Friday, February 19, 2016

A salacious South Seas post (part 4)

So far, we haven't much touched the matter of same sex sex in the Pacific.   From this review of a 2003 (very academically oriented, by the sounds) book, it would seem that being a good looking fellow on a trip with Captain Cook could get you involved in a bit of unwanted attention with the local royalty:
Although most commentators focus on the relationships between Cook's men and the Polynesian women, his journals show "an inscription of masculinity that is not yet our own" (p. 45), particularly in the form of the aikane, comely young men who were apparently sexual favorites of the Hawaiian royalty. According to one report from Cook's voyage, "their business is to commit the Sin of Onan upon the old King" (p. 45). Strikingly, the aikane does not exhibit gender inversion, as do the Tongan fakaleiti, the Tahitian mahu, or the Samoan fa'fafine, which will be discussed later. Perhaps because of the influence of Said's model of the male Western conqueror and the feminized subaltern, these gender-inverted figures are far better known than the aikane.
Wallace is particularly interested in the attempt by Cook and his men to write about the phenomenon of the aikane with objective disinterest, which stands in contrast to their reports of active participation in the sexual customs that take place between men and women on the islands. There are, however, breaks in the record, when Cook and his men reveal some level of participation in the erotic relations between men in Polynesia. The Hawaiian nobleman Kalinikoa reportedly asked to retain at least one of the attractive men from Cook's crew as an aikane. Far from rejecting the proposal out of hand, Cook, his man, Kalinikoa and his aikane exchanged names "in the Tahitian manner" (p. 47), which Westerners at least conceived as a kind of Polynesian male-male marriage ceremony. Subsequent scholars have found in these reports evidence that there was "something about" some of the sailors, particularly Captain Bligh. As Wallace argues, the point is not that scholars and film-makers have used such anecdotes to question Bligh's sexuality, but that these pejorative representations produce--and continue to reproduce--a modern understanding of homosexuality"(51).
  More about the cross cultural confusion here:

Funny how none of this intrigue during Captain Cook's time in Hawaii seems to get a mention in popular histories about him.

Must be about time to wind this all up.  One more part to write....

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