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.


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.


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…
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.


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, 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…?


Works Cited:

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