tagReviews & EssaysUniversal Sexuality

Universal Sexuality

byShale©

For those not familiar with Playboy magazine, Asa Baber writes a column on men each month, usually a masculinist interpretation of relationships with women. His essay in the December, 95 issue was titled "multisexual in 1996," and started as an exploration of bisexuality when one of his old cronies confessed to a new found sexual identity. However, Baber ran away from the poignant and hid in the absurd before finishing the column. That's to be expected from a middle aged, heterosexually entrenched male, but before abandoning a more relevant piece, he did touch on a concept that has intrigued my science fiction imagination for most of my life. Baber says in jest what I have always seriously considered, and that is : "...I am attracted to men, women,...and extraterrestrials."

These science fiction ideations came to me about the time of the first Star Trek TV series, and coincidentally, the sexual revolution and concepts of reincarnation. Having transcended our cultural taboos by exploring interracial and same gender sexuality, it didn't require a quantum leap of imagination to anticipate making love to alien life forms.

In an erotic piece I wrote in 1984, describing two souls reincarnating into forbidden liaisons thruout earth history, I ended with: "Can you remember those many times our love prevailed when our different paths crossed, and we knew each other despite the facades of color, religion, nation or position? And will you remember, in days of future past, as we meet on distant planets, with differences yet unknown, this love we now share?"

All of us on this planet are of the same genetic stuff, and race and gender (and even species - but I won't go into intimacies between some humans and their canines, etc.) seem so inconsequential when you view the cosmic unity that we are all a part of.

Science fiction writers have envisioned any number of sentient extraterrestrials who may or may not be similar or compatible to this planet's sentient beings. Over the past quarter century, Star Trek has become a part of our cultural mythos, and through fiction, has addressed many of the illogical taboos of American society.

In the original series, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) share the first interracial kiss on network Television in "Plato's Stepchildren" (Nov. 68). By October of 89, in Star Trek - The Next Generation, Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) is enamored of Dr. Leah Brahms (Susan Gibney) in "Booby Trap," and their difference in race was not even a consideration. The writers for Star Trek have always gone where no one had gone before in defining the possibilities of intimacy between diverse humans, as well as between extraterrestrials.

Capt. Kirk got a bit of a rep in the galaxy for becoming romantically involved with any attractive female humanoid he encountered, whether Terran or extraterrestrial. He couldn't help falling in love with the very beautiful alien Elaan (France Nuyen, "Elaan of Troyus," Dec. 68), for it seems that the females of her "species" ( actually, if it's a humanoid that can interbreed with humans it would be a variety or race of our species) produce an irresistible aphrodisiac in their tears. Thus the Star Trek crew starts encountering alien humanoids with differences not yet seen on this planet.

Some sci-fi extraterrestrial differences were designed to be quite exciting to our sexually uptight culture, such as Ilia, the Deltan female (Star Trek - The Motion Picture, Dec. 79). Imagine an entire planetary culture where every activity of daily living is sex-oriented. Free love with a vengeance. Let's hope the Prime Directive forbids Christian missionaries from visiting 114-Delta V, and destroying its native beauty like they did the Polynesian cultures on our own planet 200 years ago.

Another example of extraterrestrial humanoids with different physiology would be those empaths and telepaths such as Vulcans and Betazoids. Imagine making it with someone who would know your feelings more directly than by interpreting moans, thrusts, and breathing. They would also know your fantasies, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on where you're at during lovemaking, and whether they accept it. The idea of interacting with your lover on a mental level is a common theme in science fiction. Before "Brainstorm" (1983) and the later virtual reality concepts, I had wishfully imagined the beauty of making love to someone while simultaneously sharing each others thoughts and feelings. Perhaps some Terran compatible telepathic alien will be able to download into our thoughts.

Fully functional, sentient androids, programmed in a variety of pleasuring techniques! How's that for an alien "life" form? When the intoxicated Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) wanted to get laid in "The Naked Now," (Oct. 87) she grabbed the android Data (Brent Spiner).

Androids are a common staple of sci-fi, as seen in the horror of "The Stepford Wives" (1975), the treachery in "Alien" (1979), the pathos of "Blade Runner" (1982), and the unstoppable determination of "The Terminator" (1984). Companion androids and the ethical dilemmas of using them go back at least to the 1950s Twilight Zone TV series, and the thought of someone using an artificial human for sexual gratification has to be particularly grating to the puritanical. While it's a male fantasy to have a perfect and willing body to bed, I'm sure a lot of women would venture to try a man who won't go limp after one orgasm and fall asleep. Besides the risque scene where Tasha seduces Data, Star Trek has hinted at the use of holographically generated lovers when Riker (Jonathan Frakes) falls for the alluring charm of Minuet (Carolyn McCormick), a sultry holographic brunette in a New Orleans jazz bar, enhanced by the Bynar (1001001, Feb. 88).

