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.
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).
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.
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.
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…
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.