Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sex Year in Review



2014 has come and gone.  At midnight balls will drop all over the country as the New Year blows its load all over us in a cloud of confetti.  But I couldn’t let 2014 pass away without a countdown of some of the sexy—and sometimes not-so-sexy—things that happened this year.  From Jesus to Ghomeshi, 2014 was definitely a year to remember.


Oh, Jesus.



Earlier this year, Jesus was reprieved of all sexiness when it was discovered that an ancient piece of papyrus scribbled with the words “And Jesus said to them…My Wife” might be a fake.  The small chunk of papyrus, discovered by Karen L. King in 2012, passed a battery of tests to its authenticity, but researchers still aren’t convinced.  The general consensus seems to be that this is just a damn good forgery.

You can almost hear the pinched sigh coming from Rome.

For centuries upon centuries people have argued about the celibacy of Christ.  But I’m not convinced.  I like to think that Jesus Christ, if he existed at all, has gone through enough shit already, what with being nailed to a cross and having his name incite such violence and all.  Do we really need to neuter the man, too?


RuPaul's Tea



Mama Ru found herself in a steaming pot this year when the “T” kept spewing from her mouth.  I’m talking, of course, about the word tranny.  After an episode of Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race in which contestants played a game called “Female or She-male”, the network was greeted by a backlash of epic proportions from the trans-community.  As a result, Logo pulled the controversial episode (so those of us who couldn’t watch it when it aired couldn’t watch it at all) and Drag Race discontinued its long-running series “You’ve Got She-mail.” 

About time, too--only took the community six years to realize host, RuPaul Charles, was using such a derogatory term.

Ru went on to defend his use of the word tranny on an episode of WTF with Marc Maron, saying “I love the word tranny!” explaining that the people pissing and moaning about him saying it are “fringe people who are looking for storylines to strengthen their identities as victims.” 

I can’t help but agree.  When there are young trans people in the world right now being killed for simply being, I feel like titles are a bit insignificant.  But, not being trans myself, I’ll defer to the experts on this one—like Buck Angel, a female to male transgender porn star who probably said it best:

“…by making all this new vocabulary, bottom line is they’re alienating the rest of the people in the world who want to understand and then get sort of irritated…Isn’t that the point of us to educate the world to understand that we’re just normal?”


The Longest Kiss



NFL Player Michael Sam came out in a huge way this year when, while being drafted for the Saint Louis Rams, he did the unthinkable.

He kissed his boyfriend on national TV.

Gasp!

With the media frenzy that ensued afterward, mixed with the interviews Sam is still giving, the man’s lips have to be permanently chapped at this point.  Just a few days ago Oprah talked to him about whether or not the kiss was staged before tackling the bigger issue—was he kicked out of the NFL for being gay?

 “I don’t like to think that way,” Sam told Big O in a documentary that recently aired on her FABULOUS Oprah Winfrey Network.  He went on to add, “But I do believe I’m a very talented football player and I’m going to continue working hard and try to get that opportunity to play in the league.”

And here’s hoping he gets that chance!  Maybe this time the media will let the man take a shower in peace. 


Vaginal Victory 


Vaginas all across the country were put on trial this year when the Supreme Court ruled that a company doesn’t have to provide contraception to its female employees because the Bible tells it so. 

Never mind that the Bible is as silent as Sarah’s womb on the matter.  Or that birth control was around long before the Judeo-Christian god burst onto the scene.   

Indeed, it was a victory for conservatives everywhere.  “One of the most significant victories for religious freedom in our generation,” said Tony Perkins, Family Research Council President.  A freedom that, in this case, infringes on the freedoms of countless other people and has laid the precedent for others to deny service based on bigoted, outdated beliefs.

But don’t worry, ladies, there are still options.  Like vasectomies, which are still covered under the Hobby Lobby ruling.  Of course, that doesn’t matter beside the various other health benefits of birth control, but silver lining and all, right?


Marriage Equality


2014 was an historic year for gay couples from sea to shining sea.  While Tony Perkins was basking in his vaginal victory, 19 states were legalizing same-sex marriage.  And we came out in droves as we often do when there’s a party to be had.  Hand-in-hand we gave each other our hearts for the first time under the full protection of the law. 

