The omnisexual woman is woman-as-body, exclusively physical. Her other dimensions, especially the psychological, economic, and engendering dimensions, are not reduced or marginalized; they are nonexistent. Their absence is symbolized by two attributes much prized in this woman-as-matter — silence and immobility: »She speaks and laughs rarely, and never without a reason. She never leaves the house. ... [and] gives her confidence to nobody.
The omnisexual woman who emerges from the erotic discourse has the lack of consciousness of the female archetype described by Erich Neumann and the inertia of the Earth Mother found by Bachofen in his excursion into the mists of prehistory. The eclipsing of the psychic dimension of this creature, the annihilation of the ego are carried out by the simple omnipresence of the physical dimension. The omnisexual woman is a woman of never failing patience, of ample, engulfing flesh, supported by thighs hard as pillars. Her physical attributes (shoulders, arms, forearms, mouth, lips, cheeks, face, eyebrows, forehead, hair, neck, breast, waist, belly, hands, feet) are minutely captured in a rigid robot- like portrait in which whiteness of skin and blackness of hair take the lead. But the most important element in this portrait, which determines the character of the woman and thus the universe that is structured around her desires, is what she has between her legs:
The lower part of the belly is to be large, the vulva projecting and fleshy, from the point where the hair grows, to the buttocks; the conduit must be narrow and not moist, soft to the touch, and emitting a strong heat and no bad smell; she must have the thighs and buttocks hard, the hips large and full.
Moreover, certain physical attributes, easily seen because exposed to view, like the mouth, lips, breasts, tongue, nose, ears, color of eyes, chin, neck, provide precise information about the emotional capacity of this woman and the shape of the vagina, especially its narrowness. The three elements — physical attributes, shape of the sexual organs, and emotional potential of the woman — form a triangular mirror-game. Each of these elements reflects the other two, is reflected in them, and the total effect of these reflections constitutes and incarnates the omnisexual woman. The characteristics of the visible features reflect the size, volume, and color of the omnipresent genital organs. A small red mouth and hard, full breasts indicate a narrow, hot vagina, inexhaustible resources of tenderness, and high intelligence. A large mouth reveals an enormous vagina, and vice versa. A red or short tongue is an infallible sign of a damp and cold vagina. Large nostrils indicate an insatiable vagina. A small chin suggests that the vagina is as narrow as a man could desire. A fat woman with a thick neck is to be avoided; she hides between her legs an enormous vagina difficult to fill. In the omnisexual vision, exterior characteristics become mere props, reflections, and signs of the central element, the crack, the slit, the woman's sexual organs, which ideally should have three characteristics to produce happiness for the believer — narrowness, heat, and dryness.
But in this vision, the woman's sexual organs — far from being moved by any desire to please the believer or Him who created him, Allah, the Almighty — constitute an autonomous, formidable force, insensitive to all morality and unaffected by any idea of limitation, order, or hierarchy. The erotic discourse, elaborated to satisfy the curiosity of Allah's representatives on earth, the vizirs and kings, structures for an audience of believers an omnisexual woman who has arisen from the deepest layer of the unconscious. She emerges from all that has been forgotten, rejected, repressed, forbidden; from the premonotheistic, pre-Islamic period, the era of barbarism, al-jahiliya, the era of no limits, of no thresholds, the era of the goddesses, when the identity of a child was determined by its maternal origin, the vagina from which it emerged, and not by a fiction, a law — that is, paternity.
The erotic discourse lays out for the imagination of the believer the mirage of a not distant past of the Muslim East, when women fostered creation on earth and in a serenely female heaven. The birth of the male God, Allah, took place in an iconoclastic fury in the temple of the Kaaba in Mecca, where the idols that put up the strongest resistance to destruction were those of the goddesses Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat.
