The name Ashley Youmans (AKA Ashley Dupre) is now inextricably linked to the downfall of Gov. Elliot Spitzer of New York. She has been widely branded as the "high class prostitute" who brought Spitzer down, though the governor's demise was hardly her doing.
S&S, however, has uncovered some information that offers a thus far unreported link between the young would-be singer from New Jersey and a far more creditable enterprise.
It appears that Ms. Youmans is a descendant of the same Youmans family that established The Popular Science Monthly, which began its run in 1872. In the magazine's statement of purpose, which appeared in the first issue, editor Edward L. Youmans wrote "The POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY has been started to help on the work of sound public education, by supplying instructive articles on the leading subjects of scientific inquiry.…The work of diffusing science is…clearly the next great task of civilization."
Interestingly, the stated purpose of The Popular Science Monthly was to "make its appeal, not to the illiterate, but to the generally-educated classes," a clientele far less exclusive than that of the Emperor Club VIP, the sex-for-pay ring for whom the young Ms. Youmans worked.
By the 1880s, the job of editor fell to Edward's son, William Jay Youmans. Ashley Youmans' father, it turns out, is the most recent family member to carry on this forgotten, though once prestigious, name of William Youmans.
While none of this genealogy alters the fall of New York's former Governor Dimsdale (See N. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, for a fuller explanation) or the sorry straits of the young Ashley Youmans, it offers us an opportunity to see how one-word identities like "prostitute" or "hooker" can obscure the vicissitudes and ironies of the human condition.
In the aftermath of our articles on Efelide di Sanitá's astounding Theory of Interspecies Sexual Normalcy, which maintains that "at the heart of normalcy, lies a form of erotic desire that is inflamed by the prospect of interspecies pleasures," the idea has been embraced by a growing number of people and institutions. This recent advertisement for Kohler bathroom fixtures, only underlines the growing trend.
In response to requests from many of our readers, we now post Part 2 of "The 'Other' Revisited."
On September 11, we published an article—'The Other' Revisited— summarizing aspects of a confidential study we had obtained. Entitled “Revelations in a Bottle,” the study was authored by Prof. Efelide di Sanitá and a research group at the Center for Ontological and Perceptual Studies, an American affiliate of l’Academia dei Segreti (Academy of Secrets) in Italy, known as the Academia secretorum naturae when it was founded in the 1550s.*
In the paper, the authors propose an audacious and remarkable “theory of interspecies sexual normalcy,” contending that mainstream heterosexuality—despite its widespread popularity and its endorsement by powerful institutions—is very often but a veiled expression of man’s obsessional desire to engage in bestial relations.
“To many male minds, women are a whole different animal, a separate, less evolved species driven by passion over reason, animal desires over rational choice. Because of these dangerous proclivities, the history of heterosexuality has routinely placed breeding women in captivity, restricting their mobility in society and their opportunity to live their lives to the fullest degree of their potential.
“So, at the heart of normalcy, lies a form of erotic desire that is inflamed by the prospect of interspecies pleasures.”
Extending their argument into the linguistic realm, Dr. di Sanitá and his group, have done a survey of English slang terms for “woman.” In Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality, there is a pertinent vignette entitled “The Costermonger’s Tongue and Roget’s Thesaurus.” Drawing on the outlook of Peter Mark Roget, who compiled the first Thesaurus of the English language in 1852, the chapter explores language in general, and slang in particular, as part of a cosmological system of meanings. Words that appear in close proximity to one another offer a collective picture of a particular arena of meaning or, in some cases, of intolerance and bias. Each region in the cosmos offers a combined picture of a way of seeing that is communicated by a constellation of conjoined words. “Revelations in a Bottle,” employs a similar approach to language and demonstrates that the normalcy of interspecies sexuality pervades the synoptic constellation of words that are employed by men to describe their heterosexual objects of desire.
The preponderance of animal metaphors is striking. On the most obvious level, the word “bitch,” is derived from a term connoting a female dog. But the terms extend beyond the comfort of the mammalian realm. A “chick” is a baby chicken, from the phylum Aves.
Other interspecies lexicographical evidence discussed in the study include: beaver, bird, cat, chicken head, dog, filly, fish, fox, grizzly chicken, heifer, hen, hose beast, kitty kat, moo, mustang, oyster (a mollusk!), pony, puck bunny, pussy, pussycat, quail, squirrel, stallion, tiger, trout, tuna, and yak. The discussion of plant metaphors such as “tomato” or "flower" is fairly brief but highly evocative in terms of how broadly the general theory of interspecies sexual normalcy extends.
