Fucking magnets, how do they work? – Insane Clown Posse, “Miracles”
It’s not always easy being the Honest Courtesan; sometimes in the process of talking about human sexuality, I run into some aspect of my own sexuality which is somewhat embarrassing to admit to. At that point I have to decide whether to walk around the subject, or say “I’d really rather not discuss that”, or just throw caution to the wind and forge ahead out of my comfort zone, trusting that Aphrodite will bless my courage. Often it’s because a reader asks a question which can be answered in part by discussing my own feelings, but in this particular occasion it’s because a reader wrote an article in Psychology Today. The reader is Dr. Robert King, and the article is subtitled “What Monster Porn Might Tell Us About Human Nature”. It’s a critique of John Horgan’s “What ‘Monster Porn’ Says About Science and Sexuality” in Scientific American…an odd venue for it because, as King explains, Horgan “used a blatantly creationist strategy to attack an entire field of science of which he disapproves”, evolutionary psychology. Horgan absurdly claims that because he personally can’t think of a reason for women to be turned on by the idea of sex with monsters, there must not be a scientific explanation, and that this is wonderful because Freud. Or something.
Dr. King, on the other hand, displaying the superior insight one would expect from one who appreciates this blog, has a very good sense of what the biological connection is:
…monster porn is by no means novel…Ancient dildoes going back 20000 years are adorned with pictures of various potent animals. And…just take a look at what the Centaurs are trying to do to the Lapith women on the metopes of the…Parthenon…raucous festivities involving symbolic sex with humans dressed as animals…go back as far as records begin. Not far from where I work there is an annual festival at which the Queen of the May symbolically marries King Puck…an icon of animal potency and fertility. In the UK symbolic animals grab innocent maidens off the streets with impunity during May festivities. What do things like Bigfoot, Cthulhic monsters, magical beings, werewolves, vampires and centaurs have in common? Well, to someone not wedded to a creationist psychology might I venture one or two themes of adaptationist relevance? Power. Potency. Transgressiveness. Loss of control. Outbreeding. The evocation of uncontrollable desire. Dominance. Submission. Rescue. Heroes. Villains. Large penises. Do these sound like themes irrelevant to biology or reproduction? If so, then it’s time to go back to school…it might easily turn out that the prevalence of these fantasies has no adaptive function—they might be by-products of other adaptations. Not everything is an adaptation. Every first year biologist knows this…
Horgan is apparently so content to view sexuality as an unfathomable chthonic mystery that he doesn’t even bother to ask a reasonably-intelligent woman who’s turned on by this sort of thing what she thinks about it. And though I’ll never read Taken by the T-Rex or Moan for Bigfoot, that’s not because I’m disgusted by the subject matter; as it turns out, I myself am a reasonably-intelligent woman who’s turned on by this sort of thing. See these illustrations? I’ve got a bunch of ‘em in my art folders. People who played Dungeons & Dragons with me could tell you about some memorable episodes. And remember my mentioning how the movie Gargoyles inspired one of my favorite make-believe scenarios as a kid? Yeah, that. The thing is, anybody who’s read some of my other columns on my own kinks and paid attention to some of the fantasy iconography I’ve featured (dig the cover of my book at upper right) could’ve guessed as much; it’s no surprise when a woman who is turned on by rape, abduction and bondage scenarios is similarly affected when the abductor is some sort of non-human entity. For the record, dinosaurs and the like do nothing for me; it has to be an intelligent monster, like a demon, an astropelagic alien (again, see my book) or a werewolf. In a spoken sequence on Bat Out of Hell, a male character asks a female, “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?” My friend Philippa used to say that her answer to that was, “Every fucking time.”
When Horgan declares that evolutionary psychology can’t explain monster porn, he indulges in the same narcissism as prohibitionists do when they declare that no woman could choose sex work: “I cannot understand this, therefore it is inexplicable.” But actually, women being turned on by monsters is no odder (vampires, anyone?) than women indulging in transactional sex; however much either or both of them might upset and horrify prudes, they both have their origins in female behavioral scripts going back to the time when the behavior of human men wasn’t much different from that of the monsters in the fantasies.