Sexual mores

Gehennese sexual mores are quite unlike our own. Contact between men and women is restricted and controlled in a fashion reminiscent of a past, strait-laced epoch, but homosexuality is accepted and even expected conduct.

The measures taken to control women vary from age to age (see status of women), but they are consistently designed to protect the ‘rights’ of the men who control them. A woman (unless she is a prostitute or hetaira) will usually find it difficult to be alone with any man other than her husband, but this is not made so because sex is taboo, but because her husband would be thought a cuckold if she were, or if she has no husband, it would be thought that her guardian was letting her favours without providing her the security of a marriage or concubinage (see concubine). A woman who has the reputation of being ‘fast’ is a shame to her husband, and if she has no husband, will have difficulty getting one without a large dowry.

It may be that the Gehennese turn to homosexuality because their customs make heterosexual partners hard to find, but societies on Earth with similar arrangements have not all been so tolerant. Be that as it may, the Gehennese have no taboo against homosexuality, and expect and even encourage it under some circumstances.

A Gehennese person’s adolescent experiments in sex are likely to be with a person of the same sex, and adolescent homosexual crushes are likely to be consummated. Good-looking youths are much admired and courted by Gehennese men, and (although their families usually take steps to protect them from being debauched by undesirable lovers) a romance with an older man of good character is considered wholesome and good for building character. The affairs of women and girls are conducted more discreetly, and with less public posturing and conspicuous gallantry, but are essentially similar.

In the Archaic and Decadent Periods especially, enduring love between men is held in particularly high regard, and is thought to produce the most noble behaviour. In the military it is thought that a man fighting beside his lover will fight with the verve of two, maintaining, as he does, the honour of another man which is as dear as his own. Elite military units composed of pairs of homosexual lovers enjoy high prestige (see Aotos and Sacred Band), but are occasionally plagued by heterosexuals volunteering solely for the prestige.

Although Gehennese will often resume homosexual behaviour out of whim, to gratify a friend, or as part of the games at a dissipated party, and although relationships established in adolescence can persist for a life-time, they tend gradually to abandon homosexual activity after marriage, or at least after heterosexual opportunities become available. The proportion of the population which retains a preference for his or her own sex throughout life is no higher in Gehennese society then in our own.

The Gehennese are, on the other hand, afflicted with an extremely strong taboo against incest, which they view with great horror. Women need to be chaperoned even in the company of their brothers and fathers, to protect their reputations against suspicions of incest.

The Gehennese have no general taboo against sex with members of other intelligent species. Leshy are prized for their beauty, and junction with daimons is held to confer prestige and luck. Merfolk are considered semi-savage by upper-class society, but so long as their conduct is decorous, individual merfolk are accepted as equal to humans.

Flyers universally have a reputation for want of chastity, and in truth do seem to seek out members of other races for sexual variety. As such unions are invariably sterile, marriage is not usually considered possible. This being the case, any affaire between a flyer and a human must be achieved clandestinely, and contrary to the wishes of the woman’s guardian, and involves the risk of disgrace if it is discovered.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.