Victory!

While 35 states now offer marriage to same sex couples, our fight is far from over.  Not when conservatives are still trying to disguise their discrimination and intolerance as religious freedom.

As long as there are Tony Perkins in the world, there will always be douche bags fighting the freedoms of others beneath the banner of Christianity.  And that’s okay, because if the queer movement has taught us anything, we can take a damn banner and make it more fabulous than before.

Nick Jonas

  
You're welcome.


The Year of Consent

Misogyny in all of its ugliest forms reared its head this year.  From #YesAllWomen to the UVA scandal, “rape culture” came to life in 2014 like never before as women from all walks of life took to the internet to expose the gender gap so prevalent in America.

After a boy in California went on a psychotic rampage targeting women he felt had sexually shunned him, Twitter became a staple in bringing to light the misogyny and sexual ignorance that is buried deep in our culture with the hashtag #YesAllWomen.  Later, #GamerGate exposed the sexism within gamer culture while Jennifer Lawrence and a number of other celebrities had their naked selfies leaked all over the internet.  And for once, victims weren’t just allowing themselves to be victimized.  They were fighting back, and in a huge way.

Even in the often misunderstood BDSM community, where consent is KEY, victims of sexual abuse were, and still are, coming forward.  Jian Ghomeshi was a name none of us had heard until victims began coming forward with allegations of sexual abuse and being exploited by Ghomeshi to fulfill some unfulfilled BDSM fantasy.  The allegations levied against Bill Cosby painted another portrait of the depravity money and power can introduce to the sexual spectrum. 

Then, in November, a Rolling Stones article outlining the brutal rape of a University of Virginia student was published.  Since then, the article has been largely discredited and once more victims of sexual abuse were thrown under the bus.

Are they lying, too?

Hell no, they are not lying.  The number of people who lie about being raped is so astronomically low that it hardly bears mentioning (less than 2%), and while there are those who lie (some people are just assholes) I think it’s important all rape allegations be taken seriously by each level of authority.

This isn’t the case, though.  Not when rape in the military is under-reported because of a fear of repercussion. Or when cities across the country are sitting on hundreds of untested rape kits.  Or when our schools are turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of their students.  

Regardless of the UVA scandal with Rolling Stone, in May the Department of Education began investigating 55 colleges for mishandling sexual assault complaints.  By December, that number rose to 90.  Proof we made some progress in 2014.  And evidence of the work we have left to do in the upcoming year.


Well, that about concludes my sex year-in-review and the first year for Sex and a Cup of Coffee.  Lots more sexy things are waiting in 2015, and I can’t wait to get to it.  For now it’s time to make some resolutions and then throw them away.  Let 2015 be your year.  Love, empathize, show compassion and smile.  And above all, stay sexy.  

Until next year...

Cheers!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sex Anomalies of the Truly Bizarre


Growing up I knew a man, we’ll call him “Doug.”  Doug was on the Indianapolis police department and, after a high-speed chase gone wrong, ended up bed-ridden and unable to feel anything below the chest. 

Doug was a paralyzed.

What was interesting about Doug’s injury wasn’t the way it affected his sensory-motor skills.  It was the way Doug experienced an orgasm whenever he urinated. 

Unable to control his bladder, Doug was catheterized.  Whenever that clear bag began to fill up Doug’s eyes rolled back in his head.  One gnarled hand would clutch the railing to his hospital bed as the entire thing shook with what I can only imagine was the best piss in the world.  He would even make little choked grunting sounds until he was finished.

It was fascinating, really.

Since then I have tried researching other accounts of this happening but have turned up short.  Nobody seems to have heard about orgasmic urination as a result of a spinal cord injury.  Of course, it doesn’t help that the sexuality of the disabled isn't much discussed in our culture, but I digress.


Doug got me thinking about some of the more mystifying aspects of human sexuality.  The Ripley’s Believe it or Not of sex.  So for your enjoyment I submit some of my favorites:


Permanent Sexual Arousal Syndrome

I can only imagine the discomfort and embarrassment Doug must have felt whenever he had to urinate, especially in a roomful of nurses or his grandchildren.  But at least when he was done taking a whiz, the sensation of orgasm subsided. 

