Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Myth of Tiresias and the Ten Pleasures of Sex

Tiresias was a blind prophet of Thebes who told the truth about the past, present and future, although those for whom he prophesied rarely took what he said seriously. Aside from his clairvoyant powers, Tiresias was also famous for being changed into a woman for seven years.

There are several tellings of the myth of Tiresias, many of them contradicting each other. The gist of the story is as follows:  

One day, the young Tiresias was walking along a path on Mount Kyllene, in the Peloponnese countryside, when he came across a pair of serpents engaged in unashamed copulation. Condemning them for their lust-fulness, he struck them with his walking stick.

The sensuous goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, was angered by Tiresias' actions, as she heartily approved of sexual pleasures, even for animals. She punished Tiresias in the worst possible way: by transforming him into a woman, in both body and mind.

After seven years as a woman, ranging in roles from prostitute to wife & mother, Tiresias again came across the serpents, but this time allowed them their carnal pleasure. Hera was pleased and rewarded Tiresias by restoring his masculinity. 

Some time later, Hera and Zeus were arguing about who had more pleasure in sex, the man or the woman? Hera, the great seductress, had always led Zeus to believe the man was superior in sex, as well as in all other things. To settle their disagreement, they summoned Tiresias, as he knew what it was like to be in both roles. As a man who spoke the truth, he revealed womankind's greatest secret: on a scale of ten, she gets nine parts of pleasure to his one. Hera was furious at Tiresias and, despite Zeus’ protests, she struck him blind for betraying womankind with the truth.
I have spent the last few days studying and pondering on the story of Tiresias. One of the things I have been trying to find the answer to is what Tiresias considered "the ten pleasures" (or parts) of sex, of which he said man enjoys only one, while woman enjoys three times three, or nine pleasures, although some versions say woman enjoys all ten.
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There seems to be no answer to this question. So far as I can tell, there is no listing of the pleasures anywhere in the texts, just the mention that there are ten. When surfing around the web to try and find the answer, all I see are people claiming that it is literal sexual orgasmic pleasure.

Then the modern feminist narrative comes out claiming that this was all from 'misogynist' Greece where they were oppressing women. So it is all just nonsense in an attempt by the Greeks to hold women down - everyone knows men enjoy sex far more than women.

But is this true?

Having a look at the myth itself, we may find a clue.

The reason Tiresias is blinded is because he angered Hera for revealing womankind's greatest secret: that she gains more pleasure from sex than men. Hera, Zeus' wife and seductress, had led Zeus to believe that he was superior to her in sex, as well as in all other things - it was part of her seduction of him. This seems to be the theme that comes forth, not whether the woman orgasms more than the man.

"Woman does not betray her secret." -- Immanuel Kant
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It seems to me, that either through subconscious deception or unconscious ignorance, the women who join in this debate are coming from the same position as Hera herself - denying that women benefit more from sex than men. "Woman does not betray her secret" is something that many "misogynist" men throughout history have pointed out, so, we should not dismiss them lightly simply because women say we should. That is exactly what Hera, the priestess of womankind and marriage herself, wanted to happen - and the reason she was angered at Tiresias was for betraying her with the truth!

"From woman you can learn nothing of women." -- Nietzsche

What is woman's greatest secret then? And what was it about sexuality that Tiresias was inferring women enjoyed, if it were not literal orgasmic pleasure?

So, I spent some time pondering what the ten pleasures (or benefits) could be, and here are the things I suspect Tiresias was referring to:

1 - Use of Sex for Survival/Procurement of Goods from the Man - Even today, 85% of the homeless are men. Women "somehow" manage to not fall through the cracks as easily as men when they fail at life. What, oh what, could it possibly be that prevents this from happening to women in the same degree as men, even though, as feminist academics continually remind us, "women only receive $0.76 for every $1.00 that a man earns"? When Tiresias was a woman, he was portrayed as both a prostitute and as a wife and mother. (More on motherhood later in point six).

Also, women gain instant status upon marriage. While a man has to work for 10-15 years to become a doctor, the woman he marries instantly becomes part of his social class, no matter her education or past efforts - which is pretty nice for her, eh? 

2 - Sexual Gate-keeper - A woman's sexuality is in demand and she can easily replace a man - women have "orbiters' or "men in reserve" who are waiting in the wings, hoping she will call on them - when women leave a man, there is no shortage of men vying for her attention, trying to replace the previous man. She plays the passive role, the male is the motive, or active agent. There is enormous power that is conferred upon her simply for being in this role.     

3 - Sexual Power to Manipulate Man for Woman's Own Purposes - Power by Proxy - "Let's You and Him Fight"

"Who cares whether women rule, or if they rule the rulers? The result is the same."-- Aristotle.

Ask yourself, exactly how powerless is that woman on the side of the road with a flat tire? Her "helplessness" inspires countless men to pull over and change the tire for her, thus, her "helplessness" is actually her power, and since it controls the power of those "with more power," her power is greater. After all, her batting eyelashes accomplish the same task as a grunting and sweating man does - they both change the tire! 
4 - Social Power as a Gender - Shaming and social manipulation is an enormous part of female power. It derives from womankind's sexuality and is not just expressed individually, but also in the aggregate, from women as a whole in society. Everywhere in nature, the male serves the female. (See point 6) "Nature has given women so much power that the law has wisely given them little" -- Samuel Johnson

5 - Male Protection & Sacrifice - Helen of Troy's beauty was powerful enough to launch a thousand ships, remember! Men will readily risk their lives to save women. It does not occur nearly so frequently the other way around. Think of the Titanic.

