Friday, November 2, 2007

Telling People Where to Stick It

Two news stories were brought to my attention this week:
Lab employee, 24, accused of having sex with 92-year-old's corpse and Man who had sex with bike in court.

Humans love getting involved in one another's business. Especially their sexual affairs. We want to know what you're doing, who you're doing, how you’re doing it and how often. And, for some reason perhaps a psychiatrist can explain, we love to make judgments when we get the answers to those questions. Everyone has their own markers on the spectrum between "Healthy Sexuality" and "Weird Yet Harmless Fetish" to "Disgusting Perversion." Religion and society have often engrained within each of us where to put those markers.

Very few have them are on the “Healthy Sexuality” end of the spectrum.

I’d like to put forth the idea that neither case should be weighed based on “sexual morality”. In the case of the man caught having sex with a bicycle, what he does in the privacy of his hotel with his possessions is his business. Do the employees of that hotel feel the need to verify that all shower heads are being used strictly for cleaning? They’d better post a sign in the Laundry room warning not to sit on the washing machines lest people get the wrong idea during the rinse cycle. Don’t you dare slide down that banister!

The case of the lab employee is harder to argue, but I’d say the worst crime he’s committed is violating someone else’s property. The corpse didn’t belong to him. I’d like to think the second worst part of the crime, from the point of view of the 92 year old, was that he’d waited until she died. Personally, if I get to be 92, I’d like a send off from a young male lab tech before I go.

From prostitution to gay marriage to polygamy, we’re consumed as a species with trying to control everyone’s sex life. And to what benefit? Once we’ve agreed that a person has reached the age of consent, they should be allowed to do whatever, however, and with whomever (other consenting adult) they’d like. If you have religious boundaries, you have the religious freedom to stay within those boundaries. You should not have the right wrap those boundaries around the rest of us.

Follow up to Telling People Where to Stick It

Last night while we were walking the dog, I told my friend about my blog entry. He was horrified, disgusted, even angry that I could propose to justify necrophilia.

“But why is it wrong?”

“It’s wrong because IT’S WRONG.” His reaction was so visceral he could not find words to explain his feelings.

“It’s against Nature?” I asked. A disingenuous question, he caught onto it immediately.

“Oh, you can not be comparing necrophilia to homosexuality.’

Some people would.

And my purpose of the blog post, or choosing the shocking subject of necrophilia, is the same as some of my earlier posts.

Why do we believe what we believe?

Most things we believe we’ve never questioned. They’re so much a part of our psyche that even the thought that there could be a question about them causes us discomfort. It’s important for us to examine these beliefs so that they can either be discarded or justified by a more solid foundation.

I’m not on some soap box here to champion necrophilia. I’m mearly challenging myself and others to question why. What about necrophilia is so wrong it should be illegal? Is it the violation of the deceased’s concent? If the person had given their permission pre-mortem for their body to be used for sex after death, would the act be any less repulsive? Less illegal? Is it a health concern? Is there a worry of spreading disease? Is necromania a threat or a sign of some other psychosis that indicates this person is a threat to society? Is the act physically dangerous to the person performing it?

Or is it just that we think it’s gross? Nasty? Shocking? Against nature?

Listening to just a couple of the Dan Savage podcasts, I’m aware that my sexual appetites are mundane. Most things I’ve heard him talk about… well they’re “not my cup of tea”. However, people’s comfort with the act should not be the deciding factor of whether that act should be made criminal.


angelsdepart said...

While I agree with you on the bicycle and with most acts of sexuality in general, I do have to part with you on necrophilia. I could do so on many caveats of which you have already mentioned, ie..Someone else’s property, possible psychosis involved, the potential spread of diseases ect ect ect. But I think it can all boil down to one thing. Consent! Sex acts need to involve consent. If we are dealing with an inanimate object then those sex acts need to involve ownership or consent from the owner. So I believe that if a person, for some reason, gave consent for someone to have sex with their dead body after they have died, then I would be forced to keep my mouth shut on the issue. If the bicycle belongs to me then you better have my permission before you go sticking your dick in my spokes! Lol, I suppose the mechanics of have sex with a bike have escaped me. Anyways, thanks for the post, I am adding you to my blogroll!

