As a boy, I was afraid of girls. I still am, even as a man. When I’m around a beautiful woman, I get tongue-tied. I stammer. I say stupid things. I make a fool of myself. Why? I feel that I am unworthy to be in the presence of such loveliness. Besides, a man never knows what a woman’s thinking. They’re like a different species rather than another sex. Whatever a man thinks, feels, does, or says is apt to be wrong. And thin-skinned? A sensitive plant is too unfeeling for them! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike women, and I do respect them. I guess you could say that a W. C. Fields quote concerning the ladies sums up my feelings about the fair sex: “Women are like elephants to me. I like to look at them, but I wouldn’t want to own one.”

Men, on the other hand, tend to accept a guy for who he is. A man isn’t always trying to remake another man in his own image and likeness. He isn’t trying to sculpt and mold and carve a guy, as if he were so much stone or clay. It’s easy to be around other men. They don’t have hidden agendas, out-of-control hormones, and emotions as varied and fragile as butterflies. They’re straightforward, if not always honest. Simple and direct, they make their desires known. They seldom become angry, hurt, or annoyed by imagined slights or another guy’s “insensitivity” to unstated expectations. “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Professor Henry Higgins asks in My Fair Lady. Why can’t she, indeed? Maybe, if she were, a woman, rather than another man, would be my ideal date.

Well, maybe, she would have been before I fell in love with cocks and balls, but, as it is, I could never give up male genitals for a cunt and a pair of tits. To me, a prick is more than just a prick. It’s mysterious, wonderful, and awesome. Think of the metaphors that are used to describe this fantastic organ. It is a “baton,” an “engine,” a “gun,” an “instrument,” a “lance,” one’s “manhood,” a “plow,” a “ram,” a “rod,” a “scepter,” a “spear,” a “staff,” and a “tool.” These comparisons associate the cock with magic, industry, weaponry, masculinity, and power. A prick is also evocative of the resurrection. Flaccid, it is soft, shrunken, and wilted, as if it were dead. Erect, it is stiff, swollen, and ripe–full of life and vitality. It undergoes changes in color as well as in size, its pink, gumdrop-shaped tip deepening to purple, and the skin along its shaft reddening. Although it was dormant, it ripens; although it was “dead,” it rises again to life, to stand under its own power. A dick is also likened to a plant or a tree, for its semen is often referred to as “seed,” and its tip, or glans, resembles an acorn.

A man’s balls are called “testicles,” meaning “witnesses” because men used to swear oaths on them. In other words, they were considered holy. I love the way that they rise inside the scrotum as this loose, wrinkled sack of flesh tightens and lifts close to the body as arousal sweeps over a man. The scrotum is too often unappreciated. It is lovely to look at and lovelier to feel, having a silken texture that lends itself well to manipulation, especially since a man can roll another guy’s balls around inside this wonderful, natural purse, as if they were literal as well as figurative family jewels or pearls of great price.

To the artist, a man is his passions. To a philosopher, a man is a thinker. To a scientist, a man is an observer and a manipulator of nature. To a woman, a man is a provider and a protector. As these associations indicate, men have been reduced to hearts, minds, eyes, and hands. To a man who loves men, a man is, in addition to all these things, a cock, balls, and ass; he is a sex object or, actually, a trio of sex objects–in other words, a means of satisfying one’s sexual needs. Gay men define themselves in relation to other men, as “dominant” or “submissive” or as “aggressive” or “passive,” which suggests that, for them, sex is not about love, but power. It is a means of exercising power over another man or of surrendering one’s power to another man, of becoming stronger or weaker than another member of one’s own sex. In worshiping a penis, a man worships another man’s flaccid state (weakness) or his erect state (strength); as a corollary, he the same man also worships the opposite in himself, whether the opposite is weakness or strength.

Shame is learned. It is not natural. We learn shame because we are taught to feel ashamed, to be ashamed. A youth is ashamed of nothing, just as he fears nothing. He accepts all things as they are, including, if he is fortunate enough to experience it, his attraction to and admiration for cocks, both his own and those of other boys or young men. It is society, through his parents and his peers (who have learned shame through their parents), that teaches a boy to be ashamed of his fascination for the penis. Were he allowed to feel as he is inclined to feel, he would love cocks without shame or guilt or fear, as naturally as others of his sex may come to love the female sex. For a man who has recovered this initial, natural acceptance of things (insofar as it can be recovered), sodomy has no stigma. For such a man, same-sex fellatio and anal intercourse is natural and beautiful; as such, they are acts to be celebrated and enjoyed. For such a man–eventually–there is neither shame nor guilt nor fear; there is only the giving or the taking of power through sex. Like baseball and football, sex between men is a (somewhat) socially acceptable means of asserting or denying, of accepting or refusing power and control over those whom nature has equipped to exercise power through strength.

For women, men are providers and protectors. To another man, he is a conqueror or a conquest and, as such, may also become a companion, as happens, for example, in one of the world’s most ancient sagas, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Women would shackle a man with fatherhood and parental responsibilities; a man would fetter him with his own strength (or weakness). A dominant man allows a submissive man to be weak. An assertive man permits a docile man to be passive. The opposite, of course, is also true: a submissive man allows a forceful man to be dominant, just as a passive man lets a take-charge man be aggressive. To be a leader, one needs a follower, and to be a follower, one needs a leader.

A man who has sex with other men also has sex with himself, for one man is a mirror image of all other men. One man’s cock and balls is representative of all men’s cocks and balls. By sucking another man’s prick, a guy sucks his own cock. To fuck or be fucked by another man is to fuck himself or to be fucked by himself. Every man’s ejaculate is the seed of every other man. To come on another man’s face or ass is to come on one’s own face or ass or to have another man come on one’s face or ass is to come on his face or ass. Masturbating another man is masturbating oneself. Each man is everyman.

Fellatio involves the lips, the mouth, the tongue, and, sometimes, the throat as well as the penis, the scrotum, the testicles, semen, and sperm. Each of these body parts has come to represent many human abilities, attitudes, beliefs, concerns, and feelings. For example, by consulting a dream dictionary, we learn that the lips are associated with sensuality, sex, love, romance, and communication (“read my lips”; “loose lips sink ships”); the tongue, the mouth, and the throat represent the need and the ability to expression oneself; the penis signifies sexual energy, power, and fertility; the testicles also suggest sexual energy, power, and fertility, but are, in addition, associated with courage. Although most dream dictionaries neglect the scrotum, it is often associated with a container (a bag or a sack or a purse) inside of which are carried valuables (the family jewels). Semen and sperm both suggest masculinity, fertility, and the potential for growth and development. Fellatio signifies one’s willingness to give or to receive pleasure and joy, symbolizes one’s creative energy, and reaffirms that one has made the correct choice as to the direction that he has taken in life. All of these associations are part of the psychological and emotional components of oral sex between men. Fellatio is not a simple sexual act; it is a complex communication, a dialogue, as it were, involving sensuality, sex, love, romance, communication, self-expression, energy, power, fertility, courage, wealth, masculinity, fertility, the potential for growth and development, the exchange of pleasure and joy, creativity, and the direction (homosexuality) that one has chosen for his life.

The same is true of anal intercourse, which involves the penis, the testicles, the scrotum, semen, sperm, the anus, and the rectum. All the human abilities, attitudes, beliefs, concerns, and feelings that are associated with the penis, the testicles, the scrotum, semen, and sperm are involved in anal intercourse, as are those related to the anus and the rectum. The anus signifies repressed negative emotions, such as guilt or shame, concerning oneself; one’s generosity or stinginess; or a need to loosen up. Dream dictionaries tend to shy away from analyses of the significance of the rectum as a dream symbol, although one states that the intestines suggest evil, disaster, or extreme misfortune. Like fellatio, anal intercourse is not a simple sexual act; rather, it is a complex nexus of sexual energy, power, fertility, courage, masculinity, fertility, the potential for growth and development, wealth, repressed negative emotions concerning oneself, one’s generosity or stinginess or a need to loosen up, and evil, disaster, or extreme misfortune.

Even these associations are further compounded by those that relate, for example, to the erect penis (creative power and energy and the desire to act), orgasm (an exciting end to something or the need to relieve sexual tensions), and ejaculation (sexual flow or creative expression). Likewise, foreplay (hugging, kissing, caressing) could be added to the mix of otherwise purely sexual behaviors to further complexity the welter of emotional, psychological, and sexual associations related to fellatio or anal intercourse between men. Even these additions do not complete the store of such images and associations, for the metaphors that are commonly used for the penis, the anus, intercourse, and so forth could be further investigated. For example, the penis has been compared to a baton, an engine, a gun, an instrument, a lance, one’s manhood, a plow, a ram, a rod, a scepter, a spear, a staff, and a tool; the anus is sometimes likened to a “circle,” a “door,” a “gateway,” an “opening,” a “portal,” a “rung,” or a “vestibule”; and the rectum is equated with a “cavern,” a “chamber,” a “passageway,” or a “tunnel.” Likewise, ejaculation is associated with the gunfire, fireworks, floods, fountains, geysers, the launching of rockets, rivers, sowing seed, streams, and volcanic eruptions. Each of these objects could be researched as to their symbolic significance, so that the list of emotional, psychological, and sexual images and associations becomes extensive, indeed. It seems safe to say that sex between men, whether oral or anal, involves both partners in more than simply lust, opening to them both, through the complex and varied emotional, psychological, and sexual images and associations related to these acts and to the body parts involved in the participation in them, much of the inner and the outer worlds of self and society.

By excluding women as sexual partners, gay men also omit the human abilities, attitudes, beliefs, concerns, and feelings that are associated with exclusively female body parts, activities, and states of being such as the breasts, the labia, the clitoris, the vagina, the womb, the egg, and pregnancy. A consultation of a dream dictionary shows some of the things that are missing from the lives of men who have sex with one another rather than with women. For example, the breasts are associated with sexual desire or dependency, social confidence, and nurture, and the vagina is related to female energy receptivity, openness, warmth, intuition, creativity, repressed sexual memories, sexual guilt, and anger at one’s sexual partner.