This isn’t the case for people suffering from persistent genital arousal syndrome.  According to the British Journal of Medical Practitioners, PSAS is defined by a persistent physical arousal of the genitals void of any sexual thought or activity.  In some instances, suffers feel like they are about to orgasm.  Others actually do—over and over and over again.  One report I’ll link to is about a woman who experienced a series of 180 orgasms over the span of 2 hours.  That’s an O every minute and a half!

Sound like the life?  

Sufferers would say, “No.  No it isn’t ass hole.” 

Imagine having sex with your partner and suddenly you find you can’t stop coming.  The inkwell’s dry but the pen keeps scraping the bottom.  Lots of muscles go into an orgasm, all contracting in tandem.  What if they just didn’t stop?  Your body literally turned against itself like some sexually unrelenting sadistic master. 

And what’s more, there doesn’t seem to be an explanation for it.  It happens without warning to the most unsuspecting of people.  And though men are less likely to be affected, we aren’t off the hook.  Even you, reader, could be the next ticking time bomb of orgasmic release.  Walking through the mall.  At the supermarket.  Hell, the holidays are here, it could happen over Christmas dinner, in front of memaw and papaw and everyone. 

Talk about your Christmas memories.


Arteriovenus Malformation

Imagine, if you will, jerking off and nearly killing yourself.  That is what happened to Ashok Rajamani when he was 25.  You can read all about it in his book The Day My Brain Exploded: A True Story. 

I didn’t. 

I read an excerpt from the book published in Salon.  In that excerpt, Rajamani explains how, while waiting to go to his brother’s wedding, he decided to get in some well deserved fap time.  Things were going pretty much the way they always did until Ashok blew more than just his load. 

From the excerpt:

“As my solo act came to its usual splashy end, I felt a sudden, massive pop inside my head.
I had jerked off innumerable times before, but this orgasm was different; this orgasm was unnatural.
Something was wrong, horribly wrong.
I felt a fierce explosion in my head.”
Ashok had just experienced a massive brain hemorrhage caused by a congenital birth defect known as an arteriovenus malformation.  Essentially, a tangle of rogue blood vessels had knotted up in the back of his brain constricting the flow of blood.  Over time, and numerous jack off sessions later, Ashok’s brain couldn’t handle any more.  He literally burst! 
But, as Ashok’s doctor explained, it was bound to happen one day.  “Many brain hemorrhages and aneurisms are urogenitally based, which means they usually happen when a person’s having sex, giving birth, or going to the bathroom.”
At least poor Ashok got something out of it first, for all the hell he went through later. 
But if you’re worried AVM might affect you…well, it might.  Arteriovenus Malformation is believed to affect 300,000 Americans, 12 % of which  experience physical symptoms and 1 % actually die.
I’m beginning to wonder if this would have been a better blog post for Halloween.

Diphallia/Didelphys
Earlier this year a Reddit user gained internet fame by posting what might be some of the most famous dick picks ever.  Claiming to have two fully functional penises—a condition known as diphallia or penile duplication—this guy showed no shame when he flashed his double dong for the world to see.  The photos are hard to look at. 
I’m going to go ahead and link one right…here.
While everything about this guy might have been photoshopped, diphallia is a real medically recognized condition.  Recent research shows that 1 in 5.5 million boys are born with two sex organs, ranging from double glans (heads) to two identical penises capable of doing everything you’d expect two penises to do.   
Didelphys is the female equivalent of diphallia where a woman is born with two vaginae.  This was the case for Blanche Dumas in the 19th Century who, after getting her start in a sideshow for having 4 breasts, 3 legs, and 2 sexually active vaginas (and a partridge in a pear tree…?) became a popular Parisian sex worker.
Sound like the next episode of American Horror Story
Well, it kind of was. 
Blanche Dumas allegedly sought out a man by the name of Juan Baptista dos Santos—another sideshow sensation known for having three legs and two dicks—to sate her hypersexual vaginae.  From there the couple hit it off and could often be seen perusing about town hugging and kissing, a tangle of arms and extra legs.  And by the sound of things Blanche and Juan gave zero fucks about who watched their lovemaking, all of their sex organs smashing together in an orgy of anomalistic flesh.  And to them I say, santé!

