Coded yellow.

Sunday 13 November 2005

You see naked people

Pic of the day: Khoikhoi (formerly "Hottentot") woman and man, adapted from a Polish encyclopedia by way of Wikipedia, always a good starting point for your research. Not that I didn't know a lot about this topic already.

Steatopygia revisited

The female Khoisan portrayed to the left in today's picture is not too dissimilar to the female secondary character in my second novel attempt this year, In Hoc Signo. Except the imaginary Cheenchu people have cat-like ears and just slightly catlike faces, not so much as to imply that they descend from felines but more as if a feline standard of beauty has been applied to them for tens of thousands of years. Unnatural selection.

Unnatural selection, as in selection by culture rather than nature, is very much at work with both the male and female gender characteristica around the world. In East Asia, for instance, childlike and thereby androgynous traits have been favored for thousands of years, and this is rather evident in those who live there now. In Europe, it is likely that the hairy male body is likewise selected by the women rather than by the cold winters. After all, the women are not similarly hirsute, nor are the children who would stand to risk more from the heat loss than the massive adults. And in both Europe, the Middle East and India, breasts have been at the core of female beauty. This is not a law of nature, though.

As you can see from today's illustration, the Khoisan peoples of southern Africa, which have developed independently from quite early in our species' history, have chosen a different path. In these, gender confusion is alleviated by buttocks that are greatly enlarged and differently shaped. In reality, the almost spherical form in this drawing is unusal and, if real, indicates mixed ancestry. Crossbreeds of Khoisan and nearby black peoples (the Khoisan are golden-brown) tend to have enlarged but round buttocks. The aboriginal South African Khoisan however tend to have more triangular buttocks, which are flat on the top like a shelf, and slope downward from a fairly sharp point (in so far as you can make a sharp point without bone or horn tissue, using just sheets of connective tissue interspersed with fat). They may also be standing even further out from the body.


I believe Charles Darwin was the first to coin the phrase "sexual selection" for this process, which occurs not just in humans but in animals. Traits are chosen not because they are useful but because they serve as a sign that the partner is of the right species and the right sex. Therefore the clearer the signal, the more "sexy" it is. Traits can go to ridiculous lenghts this way. The peacock's tail comes to mind, of course, but also antlers of some northern animals, which are NOT ideal in dense forest.

In the current western civilization, the worship of the female breast is continuing at a pace that threatens to destroy the backs of women for generations to come. Perhaps it is just as well that artificial implants are taking over, as they at least won't be inherited... In any case, we are hardly in a position to roll on the floor laughing at the crazy butt-worshiping "bushmen".

In my novel, I portray a people where, among other differences, there has never in human history been a phase where the female breasts was considered anything else than a milk gland. While on the other side, namely the backside, gravity-defying butts are held in the highest regard. They are however hemispherical rather than conical or triangular. This way they should also appeal to a stray teenager from our world. Such as my imaginary hero and some potential readers.


By now you probably wonder whether this reflects my personal sexual preferences. (Or perhaps I am the only one with that kind of curiosity, but judging from my online friends they have enough curiosity to exterminate whole neighborhoods of kittens.) (That's a pun, people. Not to be taken literally.)

Well, I love butts. Hours and hours of fun! But in truth, part of the charm is that the butt is so informal and approachable. Once you get started on the breasts, there is no way back. Would I prefer a world where the rear was the sexual epicenter? Probably not, since women would probably be more sensitive about their backsides. More sensitive about them than now, that is not a happy prospect. Perhaps if they had four breasts, they would throw about their butt with more abandon. Hmm, note for later year's WriMo...

I think the novel itself says it best:

She turned to me again, her eyes wide with surprise. "Then men of your race are drawn to both the front and the back of women?"
"We are always drawn to women, no matter from which direction we meet them. Is it a blessing or a curse, you think?"
She picked up her dress and started to put it back on. "Do your people ever get anything else done?" she asked, and I had no idea whether she joked or not.
"Yes" I answered, "except right after a wedding."

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: A week to whine about
Two years ago: Case of the missing entry
Three years ago: MS ate my homework
Four years ago: Only one civilization
Five years ago: U.S. Mail
Six years ago: Words come too easy
Seven years ago: Seeking truth and fantasy

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