Indian religion has been permeated by perverse sexual fantasies, worship of the penis and extreme fears of loss of semen, including the worship of an incestuous penis-god, Siva – where women were expected to kiss in public the genitals of naked priests. Even today in cults such as the Hindu Sakti sect incest is advocated as “a higher grade of sexual intercourse and an advanced step toward religious perfection.”(118)
The Indian subcontinent provides a veritable Galapagos of psychohistorical variations of incestuous behavior, providing examples of a wide range of evolutionary stages that can be useful in comparative historical studies of other societies. In some endogamous Indian groups, such as the Baiga, actual incestuous marriage is practiced between men and their daughters, between women and their sons, between siblings, and even between grandparents and their grandchildren. (118) “My impression is that most of them have little or no innate repulsion towards incest,” Says Elwin, their ethnographer, (120) the viability of their society disproving by itself all theories about the impossibility of incestuous marriage.
Variations on the fully incestuous life style of the Baiga are numerous, and regular sexual intercourse during childhood is widespread in many Indian groups. One of the best documented is the Muria, who make their young children a part of their sexual activities in the family bed. Then, when their children are five or six years old, the parents claim they are getting too old to continue to take part in family sex, so they send them to a dormitory set up by the adults for the sexual use of the children by adolescents and older men.(121) The Muria claim it is the children’s fault they have to be removed from their homes and sent to the sex dormitory:
“Some children are very good and understand [why they have to be banished from the family bed], but others are stupid and insist on crowding into the parents’ room…” The adults supervise and encourage all the sexual activities that take place in the dormitories. Although at times children as little as two years of age are taken to sleep in the dormitories, they are usually not required to be part of the sex activities until 5 or 6, since if they are made to have sex at 3 or 4 they often “wet their beds [and] wake up crying.”(122)
When being introduced into the sex dormitory, the children are made to fag for others and are “hammered into shape” by the adolescents in charge. The young children start their sexual activities by massaging the older children, and are only then “initiated” into actual intercourse. Intercourse begins at age 5 or 6, initiated by an adolescent or adult: “A big girl teaches a little boy by letting him fondle her breasts and hug her. Then she opens and spreads her legs and makes the little boy lie on her breasts. She shows him how to open her clothes and insert the little penis with his hand.”(123)
There are two types of dormitories: the classic model, where girls cannot sleep with a partner for more than three days at a time, under threat of punishment; and the “yoking” model, where partners are “married” to each other for longer periods. The children are usually assigned partners by those in charge. Although sometimes a girl can name her own partner, she cannot choose not to have sex, or she will be gang raped:
“Should a girl refuse to come when sent for, a number of young boys are dispatched to bring her by force. When she is brought, should she refuse to elect a mate, a number of older boys violate her one after the other, until she names the boy she would have for her mate.”(124)
The children have intercourse in one another’s presence, with certain relatives, such as younger brothers, taking over if the older brother is ab-sent for a time.(125) “Everyone belongs to everyone else” is the spirit of these dormitories; “you change from girl to girl just as you change your rings from finger to finger,” lest one be “ruined by love.”(126) (All these rules, of course, are set down and changed at will by the parents, not the children.) Older married men often visit the dormitories and have sex with the children, particularly when their own wives are having their period and are considered polluted.(127) The sex dormitory system of the Muria – which is similar to that of a number of other Asian and African groups(128) – been highly praised for its “enviable” positive attitudes toward sex both by the ethnologist who studied them and by other anthropologists reporting on his research.(129) The dormitories are called a “happy, exciting world,” in contrast, says the ethnologist, to other Indian villages where there was more child rape than in dormitory villages.(130)
Like India, China has only recently emerged from the infanticidal mode of childrearing, but reliable research on childhood sexuality is somewhat more limited than for India. Although parents traditionally sleep with their children until they are adolescents,(131) exactly what happens in Chinese family beds has not yet been much investigated, although some observers have reported that Chinese girls, like Indian, have no trace of a hymen, supposedly because caretakers “clean the sexual organs of the little children during daily washings… so scrupulously…”(132)