In the erotic discourse, woman's sex is viewed by the men who approach it as a pole of animal energy, irresistible, vibrating, and making the universe vibrate to a rhythm all its own, where the male body is reduced to simply looking on, hypnotized: »[She] laid herself down upon her back, baring her thighs. ... Then I examined her vulva. ... It opened like that of a mare on the approach of a stallion.« The omnisexual woman moves in zones where distinctions between animal and human no longer exist. The female sex is elsewhere described in the following terms: »When [it] is provided with ample flesh, it resembles the head of a lion. It is called vulva. Oh! how many men's deaths lie at her door?«
It is thus not surprising that when this sex is agitated by the desire for copulation, the body that it inhabits can only follow its impulses: »When the body of my visitor was fixed on copulation, a wild desire was aroused between her legs and her private parts were seized by convulsions.«
It is no wonder that this sex, an energy pole, a seat of agitations and convulsions, sends out its rays like radar in search of the phallus. It takes on various aspects and rhythms, and each type is described and given a name. There are voracious sexes able to seek out and draw the available prey from within the surrounding space:
[The yearning one] is burning for a member, and, having got one in its embrace, it refuses to part with it until its fire is completely quenched.
Certain vulvas, wild with desire and lust. . . throw themselves upon the approaching member ... as if in fear that, unaided, it could not find the [matrix].
This voracious sex is programmed for the orgasm that it knows how to pursue obsessively by muscular reflexes and pure biological vibrations, which reign supreme in this universe:
When this vagina [the restless] has received the member it begins to move violently and without interruption until the member touches the matrix, and then knows no repose till it has hastened on the enjoyment and finished its work.
[The assistant] is thus named because it assists the member to go in and out, to go up and down, in short, in all its movements, in such a way that if it desires to do a thing, to enter or to retire, to move about, etc., the vulva hastens to give it all facilities, and answers to its appeal. By this aid the ejaculation is facilitated, and the enjoyment heightened.
The vagina is thus equipped to seek out, ingest, and manipulate the instruments capable of giving it orgasm. In the wake of that, the authors ask the question so central to those who live in a social order where woman's sexuality is supposed to submit to a multitude of detailed constraining regulations and restrictions: What are the limits of this voracious vagina? To what lengths will it go as it plays out its desire? Will it reach a point where it will be sated, or is it insatiable in its search for instruments of pleasure? Who but women could answer these questions? The women's responses were unanimous, and moreover men approved them. There was a consensus that woman's desire surpassed by far that of man:
Some people have said that the sexual appetite of woman is greater than that of man. Others have said that while woman is never sated nor exhausted by copulation, man, on the contrary, is very quickly sated and exhausted, and his desire to copulate ebbs if he indulges in it immoderately. If one copulates, it seems, night and day, for years and years with a woman, she never reaches the point of saturation. Her thirst for copulation is never assuaged.
There is the case of a king who had 360 concubines, each of whom, according to the rotation that is required in a polygynous situation, had the right to be honored by his majesty one night per year. This is supposing that his majesty, despite the energy required for the daily duties of royal power, had the strength to copulate daily with unfailing regularity with all the women he had succeeded in making his own. The author does not inform us on this point, but it is implicitly assumed in the text that the virility of the king was great enough to bring joy once a year to each of his concubines. One feast day when his majesty was feeling especially euphoric and well disposed toward the women of his harem, he asked them to dance and sing for him. Wine flowed, and he rashly promised to grant the wish of each of his concubines, if she expressed it. One of them expressed the wish to copulate to the point of satiety. The king was furious and ordered a thousand men to sleep with her that night, but she was far from being satiated. Then the king called together his counsellors and asked their help in solving this enigma. They advised him to kill her because she »threatened to debauch the whole population of the town, and the wise men gave him the following assessment:
Woman only appreciates life if one copulates with her, because her body grows and develops, she blooms and is rejuvenated when she smells the scent of a man. Copulation brings her great pleasure and tremendous joy, especially when the copulation is varied. For woman each variation has a particular nuance, and she rates each improvisation according to the partner who unstintingly enacts it for her.