EnoNomi said...

Thanks, AngelsDepart. I agree with your comment completely. I'm adding you to my blogroll as well.

Anonymous said...

The bike story from the UK is terrifying. Cleaners enter a locked hotel room to find a man with a sex toy (bike in this case). He is now a registered sex offender! Absolutely stunning! It is hard for me to imagine how far this bizarre, prudish, false morality will go. WTF!

Jake said...

Angelsdepart, I'd have to disagree with you about necrophilia. Dead folks can't own property (and even if they could in some legal sense, e.g. their estate, they have no moral claim to anything on the simple grounds that, well, they don't exist anymore). So I don't think you need someone's pre-death consent to have sex with their body, any more than you need a truly abandoned bicycle's previous owner's consent to have sex with it. You just need the current legitimate owner (next of ken)'s consent.

Joreth said...

I have an immediate "eww" reaction to the concept of necrophilia, but I, too, like to question "why" in all things. Some of my cultural taboos I have questioned "why" and discovered that I'm OK with continuing to keep that idea as a taboo. But I questioned it and I understand it and chose to leave it alone, instead of blindly accepting it as "right".

But, as for necrophilia, when it comes to a legal/logic debate, I have these two conflicts against my "eww" reaction.

1) I do not believe in a soul or afterlife. The body, once the person has died, becomes an inanimate object and therefore not subject to the laws of consent the way a love doll or a bicycle or an apple pie are not subject to the laws of consent.

2) I do not believe in ownership of human beings. Therefore I cannot agree with the idea of requiring permission from next of kin as the "owner" of the inanimate object that is the dead body who was once a human. While dead, it is temporarily in the care of those who can prepare it properly for disposal. Of course, I object to it being illegal to take items someone has thrown in the trash, making it "property" of the previous owner right up until the moment the trash men take it, then it becomes property of the city who is disposing of it.

Things like necrophilia and even funerals and other after-death care in general are really more about the living relatives. Once you're dead, you're dead and you can't really care about your remains (if you assume the premise of no afterlife). While alive, I hope some stranger won't screw me on the autopsy table (then again, I want to be cryogenically frozen, so technically, I *won't* be an inanimate object). But, once I'm dead, I really am not in a position to care.

Who cares are those still living. So unless there is some medical reason, such as disease or mental instability, the only thing making it "wrong" is that it somehow offends the surviving friends and family. And frankly, most of the things I do in my sex life offends my family, so I don't know that I can really use the idea of protecting their feelings as a justification of prohibiting necrophilia.

Russell Blackford said...

I think we can have rational preferences about things that will happen after we are dead. If there's a widely-held preference that our corpses not be treated in certain ways, then I suppose that it makes some sense for our moral system to reflect this. Then there's the symbolism of the corpse for the living - there will usually be loved ones who would would want to see the corpse treated with a degree of solemnity or decorum, since it is symbolic to them of the person they knew and have lost. Symbolism is of some real importance, though not the be-all and end-all. In summary, there are some grounds, if not overwhelmingly powerful ones, to include a taboo on necrophilia in our moral system. On the other hand, I can't say that a moral system without such a taboo would be obviously incomplete in the way that would apply to a system with no prohibition of murder.

I certainly don't see the need for a law against necrophilia as such. We already have laws to stop people breaking into morgues and so on.

the chaplain said...

I've been scratching my head over the bicycle thing for weeks.

Is it weird? In my view, yes. That doesn't make it wrong. It's just not my thing.

Is it harmful? I guess he probably needs lots of lube or something, but that's his problem.

Is it anyone else's business? Only if he's doing it with their bikes.