An Alien Vice. Human Sexuality and the Pornography of Abduction: Part Two

David Sivier
Magonia 73, January 2001

Marriage in many technologically primitive societies is frequently by abduction. The Amerindians of Tierra de Fuego sought their wives in this way. Although many such cultures now have elaborate rules concerning betrothal and courtship, among the Kagora and Kadara tribes of northern Nigeria, for example, ‘(a)ll secondary marriages begin with wife abduction’. [14] Nor are they isolated examples.
Similar abductions of women for wives also occurred in First Nation North American, Celtic, Papuan and the earliest formative period of the Graeco-Roman cultures of antiquity, to name but a few.

Although western concepts of warfare no longer encompass the abduction of women for marriage, tragically rape and the sexual abuse of the female, and sometimes male population occurs with disgusting regularity amongst the world’s armed conflicts. In the relatively stable West which has not experienced war for over fifty years, the abduction phenomenon may express deep fears of the forcible appropriation of the tribal gene pool by an aggressive other produced through millennia of tribal and personal competition for women.
The victims of these abductions, following Herodotus’ claim that ‘no young woman allows herself to be abducted if she does not wish to be’ [15] – a statement apparently on a par with some of the idiotic comments about rape by the more senile judges – are not necessarily merely passive victims. In Ona Fuegian society, for example, ‘it was not considered proper for a new wife, whether a young girl or mature woman, to give herself away too cheaply. On the contrary, she would frequently put up a good fight and, on his next appearance, the bridegroom might have badly scratched face and maybe a black eye as well.’ [16]
Despite risking a beating or worse from their new husbands, abducted wives `were wooed and made much of, to prevent them from running away’, [17] which, as Bridges himself noted in Tierra del Fuego, many did. If the abduction phenomenon represents a fantasized expression of deep human fears of tribal raiding for wives, then its incorporation into female sexual fantasies may represent a kind of sexual Stockholm Syndrome, in which those abducted women remaining with their new husbands saved themselves from further violence at the hands of their abductors by developing feelings of love for them. It may also be a female response to the curious mixture of violence and genuine love in this particular form of male sexuality. This process is clearly exemplified in Ann Carol Ulrich’s novel, Intimate Abduction, advertised in the August/ September 1991 issue of UFO Universe under the by line ‘What happens when you fall in love with your abductor’. [18] It’s possible that this is one of the dafter and more dangerous popularisations of the abduction phenomenon, but I doubt it. There’s so much other obnoxious trash to choose from.
Another point to be made regarding the abusive content of the abduction is that a large proportion of romantic fantasies feature women as victims. Whether these are the classic formulae of adventure stories, in which the hero must rescue the heroine from the vile schemes of her enemies, or the heroines of ‘weepies’ like Love Story, who as often as not die young, the tragic heroines of classic romance are nearly all victims. There may be a biological component to this. There is evidence to suggest that women are neurologically more inclined to depression than men, just as there is evidence that women are more prone to UFO abductions and demonic experiences because of the greater development of the left hemisphere in the female brain. [19]
On the other hand, the lower status traditionally afforded to women, the relatively limited career and educational opportunities offered to them, and social conventions that emphasize emotional display may constitute concrete social influences creating the greater incidence of depression amongst women. Regardless of the precise social or biological reasons, it is clear that some women do feel they can only achieve attention, dignity, and possibly drama and excitement through some tragedy. The abduction experience appears to fulfil those needs.
If the imagery of abduction phenomenon shares a common origin with much conventional pornography and sexual fantasy, its literature diverges sharply from much modem erotic literature, at least in apparent intent. First of all, regardless of their content, most erotic fiction presents itself as fantasy. There are one or two pieces of dire porn which make spurious claims to reveal the hidden secrets of a particular milieu, but much of it is honest about its fictional nature. Moreover, such material is written explicitly with the reader’s sexual enjoyment and arousal in mind. Indeed, Hite and Friday’s books can be considered celebrations of female sexuality as much as an investigation of it.

The explicit message is that the human race is being collectively raped while our military and political leaders stand by and collaborate. Fear the stars. Fear your government. Trust no one.