Like so many early civilizations, ancient China institutionalized pederasty of boys, child concubinage, the castration of small boys so they could be used sexually as eunuchs, the marriage of young brides with a number of brothers, widespread boy and girl prostitution and the regular sexual use of child servants and slaves.(133) Under the popular ancient sim pua system of marriage, parents would adopt a girl during infancy, bring her up as a sister to their son and then force them into a marriage that must be considered as incestuous in every way except genetically. Alternatively, they could adopt a son to marry his sister.(135) Sexual use of adopted girls was said to be common.(135) Parents would send their boys to aristocratic households for sexual use – if volunteered as a eunuch, the parents would have their boys’ genitals cut off, which the parents carried with them in a jar.(136) In some areas, male marriage to boys was so popular that there are records of sacrifices to patron deities of pederasty.(137)
As was also common in other early civilizations, extreme maternal symbiosis caused the Chinese to believe that women were so powerful that they depleted men of their strength by taking their semen during intercourse. The Chinese thought women ejaculated a life force (yin) during sex, which a man could absorb and gain strength from, if he could withhold ejaculation himself. Manuals were written describing methods whereby the man could hold back his semen, terminating intercourse – called “the battle” – by inhaling the breath and sucking the saliva of the woman – who is called “the enemy.(138) During adolescence, youths were instructed to have intercourse with young girls who have “undeveloped breasts,” but to practice “moderation” by withholding their semen.'(139) Rulers had more life force because they absorbed more of it from their many wives and concubines. Whether this led them to believe that men could absorb the life force from their children through intercourse is not immediately apparent, although this might be indicated by the widespread practice of buying (under the rubric of “adoption”) children in infancy under the popular mui tsai system – children who were then used by their “adoptive” parents both as domestic slaves and as sexual objects.(140) Boys, too, were often adopted for sexual use, and had their feet bound like girls-bound feet being considered sexually arousing.(141)
Foot binding was a unique Chinese sexual mutilation practice that was performed on girls of all classes. Like other fetishists, the Chinese were so afraid of the vagina as a dangerous, castrating organ that they could only feel erotic toward the woman’s foot – mainly her big toe. As a Cheng Kuan-ying described foot binding in the nineteenth century: “When a child is four or five, or seven or eight, parents speak harshly to it, and frighten it with their looks, and oppress it in every conceivable manner so that the bones of its feet may be broken and its flesh may putrefy.”(142) The girl undergoes this extremely painful process for from five to ten years, crying out in pain each night as she hobbles about the house to do her tasks while holding on to the walls for support.(143) As the bones became broken and the flesh deteriorated, her foot became a perfect penis – substitute, often losing several toes as they were bent under her foot in order to emphasize the big toe sticking out.
The penis-toe then became the focus of the man’s perversion and of his sexual excitement during intercourse. “It formed an essential prelude to the sex act, and its manipulation excited and stimulated… The ways of grasping the foot in one’s palms were both profuse and varied; ascending the heights of ecstasy, the lover transferred the foot from palm to mouth. Play included kissing, sucking, and inserting the foot in the mouth until it filled both cheeks, either nibbling at it or chewing it vigorously, and adoringly placing it against one’s cheeks, chest, knees, or virile member.(144) Thus even sex with a female could simulate homosexual intercourse for Chinese males.
Although Chinese literature has many descriptions of the screams of girls whose feet are being crushed,(145) the sources are silent as to whether the little girl herself fully understood the sexual purpose of her mutila-tion. Since she shared the family bed with her parents and presumably observed her father playing sexually with her mother’s penis – foot, it is likely that the sexual aim of her painful mutilation was apparent to her.
Japan began to move beyond the infanticidal mode of childrearing at least two centuries ago.(146) Therefore, reliable accounts of traditional Japanese childhood sexual life are harder to find. Furthermore, there is currently such a taboo on talking about sexual molestation of children that current official figures report only a few hundred cases per year in all of Japan.(147) Although some recent visitors to Japan, witnessing almost everyone reading soft-core pornographic comics (manga) that feature young girls “being accosted, surprised, tied up, beaten, knifed [and] tortured,(148) wonder whether the very low official child abuse figures reported are accurate, personal letters I have written to an-thropologists, educators, psychoanalysts and others specializing in Japanese psychology have brought nothing but denial that sexual molestation exists in substantial numbers of families in Japan today.
