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, the married couple of anthropologists from Washington State University "decided to systematically study sexual behavior after several campfire discussions with married middle-aged Aka men who mentioned in passing that they had sex three or four times during the night.
At first [they] thought it was just men telling their stories, but we talked to women and they verified the men's assertions." In turning to a dedicated study of sex practices, the Hewletts formally confirmed that the campfire stories were no mere fish tales.
The Ngandu, by contrast, are slash-and-burn farmers with stable locations and significant gender inequality, with men typically dominating over women.
What the Aka and Ngandu have in common, besides geography, is this: In both cultures, men and women view sexual intercourse as a kind of "work of the night." The purpose of this work is the production of children -- a critical matter in an area with a very high infant mortality rate.
The Aka and Ngandu speak of sex as "searching for children." That's not to say they don't enjoy having sex. The Hewletts relay a song a group of children invented after stealthily watching two lovers having sex. " and the woman answers, "Oh, I want it big." The man asks again, and the woman answers, "Oh, I want it long." The song then enters a refrain with the man thrusting and asking his partner, "Did you come?
" in which the authors argued that far too many sweeping claims about "human nature" are drawn exclusively from samples of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) societies.
Studies of small-scale, rural, non-Western cultures like the Aka and Ngandu paint a more complicated picture of human variation.
The Hewletts remark that, "the Western cultural emphasis on recreational sex has ...
Married Aka and Ngandu men and women consistently reported having sex multiple times in a single night.
But in the process of verifying this, the Hewletts also incidentally found that homosexuality and masturbation appeared to be foreign to both groups.The absence of masturbation among Aka and Ngandu men and women may be more surprising, and perhaps also harder to explain.