them, and were responsible for their initiation as warriors. The normal progression of Azandemale sexuality was from young male brides, to adult male warriors, to retired warriors whomarried women and fathered children.In certain areas of Papua New Guinea, ritualized male homosexuality takes on the mostubiquitous form found in any societies. Male homosexual relations are nearly universal in thesesocieties, and male sexual relations with women come with an elaborate set of taboos, areconsidered to be particularly risky and dangerous, and are considered as a kind of µnecessaryevil¶ that is only appropriate for the purposes of biological reproduction. What anthropologistGilbert Herdt called µritualized homosexuality¶ has been found in around 50 tribes in Papua NewGuinea. In some of these groups, only oral sex is performed, with anal intercourse beingconsidered unclean, while other of these societies have no taboo against anal sex.Papua New Guinea gives us an example of same-sex sexuality where the characteristics of theopposite sex are not taken on by its participants. But there are also examples of persons who are biologically of one sex take on the characteristic of another sex, but do not engage inhomosexual acts. In India, there are examples of transvestitism (dressing in the clothes of andtaking on the characteristics of the opposite sex) that are associated with celibacy rather thanwith homosexuality. In some cases, men dedicate themselves to particular goddesses, dressthemselves in women¶s clothes, and take vows of celibacy for periods of time as performances of dedication to that goddess. There are also men who are devotees of the god Krishna who rituallydress themselves in saris and pray to be reborn as one of Krishna¶s wives.When child abuse, homophobia, domestic violence, patriarchy within the family, etc. aredeclared to be µour values¶ to be defended against the onslaught of µWestern culturalimperialism¶ in neo-colonial society, the great irony is that Western cultural imperialism hasoften been partially responsible in making these behaviours, springing from bigotry andchauvinism, into rampant problems in the first place. None of these problems are exclusive to,or originate from, the Western European colonial traditions. Patriarchy, and all of the violenceagainst women and children that is used to keep it in place, certainly is much older than theEuropean colonial era. Many anthropologists have noted that the oppression of women seems tohave emerged at the same time as, and to be a part of the same processes as, the rise of classstratified and state based societies. This means that patriarchy is a problem that is severalmillennia old, and probably existed in Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China before it was ever a problem in most of Europe. But as I noted above, patriarchal institutions were by no meansuniversal before the colonial era, and there were always spaces of resistance and alternativetraditions even within societies where the dominant traditions were extremely patriarchal (as inmany parts of India).When oppression is defended as a part of tradition, those are traditions that need to bechallenged. Traditions are neither monolithic, nor all equally worth preserving, nor are they of some unchanging
that defines what it means to be a member of a culture for all of time.