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Missionaries in Our Bed

According to urban legend, the natives of the Pacific Islands performed sex in many positions other than man on top of woman, with the couple facing each other. When the European & American missionaries arrived and began spreading the word of the Church, one of the ideas they professed was the man-on-top position, which for many years the Christian Church really did accept as the only moral way of engaging sexually. The locals, as the story goes, were blown away by this wayward sight, and began referring to it mockingly as “missionary position”.

This account is actually a bit of a myth, started by the man who got so many other sexual processes started, Dr. Alfred Kinsey. In his book, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” (1948), Kinsey misconstrued the explanation of anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, when he described of the Trobriand Islanders in the South Western Pacific (1929), who would mock the Europeans at their campfires, by performing caricatures of them interacting in such a stupefying way.

Actually Malinowski does not refer to missionary position as we understand it today, but to the general rigid behaviour of uptight whiteys. Kinsey misused the reference and it was probably the flower children of the 60′s that then began propagating it, as a way of poking fun at the prissy religious establishment. Admittedly, the visual of a starch-coloured missionary being even vaguely naked and sexual, is enough to make most people want to change positions immediately.

Missionary position may get the lion’s share of the action (at least on the English Speaking continents), but it gets bad press, or even worse, no press, in many of the sex guides. Well, it deserves a bit of a discussion and an attempt to understand why our culture teaches it as the basic position.

Continue to the What’s What of Missionary Position


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