In the Western Highlands of New Guinea many men believe that female sexuality is potent and dangerous. They think that prolonged contact with women can make their bones dissolve, and lead to debilitation and even death.
“As one might expect, the terror of women’s contamination focuses on the vagina. Vaginal discharges are so poisonous they can be used by witches to kill a man overnight, simply by depositing them near his clothing. Everything from the vagina is polluted, even nonsexual things like babies. Until a baby is purified, its father will not touch it, only poke it playfully with a small stick.
Any object that passes over or near the vagina can no longer be used safely by a man. If a woman’s genitals are physically higher than a man’s head, serious health risks may ensue. For instance if a woman steps over a sleeping man, he will sicken and his body will rot unless he is treated with an exorcism. Women therefore are not allowed to climb above men in trees or on ladders.
The woman’s vulva must never be above a man’s nose, lest her genitalia menaces him with lethal radiation. Some men will place spearmint leaves up their nostrils to avoid inhaling vaginal exhalations.
A woman who entices her husband into excessive sexual relations (more than a few times a year) is said to be purposefully driving him to an early death. “Coitus is contaminating, it can cause the stomach to distend and lose its taut masculine quality.”