the beautiful woman

Chapter III from 'The ecstasies of Eros'

The enchanting primeval woman
The beautiful man (1)
Exodus from of the amphitheatre
The amphitheatre regained
Love and reproduction
Love and seduction
Polyandry of seduction
Polyandry in the mirror
Venus Frigida (1): fertilisation, pregnancy, breastfeeding
Venus Frigida (2): daily duty, monthly curse
Venus Frigida (3): shared orgasm
Venus Frigida (4): vaginal versus clitoral orgasm
Venus Frigida (5): local versus diffuse orgasm
Venus Frigida (6): unique versus multiple orgasm
The insatiable female
The impotent male
Frigidity and polygyny, impotence and polyandry
Four sexes
Many forms of polygamy (1)

Niet om in de armen van een enkeling te verwelken, werd de vrouw door de natuur met al haar charmes getooid.'

In our endeavour to complete the symmetry between the stories of Freud and McLennan, we overlooked the primal man in Freud's primeval father and the primal woman in McLennan's primeval mother. Let us therefore leave aside pregnant, bearing and breastfeeding mothers and begetting and working fathers, and turn to beautiful women for fiery young men.

There is no way around, then: women are beautiful. Men are immeasurably fascinated with this beauty and women cannot resist showing it off, except for reasons that will become clear below. Female exhibitionism and male voyeurism cannot but feed and enhance one another in an ever renewed cycle.

Whatever the standard of beauty in different times and different places, the fact remains that not all the women are equally beautiful. Were they equally beautiful, there would stay only one admirer before the scene where they unveil. In reality, all the men haste themselves to that one and only amphitheatre where the most beautiful women appears .

Th at not all the women are equally beautiful, creates a new form of scarcity of women. It is not absolute, like the scarcity that results from girlicide, but relative: there are enough women - one for every man - but only one of them is the most beautiful. The most beautiful women refers all the lesser beauties to the realm of darkness. It is not only the women who banish them. The men are their accomplice. The effect of this banishment is far more greater than the effect of both forms of scarcity that we already know: the scarcity as a consequence of the murder on new-born girls and of the hysterectomy that the primeval mother has the primeval father execute.

Only such relative scarcity of women has the effect that McLennan ascribed to the absolute scarcity of mothers: one-sided polyandry. All the men want to admire one single woman: the most beautiful. The most beautiful woman though is not prepared to monogamically display herself for one man. On the contrary: The more she displays her beauty, the more men she fascinates. The stronger their fascination, the more radiant her beauty. Thus originates the exhibitionist amphitheatre, where one woman displays herself polyandrically before the eyes of countless men, who admire her monogynically.

The counterpart of the exhibitionistic polyandry of women is not the voyeuristic polygyny of men. No doubt, men are out at admiring many women, but only to find out which is the most beautiful. Whereas maternal polyandry runs up against paternal polygyny, the exhibitionistic polyandry of women finds it natural extension in the monogyny of men: before the most beautiful woman they humbly kneel in large numbers! The situation is totally different in the harem. The harem holder can maintain his position only through the deliberate elimination of his competitors and through the deliberate subordination of his women. The exhibitionistic amphitheatre is formed with the same irresistible necessity as a crystal: men are equally inevitably magnetised by the beauty of the woman on the scene as the cinderellas are rejected to ingloriously disappear behind the scenes. Whereas the primeval father had to wield the sickle, the primeval mother has only to unveil her beauty. The primeval father that wants to gather women in his harem cannot but remind us of Sisyphus: as a punishment, he had to ceaselessly roll a rock up to the top of a mountain, only to see it roll back from its own weight. The primeval mother, on the other hand, has rather something of the ocean: the stones that roll from the mountains and are transformed to pebbles in the rivers, eventually sediment into an alluvial delta.

As long as not all the women can be transformed in to equivalent divine beauties through eugenetic techniques, men - always in the supposition of the absence of economic and political power - are doomed to fraternally gather in the amphitheatre. Only the chosen women qualify for their admiration. The rejected cinderellas may have polyandrous desires, but they cannot realise them. The existence of the pyramid of beauty lies at the roots of a first form of the discontent of so many women with their body. For millennia, women have been messing about with ointments and powders, bathes and diets, not to mention other kinds of primitive technology - in expectance that high-tec genetic manipulation can bring solace.


Not only women, also young men are beautiful. The counterpart of the desire of women to put their bodies on display before the eyes of men, is the desire of the young men to put their bodies on display before the eyes of women - in the hope that they will admire them in their turn. That is why the exhibitionistic amphitheatre of the woman has also its male counterpart - in principle. Also women are monandrous in their choice of the most beautiful man, and the most beautiful man enjoys his admiration by a host of women.

That does not mean that contradictory desires run up against one another. There are one-sided polygamous desires with both sexes, but they are complementary: the exhibition of the woman has its counterpart not in the exhibition of the man, but in his admiration, and the other way round. The phanic and the scopic drive complete one another. Therein, the exhibitionistic polygamy of the beautiful woman differs fundamentally form the maternal polyandry in the preceding chapter. The man who wants to impregnate as many women as possible, cannot marry a woman that wants to take as many men as possible as a father. Nothing prevents the women to move to the male amphitheatre after their exhibition in the female amphitheatre. Both exhibitions can occur simultaneously.

