POST UPDATE AUGUST 20, 2020: At the time this post was originally written, the toys for this collection were provided by a company called desireforpassion.com. They no longer offer the toys in this collection.
Content Warning: This stop on the EroticAdventure touches on rape as Ovid describes it in the first poem of “The Art of Love.” Please protect yourself.
Good Monday, My Beauties,
It’s rainy and 41-degrees here in Ohio, which is the pinnacle of weird because last week we were experiencing Hoth-like levels of frigidness. While the weather has been bouncing around like a 13-year-old with a crush, I’ve been working on my plans for world domination one literary orgasm at a time.
Without much ado, allow me to share some exciting news and explain why Ovid was a gross jerk.
The EroticAdventure Week 5 or Ovid was a Gross Jerk
Remember last week when I said I knew I was going to find something problematic in the epic poems that make up Ovid’s “The Art of Love”?
Yup, so that happened.
Am I psychic? I wish. Alas, I have no powers, I just figured that if, as humans, we’re still struggling with concepts like consent and sexual affirmation, then someone writing 2,000+ years ago might have some troubling ideas.
How-dee-do, was I right.
Picture this, I’m reading along, minding my own business. James Michie’s translation is playful and light-hearted. He translated the whole shebang in rhyming couplets for fuck’s sake. I’m about half-way through the first book and Ovid is waxing poetic about places to pick up women (I wasn’t kidding when I called this an ancient guide on how to get laid).
Anywho…Ovid starts in on the theatre as fertile ground to scope out ladies:
“ Above all, comb the curved theatre—that’s the place
Richest in spoils of the sexual chase.”
Excerpt From: Ovid, James Michie & David Malouf. “The Art of Love,” p. 40, Apple Books.
Catchy, huh? I’m down with going to the theatre. But then Ovid ruins it for modern readers, or you know, any reader who knows that abduction and rape are wrong. He talks about how all-fired awesome the theatre was in the Roman myth of Romulus and the Rape of Sabine Women.
Cue the sound of a record screeching to a stop.
The story goes that Romulus and his followers (the original Incels, as it turns out) needed wives and no one would marry them. Go figure? Romulus, a creative, rapey, cretin decided to hold a festival and invited neighboring cities, like Sabine, to participate. Romulus waited until the festival was underway and then gave his followers a signal, after which they abducted and raped the performers.
And what does Ovid say about this fuckery?
“….Romulus, you found the right reward
For soldiers—for that I’ll enlist myself, with a sword!
Since then time-honoured custom has made our Roman
Theatres danger spots for pretty women.”
Excerpt From: Ovid, James Michie & David Malouf. “The Art of Love,” p. 43, Apple Books.
What the actual fuck?
Hold up now, before you @ and email me with “actually, you can’t judge an ancient culture by today’s moral standards…” let me give you some advice.
Don’t do that.
First, I’ll ignore you, your argument is invalid, because second, rape, like murder, is wrong. It always has been. There’s never been a time when forcing someone to have sex against their will was hunky-dory. It’s why, in the myth, Romulus sets up a fake festival to trick women into coming. Not many folks are going to sign up to be kidnapped, violated, and then married to their rapist.
The way ancient civilizations viewed rape and women’s agency over their bodies was screwed up. Social evolution and our collective understanding of the self is what has changed (-ish). If there’s anything that #metoo has pointed out, it’s that there are plenty of folks out there who hold the same atrocious and disgusting ideas about women & agency as their mythical buddy, Romulus.
In honor of Black History Month, I want to give a shout out to activist and ferocious warrior, Tarana Burke, who started the #metoo movement over a decade ago. If you haven’t done it yet, check out her website metooMVMT.org, a space dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual violence. Emphasis on SURVIVORS.
Also, if rape fantasy is your thing, I’m not kink-shaming you. Please don’t hear that, because I’m not referring to safe, sane, and consensual (SSC) or risk accepted consensual kink (RACK) scenes that are negotiated between adults. I’m referring to the ideas spouted by folks like the US President (I can’t even say his name, lest I suffer a rage-storm that will devour my morning), who believes it’s okay to grab women’s vaginas without consent.
And by creatures like the growing cadre of Incels who espouse some truly frightening beliefs about women. Wonkette contributor, Robyn Pennacchia summarized the ugliness I’m talking about in her wrap-up of 2018, “The Year in Garbage Men. In So Many, Many Garbage Men.”
Be Well and Be Wonderful.
IMAGE CREDIT: Your own sweet Anne Stagg. Taken in November 2010, Piazza della Signoria, Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy. Detail of “The Rape of the Sabine Women” by Giambologna, 1574 to 1582.