For most young men in the United States, male initiation happens in a handstand over a keg of beer. Some inner-city initiates, described by Michael Gurian in his book The Wonder of Boys, are taken by their fathers to visit prostitutes. Despite being respectively vomit inducing and a little sleazy, these rituals are pretty light. They don’t particularly separate the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, the cajones from the lower abdomen.
But certain coming-of-age ceremonies from around the world are fascinatingly brutal. Compared to beating back a lion with a stick, pounding cheap beer or sleeping with an escort seems like literal child’s play. In these foreign cultures, the attitude towards becoming a man is much less whimsical; it is a serious transition that often happens much younger than you’d expect and where sometimes childhood is erased altogether.
There are also various women’s initiation rituals, but those are often uncomfortable things done for a queer beauty standard, not acts of bravery or downright masochism. (Not to say that women wouldn’t be capable, they just aren’t compelled by the town elders, like boys are.)
If you’re curious to find out how much more pampered we are than some other boys on earth, stick around, and see for yourself the 10 most brutal male initiations from around the world.
10 Mandan Torture
9 Spartan Serf Killing
8 Maasai Lion Fighting
7 The Algonquin Indian Trip
6 The Fula whip battle
5 The Satere-Mawe bullet ant glove
4 Sepik Scarification
3 Vanuatu Land Diving
2 Adult Circumcision
1 Blood Initiation
Another ritual in Papua New Guinea, this Matausa rite attempts to rid the boy of all female influences, supposedly infantilizing. He must use thin reeds to induce vomiting, emptying the contents of his stomach (a mother’s cooking, for example.) Then, similar reeds are inserted into his nose for him to further expel bad influence. After this is completed, he is stabbed several times in the tongue, letting blood and purifying him. Only after all of this is complete is the Matausa boy truly a man, with the vigor and strength of his forefathers.
Sources: Esquire.co.uk, listverse.com
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