Coitus has an opposite effect on each of the sexes. It energizes one of them and weakens the other. It makes woman bloom and man wilt. It is not surprising that the next step in this system of reasoning is the assertion that the only males equipped to cope with this voracious-crack woman are not men, but animals, and it is especially the ass that plays the starring role in the universe of the erotic discourse. The ass has the ideal instrument to satisfy the female sex, and (as we shall soon see) it is the standard against which men's performance, in terms of the size of the penis, is measured and its potential evaluated. There is a whole series of male fantasies that revolve around the idea of copulation between woman and ass.
In one of these fantasies, the coupling is discovered by a porter who earns his living by hiring out an ass to those who need it for hauling loads. His attention is attracted by a beautiful young woman who comes every day to hire the animal and only brings it back very late in the afternoon. The ass is always fresh and fit after what is supposed to have been a hard day's work, and it is this that puzzles him. So he decides to follow the woman to find out where she takes the beast. It is an ill-fated day. From his hiding place by the front door through which the unknown woman had disappeared with the ass, he hears the screams of an old woman. The animal had just ripped open his partner, who had lost control and had not pricked the penis of her fiery companion soon enough. That day her pleasure had been so intense that she had forgotten to use her needle to control the ass's penis, and in its excitement it had plunged in its organ and ripped open her belly in full orgasm. The old lady (always an evil figure in the omnisexual universe) describes to the curious porter the exploits of the couple whom she regularly assisted, and does so with the wealth of realistic detail that is the staple of fantasy:
»I brought up this child, who is the daughter of a great merchant. Her parents died in this very place, and she was left alone. She had inherited money and gold and continued to live here. One day she came with that ass, and she trained it so that it would mount her two or three times a day, between the time that she took it from your place and the time that she returned it to you. She laid in stocks of carefully selected barley, grain, and cold water, and she was constantly feeding it.« »And how did the ass manage to mount her?« asked the porter. »I will show you,« whispered the old woman. »She led me,« related the porter, »to a part of the courtyard where the young woman had built a hillock on which she would stretch out in order to let the ass mount her, and so she could easily wrap her legs around it.« »Why, then,« he asked the old woman, »if she could accept the ass so well, was she killed this time? Why did the ass rip her open this time?« »She used to use a needle,« explained the old woman, »that she held in her hand to control the length of the penis that she wanted inserted into her vagina. When the ass got all excited and wanted to push further in, she curbed its ardor by sticking the needle in its penis at the point which would achieve her aim. But this time she seems to have lost control of the situation. At the moment of orgasm she must have forgotten to stick the needle in at the usual point, and the ass ripped her open by thrusting its whole penis in.« The porter related that he examined the hand of the dead young woman, and that he really did find a needle between her clenched fingers, which corroborated the old woman's account. »I asked her,« continued the porter, »how she managed to get the ass to copulate with her the first time.« The old woman responded that the first time the young woman brought a she-ass, which she let the ass approach; when it was excited to the point of protruding its member and wanted to mount the she-ass, the young woman pushed the she-ass aside, lay down in its place, took the member of the ass and introduced it into her own vagina, and the ass carried on.
To the great surprise of the porter, the old woman concluded by telling him that many important men, rich merchants and great notables, had asked for her hand in marriage, and that she had declined all offers by claiming that she had forbidden herself all contact with men.
There is the story of another woman, much more brazen than the first one, probably because she was less bourgeois, who arranged to have her ass at home right under the nose of her husband, who never suspected his wife's tastes, even after having caught her flagrante delicto:
The tale is told of a man who was a porter and owned an ass which he used for carrying his loads. He had a passionate wife who loved sexual union and couldn't go a single day without it. Her vagina was so deep that only a shaggy object of huge size was able to please her. Her husband copulated with her very infrequently. When he came home after work, he seemed exhausted and worn out; he ate dinner and then went to bed, leaving his wife the job of watering and feeding the ass. The woman then went to where the ass was, placed the animal's packsaddle on her own back, took some of its dung and urine in her hands, mixed it with water, and smeared it on her private parts; then she got down on her hands and knees in front of the animal. The animal approached her and smelled her. Believing that it was a she-ass in front of it, it protruded its member and jumped on her. The woman took its member in her hand, rubbed it between the lips of her private parts, and let it glide into her until it disappeared. Then she squirmed with the member of the ass inside her, until her orgasm came. The ass became used to these operations, which pleased it. Every time that the woman came near, it protruded its member.
