By Thomas Gregor
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Additional info for Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian People
Some of the analogies, such as that of sex and eating, need to be explored further (see chapter 3), but the informant sees them as a sufficient explanation in themselves. Because the penis is like the tongue, the spatial differences between them collapse, the two organs merge, and the tongue-phallus chokes the woman to death. The analogy thereby establishes a bridge between things and concepts and makes possible leaps in thought that are unrestrained by either reality or logic. To a large extent, thinking by analogy seems to lie behind many of the villagers' explanations of their culture.
Unlike the communal houses, the gardens are intimate places where husband and wife have sexual relations and speak in privacy. Returning home, couples eat together around a common hearth, share a common water bowl, and rest in hammocks that are slung closely together. Each of these activities is regarded as an expression of the solidarity of the marital relationship. When husband and wife no longer eat together, when they drink from different bowls and separate their hammocks, they are not far from divorce.
Even though hermaphrodites are all but unknown (as would be expected in a society of eighty-five persons), the villagers are quite clear about what they would do. They would put a sexually abnormal child to death at the moment of its birth. The Mehinaku recognize only two kinds of sexually differentiated humans: man (eni-ja) and woman (teneju). Later we shall see that there amendments and exceptions to these recognized categories, but none-be they homosexuals or transvestites-are decent human alternatives.