Ancient Japan resembled both India and China in having institutionalized Greek-style pederasty of boys – by priests as well as warriors – temple prostitution of both boys and girls, and widespread child prostitution, including the ancient geisha system.(149) Japanese brothels would start girls in sexual service at S to 7 years old.(150) Pederasty (shudo) by the aristocracy and priesthood is well documented since at least the 14th century, with young boys given by their parents to be used anally by samurais and by priests in monasteries – the buggered boys sometimes having been worshipped as gods incarnate in religious cults similar to those of the cult of the Virgin in the West.(151)
One of the most endogenous societies in the world, Japan has approved of incestuous marriages in court circles even in historical times.(152) Preferred sibling, cousin, uncle-niece and aunt-nephew marriages have been so extensive that genetics experts have discovered that the inbreeding has affected their size and health.(153) How often this incestuous marriage system occurred in traditional Japan is still largely unexplored. One indication of what is likely to be found is a 1959 study by Kubo showing that there were still rural areas in Japan where fathers married their daughters when the mother had died or was incapacitated, “in accordance with feudal family traditions.(154) Kubo concluded that incest was considered “praiseworthy conduct” in many traditional rural families. In the 36 incest cases he studied in Hiroshima, he found that there was often community moral disapproval of the families who lived in open incestuous marriages, but that the participants themselves did not think of it as immoral. In fact, when the father was unavailable to head the family, his son often took over his role and had sex with his sister in order “to end confusion in the order of the home.” Other members of the family accepted this incest as normal.
In traditional Japan, quite young girls were introduced into sex by older boys who visited their bedrooms at night with the complicity of the girl’s parents (called night-prowling, yobai). The boys “assembled in communal huts and instructed slightly younger village males in sex approaches and techniques…” Although they recommended “gentle persuasion,”(155) there was no guarantee that all was so gentle in fact, since the parents “looked the other way” in accordance with custom while the older boys had intercourse with their young daughters.
Western observers even today often notice that Japanese mothers still masturbate their young children during the day in public and at night in the family bed – in order, they say, “to put them to sleep.”(156) The average Japanese today sleeps with his or her children until the children are ten or fifteen years old,”(157) – one recent Japanese study found daughters still sleeping with their fathers over 20 percent of the time even after age sixteen.(158) Even when the home contains a dozen rooms or more, parents and grandparents feel “lonely” if they sleep apart from
the children in the family, and therefore go to bed with some child every night (the mean age in one study of children sleeping alone is 12.7 years).(159) Since so many families still practice what is termed dakine co-sleeping – with the parent or grandparent sleeping while physically embracing the child, a practice said to be beneficial to the health of the adult”(160) – and since most Japanese parents still regularly have sexual in-tercourse while the child is in bed with them,(161) one wonders how scholars can continue to maintain that nothing sexual usually happens to the Japanese child in the family bed, particularly since none have yet ask-ed the children themselves about their sexual experiences.
This stone wall on information about incest in Japan has been breach-ed somewhat by four recent studies. The first is a Japanese feminist sex survey modeled on those of Shere Hite that reported one-third of the respondents having memories of being sexually abused by relatives or close friends as children, a figure considerably higher than comparable American questionnaire studies.(162) Secondly, other studies show that the majority of urban parents in 1981 reported that they had lately begun to be bothered by the thought that children with whom they slept might be aware of their intercourse – a growing guilt about incestuous activities that was increasingly common in the West in early modern times and which led for the first time to separate beds for children.(163)