"Nobody's a feminist when the lifeboats are being lowered."

6 - Fulfillment of Biological Clock/motherhoodTiresias has three daughters: Manto, Historis & Daphne - While it is true that men also enjoy fatherhood, the parental instinct is different between men and women. In women, the parental instinct is due to her biological clock - it happens to her before having children, and comes from somewhere within. With men, they do not have a biological clock, or at least not one so strong as in women. Men's parental instinct kicks in after the child has been born, and they fall in love with it and will protect and provide their brains out to ensure the child's survival. The only thing that could really be said to be a "biological clock" in men would be their acknowledgement of "time." What I mean is, a man who is 45 and has never had children thinks of it in terms of raising a child to 18 years old (plus four to six years of post-secondary education in, heh, institutions that don't adhere to the truth) which places him into his mid-sixties before it is all over.

This is much different than the way women's biological clock works, which is much more like a flower, where the entire existence of the plant's energy ultimately culminates in a bloom, demanding reproduction takes place when it is ready. And, when she is ready, she demands the fulfillment of her readiness immediately, thus the female is the passive cell, while the male is the motile cell - always at the ready to do her bidding.

"Contrary to the general opinion, there is no difference in the total sexual impulses of the sexes.../...Any such idea comes from a confusion between the desire for a thing and the stimulus towards the active part in securing what is desired.../...It is important to distinguish between the intensity with which sexual matters are pursued and the proportion of the total activities of life that are devoted to them and to their accessory cares. 
7 - The Pleasure of Letting Someone Else Lead - The woman no longer has to worry about making money, providing food and shelter and so forth (or, at least not as much as when she is alone), allowing her to focus her time and energy on the children she bears. Many people reminisce of how good things were back at Mom & Dad's after they have become adults. As children they might have resented it, but as adults, they realize how fortunate they were, both in a literal/physical sense, and also in a psychological sense. It was nice to not have to worry where the food was coming from or if the heat will still be working next month, wasn't it?
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8 - The Tyranny of Weakness (can shirk responsible and claim victim-hood) - The Buck Stops Here. As man's subordinate in "misogynist" cultures, any time that something goes wrong, all the blame ultimately turns back upon the man. For example, if a man cheats on his wife, he is a lout for doing so. And if a woman cheats on her husband, he is a lout for not keeping her happy. "Heads she wins, tails he loses," or,

"The worst form of tyranny the world has ever known is the tyranny of the weak over the strong. It is the only tyranny that lasts." -- Oscar Wilde.

This is still happening today, where everything in society that is not to women's liking is blamed upon men, even though we are decidedly not living in a patriarchy, but rather a matriarchy. (Over half of all children go to bed at night without a biological father in the house. Maria Shriver reports that America is "A Woman's Nation" because after the 08/09 Great Recession, women now outnumber men in both university degrees and in the workforce. Hannah Rosin of The Atlantic further rubbed salt in men's wound by declaring "The End of Men." And yet, heh, men are still to blame for everything wrong in the world rather than women.)  
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9 - Sexual Pleasure - for man and woman - the one pleasure the man gets from sex. I hope this is self-explanatory enough for me to not have to discuss the birds and the bees - this is not an X-rated site, after all. However, if you're a beautiful, available young woman, send me an e-mail along with several photos, and I'd be willing to discuss it privately with you in greater depth.

10 - Duality - Everything in regard to Tiresias is about duality, or the completion of the Yin
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and Yang, of the two opposites becoming one.

Tiresias was both man and woman. He was rewarded with long life (either seven generations or seven lifetimes), but starts his knowledge when he was young - thus the duality of young and old is connected through him. He was also granted the full memory of his life on earth after he died and went to the underworld, thus connecting the duality of life and death.
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I suspect that of the ten pleasures, where man receives one pleasure to woman's nine, the pleasure that neither receives is duality - That is something that can only be achieved by embracing the opposites within themselves; by the man embracing his masculinity and the woman embracing her femininity. If men try to behave like women and women try to behave like men, they become competitors rather than a synergistic force that is greater than the sum of the two parts.

Some stories, however, do say that woman enjoys all ten pleasures, and if we take that tack on duality, I have read before about the concept of duality existing in women when they have a son. The woman creates the son, who becomes the man who takes care of the woman. This is why the mother & son, represented so often with the Virgin Mary, is such a powerful and recurring theme in various artwork throughout history. (The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world).

Well, these are my suspicions of what the Tiresias Myth is about. Of course, there is no way to prove it, and these are just my ponderings. But I think this is a much better interpretation than thinking he meant women get nine times the orgasmic pleasures which men do.
"It is pathetic to note that in today's society, when a woman marries a doctor or a lawyer or a corporation executive, she automatically procures the same status and income which took her husband years of hard work to attain. No exertion is needed on her part, outside of buying the right clothes and applying cosmetics-in other words, slipping on the right mask. So a brainless bimbo who drapes herself on the arm of a movie star is accorded greater respect than a female librarian or scientist." -- Matthew Fitzgerald, Sex-Ploytation (p.11)