That is all I have right now.  The museum is closed.  Though I am interested in hearing from anyone who wants to add to the list.  Feel free to leave a comment or two.
On a side note I would like to add that there is a lot of disturbing, unsexy shit going on in the world right now.  I could write about it…but anything I could say has already been said in a thousand different ways. 
Inequality is a real problem with real consequences.  
Through it all, though, I’ll be here with a cup of coffee and this blog.  Writing about human sexuality and the different, sometimes disturbing ways we celebrate it.  And who know, maybe I can help you smile amidst all the chaos.  So until next time you beautiful people…
Cheers!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dark Nights, Darker Desires



Halloween night is nearly upon us, and the veil between the living and the dead edges closer and closer to the cusp.  With all this spooky energy, I thought I’d talk about some of the more unmentionables of human sexuality.  Fetishes that maybe you never knew existed.  Others you may wish didn’t.  These ticks in the human sexual psyche, however terrifying or disgusting they may sound, are the result of a society that places such harsh restrictions on our sex organs. 

At least, that is my hypothesis. 

A paraphilia is the sexual attraction to a specific person or object outside of the societal norm.  Many of these we’ve heard of—pedophilia, voyeurism, sadism.  Others aren’t as common, so they’ve earned a place in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual as Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified. 

It is important when reading anything about the psychology of sexuality to remember that something doesn’t become a disorder until it causes a great deal of personal distress.  When it comes to sex and sexuality, though, there has been a lot to be distressed about over the centuries.  Especially here in the good old U.S. of A, where 50 Shades of Twilight exposes the hidden wet dreams of the under-sexed among us. 

Hey, at least people are trying to have a discussion about sexuality—regardless how diluted or ill-informed it may be. 


But what if a person isn’t distressed by their particular fetish/paraphilia?  What if their only distress comes from a culture that insists they keep that shit to themselves?  Well, luckily we live in the age of the Internet where anything—and I mean fucking anything—is just a mouse-click away.  Whatever your kink, rest assured there is probably an online community for you somewhere, if you just know where to look.

Bestiality  


Before the Devil got caught up in the steamy rim jobs coming out of Salem, he was causing mischief in the town of New Haven, Connecticut.  Not in the vaginas of women, but in the cocks of men.  According to Jesse Bering:

“The most troubling sex fiends of those days [were]…men secretly in league with the Devil to impregnate barnyard animals” (Bering 25). 

Despite the obvious irrationality of this fear, many a man and boy—and sheep and cow and donkey—were given back to God, as it were, for this bit of “buggery.”   

Now we can’t fault the good people of New Haven too much for this one.  The first DSM was still centuries away, and these people already had an iffy stance on sex.  And now people were fucking the livestock?  Sounds like the Devil to me!

Today, zoophilia, otherwise known legally as bestiality, is the sexual attraction to any animal other than another human and is now a DSM paraphilia.  Alfred Kinsey made the claim that it was actually quite common in people who lived on or around farms, and more recent studies show about 1% of the population are admitted zoophiles (Bering 26-27).  For anyone who has ever watched furry porn (i.e. me!), I can see where these numbers might make sense.

Bestiality is still illegal in the United States, but one only need look to the Weird News portion of Huffington Post to see how often someone gets caught red…pawed?  Other countries, however, are just now putting a lawful end to this buggery.  Like Germany!  Just last year, an article on Daily Mail reported that animal brothels were on the rise due to a law that outlawed animal pornography while making sex with animals perfectly ok.  According to the article:

“…current laws were not protecting animals from predatory zoophiles who are increasingly able to turn to bestiality as a lifestyle choice” (Blake 1).

Who knew Germany had such a problem with bestiality?  Chris Hansen would have a field day with that one.  Kind of puts a whole new spin on “To Catch a Predator,” doesn’t it?  Luckily for their sake, Germany and other countries which tended to take a more lenient stance against zoophiles, have since outlawed bestiality. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still some underground network catering to zoophiles.  That’s the thing about intense paraphilias, you see…suppress them long enough and they might come spilling out like some adolescent’s wet dream. 