One night when her husband wanted to copulate with her and couldn't find her, he went looking for her and found her beneath the beast. She explained to him that she was making an experiment by trying out the ass's load in order to have an idea of how tired it got every day. She said that she went so far as to put the load on her back in order to take better care of the ass. According to Nefzawi, who included this story in his chapter entitled »On the Deceits and Treacheries of Women,« the husband never suspected anything.
But these women can't compete with a slave belonging to a black king, who was able to take on an ass as dessert after having copulated with an army of 300 men. The story leads one to believe that she was black skinned. (The importance of this detail in the Arab Muslim imagination is well known, especially as it surfaces at the level of the fantastic in the Arabian Nights.)
It is told that the king of the blacks had sent his army to fight one of his enemies. When they defeated the enemy, they managed to capture one of his concubines whom he had banished from his bed and who was in disgrace. When they saw her great beauty and grace, the soldiers told each other that she was fit for no one but their king. »I am not fit for him,« she said. »Why not?« they asked her. »My master,« she responded, »ordered his slaves — and there were 300 of them — to copulate with me, which they did, but my desire to copulate was far from being assuaged, still less from being sated. He then ordered me sent out of the town. I asked the man charged with carrying out the order to take me far away from the town. When I arrived in the countryside, I saw an ass mounting a she-ass, and its penis was in full erection. When I saw it, I couldn't control myself. I bought the she-ass, and I placed myself under its companion. It jumped on me with a sex whose parallel I have never seen. What a shame that men don't have sexes like that!« When the soldiers heard this, they became very excited and eagerly awaited their turn to copulate with her. All the members of the army mounted her, and during the act she lavished love and tenderness on each one. This spurred them to begin again, which they did, and then they left her.
Every time that man is placed in competition with an ass, he loses out. The sexual superiority of the ass over him is deeply embedded in his very genes: »Certain wise men hold that the sperm of the ass always outnumber those of man. In the case of a woman who has copulated with a hundred men and one ass, it is the ass which prevails.«
But the ass is not the only invincible conqueror of this voracious vagina. The bear is an especially prized partner of the omnisexual woman, even though he only appears once in the erotic discourse. The rareness of his appearance there is easily explained when one realizes the difficulty that a woman would have in finding a bear in the semiarid areas of the Muslim Near East. Like the first case of the rich young woman with the ass, the lady with the bear is also very rich. It is her butcher who discovers her secret, sumptuously concealed in a beautiful residence in Cairo. The lady with the bear used to buy a lamb every day with such regularity that the butcher became curious, followed her, and caught her in a strange scene of domestic intimacy. He relates:
I slipped into the room and saw that the woman had seized the lamb, cut off the feet which she had put in a pot, and thrown the rest to a bear so enormous that it looked like a camel. I had never seen such a huge one. The bear devoured the lamb. As for her, she poured the contents of the pot, once it was cooked, into some lovely Chinese bowls, ate it until satisfied, as well as fruits and vegetables along with their sauces. She drank from a crystal glass and gave the bear a golden glass to drink from. All this she did until she felt relaxed.
Then she lowered her pantaloons and stretched herself out in front of the bear. It stood up, protruded a penis as large as that of an ass, and copulated with her. She accepted it and talked to it with the same passion that she would have shown to a man in the same circumstances. When it had finished, it settled back, then jumped on her a second time, and so on until it had accomplished the act ten times, and they both lost consciousness and remained motionless for a long time.
