Thursday, November 5, 2015



Cheerleaders: the aesthetic nexus of the wholesome and the wanton

(The following is an excerpt from Andy Nowicki's memoir/manifesto Confessions of a Would-Be Wanker.)

For man, the realm of the sensual is not limited to physicality alone. If it were so, we would merely behave like animals during mating season, prompted to seize upon and violate the nearest female with automatic efficiency, feeling little the worse for wear afterwards. Instead, sex for us possesses an interior component as well; it occupies us in a way that involves the mind and the spirit at least as much as it does the body. Little wonder, then, that fertility rituals of ancient cults often involved ritualized orgies; in addition to sex being the origin of life, it also (to human minds) necessarily entails the harnessing of a mysterious psychic force that, in the words of the poet, “beckons as it baffles.”
Sex is undeniably a disruptive force, at least insofar as it manifests itself in a fallen humanity. Sexual desire can lead to divisions, rivalries, and even—as with the mythical Helen of Troy—to open warfare, mass slaughter, and civilizational demise. Yet sure knowledge of such unavoidable consequences  never manages to render it any the less desirable to those under its sway. There is an intoxicating potency to an alluring stranger’s smile, an exhilarating thrill to the prospect of engaging in a coy little exchange with a comely companion, even under conditions where such pleasantries never have any prospect of evolving beyond the realm of mere conversation. Still, we feel bracing little ripples of excitement when we engage in such furtive flirtations. Somehow, it is as though we are participating in an experience that doesn’t begin or end with us—thus the mystic, psychic buzz that rattles our core.

I don’t mean to de-carnalize, or otherwise romanticize, the carnal, of course.Carnality is still, I maintain, at the root of our corruption. Instead, I seek to comprehend the dimensions of human carnality in order to trace its contours and so better recollect its essence.
Sexually speaking, each of us has our own proclivities, quirks, and kinks. How we come to be drawn to the things that draw us is a matter ultimately shrouded in mystery. I can speak for no one else, but I hope my readers will not be unduly offended if I opt to address this universal aspect with a particularist bent: I have no idea how I was shaped into the person that I am, with the propensity to be “turned on” by the things that happen to captivate and allure me. My kinks aren’t terribly far off the beaten path, so perhaps it will be useful to scrutinize them, and in so doing, to ask why the aura of appeal attaches to such archetypes of female desirability , both for me and for many other men.

Those who have read my fiction surely have observed—perhaps with some annoyance and trepidation—my brazen cheerleader fixation. This is, of course, quite a common sexual fetish, so common as to be barely worth mentioning, one might think. In fact, however, the very ubiquity of cheerleader-lust prompts one to ask why it arises with such frequency.

One could, of course, simply dismiss the phenomenon as utterly unsurprising, since girls who become cheerleaders tend to be fit, feminine, popular, and attractive already; shouldn’t it simply follow that such girls will be lusted after by boys and men? But in response to this assertion, it must be pointed out that in fact not all cheerleaders are pretty, and a few are even prone to sport a bit of baby fat. Yet a girl automatically assumes a mystique or an allure when one knows that she is a cheerleader, and even more so when said girl is actually seen in her cheer gear. Even the plainer ones gain a certain currency when dressed in the requisite sleeveless top, short pleated skirt, white socks, and school-colored sneakers. Whence the enticement in this get-up?

True, the outfits expose some skin, and a particularly good amount of shapely leg; with every kicky jump and acrobatic cartwheel or tumble executed, the skirts fly up at all manner of exciting angles, inviting occasional glimpses of skintight, crotch-hugging panties. But the outfits, while revealing, aren’t as skimpy as, let us say, most women’s swimming suits are, so one must reckon with the question of why the outfits themselves enhance their wearers’ sex appeal. The skirts are short, and the peeks at panties are thrilling, but even so, there is nothing overtly scandalous in their frequent exposure, since they aren’t even actual, legitimate underwear, but only a kind of silken outer covering, like a leotard, and in any case they aren’t even seen that often… yet somehow, the glimpses afforded are only the more delightful for only flaring up at certain opportune moments, before just as quickly disappearing again, then they would be if the crotches in question were perennially visible.