In the end I think Dan Jorgensen, the Danish Minister of Food and Agriculture, has the right of it in his interview with The Daily Beast:

“Animals have to be treated with respect and care and they have a right to special protection because they cannot say no” (Nadeau 1).

Absolutely, Dan! 

After all, consent is key when it comes to sex.  No consent doesn’t mean go ahead and do it.  And a snort or bleat or whinny doesn’t mean down to fuck.

Vampirism


There is a reason vampires cannot see their reflection in a mirror.

Because they are the mirror, reflecting the human condition back on itself—exposing our darkest fears, our deepest passions. 

Vampires personify what it means to fetishize death.  From terrifying to sexy, vampires are looked at with fear, confusion and lust.  And with the recent influx of blood-suckers flooding our bookstores and television screens, the red thirst seems to be on us all.  We invite them in to our lives, fall in love, and then try to kill ourselves the moment they break up with us, because that is a positive message for teenage girls.

Okay, maybe I’m thinking of something else.

The point is this:  Vampires do exist.

While there is no DSM classification for vampirism (though some argue it fits in under the whole not classified section, right next to bodily fluids), vampires are sexually driven by a lust for blood.  And like the lore surrounding fictional blood suckers, these creatures can take many forms to blend in with the society they are trying to bleed.  Children of the deviant night, these perverse beasts keep to the shadows lest their unholy lust be discovered. 

Of course, that seems to be the way with most deep-seated sexual compulsions.  My own fetishtic obsession with body hair (trichophilia) pales in comparison to vampirism, and yet whenever I’m around a bare-chested, hairy beast of a man I have to resist the urge to run my fingers through all that lush man fur. 

Imagine the pain one of these “vampires” must go through whenever they’re around a long, sinewy throat they just want to sink their teeth into (odaxelagnia), or a wrist whose snaking veins bulge with the life’s rush they thirst for (haemotolagnia), or—and perhaps the true testament to a vampiric person’s sexual willpower—the sight of blood in the raw (haemotophilia).

Another interesting phenomenon in the world of vampirism is Renfield’s syndrome.    Named after a character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, people with this syndrome believe blood holds some magical, otherworldly power and by drinking it they are somehow imbued with that power.  Like many of our most obscure sexual fetishes, RS develops in childhood, somehow getting associated with sex during the hormonal maelstrom of adolescence. 

According to psychologist Richard Noll in an interview with Psychology Today:

“The first stage is some event that happens before puberty where the child is excited in a sexual way by some event that involves blood injury or the ingestion of blood.  At puberty it becomes fused with sexual fantasies, and the typical person with Renfield’s syndrome begins with autovampirism.  That is, they begin to drink their own blood and then move on to other living creatures.  It has…compulsive components” (Ramsland 1).
Fetishes are compulsive, though.  Just because they deviate from societal norm—and given a willing partner—doesn’t necessarily make it pathological.  Perhaps it is the cognitive dissonance of a society that holds both sex and the absence of sex in such high regard that is forcing those with this lust for blood back into their coffins.  After all, at one time blood was a talisman human civilization held dear to its beating heart.  We drank of its life giving power, ate the flesh of our enemies in order to know them.  Perhaps a vampire’s thirst for blood is simply hidden in their genetic makeup.  Without a lot more research, we will never really know.

But there is one thing we do know:

The men and women who fall in love with vampires are clearly necrophiliacs.



Necrophilia

I knew this guy when I was a teenager who used to brag about sneaking in to the mortuary behind my dad’s house and fucking the corpses.  He was a few years older than me, and part of my developing brain didn’t want to believe him.  But I had already busted this guy masturbating into a pair of my stepmother’s panties, so at that point I wasn’t sure how far his sexual “deviance” extended.

Regardless of the truth behind this bragging, there were definitely some necrophilic fantasies going on there.  Whether he was a true necrophile or not is something only he can answer, but just fantasizing about defiling the dead is enough to place him on the necrophilia spectrum. 