In practice, the amphitheatre of male beauty is overshadowed by the that of the rich man, as we shall see in the next chapter.


The foregoing goes only as long as beauty is merely admired. But beauty is not only meant to admire, but foremost to seduce. The woman who displays her beauty to a man invites him to display his beauty in his turn, and such reciprocal seduction eventually leads to making love to each other.

As soon as seduction proceeds to making love, the situation changes dramatically. Whoever enters the scene in view of seduction, wants to see the amphitheatre getting crowded, but only in view of choosing the most desirable partner - with whom he soon leaves the theatre to retire in private.

As soon as the partners proceed to choosing each other, the amphitheatres are emptying. The most desirable man chooses the most desirable woman. They leave the scene and thus bereave the public of the sight of their partner. The scene can now be entered by the man and the woman who are the second beautiful. Also they soon leave the scene and make place for the next couple, until eventually also the least desirable partners find each other.

Whereas displaying beauty leads to polyandrous (or polygynous) amphitheatres, seduction inevitably leads to the formation of monogamous couples. The most beautiful women wants to be admired by all the men, but why would she make love with less desirable partners? Why would she desire a second partner, when she is already satisfied by a first one? And the same goes, conversely, for the most beautiful man who wants to make love with the most beautiful women. It could be objected that the most beautiful woman would prefer to make love with more than one man, but, even when she would want that, there is also the most beautiful man, who certainly is not prepared to share his choice with competitors.No doubt, a communal response to seduction has its secret charms: those of the orgy. We will come back to that topic in chapter XI.

For partners on the lower steps of the pyramid, prospects are not so good: only the chosen ones at the top could make a proper choice. The choice of all the others is doomed to be second hand. No doubt, they would like to choose the most desirable partner, but they cannot get him. They have to choose someone, but want another. The consequences cannot be overseen. That people are not equally attractive leads to a principial and structural damage of sexual love: the lower on the pyramid of desirability, the stronger the resentment against sexual appearance and the stronger also the resentment against the real partner. And that cannot but result in increasing frigidity and impotence, as a response to the approach of the partner.

THE AMPHITHEATRE REGAINED 'As soon as women are ours, we are no longer theirs'

Once abducted from the scene, the beautiful partners are no longer admired by the public, but rather jealously hidden from view. In the twilight behind the scenes, they are overwhelmed with the feeling that they could struck a better bargain. That is why they all begin to long for regaining the amphitheatre, in the secret hope that they will be chosen by a more desirable partner.

Rather than settling in the monogamous bed, then, many lovers begin to regret their abduction from the scene. That is why the monogamous coital relation more than often goes often hand in hand with a polygamous exhibitionistic stance. Such dichotomy only increases the damage to sexual love. The resentment against one's own sexual apparition, the frigidity or impotence for the factual monogamous partner, is completed with the decision to no longer look at him and to no longer exhibit oneself. Henceforward, the scopic and the phanic drive are reserved for the amphitheatres, and the sequel in the marital bed is postponed forever.

Whoever continues to dwell in the amphitheatre declares himself eligible again. Many content themselves with an imaginary return to the amphitheatres. Others actually proceed to a renewed choice. In both cases, it turns out that the poor lovers were only impotent or frigid when making love to their legal partners. Precisely such confrontation with the selective unwillingness of their partner drives many a man of woman to insanity.


Exhibitionistic polygamy comes to an end through sexual intercourse, and sexual intercourse - we tend to forget it in our age of safe anti-conception - leads to pregnancy. In chapter II on the primeval mother, we described how the extension of a sexual relation to parenthood replaced polygamous exhibitionism with factual monogamy. That cannot but fuel the desire to prolong the exhibitionistic feast in the amphitheatre. At the same time, the ability to participate in it is drastically reduced. As a father of a mother, man an women are no longer desirable partners. Whoever wants to become a father, has no interest in marrying a woman that already cares for somebody else's children. The same goes for mothers and men that are already fathers. In that respect men are better off than women: there are no visible traces of fatherhood, whereas, with a woman that is pregnant or lactating, precisely the signs of female attractiveness are testifying to motherhood. In as much as fathers and mothers are desirable, they have less time to spend in the amphitheatre because they are occupied with the care for their children. And, finally, parenthood affects bodily beauty, especially with woman.

For men and women who want to continue the feast of exhibitionistic polygamy, it matters to reduce or postpone their eclipse through parenthood. They may try to remain unmarried or childless, and if they have children: as little and as late as possible. Not all the candidates want to regain the amphitheatre. Especially the privileged on the top of the pyramid are afraid of losing the partner they knew to seduce. They want to hold him in bed and to transform it into a childbed. And that goes not only for the man that wants to leave a indelible mark on his beautiful woman, but also for the woman that wants to bind her partner through becoming pregnant.

