Is Male Androphilia a Context-Dependent Cross-Cultural Universal?
The cross-cultural ethnographic literature has traditionally used the label male “homosexuality” to describe sexual relationships between biological males without considering whether or not the concept encompasses primary sexual attraction to adult males. Although male androphilia seems to be found in all national populations, its universal existence in tribal populations has been questioned. Our goal is to review previous cross-cultural classifications and surveys of male same sex behavior to present a system that does justice to its varied expressions, especially as it is informed by contemporary sexuality research. Previous comparative research does not effectively distinguish male same sex behavior from male androphilia. Using the standard cross-cultural sample (SCCS) as a sampling frame and the ethnographic sources in the human relations area files and elsewhere, we present distributional data on various forms of male same sex behavior. The SCCS is useful because it is designed to be representative of all historically known social formations and the sample is designed to reduce similarities as a consequence of common descent or historical origin as well as reduce the probability of diffusion of sociocultural practices from one culture to another. Our results show that male same sex behavior as well as male androphilia is much more common than previously estimated in the SCCS. With our findings, we make an argument that male androphilia is a context-dependent cross-cultural universal.
KeywordsMale same sex behavior Sexual orientation Cross-cultural universals Male androphilia Ethnology
- Brown, D. E. (1991). Human universals. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- Chiñas, B. (1992). The Isthmus Zapotecs: A matrifocal culture of Mexico. New York: Harcourt College Publishers.Google Scholar
- Ford, C. A., & Beach, F. A. (1951). Patterns of sexual behavior. New York: Harper and Brothers.Google Scholar
- Gates, G. J. (2011, April). How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender? The Williams Institute. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/09h684x2.
- Greenberg, D. (1988). The construction of homosexualities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Gregersen, E. (1996). The world of human sexuality: Behaviors, customs, and beliefs. New York: Ardent Media.Google Scholar
- Hensley, C. (2002). Prison sex: Practice and policy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
- Herdt, G. (Ed.). (1984). Ritualized homosexuality in Melanesia. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Hewlett, B. S., & Hewlett, B. L. (2010). Sex and searching for children among Aka foragers and Ngandu farmers of Central Africa. African Study Monographs, 31(3), 107–125.Google Scholar
- Kunzel, R. G. (2008). Criminal intimacy: Prison and the uneven history of modern American sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Marlowe, F. (2010). The Hadza: Hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Murdock, G. P. (1961). Outline of cultural materials. New Haven, CT: HRAF Press.Google Scholar
- Murray, S. O. (2000). Homosexualities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Reiss, I. L. (1986). Journey into sexuality: An exploratory voyage. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Williams, W. L. (1986). The spirit and the flesh: Sexual diversity in American Indian Culture. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar