Teratophilia: An Inquiry into Monster Erotica and the Feminine Psyche

This paper was presented at the Northeast Popular Culture Association conference in 2015 at Colby-Sawyer College, New Hampshire.

Abstract:

Teratophilia, the erotic attraction to the monstrous, has been on the steady increase in Western media since the last century. Within the past few decades and due to the ease of disseminating online material anonymously, literature and art depicting the monstrous as erotic has burgeoned beyond the capacity for quantitative measures to properly calculate. Online literature, blogs, art, and ebooks have now added to the supply of monster erotica which was formerly restricted to oral tales, esoteric texts, and a scant few artistic depictions. Using a Jungian framework within the context of modern American society, this paper offers an explanation for the escalation in monster romance and why heterosexual female readers may prefer to fantasize about sexual relations with a monster rather than a human male. In a world of globalized media where the worst faces of patriarchal oppression can be streamed twenty-four hours a day, monster erotica offers an alternative sexual object and serves as a means for individuals to avoid cognitive dissonance evoked by the dichotomy of the aggressive masculine and the relenting feminine common in the traditional romance. The Shadow, i.e. the monster, acts as an intermediary between these two archetypes that can be at odds in a context where the masculine is viewed as a harbinger of suffering and oppression. By identifying with the protagonist who engages in sexual activity with a monster, readers cathartically engage with the masculine through the Shadow in her subconscious. This interaction is portrayed in a positive manner which differs significantly from past literature in which sexual engagements with the monster were depicted in a tragic or disastrous way. The struggle with the Animus finds expression in contemporary monster erotica and utilizes it as a means of reconciliation within the psyche through these narratives. This paper analyzes the monster erotica trilogy Ensnare: The Librarian’s Lover by Mac Flynn as a case study.

Keywords: Teratophilia, Jung, Erotica, Monster, Shadow, Anima, Animus, Archetype, Ensnare: The Librarian’s Lover, Mac Flynn

Author’s Note:

  • Since 2015 when I wrote this article, the movie The Shape of the Water (2017) directed by Guillermo Del Toro has been released. For those skeptical of my argument, that a woman can find monsters attractive or consider them better partners than men in a patriarchal context, I encourage them to watch it. Many of the issues discussed here can be identified in the film.
  • Since presenting this paper, I’ve been met with an almost vehement skepticism from scholars. Ironically when I’ve discussed my theory with non-scholars, many find my hypothesis reasonable and even intuitively appealing. I wish to thank one person in particular for giving me the courage to stand by my work by relating a conversation: We were discussing my paper, and I presented all the academic trappings of complex models, citing sources, anticipating counter arguments, giving examples, etc. You didn’t say anything as I rambled on for about 15 minutes like I was part of a panel. When I finished, you downed the rest of your beer and said, “So, basically, women want to fuck monsters because men are assholes.” I was so stunned by the reduction of my research which had taken considerable time that I could only nod. You replied with a shrug, “Makes sense to me.” Thank you Annie for helping me to cut through all the “bull shit”, to not be afraid of stepping up to the plate, and reminding me to keep my eye on the ball. You are, and will always be, a classy Southern lady with a sharp tongue and an even sharper wit. I’m blessed to have you as a friend.

Anzaldua, Saraliza_Teratophilia