Here lies the origin of the separation of sexuality and reproduction. Phrased in terms of roles, we see a tendential divide between man and woman that are out at seducing and making love on the one hand, and men that impregnate and women that become pregnant on the other hand. Whoever is talking of polygamy, will have to specify of which aspect of sexuality he is talking. In this and the next chapter, we concentrate on seduction and making love. The other aspects will be dealt with in other chapters.

To remain a woman or to become a mother, such is the choice henceforward! Seductresses and seducers can want children of may be forced to have children, as has been the case until recently for economical reasons. In any case they cannot postpone the choice. Sooner or later they have to become not only lovers, but also parents. A man has also the possibility to behave as if he were not a father. A woman, on the other hand, is deeply affected by reproduction. In principle, a man's part to reproduction may be reduced to the simple act of coition, while a woman has at least to endure pregnancy and lactation. More men than women will be able to combine both roles, whereas the role of women is inevitably confined to motherhood. It comes as no surprise, then, that mothers would like to devour the fruits of their womb! They often have mixed feelings about the beings that thrive on their blood or their milk. Behind the image of the cannibalistic mother that cannibalises little girls, looms up the image of the cannibalistic woman that cannibalises her children as such, regardless of sex. The counterpart of the witch who eats children, is the image of a child that, like a rat, eats the mother from within.

Thus, two new worlds are created. On the one hand there are fathers and mothers who withdraw in factual (sexual and parental) monogamy, and on the other hand there are men that admire a small number of women in the amphitheatres. Both worlds are connected through men who figure as fathers for mothers in one world and as men for women in the other world. As soon as anticonceptives have become more reliable and economic compulsion to have children is weakening, we see an increasing number of women appearing in the amphitheatres. The men who commute between the amphitheatre and their home are accompanied with women who equally commute between the two worlds. The world of parents shrinks and so does the number of commuters. Eventually, everybody will quasi permanently remain in the exhibitionistic amphitheatre.

Thus, we got acquainted with three factors that - apart from any influence from society, that we be dealt with in the next chapter - contribute to the damage to sexual love: that the majority is not at the top of the pyramid of desirability, that most candidates cannot marry the partner of their choice and that a monogamous parental relation is combined with polygamy of seduction. The postponement or the refusal of factual parental monogamy only makes such devaluation worse.


We come to describe how the resistance grows to have lovemaking unfold in reproduction. There is also a reluctance to have seduction unfold to lovemaking. What remains is pure exhibitionism. The limit is reached when seducing exhibition is transformed into condescending aloofness. After the seduction, one has to exchange the amphitheatre for the bedroom. Lovemaking has in common with parenthood that it bereaves of a host of admirers. The sole difference is that parenthood chains for a lifetime, whereas, after lovemaking, the amphitheatre can be regained immediately. Proceeding to intercourse has also another disadvantage: orgasm eventually releases the desire to seduce and hence the motor of the whole commotion in the amphitheatre. The feast lasts only as long as lovemaking can be postponed. Until recently, lovemaking also carried the danger of pregnancy. And, finally, lovemaking with another partner is not so easily combined with an existing relation as merely looking and exhibiting. It all too easily catches the eye and elicits heavy reactions of jealousy at that.

The feast in the amphitheatres sets the movement of time still: the ritual of seduction wants to continue eternally. From the steady unfolding of seduction over lovemaking to impregnating, only seduction is left. Or, to phrase it with Freud, foreplay has become endplay. Such transformation is called 'perversion', the refusal to subordinate the 'partial drives' under the genital primacy. 'Pervertere' means to revert a movement, to deviate it from its original goal. We want to retain this somewhat outmoded terminology, at the risk of being misunderstood. What is more: we even want to extend the term to the other aspects of love. The exhibitionistic perversion isolates seduction from lovemaking (and hence from reproduction). It only lies in the prolongation of what we could call the coital perversion: lovemaking isolated from reproduction. The perverse trend reverses the move with which love is unfolding from seduction over lovemaking to reproduction. Perverse lovemaking (coital perversion) does not unfold to reproduction. Perverse exhibitionism seduces without proceeding to intercourse. The perverse move finds its counterpart in the isolation of the later moments of the movement: in the coital perversion there is lovemaking without preceding seduction, and in the fertile perversion there is impregnation without preceding lovemaking, without the concomitant sexual pleasure.

Under the sign of the perverse trend female beauty freezes to pure - cool - beauty, without seductive unfolding: the same woman who wants to be beautiful is often sexually inhibited. Beauty is uncoupled from the seductive invitation. From such beauty, the mermaid is the appropriate paradigm. Such perverse exhibitionism manifests itself in an exemplary way in Salomé's dance. Legend has it that Salomé was a virgin. Mallarmé deemed her to be frigid. She unveils herself before the eyes of countless men, only to retire in the darkness behind the scene. Such void embodies her orgasmic frigidity, the more so when the exhibition ends with the mere staging of orgasm, as with eastern belly dancers.

(The second part of this chapter will be published soon.

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