“The pathetic fallacy” refers to human beings’ penchant for projecting their feelings onto inanimate or natural objects. For example, if one finds a toad to be disgusting, rather than saying “I am disgusted by toads” or “Toads make me feel disgusted,” one may say “Toads are repulsive.” People commit the pathetic fallacy all the time with regard to body parts and sexual acts. In fact, the pathetic fallacy is one of the means by which people (mostly men) create fetishes of body parts, inanimate objects, and sexual acts. For example, it is usually the penis that is “magnificent,” not the admirer who feels exhilarated over the organ or some aspect of it. Likewise, a pair of men’s buttocks are said to be “beautiful” (literally, full of beauty), whereas, in fact, the aesthetic pleasure that the admirer finds in beholding such a pair of buttocks is to be found within himself, not in the gluteus maximi themselves.

New metaphors are difficult to create, especially new metaphors for body parts and sexual acts. A few that I have managed to invent include “column of flesh,” which compares an erect penis to a column such as those that support the roof of the Parthenon; “cradle of his hips”; “acorn-shaped glans”; “opalescent pearls” (for semen); and “branded with his semen”; “nectar of his sperm”; “sperm is ambrosia”; and “volcanic eruption of seed.” (Semen or sperm might also be characterized as “the food of the gods.”) New metaphors are worth the time and the effort that it takes to envision them, for they create new relationships among things and new ways of seeing and thinking about old, familiar objects and events.

Barbara G. Walker’s wonderful book, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, is a gold mine of curious lore, most of which is associated with sex. For example, concerning the mouth, she informs her readers: “Patriarchal Moslems insisted that women’s mouths be covered by veils, because of the archetypal fear that equated women’s mouths with the vagina dentata (toothed vagina) and saw sexual symbolism in the mouth and vice versa. Mouth/vulva symbolism occurs throughout the world. Copulation has often been described as female eating. In some languages, they are the same word; pregnancy is the same word as “full-fed” or “satiated. . . . About pregnancy, it was asked, Who grows fat without eating? Male ‘seed’ was regarded as a kind of food.” Her thesis is that many masculine symbols and sacred objects of patriarchal religion started out as feminine symbols and sacred objects of matriarchal religions, as a study of the history of these items discloses. Her study shows that some of the suggestions and themes of contemporary erotica are similar to those of antiquity, even of prehistoric times. The battle of the sexes, it appears, has been raging since the dawn of time.

The hermaphrodite-transsexual figure may be a way to minimize, if not reconcile, the conflicts that occur between men and women. The son of Hermes and Aphrodite (herm + Aphrodite = hermaphrodite), Hermaphroditus was a beautiful boy who grew up in a mountain cave under the care of nymphs. At age fifteen, he left the cave to explore the world. In Halicarnussus, in Asia Minor, he found a beautiful, clear pool ringed with verdant grass. Salmacis, a nymph, picking flowers nearby, was smitten at once by Hermpahroditus’ superb beauty and tried to persuade him to make love to her. He refused, threatening to leave when she insisted on at least a chaste kiss. Salmacis pretended to withdraw, but watched the lad from the cover of a grove of shrubs. Seeing the handsome youth disrobe was too much for the nymph, and she dove into the pool, joining him. She held him in her fierce embrace, hugging him to her with such desperate fervor that their two bodies seemed to melt into one as she kissed him, praying that they would be together forever. The gods granted her request, and her body became one with his, becoming both male and female. Hermaphroditus’ parents granted their son’s prayer as well, declaring that, henceforth, any man who entered the pool would emerge weaker and softer of limb and but half a man.

Writers of transgendered fiction are like contemporary gods. Like those who granted Salmacis’ petition and like Hermpahroditus’ parents, authors of transgendered fiction are able to transform male and female characters into a third sex, the transgendered sex, which is at once both male and female and neither, transcending sex and gender. Why do I suggest this? Literary critics theorize that readers identify with the main characters of the stories that they read, so much so that they form an emotional bond with them that allows them to live vicariously through these protagonists. Readers see through the main character’s eyes, live the lives of the main characters, think and feel and believe as the main characters think, feel, and believe, and desire the same things that the main characters desire. Fiction creates, maintains, and expands empathy and sympathy for the plight of others, multiplying and enriching the reader’s own limited experience. When the protagonist is a transsexual, both the masculine and the feminine are joined, not simply in a few, fleeting moments of mostly physical passion, but their minds, their hearts, the passions, their selves are also made one, and the reader is no longer simply male or only female; instead, in bonding emotionally with the transsexual protagonist, the reader transcends sex and gender, becoming emotionally and sexually as well as physically complete. Like the men who bathe in Hermaphroditus’ pool, the reader, whether male or female, emerge changed, not so much half a man or half a woman, as Hermaphroditus’ parents believed, but a completed human, transcendent to male and female, masculine and feminine, man and woman. For this reason, any transsexual and or any admirer of transsexuals who have been blessed with artistic talent of any kind should celebrate transsexuality. In so doing, he or she honors both sexes, at the same time pointing toward the union of opposite sexes in a third, transcendent sex in which there is both male nor female and, paradoxically, neither male nor female, because sex and gender themselves are transcended and are no more.

June 2018
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