Necrophilia; it’s a tough one. Is it a fetish or a perversion? What do you think? It’s a strange and disturbing phenomenon. It’s haunting; it’s taboo. But let’s not be squeamish; we’re going to talk about fucking dead people.
Yes it’s tough, but because it’s tough and makes us squirm, that’s not a reason not to talk about it. I think it’s a good reason to talk about it. Google is always a good place to start, so that’s where I went. And going on what you can find on the Web, with just a basic search; there’s a helluva lot of folk, curious and wanting to know more.
Are they all shouting “disgusting” and running away? It seems not; they’re intrigued. Reading about it; writing about it. Yearning for it…
Janine Ashbless writes a great necrophilia story, in Montague’s Last Ride,” in her “Cruel Enchantment.” collection. Jan Vander Laenen writes another great necrophilia tale in his short story, “The Epistle of the Sleeping Beauty.”
So, necrophilia is there. It’s in the stories that we tell each other, from Classical Greek and Egyptian Mythology, to the Victorian Gothic. It’s in Fairy Tales and it’s in Popular Culture.
In the Greek legend of the Trojan War, the Greek hero Achilles slays the Amazon queen Penthesilea in a duel. Upon removing her helmet and seeing her face, Achilles falls in love with her and mourns her death. The soldier Thersites openly ridicules Achilles and accuses him of necrophilia. Achilles responds by promptly killing Thersites with a single blow. (In some traditions, Thersites' accusation is not unfounded—Achilles was so stricken by Penthesilea's beauty that he could not control his lust for her, even after her death.)
In Egyptian mythology, we are told of the myth of Osiris and Isis. It tells of the god Osiris, who had inherited his rule over the world from his ancestor Ra. Osiris was murdered and dismembered by his jealous brother Set, a god often associated with chaos. Osiris' sister and wife Isis reassembled Osiris' body so that she could impregnate herself and conceive an heir.
So the template for necrophilia is there, in our oldest stories. Mythology gives us permission to explore those dark and secret ideas.
And what about our current obsession with vampire stories? Starting with Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, are they not a fantasy about a physical union with the un-dead?
And as for Heathcliffe in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, he sure as hell didn’t dig up Cathy’s body to gaze on her beautiful face.
And there’s so many more. In Cormac McCarthy's Child of God (1973), the protagonist Lester Ballard finds a dead couple in a car, and carries the female corpse back to his cabin to engage in sexual acts with it. After losing the corpse in a fire, he begins murdering women to create dead female sex partners for himself.
Georges Bataille's gruesome novella Story of the Eye ends with the main characters performing perverse and sacrilegious sexual acts on a passive priest, who is raped and strangled to death as he climaxes. After murdering him, the characters continue to perform sexual acts with his dismembered eyeball.
Edgar Allan Poe once described the death of a beautiful young woman to be one of the most beautiful images. (By this, he was not saying that it is a good thing for young women to die; to him melancholy and pain were sources of beauty.) Also, his poem
"Annabel Lee" includes, towards the end, possible necrophilic imagery. As does his short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
Oscar Wilde's scandalous play, Salome, based on the Biblical story of a Judean princess who performs the Dance of the Seven Veils for the Tetrarch, Herod, in exchange for the head of John the Baptist. When Salome finally receives the Christian prophet's head, she addresses it in an erotic monologue that has highly suggestive necrophiliac overtones.
And coming closer to today’s literature.
In Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon, (1977) Macon Dead is explaining to his son Milkman that he is disturbed by the relationship that his wife Ruth had with her father, Dr. Foster. Shortly after Dr. Foster's death, Macon caught Ruth lying naked in bed with her father's corpse, while sucking on his fingers.
In Canadian author Barbara Gowdy's short story, "We So Seldom Look On Love", a funeral parlour employee learns how to make the penises of recently dead men erect, and she commits sexual acts on the corpses until she is caught. In 1996, the story was adapted into the film Kissed.
Can’t leave out Fairy Tales either. Some Commentators like Marina Bychkova read the story of “Snow White”, as having a necrophiliac theme. Disney has sanitised it, just as he has done with “The Sleeping Beauty.” In a much older version of the story, the handsome Prince doesn’t just kiss the sleeping/dead princess, he rapes her.