More to the point of sexual gratification would be to rent some time with a program in Quark's commercial holosuite on Deep Space Nine. If such technology existed, what would be the moralists' arguments against it? You can be sure, if they haven't changed their song in the past 500 years, the Puritans will probably still be fearful in the future that someone, somewhere in the universe is enjoying themselves. Likewise, would the psychologists find fault with renting the affections of an android or holographic surrogate lover? Having partaken of the services of "alien" earth prostitutes (Mexican and Turkish) in my youth, I see such frolicking as harmless fun. It did not impair my ability to love a non-commercial person, and I was even capable of a momentary pseudo-love for the body-for-hire.

Suppose there is a silicone based "artificial" intelligence in the universe, an advanced culture that can encase itself in a body compatible to humanoids. All of us sci-fi fans know that they are considered a life form, but how many would become intimate with them. Will marriage to a silicone based life form be sanctioned by Terran law?

Even with organic humanoid extraterrestrials there may be differences of physiology to overcome. This is currently being addressed in "Alien Nation," set in our present earth culture. The episode televised in Oct. 95 humorously focused on the problems faced by Terrans and extraterrestrials wanting to consummate their love. Though the Tenctonese, or Newcomers are physically similar to humans they are much stronger, and apparently there are different erogenous zones to be aware of or you can get your neck broken if your face is in the wrong place at a convulsive moment.

Tenctonese physiology also requires a third partner for mating - another male, specially equipped to open the female for her husband. As if this weren't culture shock enough for the average straight earthling, this three way impregnation is done at a public gathering of family and friends. Science fiction writers are great at taking the complacently normal person to new realms of squeamishness.

As mentioned earlier, Star Trek has a history of addressing earth foibles in fictional deep space. From the landmark interracial kiss in the racist '60s, it has taken on another bigotry in the '90s, homophobia. "The Outcasts" (Mar. 92), was an allegorical handling of our own culture's fear of sexual nonconformity. The J'naii are an androgynous race of humanoids, who apparently have vestiges of male/female identity despite their culture's ban on gender preference. Social conflict arises when Soren (Melinda Culea) a J'naii, gets female hetero feelings for Riker. She is forced back into the androgynous fold by a brainwashing treatment (aversion therapy?). Before being sentenced to "treatment," Soren's impassioned plea for freedom of individual sexual expression mirrors the homosexual and bisexual arguments against our own intractably conformist society.

Falling in love with extraterrestrials therefore, can present problems of culture as well as physiology. Star Trek again offers some insights on how alien cultures will have to study each other. In "Liaisons," September 1993, male appearing ambassadors from a newly contacted humanoid race, the Lyaaran, are sent to study our alien human concepts of pleasure, anger, and love. With shapshifting ability, the one assigned to Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart), poses as an attractive woman with passionate needs. The ruse is discovered before those needs are met, but after a long shuttle ride back to the Enterprise together, the alien thanks Picard for the enlightenment.

My jaded mind immediately envisioned the ambassador in the female body going at it with Picard on the shuttle, and then Picard accommodating the ambassador in a male body. A good Starfleet officer must be versatile in first contact situations.

The most recent example of how complex some extraterrestrial cultures could be in their interpersonal relationships was presented on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the first week of November, 1995. In "Rejoined," Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), the resident Trill, meets a former spouse. That sounds straightforward enough to those who aren't familiar with the extraterrestrial Trill. The Trill are a symbiotic culture with human hosts joined with an alien species. The humans are normal, have intercourse and babies, grow old and die, while the centuries-old symbiont creature moves to a new host that shares its ever growing experience and knowledge. The Trill culture has a very strict rule that the symbiont in a new body may not rejoin a symbiont from a past relationship. It seems similar to Terran rules against incest.

In this particular story both symbionts, who were husband and wife in previous bodies, now occupy female humans. But, their love from the past relationship draws them together again. Because of the Trill nature of switching human bodies and experiencing both male and female existence, gender does not get in the way of expressing affection, and the two females embrace in a very touching and passionate kiss.

This may be the most controversial kiss on TV since 1968. And, judging by the uproar in March 94, when Mariel Hemingway gave a quick peck to Roseanne in a gay bar, there undoubtedly will be complaints about this twenty seconds of wet mouth affection between two women, even though the story line is about the relationship that formed when one of them was a man. Any controversy would indicate how unprepared earth society is for actual contact with alien cultures.

So far, the only extraterrestrials we've had exposure to have come from the imaginations of science fiction writers, who have perhaps given us too many humanoids in the universe. Even by creating these humanoid aliens similar to us, we can see potential social problems that the majority earth society can't deal with today.

Making love to a really different intelligent extraterrestrial would still be left to those daring individuals of our planet who have found that they can love the inner being and not be limited to a particular gender, race, or life form.

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