The collection animal terms for men, it turns out, is much smaller. Stud and wolf both refer to men as sexual practitioners, but neither of these seem to carry the same kind of all-encompassing identity that bitch and chick do when applied to women.
Illustrating this piece, S&S offers a small sampling of visual artifacts that underline many of the linguistic findings reported on in “Revelations in a Bottle.”
* The Academy of Secrets (Academia secretorum naturae, in Latin) was founded in the 1550s by Giambattista Della Porta, the author of Magia Naturalis (Natural Magic, also 1558). The school was silenced by the Inquisition in 1578, but Della Porta’s influence continued well after his death in 1615. While many believe that the Academy of Secrets disappeared in 1578, others maintain that its enterprise continues unto this day, under the most highly guarded circumstances. This cannot be verified, nor can the existence of the Center for Ontological and Perceptual Studies, whose exact location is unknown. We must add that Efelide di Sanitá’s pregnant study came to us through the back door and, while we found it of enormous interest, we cannot vouch for its authenticity.
Technorati Tags: Academia_Dei_Segreti, bestiality, bitch, chick, femininity, filly, fish, Giambattista_Della_Porta, heterosexuality, interspecies_sex, masculinity, mermaid, stereotype, theory_of_interspecies_sexual_normalcy, typecasting, woman
IN RESPONSE TO NUMEROUS REQUESTS, THIS PIECE IS BEING REPOSTED FOR THOSE WHO MISSED IT THIS SUMMER. PART II WILL BE POSTED SHORTLY.
Heterosexuality is the official carnal arrangement of Major League Baseball, the World Wrestling Federation, the Catholic Church and countless other organizations. But S&S has recently obtained a confidential study of male-female sex which maintains that heterosexuality, despite its purported normalcy, may be the kinkiest, most transgressive sexual activity of all. The study, by Efelide di Sanitá and a team of researchers, entitled "Revelations in a Bottle," is in large part based on a close analysis of a recently discovered, highly suggestive cultural artifact. Some of the paper's observations lie below.
Cultures around the world are defined by taboos against a wide range of sexual intimacies. Most are shaped by a firm restriction against sex or mating with "the other," someone who belongs to a group perceived to be extremely strange and alien.
But heterosexuality, despite its widespread practice, is the ultimate example of bonding with "the other." To many male minds, women are a whole different animal, a separate, less evolved species driven by passion over reason, animal desires over rational choice. Because of these dangerous proclivities, the history of heterosexuality has routinely placed breeding women in captivity, restricting their mobility in society and their opportunity to live their lives to the fullest degree of their potential.
So, at the heart of normalcy, lies a form of erotic desire that is inflamed by the prospect of inter-species pleasures. It has long been known that stereotypes of otherness are shaped by a combination of hatred and, at the same time, provocative sexual fantasies about "the other's" insatiable carnal proclivities. The authors of the study point out that, consciously or not, a California vineyard has recently begun marketing a product known as "The Other'" wine [image above], a "Tastefully Seductive" potable that is, according to the label "Sin-sually Delicious." The label, portraying an erotic line drawing of a nude woman from the rear, has her stretching out her torso like a cat in heat.
It is rare to find an historical artifact that so simply and concisely unpacks the contradictions that lie within the psychic core of a society's notion of sexual normalcy. Sex with "the other," disallowed by cultures and civilizations for so long, turns out to live at the heart of good old fashioned male-female relations. Mating with another species, whose nature requires control, captivity and, if they disrespect the lion tamer, a beating, seems to be what standard issue men are looking for.
So committed are they to this wild and wayward obsession, that they openly abhor sex with one of their own—another man— but one more contradiction in an ideology of "decency" that claims to the sanction of God.
The study suggests that this widespread fixation with interspecies relations be explored through archeological analyses of other cultural artifacts, to provide scholars with a more thorough data base on the subject. S&S has gone to the ads for famous haberdashers, et al, to locate a small sampling of artifacts that may be worthy of examination regarding the innovative "Theory of Interspecies Sexual Normalcy," as Dottore Efelide di Sanitá, the study's primary author and Research Director of the Center for Ontological and Perceptual Studies in Truro, Massachusetts, terms it. Meanwhile, rest assured that Stereotype & Society will be reporting on other aspects of "Revelations in a Bottle" shortly.