Cheerleader-appeal also stems from the fact that pom-pom girls occupy a kind of aesthetic nexus between wholesomeness and wantonness. The sexiness of their schtick is generally executed with a smirk and a wink, accompanied by a wide-eyed mock-guileless “Oh, my!” hand to the mouth gesture; i.e., with knowing humor. What makes them desirable is that their desirability isn’t wholly brazen, as would be the case with those whose sexuality is more overtly advertised.
 "I may be spreading my legs, but I'm perfectly innocent!"
Meantime, the “private schoolgirl” look, complete with its plaid kilt and knee-socks ensemble, would seem to be of a similar cast as the cheerleader archetype. Once again, there is the combination of contrivedly artless youthfulness , and wily ardent sensuality, at times quite ruthlessly deployed for the purpose of wreaking maximum psychological havoc on the afflicted.  Here, however, a more studious manner obtains. These girls are, after all, dressed in school uniforms, adorned for obedience… even somewhatconservatively-attired, one might say, in spite of the ample leg exposure beneath the often-high hemlines. Cheerleaders are more festively festooned, as befits an extracurricular occasion, while schoolgirls (who may also lead cheers at games taking place after school hours) are there for business. Yet both are in skirts, and this, I think, goes a long way in accounting for their allure.
Adorned for obedience.
This matter, however, invites further investigation and inquiry… For another lust-archetype is the businesswoman in her skirt and heels, a grown-up version of these tarty teenage temptresses, no doubt, a type most assuredly intended to be taken “more seriously,” being fully mature, and smart and savvy, and in every way your equal, O man, so don’t even dream of regarding her as some sort of mere sexual minion! And yet, again there is that skirt, reinforcing an essential femininity that belies the specious rhetoric of equalitarian sameness. The skirt that she insists upon wearing, that she lovesto wear, in fact, brazenly reveals the fact of her inescapable womanly vulnerability: while her torso is thoroughly covered, the legs which jut out from beneath—and extend  just as surely above her hemline—could easily be fully exposed with the merest push of a hand or breath of a breeze.

Thus, while the businesswoman wants to be taken seriously, treated as an equal, etc., she also wants to retain her femininity… which is to say, she also wants to be open to the world’s subtle manipulations and gentle proddings, as well as its occasionally more intense ravishments. She wishes to render her womb accessible to a possibly welcome intrusion. Her wish for “equality” is undermined by her willing vulnerability, as signified by her choice to wear a skirt, and thus to signify her openness to the sensual delirium of being “opened” from without.
Indeed, wearing a skirt is an implicit declaration of dependence; a woman in a skirt challenges the world to fill the void that nature left between her legs, yet she also hides this hole of hers (the same hole from which life itself emerges) beneath the folds of fabric, a sheath which, while shielding her privacy, also leaves her essentially naked.


Of course, all of these reflections of what makes for erotic allurements are relevant to our motivations are relevant to our meditations on the subject of spiritual desolation. Eroticism possesses an immediacy that is unfortunately lacking when one contemplates the divine. Divine communion cannot be summoned at will in the matter that erotic entanglements can; sexuality thus occupies a sort of psychic middle ground between the mundane and the resplendent.

Carnality, while base, also brings into play a dimension of the spiritual, for desire isn’t just a function of bodily needs, but rather an expression of pervasive hunger for contact, fulfillment, and connection. In a world shorn of psychic certainty, in which all long-held tenets of faith and morality appear to be up for grabs, their ostensible guardians shamelessly selling themselves out to the highest of bidders, rendering as “evil” what had previously been understood to be “good,” and vice versa, all due to the sorry whims of a cowardly age, whose rulers put greater stock in fashionable novelties than truth, and mandate as ideological necessity what had previously never even been contemplated (as with the absurd spectacle of the enforced acceptance of gay “marriage”)—in such a world, it is tempting to make a religion out of sex, which after all retains a primordial integrity, impervious to ideology.     

But though it may manifest itself as a means to access a more mystical realm, sex in the final analysis reveals to the consciousness only deviously delicious whispers. It does not bring man enduring satiation, much less eternal peace. It is a best an alluring distraction, a mere reflection of the more profoundly luxurious and lasting union we all truly seek:  namely, communion with the divine. While the hedonistic life of sensual abandon has its fretful charms, these charms in no way compare to the thrill of the chaste life, whereby the fearsome “id” is tamed, put in its place, made subject to reason. The mutual exchange of bodily fluids during intercourse is a very poor substitute for the imbibing of that “living water” for which we all thirst, whose effect, unlike an orgasm, lasts not a mere moment, but forever.  

(First published at Alternative Right, June 2014. Listen to an audio recording of this passage here.)
Andy Nowicki, co-editor of Alternative Right, is the author of seven books, including Under the NihilConsidering SuicideBeauty and the Leastand his latest, This Malignant Mirage. He occasionally updates his blog when the spirit moves him to do so.

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