The fact that this tale features a bear does not change the essential point of it: the size of the penis. As in the first case related, the whole thing comes to a bad end. Mad with jealousy, the butcher, armed with a very sharp knife, cuts off the head of the beast and proposes marriage to his companion. She refuses the offer and begs him to finish her off too, since life would be unbearable without her beloved. She offers him all her riches as a reward if he will agree to kill her. For her, life would be a torment without the bear, and death a liberation. He cuts off her head and takes possession of her treasure, but not for long. The governor of the city forces him to share it with him as soon as he leaves the strange residence. (The relationship between copulation and money is such a constant theme that it passes unnoticed.)
The animal penis (especially that of certain pachyderms) as the standard and unit of measure by which the omnisexual woman evaluates and sizes up her partners surfaces once again in the tale of a vizir, eager to fathom female sexuality. He asks ten of his concubines to tell him about the most marvelous experience of copulation that they have ever had. Most of them describe the penis of the human partner that they have rated the highest and compare his potency, effectiveness, and especially the size of his member to that of animals.
For one of them, the penis of her human partner resembled the penis of an elephant; for another that of an ass, repeating a now familiar theme. For a third, the resemblance was to a mule. And finally for a fourth, the penis that she loved resembled a suckling kid.
It must already be apparent that the omnisexual woman, moved by the animal force that she has between her legs, can hardly be a good believer, a pious Muslim bound by the faith to be content with one-quarter of a man (Islamic polygyny gives a man the right to divide his favors between four legitimate wives besides innumerable concubines). The unreasonable demands of her voracious vagina are going to compel her to launch an attack on all the rules that govern sexuality in Muslim civilization, and especially those relating to heterosexuality, fidelity, social homogeneity (the social origin of the spouse, the concept of kafa'), virtue (prostitution is condemned as the worst possible degradation). And finally these demands will push her to a lack of respect for sex roles.
One of the rules that determines sex roles — the one placing woman in the eternal role of a prey terrified by male desire and ignorant of all sexual technique — represents a legitimated and sacred wish, soothing to the believer in a patriarchal Islam, organized as it is in minute detail to mitigate his feelings of insecurity. This wish is expressed by and incarnated in the myth of the virgin, which occupies a central and constant place in patriarchal Islam. This concept of the virgin is the pole around which sexuality is organized in the Muslim psyche. Neither the trauma of colonization, nor that of neocolonization, seem to have shaken it. Every day young women throughout the Muslim (and non-Muslim) Mediterranean area go to gynecologists' offices to have their virginity artificially restored before their wedding nights. For the omnisexual woman, virginity is obviously an impossible condition. Her desire is a force so irresistible, so biological, so animal that she is fatally impelled to rebel against the constraints, the barriers that are supposed to try to impair her capacity for sexual pleasure. She is by definition in rebellion against all the care taken for hierarchization and classification as the foundation of the spiritual universe of Islam, which is based on the control of biological forces and their subordination to an order designed by and for man and his glorification in the male god, Allah.
It is nevertheless important to remember that never is woman's intellectual ability put in doubt. In the omnisexual universe her capacity for clear thinking is particularly acute when it is a question of destroying the surrounding order. It is not a case of destruction by lack of attention or failure to understand the social import of her acts. In all Muslim discourses without exception, woman is endowed with a particularly keen intelligence that enables her to understand the system and its mechanisms. Her hostility to the system is explicitly destructive because she is fully conscious of her acts and their import. This destructive intelligence has a specific name that the Koran itself has instilled forever in the sacred collective memory of Muslims: the qaid, which is a special form of human intelligence. It is female and devoted to the calculated, cold, and permanent destruction of the system. The qaid is not a marginal concept worked out by minor authorities. It is a key concept established by the major sources that structure and nourish the Muslim order — the Koran and the orthodox imams — as will be seen in my discussion of the Islamic legal discourse.