(wine bottle photo © 2007 Archie Bishop)
For those who haven't been to the site yet, Rejected Letters to the Editor has just published its second issue. It is part of the flea circus publishing empire that includes S&S.
Since the 1920s, Mystics of Merchandising have sought to divine the emotional triggers that would motivate prospective consumers to make purchases. Manufacturing useful or beautiful products that people would want to buy was clearly not enough to move the wheels of commerce. With factories pumping out product, it was necessary to manufacture instrumental stereotypes of consumers that would generate sales as well. Thus began the ongoing enterprise of consumer profiling, the constant study of emotional life in an attempt to scientifically analyze the inner workings of the public mind.
Within the nascent field of social psychology in the twenties, it was assumed that in order to sell products to consumers, to link public loyalties to big business, even to lead populations into war, the ability to map the interstices of public perception and behavior was essential. From that time mind-mappers, working on behalf of high-paying clients, went into overdrive. Their goal: to chart the topography of human propensities.
One of the first of these was Henry C. Link, who founded an Orwellian entity known as the Psychological Corporation in 1923. His approach, as he described it, was "the study of people's behavior as a clue to their present and future wants." Under Link's direction, the Psychological Corporation published a quarterly Psychological Sales Barometer, the first ongoing examination of consumer attitudes and behavior: the brand-names people purchased, the ad slogans that stuck in their minds, etc.
This was the beginning of an obsession with finding the holy grail: a magic bullet that would make the processes of persuasion thoroughly predictable. Today, in business and politics, such efforts have only accelerated. No one "goes public" without being guided by polls, focus groups and other paraphrenalia of an intricately-managed democracy.
The sales machinery of the internet has allowed Link's "study of people's behavior as a clue to their present and future wants" to function on automatic drive. Every time someone makes a purchase at Amazon.com, for example, data is added to a behavioral profile of interests and desires. Incrementally, a self-generated stereotype begins to assume greater and greater detail. Now, upon signing on, one is gleefully addressed by his or her first name, and offered products that fit a purchasing pattern.
WHAT NEXT? WHAT NEXT? It seems like Stanford University psychologist Brian Knutson is on the case.
In an article in the January 4th issue of Neuron, reported on in the New York Times (January 16, 2007), MRI brain scans are now being used to predict consumer behavior. "We were frankly shocked at how clear the results were.…It was amazing to be able to see brain activity seconds before a decision and predict whether the person would buy it or not." In the case of Times reporter John Tierney, Knutson was able to predict that he was likely to make a purchase 50% of the time he encountered a product, higher than "the average 30 percent buy rate."
According to Tierney, there are two brain locations that figure heavily in consumer behavior. One is the "nucleaus accumbens" where expectations of desirable experiences register. The other is the "insula," which is stimulated by expectations of pain. One of these painful experiences, reports a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, is when people part with their cash. For merchandisers, however, there is hope. Credit cards, no interest for six months, and "no payment until 2010," all offer consumers the ability to avoid "insula" attacks and to purchase items with money they haven't yet made. Taking the immediate pain out of the shopping process, something that credit card users on the internet can eloquently vouch for, makes a direct hit on the "nucleaus accumbens" all the easier.
The primary question, of course, is how to install brain scanning equipment in department stores and other consumer emporiums. How can merchandising industries convince shoppers to have an MRI every time they step into Macy's?
According to unnamed sources, the answer is easily within reach. S&S has learned of unconfirmed reports that major retailers are now in secret negotiations with the Department of Homeland Security. The expectation is that President Bush, shortly after his State of the Union Message, will announce that in order to defend the safety of decent patriotic consumers, all people entering shopping malls or other commercial havens will have their brains routinely scanned for "evil thoughts and intentions." That way, "evil doers can safely be weeded out, and the sacred right to shop, enjoyed by real Americans, will be able to proceed unimpeded."
A hush-hush back-up plan, just in case this new policy is seen as an incursion on people's rights, is to set up an MRI Portrait Studio where, for five dollars, consumers can receive framed portraits of their and their children's brain scans. Coupons offering "deferred payment" on all items purchased on the day the portrait is taken will appear to more than offset the five dollars spent, and will encourage shoppers to have a portrait taken every time they go shopping. This one could take off and would have the added attraction of gleaning profits from those "evil doers" who are in the mood to shop.