Nature vs nurture. I tend to side with the Nurture side. In general, I believe that education and overall upbringing play a very important role in the personality and skills of most individuals. But in the case of at least a certain type of sexual orientation, given my experience over here in the South Pacific, I have my doubts. Here´s the observation.

Since we arrived in French Polynesia we had 11 dinners in 9 different restaurants. In all of the 9 restaurants waiters were either women or extremely effeminate men. Intrigued about this I asked around and was told that in this part of the world the only men who want to become waiters are the “mahu” or men raised as women. Other men do all sorts of jobs around the hotel, they are gardeners, they carry luggage, they are managers, they steer boats, but they are not waiters, which in Polynesia is considered a job for women only. And what are the mahu? Well they are men who, while dressing and looking as men, behave as women. They walk as women, have high pitched voices, they are men who seem to show you that there´s something radically different not only about men and women´s bodies but about gender behavior as well, and that you can have the body of a man and the behavior of a woman. Now what I find hard to believe is that these men are like this because they were “raised as women”. Is it nurture or is it nature? Are they raised as women or is it that from the time they are very little that´s what they want to be and they are raised accordingly? Aren´t the polynesians on to something that is better, namely accepting sexual orientation early on? Aren´t we in the West forcing would be Western mahus to be men as much as we used to force lefties to be right handed?

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Anita on February 27, 2006  · 

Martin I found your observations very interesting. I lived in F.P. for 5 years and learned that mahus started when the Tahitians were practicing human sacrifices (which was stopped by the missionaries). The first born son was the chosen gift so many families would raise their son as a daughter. The practice continued after sacrifices had stopped, in part because of the openess of the Tahitian people. It isn’t about homosexuality, they have another word for a gay man, it is about being true to yourself and other’s respecting you for that.

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TJ on May 31, 2008  · 

When I visited Moorea we went on a safari across the island. We ran across a “mahu” dressed as a woman. The man giving us the history said the first born (male) was raised as a women to let the elder parents retire so to speak. He then had the resposibility to raise his brothers and sisters and assume the role of the mother. As soon as we were told this, you start to recognize them throughout the island. Regardless…great people!

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