SAME GESTURES AROUND THE WORLD?

"It is tempting to assume that obscenity must be a universal category of gestures ... that all societies need some way to express the ultimate insult," says video creator Dane Archer. This assumption, however, would be wrong. In northern European countries like The Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland, Archer did not find a single native obscene gesture. They do, however, recognize and use imported ones, such as from the U.S.

Archer says there are two kinds of cross-cultural variation. The first is the specific form. For example, obscenities are conveyed by many different gestures, from the middle finger in the United States to the fairly complicated hand and wrist slap in Nepal. The second is the type of gestures that a society has. A few may be universal, such as suicide.