How It Was Done On Palau

My palm for best museum goes to the Ethnographic at Dahlem, Berlin. There is a whole section on Palau, of which not many people have even heard. This is a Micronesian archipelago that belonged to Germany until 1914, when the Japanese took it. The main exhibit is a men’s clubhouse, from the rafters of which hangs a sculpture of a young woman with her legs apart. The story behind this is startling. Yes, it is advertising.

For the life-cycle of the Palau female apparently involved spending her teenage years in the men’s clubhouse, where she made herself available to the members for a set price. When she had accumulated enough of whatever they used for money, she would return to the female society and buy respect, status and clientele with it. If I remember correctly, and I might not, politics were matriarchal. A very successful clubhouse provider might thus become a tribal leader. If I remember wrongly, she would become at least a leader of the women’s society.

It seemed to be that this obscure society represented the most intense conceivable incarnation of two truths that we do not want to know. One, that sex is always about buying and selling, and two, that the bottom line is nothing to do with us mere males but rather is about the female hierarchy. The teenage Palau girl sold sex to the men in the clubhouse, but the latter were merely the means; the end was advancement in the female half of the tribe.

(Fiddle date-stamp to February 4, 2012)

Posted on February 7, 2021 at 14:24 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE NAME OF THE GAME, The Matrix Of Exchange

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