Necrophilia has been around forever.  Ancient Egyptians would often wait a few days before giving an influential queen over to embalmers—just to make sure she had a nice decay going on so nobody would violate her deceased virtue. 

In the 1950s, Ed Gein—whom the notorious Texas Chainsaw Massacre is based off—was arrested for stealing the bodies and body parts from three different cemeteries.  And who could forget Jeffery Dahmer who, in 1991, was arrested for murdering and imbibing 17 men and boys. 

“He discovered that he was aroused by the captivity of another human being, just as he’d been aroused as a boy over dissecting road kill, and then when he cut the body into pieces for disposal, he was excited all over again so he masturbated over the body…That day a necrophile was born” (Ramsland 4).
In 1989 Jonathan P. Rosman and Phillip J. Resnick surveyed 122 cases of necrophilia and classified two categories of necrophilia—true necrophilia (those who’ve been thinking about it long and hard) and pseudonecrophilia (those who’ve never thought about it, but hey—they’re here, the corpse is here. It must be fate!) 
According to Rosman and Resnick, 28% of their sample had actually killed in order to obtain the object of their deadly lust.  Others had jobs where they could easily get their hands on a busty or well-hung corpse (Rosman & Resnick 158). 
I can only imagine as a necrophiliac, working at a funeral home or a morgue is kind of like the Grindr or PornHub of this particular, er, kink.

I’ve said it before but I feel like it bears repeating: 
Human sexuality isn’t always hot and sexy.  Sometimes it is uncertain and scary.  Especially when you have a dark desire hidden deep within you, aching to burst out if only society would accept it.  Or, at least, there were safer outlets to release those desires. 
But alas, the midnight hour approaches and I must feed.  And by feed, of course I mean a venti iced white mocha with two extra shots of espresso from Starbucks.  I know it’s Halloween and all, but fuck that pumpkin spice shit.  Anyways, until next time my creepy crawlies…
BOO!    
Works Cited:
Bering, Jesse.  Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us.  New York: Scientific American, 2014.  Print.
Blake, Matt.  “Bestiality brothels are spreading through Germany warns campaigner as abusers turn to sex with animals as a lifestyle choice.”  Daily Mail.  1 July 2013.  Web.
Nadeau, Barbie L.  “Denmark’s Bestiality Problem:  It’s Legal.”  The Daily Beast. 14 October 2014.  Web.
Ramsland, Katherine.  “Vampire Personality Disorder.”  Psychology Today.  21 November 2012.  Web.
Ramsland, Katherine.  “Necrophilia.”  Crime Library.  n.d.  Web. 
Resnick, Phillip J. & Rosman, Jonathan P.  “Sexual Attraction to Corpses:  A Psychiatric Review of Necrophilia.”  Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry 17.2 (1989): 153-163.  Web.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Devil and the Witch


We cannot have a discussion about Halloween and its sexual constructs without talking about the crimson-skinned and, presumably, hung enemy of God.  Even with his sharp pointy horns, lashing tail and hairy, hooved feet, I’d probably hit it.  And that’s okay!  After all, isn’t that what the devil’s job is while lumbering around here on earth—to tempt us with those washboard abs and rippling flanks?  Those horns that go on and on and on…

Sorry.  I just watched Legend and am still a little flustered.  Seriously, was I the only one turned on by Tim Curry as the Devil?

The Devil has an interesting history.  Like any good story villain, he has evolved with each passing generation.  In the Bible, the Devil is simultaneously the arch nemesis and beloved friend of God, both of them vying for the souls of people.  (Remember Job, the poor bastard.  And we wonder why the world is full of such cognitive dissonance.) 