Thirdly, two recent books on Japanese incest provide new insights into the subject. The first is a report of a “hotline” set up in Tokyo by a counseling service, which analyzed the hundreds of calls they received dealing with incest.(164) Since official Japanese statistics deny the occurrence of incest, they were surprised to find that their hotline was flooded with such calls. One of their major findings is that, in addition to the usual father-daughter and sibling incest found in the West, 29 percent of the Japanese calls complained about mother – son incest. This is an extremely high proportion compared to other countries, but about what could be expected considering the common frequency with which Japanese mothers sleep alone with their sons while the father is out having sex with other women – extramarital sex still being the rule for most married men in Japan.(165)
The most commonly reported incest occurs when the mother sees her son masturbate as a teenager and tells him, “It’s not good to do it alone. Your IQ becomes lower. I will help you,” or “You cannot study if you cannot have sex. You may use my body,” or “I don’t want you to get into trouble with a girl. Have sex with me instead.”(166) The researchers found that Japanese mothers and sons often sleep in the same bed and have sex together, although the exact incidence in the population was not investigated. According to the phone interviews, Japanese mothers teach their sons how to masturbate, helping them to achieve first ejaculation in much the same manner as they earlier helped them with toilet training.(167) Most of the sons had no sexual experience with another woman, and became jealous of the mothers’ having sex with their fathers, feeling they should have the right to monopolize the mothers – perhaps helping explain why one informant told a family planning expert: “We have no Oedipal problems in Japan – there’s no competition from the father.(168) Mother recent Japanese book, based on one hundred incest reports, confirms these observations, including the unusually high rate of mother – son incest, although it, too, provides no way to determine true national incidence rates.(169)
Finally, a recent psychohistoncal study of Japanese childhood by Kitahara (170) provides a number of new details about Japanese incest, in-cluding the acceptance of sibling incest in early historic times, the routine acceptance of pederasty up until recently, the wide extent even today of co-sleeping and co-bathing, and the degree to which incest depends on co-sleeping patterns and upon the very limited contact fathers have with their families.
The sexual use of children in the remainder of the Far East follows the pattern of India and China. In Thailand, for instance, a survey in 1990 found that 75 percent of Thai men had had sex with child prostitutes, from 20 to 40 percent of them HIV-infected, so that Asia is about to become what one expert terms “the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic.”(171) The rising incidence of AIDS among children around the world is just one index of how widespread their sexual use really is.
The sexual use of children in the Middle East is probably as widespread as in the Far East.(172) Historically, all the institutionalized forms of pedophilia that were customary in the Far East are extensively documented for the Middle East during its earlier infanticidal childrearmg mode, including child marriage, child concubinage, temple prostitution of both boys and girls, parent-child marriage (among the Zoroastrians), sibling marriage (among the Egyptians, among both royalty and commoners), sex slavery, ritualized pederasty, eunichism, and widespread child prostitution. Furthermore, as in India, there are parts of the Middle East where customs from earlier times have been maintained intact, so that more detail is available than is usually preserv-ed in historical documents.
In the oasis of Siwa, for instance, mothers regularly give their boys to older men for sexual use, both related and outside the family, and fathers regularly lend their young sons to each other, similar to the Central Asian Islarnic tradition of bacaboz, where most fathers trade their sons with others for sexual use.(173) Pederastic marriages and pederastic prostitution have been so widespread in Siwa until just recently that everyone is accustomed to the proposition that men normally love boys more than they do women, saying: “They will kill each other for a boy. Never for a woman.”(174) Muslim holy men (imaam) regularly have boys available for sex, saying the ingestion of the imaam’s semen is necessary for absorbing his spiritual powers, sometimes even extending to formal marriage with the boy.
