James W. Hicks, M.D.

Posts Tagged ‘macho’

Bisexual Arabic Literature

In Cultures, Media on February 2, 2011 at 7:23 pm

With Cairo in the news recently, I was reminded of an Egyptian novel that deals with bisexuality. The Yacoubian Building, by Alaa Al Aswany, was a best seller in the Arab world when it was published a few years ago, and it was subsequently made into a popular movie. One of the main characters is Abd Rabbuh, a young police officer who is married but also having an affair with an older, gay man, Hatim Rasheed. Rabbuh has features of several sexual types, though his role is most obviously macho and versatile. The characters are portrayed sympathetically, though the plot requires a perhaps stereotypical tragic ending.

For another great novel featuring bisexual characters in Egypt, pick up Norman Mailer’s colorful epic, Ancient Evenings, set mostly in the 13th Century B.C. The narrator (Menenhetet) has sex with both men and women, as does his pharaoh, Ramses the Great. Menenhetet is portrayed as macho, while Ramses seems to be supersexual. The novel is fascinating for the way in which Mailer immerses the reader in an alien culture, in which sexuality, bodily functions, and religion are completely unmoored from contemporary associations and assumptions.

And back to Arabic, consider reading the erotic wine songs of Abu Nuwas, a revered 8th Century poet who wrote in Baghdad during the early Abbasid period. The classic poet is famous for his sexual relations with men (when he was a boy) and boys (when he was a man), but he also married a woman and loved a slave girl during his youth. He wrote passionate songs about both young men and women.


In Sexual Types on September 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm

The macho sexual type refers only to men and is a sexual category commonly seen among Latinos and men from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. But it can emerge in any culture or sub-culture (for example, in the military, in jails and prisons, in athletic circles, or in urban neighborhoods) where maintaining ones position in a hierarchy of power is particularly important. And many men, regardless of their cultural background, may consider sex an arena where ones masculinity is contested, proven, or compromised.

If you are macho, you consider yourself straight, and would never say otherwise, but you may also think of yourself as a “top” or, simply, a “man,” regardless of whether you are having sex with a man or a woman. The important thing is to be the active or insertive partner in the sexual act. If another man gives you head or lets you screw him, then it says something about his sexuality, not yours. Your ability to penetrate another man makes you more, not less, of a man. (At an extreme, this can make the rape of another man possible, for example by soldiers, police, or prisoners.) You may prefer or seek out younger, pretty, or effeminate men, or transvestites or transsexuals, or you may prefer masculine men, so long as your role in the relationship is not in doubt. You do not discuss these sexual encounters with your family or female partners, though you may joke in public or brag about them with like-minded friends, who perceive your exploits as enhancing your masculinity.

I can think of several un-exemplary examples of the macho type, for example: notorious cops who sexually abused their prisoners or the character played by Aaron Eckhart in In the Company of Men, whose most memorable sexual experience was the gang-rape of a fellow male student. There is also plenty of scientific and anecdotal literature about men in Latin, Muslim, and Mediterranean cultures who screw other men while considering themselves straight. But I can’t think of any famous individual whose sexual behaviors are acknowledged who might fit the macho type, aside from some gay Latino adult film stars, like Tiger Tyson, who exclusively top. One of the young Mexican characters in the book and movie of Mala Noche might also qualify.


In Cultures, Media on July 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

In 2005-2006, the HBO miniseries Rome amazingly recreated the politics and personalities of the Roman republic on the verge of becoming an empire under Julius Ceasar. The acting, sets, music, and story are fabulous.

Among it’s other virtues, Rome portrays several different types of bisexuality in an accurate historical context.

Early in the first season, Octavian is taken to a brothel by the soldier Titus Pullo, where he is offered a range of men and women to choose from. It is taken for granted that men are ambisexual and might want to have sex with both genders.

Octavian’s sister, who has previously loved and been married to a man, is successfully seduced by her mother Atia’s arch-enemy Servilia, an older woman who had previously been in love with Julius Ceasar. (Yes, it’s a bit of a soap opera, but so much more.) Atia’s daughter is flexamorous. Servilia’s feelings are unclear.

Servilia also employs a 14 year old psychopath as an assassin who is supposed to poison Atia. This versatile young man becomes a servant by offering himself as a sexual bottom to the senior slave of Atia’s household, but he also flirts boldly with Servilia. For him it is all about the money.

In one episode, Lucius Vorenus’ fellow mobsters anally rape another man, reflecting the sexual violence that can be condoned within a macho sexual culture. Marc Anthony also rapes a passing woman and expects continuous sex from his slaves. He’s never shown having sex with a man (unless you count the orgies in Cleopatra’s court, where he shows off his new tattoos), but he is presumably supersexual.

Vorenus’ tavern manager in the second season, who becomes Titus Pullo’s girlfriend, is portrayed as atypically (for the time) manly and sexually aggressive, suggesting she might have metamorphic traits.

Julius Ceasar is involved only with women in the series, but the real Julius Ceasar was known in his time to have had a homosexual relationship when he was a young man. In fact, he was assumed to have been the bottom, which could have destroyed his reputation if he were not so strongly respected by his men as a soldier. He might have been flexamorous or ambisexual.