In Christianity, it is widely believed that Satan, or hassatan, rebelled against God and was cast from heaven to earth where he is currently praying on—and occasionally casting lots for—our souls.  Eventually, the Devil will manifest himself in the form of a man (it’s always a man in the Bible, people) and will fuck humanity up until God shows up for yet another showdown, this time one that ends with the devil being cast into the bowels of hell which, according to Dante (and who would know better than Dante, right?), is cold as shit.
However, very little in the Bible is—how do you say?—original material.  Another people held rights to the devil before the Christians made him an object of our disdain/affection.  According to Raymond Buckland:

“In those early days, when Christianity was slowly growing in strength, the Old Religion—the Wiccans and other pagans—was one of its rivals.  It is only natural to want to get rid of a rival and the Church pulled no punches to do just that.  It has frequently been said that the gods of an old religion become the devils of the new.  This was certainly the case here.  The God of the Old Religion was a horned god.  So, apparently, was the Christian’s Devil” (Buckland 4).
These pagans, as you will remember, also had a more lenient stance regarding human sexuality.  The seed of the flesh and the seed of the earth, and so forth.  So naturally, Christians turned the Devil’s attention to human psychology, or the reason people do the things they do.  And nothing has been more of a mystery than human sexuality.  Even with science’s long, sordid past, we still haven’t quite figured out what makes the libido tick.  So, when science fails to give an explanation, the simplest explanation must be the solution... 

The Devil made me do it.

Such a notion sounds absurd by today’s standards, but history screams just how dumb we have been.    

Like Salem…


“From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging” (Linder 1).

The Salem Witch Trials is just one of the fucked up squares in America’s sordid tapestry.  For those unfamiliar with Salem, allow me to catch you up:

A few privileged girls in the town of Salem, Massachusetts began screaming witchcraft on some of the underprivileged townsfolk.  More than a hundred people were accused of everything from flying about on broomsticks to licking the Devil’s asshole.  Those whose cohorts with the Lord of Darkness was considered the most salacious paid the ultimate price, including one man who was pressed to death for the unspeakable nerve of defending his wife, an accused witch herself.  Only when these accusers began pointing their fingers at the wrong women (i.e. other privileged Puritan women) did someone in authority finally raise a questioning hand.

The “Hysteria” surrounding witchcraft stands as historical testimony to the puritanical mysticism so rampant in the Seventeenth Century.  To the people of Salem, however, it was proof that the Devil was in the new world.  All one had to do was look at all of those Native American “pagans”—with their strange rituals and lusty lore (none of which mentioned the God of the Bible, I might add)—to see that the Devil was up to no good here.  So naturally it fell to the Puritans, as it did to Joshua and the Israelites, to rid the place of its demonic influence and establish this New World for God.

While history is rife with examples of imperialism, Salem is an interesting story of sexual repression and the ways desire might manifest itself.  We are all just powder kegs of sexual energy that, if not dealt with, might light up the night like a fall bonfire.  But the Puritans maintained that sex in all its forms (other than missionary, of course) was abominable, and if you were caught in the throes of passion, you were dealt with accordingly.  Remember Hester Prynn?  Stories like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter remind us, though, how even those with a direct connection to the divine, the religious elite, are not infallible and can fall into that most basic of the Devil’s traps…their own genitals. 

The Salem Witch Trials also remind us of the role women played throughout much of American history.  Many of the accused were independent women who hadn’t conformed to the idea that man and woman and baby equals a balanced civilization.  These were widows and single women, prostitutes and women with disabilities—all indicted for owning one of them damnable vaginas!  As Sean Purdy puts it:

“Though the Puritans believed women equally worthy of salvation, they believed women were especially vulnerable to the Devil’s temptations. The image of Eve in the Garden of Eden was frequently invoked in Puritan sermons. Because Eve gave into the serpent’s persuasion to defy God, she was responsible for mankind’s fallen position. Furthermore, women’s inherent sexuality made them a liability to the Puritans. The Puritans believed women at heart were wonton sexual beings who could lead men astray. Because the Devil encouraged such sexuality, the Devil could use this weakness to gain control over women and thereby men” (Purdy 5).

In other words, it was the Devil that made women want to fuck.  And if the man gave into his carnal lust, well, that was the devil in the woman.  Interesting how early Christians not only stole one pagan god and vilified him, it would seem they vilified the female deity, too, the one pagan worshippers held in esteem even above the phallic male.  Well, that just wouldn’t do.  And this patriarchal trend of vilifying women is still seen today.  While we’re not burning women at the stake, we are still making them stand before God and man while we place violence and rape at their feet like kindling ready to burn.  It’s also important to note that the word “Hysteria” so often associated with the witch hunts was later used as a medical term to describe a woman’s increased sexual libido, a condition often dealt with by a medical professional masturbating a women to relieve some of her “stress.”