Sex for boys in the Middle East is said to begin in infancy and continue throughout childhood. Parents and others masturbate the infant’s penis in order “to increase its size and strengthen it,” and older siblings have been observed playing with the genitals of babies for hours at a time.(175) As the boy gets older, mutual masturbation, fellatio and anal intercourse are said to be common among children, particularly with the older boys using the younger children as sex objects as a reaction to the over stimulation of the family bed. Pederasty of boys by the men in and near the ex-tended family is said by an Arab sociologist to be common, since “the mere sight of pretty boys is regarded.. .as disturbing and terribly tempting.”(176) Moralists often find it necessary to issue warnings such as these: “A man should never spend the night in a house with beardless boys” and “Do not sit next to the sons of the rich and noble: they have faces like those of virgins and they are even more tempting than women.”(177)
By the time of circumcision – a traumatic ritual(178) that is usually performed at ages 3 to 6, whose unconscious purpose is to purify the boy and cleanse him(179) of the molestation to which he has been subjected – the boy is supposed to stop wearing the dress-like shin that allows ready access to his genitals and begin wearing pants. However, since he often continues to sleep in the parental bed, to have sex with siblings and cousins, to experience sexual attacks at school and to attend nude public baths (hammam) with his mother and sisters,(180) his sexual over stimulation often continues into the 7- to 14-year-old phase. Much of the incest may occur in the baths. Bouhdiba reports: “The hammam…is a highly eroticized place – so much so indeed that the name has come to signify for the masses the sexual act itself… ‘going to the hammam’ quite simply means ‘making love’.. .Every Muslim can relive his childhood in terms of his experience of the hammam. . notoriously a place of homosexuality, male and female.. .there the child has all the time in the world to contemplate, examine and compare sexual organs [so that] every Muslim is fixated on his mother…”(181)
As girls in the Middle East are considered worth less than boys, it may be that their incestuous use during childhood is even more prevalent. One report found that four out of five Middle Eastern women recalled having been forced into fellatio between the ages of 3 and 6 by older brothers and other relatives.(182) A female Arab physician who recently conducted an extensive study of childhood seduction reported that “most female children are exposed to.. incidents of sexual assault” during their early years by “the brother, the cousin, the paternal uncle, the maternal uncle, the grandfather or even the father. If not a family member, he may be the guardian or porter of the house, the teacher, the neighbor’s son, or any other man.” (183) The molestation, she says, begins with masturbation or fellatio and then proceeds to intercourse. “In most cases the girl surrenders and is afraid to complain to anyone, since, if there is any punishment to be meted out, it will always end up by being inflicted on her. It is she alone who loses her honor and virginity. The man never loses anything…” The incidents are termed “frequent, but remain hidden, stored up in the secret recesses of the female child’s self, since she dare not tell anyone of what has happened to her…”
Girls are reported to be sexually assaulted at school and in the streets,(184) and child marriage has proved as difficult to stamp out in many areas as it has been in India.(185) The assaults are accompanied by severe physical and psychological damage, according to research by one group of medical experts at the Ministry of Justice in Cairo, and usually go unpunished even in those rare occasions when they are brought to the attention of authorities, “in order to avoid scandal.(186) Since the girl’s hymen must be intact when she gets married, surgical repair is sometimes requested in order to conceal the loss of virginity through the assaults. As in the Far East, young servants are particularly favored sexual objects, both for men whose wives are absent, menstruating, pregnant or frigid and for adolescents who sometimes feel less guilty having sex with ser-vant girls than with their sisters.(187)
Arab women, of course, are often aware that their spouses prefer having sex with little boys and girls to having sex with them. Their retribution for the men’s pedophilia comes when the girl is about age 6, when the women of the house grab her, pull her thighs apart and cut off her clitoris and sometimes her labia with a razor, thus usually ending her ability to feel sexual pleasure forever.
The custom of clitoridectomy – which is not part of any religious doc-trine and is not even mentioned in the Koran-goes back at least to pre-dynastic Egyptian times;(188) even mummies were missing their clitorises and labia.(189) Presently, many Middle Eastern and African countries continue to practice circumcision of girls. A recent survey of Egyptian girls and women showed 97 percent of uneducated families and 66 percent of educated families still practicing clitoridectomy.(190) Nor is the practice decreasing; Hosken says “more female children are mutilated today than throughout history” and estimates that there are presently 74 million mutilated females in countries where documentation exists.(191)
Often the girl’s labia are cut off in addition to the clitoris – the so-called “Pharaonic circumccision” or “infibulation” – and the remaining flesh is sewn together, leaving only a small opening for urination. The vagina must of course be cut open before intercourse, and the women often also have great difficulty giving birth and have to be further cut to allow the baby to pass through. The vaginal area is then re-sewn together after the baby is born “to give the men more pleasure during intercourse” and has to be cut open again during each successive birth. During all of these mutilations the girls undergo excruciating pain, sometimes die of complications, usually hemorrhage, often pass out from the shock (since no anesthetic is used) and often suffer from tetanus, blood poisoning, chronic urinary tract infections and infertility.
The rationalization given for clitoridectomy is that little girls are naturally so sexual that it is necessary “to release them from their bondage to sex” and “to stop them from masturbating.” One informant reported that “girls fell from their bicycles because of sexual overstimulation if their clitorises were not cut.”(193) Since the operation usually makes the girl frigid, it can be said to achieve its stated aim of reducing girls’ sexual pleasure. Men usually do not want to marry women with intact clitorises, believing they will be “oversexed” and betray them. It is the custom in some countries on the wedding night for the husband to be the one to cut his bride’s vagina open with a knife, then have repeated intercourse to prevent it from closing again.
The initial mutilation of the girl’s genitals is usually done by the women of the family, under the supervision of the mother. The unconscious motive seems to be revenge for the men’s sexual abuse of the girl, since interviews so often reveal earlier memories of seduction. One women relates her memory of her clitoridectomy as follows:
I was six years old that night when I lay in my bed, warm and peaceful…I felt something move under the blankets, something like a huge hand, cold and rough, fumbling over my body, as though looking for something. Almost simultaneously another hand.. .was clapped over my mouth to prevent me from screaming.
They carried me to the bathroom… I remember.. a rasping metallic sound which reminded me of the butcher when he used to sharpen his knife… My blood was frozen in my veins… I realized my thighs had been pulled wide apart, and that each of my lower limbs was being held as far away from the other as possible… I felt that the rasping knife or blade was heading straight down towards my throat. Then suddenly the sharp metallic edge seemed to drop between my thighs and there cut off a piece of flesh from my body.
I screamed with pain despite the tight hand held over my mouth, for the pain was not just a pain, it was like a searing flame that went through my whole body. After a few moments, I saw a red pool of blood around my hips.
I did not know what they had cut off from my body, and did not try to find out. I just wept, and called out to my mother for help. But the worst shock of all was when I looked around and found her standing by my side. Yes, it was her, I could not be mistaken, in flesh and blood, right in the midst of these strangers, talking to them and smiling at them.(194)
Clitoridectomy – like all genital mutilations of children – is, of course, an act of incest motivated by the perversions of the adults who perform the mutilation. Although we are not used to thinking of it in this way, in fact mothers who attack their daughters’ genitals with knives are as incestuous as fathers who rape them.
Since genital mutilation is one of the most widespread childrearing practices, its presence alone makes incest a universal practice-despite our habit of denying its sexual motivation by terming it a “rite of passage (it often involves no passage to a new state at all) or a “puberty rite” (it usually occurs long before puberty). Also, the sexual excitement of the adults attending the mutilation is overlooked, even when – as in Siwa – the mother masturbates the child prior to the mutilation, or when – as in Morocco – prostitutes regularly attend the mutilation ceremony in order to relieve the sexual tensions generated, or when – as in Australia – the mutilation is followed by group rrape.(195)
The mutilation of children’s genitals is such a important need in humans that whole religions and state systems have been founded upon the practice. Yet when scholars attempt to explain why almost everyone since the beginning of recorded history has massively assaulted the genitals of their children, they assiduously deny that it is a sexual perversion or that those who do it ever mean any harm to the children.
Arnold van Gennep calls genital mutilation a ceremony “whose essential purpose is to enable the individual to pass from one defined position to another,” never wondering why parents couldn’t celebrate the maturing of their children in a less harmful way.”‘ Bruno Bettleheim claims that little boys want their genitals cut-because of an inborn “vagina envy” – and that the mutilation was so “pleasurable” to the victims that they asked adults to cut them, so they could “express their happiness.”(197) Others have claimed genital mutilation was done “to enforce social cohesion” (Yehudi Cohen), “to break an excessively strong dependence upon the mother” (John Whiting), to show the child “We love you, but we must rid you of your infantilisms” (Theodor Reik), and to make the penis look like that of a kangaroo (John Cawte).(198)
There is hardly an imaginable form of genital assault that is not regularly performed on children. Girls’ genitals are tattooed, cut off, sewn up, burned off, and ripped open with the fingers.(199) Boys’ genitals are pierced by objects, sewn up, burned, cut off, flayed, “gashed open [so that] wedges of flesh are removed,” and slashed through to the urethra so that “the penis splits open like a boiled frankfurter.”(200) The topic of childhood genital mutilation is so rich in meaning that it will have to await further discussion in the next two major sections of this study, “The Cross-Cultural Study of Incest,” where the universality of incest in contemporary preliterate groups is documented, and “The History of Incest,” where evidence is presented for the historical stages in the evolution of Homo eroticus from incest to love.