Do some cultures perform sex acts on babies to help them sleep?

Wow! Interesting… and icky. I had no idea.

I noticed the credit line below the link on the Straight Dope homepage says “By” and then nothing else. Cecil deserves full credit, of course.

A bit of dropped coding. Fixed. Thanks.

Thank* you!*

I can’t say I ever encountered this in Thailand or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Or in Hawaii. But I’m not a fan of children and tend to avoid encounters with them anyway. But the wife just got squicked out by the notion, so I’m guessing she’s not heard of it either.

You don’t have to go overseas. From Kinsey: Sex the Measure of All Things : a Life of Alfred C. Kinsey by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, on page 245:

Kinsey had four cases under a year, twenty-three cases of little girls under three, and various longitudinal follow-up studies, but in fact he did discover by another route that early orgasmic experience carries over. He heard in 1949 from Dickinson, who has been told about it by Green, of a little township in deep Kansas where all the women were reputed to have orgasms easily, routinely and always in ordinary intercourse. This was not usual. Kinsey drove down and found that they had developed a way of soothing their little girls, a rubbing and petting technique of the genital area, which did sooth them but also brought them to orgasm, a learnt reaction which they therefore retained. He did not, perhaps wisely, put this forward as advice in his Female volume.

Well, I put the question to some friends, and one long-term American resident upcountry answered me thus:

"I’ve seen Thai mothers or young girls hold up a male infant/toddler and put their nose/mouth to the kid’s genitals and shake their head back and forth for a couple of seconds. I was a little startled the first time I saw it (once I remember thinking, I wish she’d do that to me). Still, it would be a stretch to call it a sex act."

I had it done to me by my parents and my aunts when I was young. And I have seen it done to my younger male cousins as I grew up. I don’t know if the same applies to females. We live in the developed part of South-East Asia, coming from a middle class society. They are mostly quick fondles by a hand or rubs with a nose by shaking the head, to toddlers. The acts are done in jest and are felt as some kind of bonding. In fact, many parents today still “fall to the temptation” of flicking a toddler’s penis when changing their diaper. There is really nothing to it.

My uncle, who married a Japanese wife, bathed with their children as a family until my cousins are into their early teens. This was circulated among my relatives as a curio but my uncle and his wife claimed that it’s normal among Japanese families.

Wasn’t there something about boys getting cleaned up after circumcision by the guy sucking them clean? I’m sure I read about that tradition somewhere.

It’s known as “metzitzah b’peh” and is practised by a few Orthodox sects. There was controversy recently in New York as a few babies died of herpes after undergoing the practice (see here).

In Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais wrote about Gargantua’s nurses playing with his genitals when he was a kid. It might be strictly imagination and wishful thinking, but I suspect he was repoprting the kind of thing that actually went on in his society.

Apparently this happened in Egypt as well:

Egyptian nurses would customarily fondle and suck little boys’ penises, reasoning that this would “strengthen their erections” and “prepare them for sexual activity later in life.” (Kahr B, The sexual molestation of children: Historical perspectives, The Journal of Psychohistory, Vol 19, pp 191-214)

This is utter nonsense. Where on earth did “cecil” come up with it?

From this journal article, cited at the bottom of the column:
Money, John; K. Swayam, Prakasam; Joshi, Venkat N. “Transcultural Development Sexology: Genital Greeting Versus Child Molestation” IPT Journal 3 (1991)

Here’s a link to the whole thing, if you’re inclined to read it:

Thanks, I looked for references, but didn’t see them for some reason. Here’s the appropriate quote -

I’ve lived in Andhra Pradesh for over two years now. I have never seen nor heard of this happening. Anecdotal evidence only of course. I will try and find out more from people who’re Telugu and have lived here all their lives.

Ask older people…this was published more than 20 years ago, and may be in reference to research done even earlier. As the article points out, this sort of non-sexual touching of children’s genitals gets rarer as societies become more westernized. Just because it’s not happening publicly now doesn’t mean it is not happening privately, or it didn’t happen many decades ago.

So at least one of my Telugu friends who has lived several years in a village and often visits it (and should thus have a fairly good idea of non-westernised culture) has never heard of or seen the practice either. I’m very inclined to believe it is nonsense. Will check some more.

So? I know a large number of people from Kansas, none of whom are familiar with the practice mentioned in my cite. Kinsey was the father of sex research, and a dedicated and conscientious scientist. I’m not willing to disregard his research because I know modern Kansans who are unfamiliar with it.

As far as I can tell, you’re depending on an anecdote from a biographer that your ‘conscientious scientist’ decided to avoid including in his research because public mores may have led to an outcry.I’m sure you can see the many contradictions in that viewpoint.
My viewpoint is merely that the article presents something as widespread in Telugu culture. If so, I should be able to find anecdotal confirmation of it quite easily. If not, there are reasons to doubt the accuracy of research that does not present any methodology, sources, or data to back up its assertions. I’m an (aspiring) academic myself, and the article cited by “Cecil” does not read like convincing research in the least.

Re-read the portion I posted then. Kinsey heard the anecdote and actually traveled to the town to confirm it. My point in posting it was to point out that this happened, and was still happening, in rural Kansas during the period when Kinsey was doing his research - probably the early 1940s.

I own the book I quoted, and it is a scrupulous and through academic biography of the most important figure in the field. And I brought it up because you are seem to be claiming that, just because you are unfamiliar with a folk custom, it doesn’t exist

Who decided not to include this anecdote that he supposedly confirmed in his published research. Because he was scrupulous and conscientious. Just like his biographer. Who did include the anecdote. And, a few minutes of reading on the internet seems to suggest these reports of children’s sexual activity all actually came from interviews with one paedophile. All I’m saying is, this stuff you’re citing doesn’t actually, well, qualify as cites. I say this with full understanding of the fact that my anecdotal experience doesn’t either.

No, I have offered my own experience, with qualifications, and the experience of one of the ‘folk’ whose custom this apparently is, and said this inclines me towards disbelieving the cited paper, which is long on narrative and very, very short on detail that would give it credence. Like I said earlier, I understand what I have conducted is not comprehensive research. I will continue to dig into the subject.