What is the sexual life and culture like for Eskimos?

Eskimos live in a culture that is very different from others. The term Eskimos is not how they identify themselves, but how others refer to the people who populate Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland (where, by the way, it’s icy, and in Iceland, it’s green!), northeast Siberia in Asiatic Russia.

 

Eskimo culture includes the following: men have more than one wife. This is of course a practice they have in common with Mormons before 1890 when it was outlawed for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Muslims, who can have 4 wives as long as they are able to support them all equally and treat them all with fairness and equity.

 

In the Eskimo culture, there are some surprising features. In order to show hospitality, men share their wives with their guests. In the Eskimo community, another sexual practice was that the man who was most dominant in the community was able to avail himself of other men’s wives.

 

There is not really a double standard, as women in this culture have traditionally been able to voluntarily leave their husbands for other men if they so desire. There is not usually retribution for this behaviour, except in rare circumstances.

 

Cultural relativism would suggest that this culture is fine because it is part of what the Eskimo community believes in. The behaviour described above regularly took place in the early and mid 20th century. Do you think it is okay, given that it was a community norm, or do you think everyone should obey universal truths? Do you think that there are, in fact, universal truths?

 

Source: Rachels and Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy

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