Last week I wrote about terror management theory and the associations death and sex play in our psyche.  Is anyone more associated with death than the Devil?  It is this obsession with an afterlife, with the eternal damnation or reward that creates the mysticism that can still be seen in many of our culture’s sexual attitudes.  And I could go on for pages about the Devil and the hell fire he often sets ablaze in our loins, but I want to save something for next week.  Besides, Halloween is right around the corner.  And what would Samhain be without a little dance with death? 

Until next time, stay terrifying you sexy beasts.


Cheers!

Works Cited:

Buckland, Raymond.  Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft.  St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1998.  Print.

Linder, Douglas.  “The Witchcraft Trials in Salem: A Commentary.”  Web.  2005.

Purdy, Sean.  “Conjuring History: The Many Interpretations of the Salem Witchcraft Trials.”  Rivier Academic Journal  3.1 (2007): 1-18. Web.    


Friday, October 10, 2014

Sexualizing Fear (Pt. 1)



It’s been a while since I’ve posted in the blogosphere, but I would be remiss if I let the month of October go without discussing the scarier aspects of human sexuality.  I mean, let’s face it—there is something intrinsically unsettling and wholly tantalizing about the death of a season that seeps into each and every one of us.  If I didn’t know any better I would swear it was the ancient magic of our pagan forbearers surfacing as the veil between life and death thins and we are brought face to face with our own mortality. 

I am talking about my most favorite time of the year, Halloween, or the feast of Samhain, as the ancient Celts called it and many practicing pagans refer to it today.  For pagans, Samhain is a deeply regarded religious rite in which life and death are celebrated in tandem with joy and thanksgiving. 

And sex, of course! 

According to Lysander on the website heathenharvest.org, Samhain is a time of  “heightened sexual awareness and activity…the seed and fruit of human beings connecting with the seeds and fruit of the harvest, the power and energy raised by sex being seen as a portal through which the dead are able to return.”

Death and sex hold an interesting dichotomy in the human psyche.  Like sexuality, death is a taboo that goes largely undiscussed in a culture that places such high emphasis on eternal youth and beauty.  It’s as if the whole of society is the eternal pond and we are all Narcissus forever enamored with the smiling, taut-skinned faces of our sexual youth.  Maybe that is why when faced with a life-or-death situation—war, famine, disease—we humans have a tendency to fuck like the evolutionary bunnies we are.  So, in a way, death becomes the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Terror management theory is essentially the idea that humans are equipped with a series of built in defense mechanisms designed to combat our fear of death.  “Research into terror management theory,” as Christian Jarrett writes, “has shown that people respond to mortality reminders by bolstering their own cultural view, derogating opposing views, and shoring up their self-esteem.”  And what better way to bolster our self-esteem than with sex?  Especially soft, meaningful sex, as Gurit Birnbaum suggests in her 2011 study  into death and sexuality. 

Jesse Bering, on the other hand, expands on terror management theory, defining it as “any disgust reactions we have to sex [that] actually stem from the fear of our own mortality” (Bering 40).  In his book Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, Bering draws comparisons between “sexual disgust” (i.e. vomiting after eating a bad piece of fish) and political “moral disgust” (i.e. gay marriage = something poop related).  In other words, whether it turns us on or makes us go on sexual hiatus, all depends on what trigger responses remind us that we’re going to die. 

In the end, it all comes down to fear.

Halloween, however, is a time when we celebrate fear.  When the veil between the mores of gender and sexuality and death—three of humanity’s most driving forces—are put away and we are, in a sense, free.  A time when we dance with the “devil” we see in ourselves, and walk away feeling pretty damn good.  So in celebration of Halloween, each week I will be paying tribute to some the darker sides of human sexuality—fetishes which might trigger your own terror management system, remind you that you, too, will one day die.  But never fear, my pretties.  That day is not today.

Or is it…?

Bwahahahahahah!!!

Works Cited:

Bering, Jesse.  Perv:  The Sexual Deviant in All of Us.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  Print.