From the Web.
“Sigmund Freud maintained that our deep childhood experiences (or lack of them) affect our adult lives in a profound way. In other words, when people are highly functional in their childhood experiences, this mirrors their adult reality, and when adult people are highly dysfunctional as children this, too, mirrors and mars their adult experiences.
There seems to be strong indications to support this concerning necrophilia. The list of necrophiliacs seems to clearly support Freud’s viewpoint. Here is a brief list: Ed Gein, Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Albert Fish, Denis Nilson. All of these personalities had strained strange childhoods, felt abandoned, felt rejected and felt worthless. According to Dr. Jackson it is the perverted and extremely aberrant feelings of loneliness, rejection and abandonment, this feeling of total isolation, and total inability to connect to another human being that propels necrophilia.
As disturbing as this approach might be for some, in a nut shell what is being said here is that the necrophilia evolves to a state where the surest and easiest way to have total control, total acceptance, and total success in relating to another human being tragically descends to the point that the human being which is to be the object of intimacy is, of all things, a corpse.”
From the Web again.
“Erich Fromm, the psychologist and philosopher considered that necrophilia is a character orientation which is not necessarily sexual. It is expressed in an attraction to that which is dead or totally controlled. At the extreme, it results in hatred of life and destructiveness. Unlike Freud's death instinct, it is not biologically determined but results from upbringing. Fromm believed that the lack of love in the western society and the attraction to mechanistic control leads to necrophilia. Expressions of necrophilia are modern weapon systems, idolatry of technology, and the treatment of people as things in bureaucracy.”
It’s described as “the highest taboo,” worse than rape, paedophilia, bestiality. So what’s going to happen if you do get caught fucking a corpse? The law in the United Kingdom says that fucking a corpse is very definitely illegal.
“In the United Kingdom, sexual penetration with a corpse was made illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This is defined as depictions of "sexual interference with a human corpse" (as opposed to only penetration), and would cover "depictions which appear to be real acts" as well as actual scenes (see also extreme pornography).
As of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, it is also illegal to possess physical depictions of necrophilia, electronic or otherwise. Necrophilia-pornography falls under the governmental description of extreme pornography, of which, possession is classed as illegal under the aforementioned act.”
So in the U.K. you’re not only breaking the sexual offences act law if you indulged your profane urges and fuck a corpse, you’re going to be hauled up for possessing “extreme pornography” as well.
In the United States, there doesn’t seem to be a blanket law covering the whole country. The law varies from state to state. As of May 2006, there is no federal legislation specifically barring sex with a corpse. Here’s a few examples of how the states differ in their application of the law.
In Arizona, It is unlawful for a person to engage in necrophilia. A person engages in necrophilia by:
1. Having sexual intercourse with a dead human body.
2. Having sexual contact with a dead human body, other than the contact normally required to store, prepare, disinfect or embalm a dead human body according to standards of practice in the funeral industry.
1. "Sexual contact" means any direct or indirect touching, including oral contact, fondling or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus or female breast by any part of the body or by any object.
2. "Sexual intercourse" means penetration into the vulva or anus by any part of the body or by any object or masturbatory contact with the penis or vulva.
F. A person who violates this section is guilty of a class 4 felony.
In California, you can get up to eight years in prison, for the act of necrophilia. In the state of Georgia, you can get ten years in prison, for the same offence. In Nevada it’s considered a Class A felony with a maximum penalty of life in prison.
I still don’t know whether necrophilia is a fetish or a perversion. Certainly the sub-text in the Sigmund Freud statement, and the quote from Erich Fromm, seem to see necrophilia as something that needs to be “cured.”
So I’m lost for a proper conclusion.
How would I feel if a relative of mine who had passed, was “played” with? I would not like it at all. I would be distressed, incensed, livid. But, as I don’t think I’m likely to come across a necrophiliac any time soon, that’s as near to making it personal as I can get.
And not forgetting contemporary literature; Post Mortem by Rose W. Sweetly gentle; a dying woman's last wish. Post Mortem is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US