The opposite is the case with abduction literature. It’s not written to celebrate such contact. Indeed, the events described are traumatic and the percipients explicitly wish them to stop, or that they had never begun in the first place. A few may consider they have established a meaningful rapport with creatures from another world, but this is very much a consolation prize after the trauma of abuse and violation they have experienced, and continue to experience. Far more than science fiction, it is a literature of warning: that we are powerless before our violators, from whom we can only expect more abuse and torment. Their might be an additional message urging us to care for the environment, and adopt a more pacifistic, spiritually enlightened lifestyle, but the explicit message is that the human race is being collectively raped while our military and political leaders stand by and collaborate. Fear the stars. Fear your government. Trust no one.
In actual fact, in this respect the abduction literature is fulfilling one of the social roles accorded to pornography, though that of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries rather than late 20th – early 21st. To the modern reader, one of the most bizarre features of the clandestine literature of pre-revolutionary France is the seemingly incongruous mix of pornography and political message. Amid tales of sexual debauchery and the systematic abuse of the lower orders by the royal family and aristocracy, the genre also featured the exploits of sexually and politically liberated heroines whose nocturnal and diurnal adventures were interspersed with lengthy expositions of political philosophy. The result can read rather like Karl Marx would, if he had written for Playboy instead of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.
The most obvious example of the genre are the turgid works of the Marquis de Sade, in which lengthy and tedious descriptions of just about every cruel and abusive act imaginable is interspersed with equally lengthy and tedious expositions of his revolutionary philosophy. Again, the central character of at least one of his works, Justine, ou la Philosophie dans le Boudoir. is female. A woman abused and humiliated by the aristocracy, she becomes an abuser herself, gaily killing and torturing her servants with the same cruel abandon her noble guardians did to her, justifying her cruelties with philosophical arguments on the superiority of the truly liberated individual to conventional slave morality. As a moral philosophy, it predates Nietszche by almost a century. It might have influenced him too. though there is an important difference. Nietzsche always maintained that his writings were a gedankenexperiment: ‘I write for people who like to sit and think, no more’.
This politicised porn was not a break from established tradition either. From the seventeenth century onwards, pornography fulfilled a distinctly political function, as a scurrilous vehicle by which the disaffected attacked established authority. One of the most notorious 17th century pornographers, Ferrante Pallavicino. has been described as ‘an angry young man, who in his short life lambasted the hypocrisies of society, the Roman Catholic church, particularly the Jesuits, tradition and the idea of religious belief in general. He paid for his critical stance by being beheaded at Avignon in 1644.’ [20]
After Cromwell’s victory in the Civil War, the Puritan was satirised as a hypocrite and sexual pervert, who ‘crept to brothels, where his special predilection was for flagellation or even sodomy.’ [21] The essentially passive role of the male Puritan in this pornography links it to the descriptions of abuse recounted by male abductees, which may also have undercurrents of homosexuality. Male Puritans were so caricatured, not just because of their supposed hypocrisy in stressing marital fidelity and chastity, but also as a reaction to much of the feminist activity within the English Revolution. The sectarian milieu boasted a number of strong-minded, charismatic and influential women and Puritanism as a whole was rather more egalitarian than the rest of English society. As a result, Puritan women, especially the preachers, were vilified as promiscuous, adulterous termagants, who abused and cuckolded their husbands.
The rape and homosexual abuse of male abductees may also stem from deep antifeminist sentiments, including the fear of female sexuality. Certainly the Far Right political milieu which has most vociferously supported it has a distinct antifeminist orientation and is strenuous in demanding a return to more traditional gender roles. After the Restoration, much pornography was written in the form of scurrilous satires directed against leading politicians such as Rochester, Dorset and Sedley, who were politically aligned with the Whig opposition in the 1670s.
From the Henrician reformation onwards, another favourite target of satire was the Roman Catholic church. The Catholic clergy were subject to the same accusations of hypocrisy and sexual licence as the Puritans of the Interregnum, including sexual cruelty. Several were based on real scandals, such as the excesses of the Borgian popes, and Cornelius Adriaensen in Bruges. Adriaensen was the founder of a secret order among the women of Bruges, who were persuaded to meet him in secret, undress, and be chastised for their sins. The order was eventually betrayed to the local authorities by two unwilling novices, Betteken Maes and Celleken Pieters. Although Adriaensen fled Bruges in 1563 and died in Ypres in 1581, his exploits were still making the rounds as late as 1688, when he appeared as the anti-hero of the ballad The Lusty Fryar of Flanders.

The sadistic abuse of the Order's ‘sisters’ is an obvious parallel to the female abductees abuse at the hands of the Greys and secret government. Needless to say, child abuse was also the standard staple of these vicious attacks. The vicious anti-Catholic book An Anatomy of the English Nunnery in Lisbon alleged that the bones of the nun’s illegitimate children were kept hidden in a place in the wall of the convent garden. Sadly, this libel is not confined to previous centuries. In Jack Chick’s pathologically anti-Catholic ‘Christian’ comic, Alberto, the same assertion is made of the murder and concealment of the remains of the illegitimate children born to monks and nuns.
During the 19th century much low literature, even if not exactly pornographic, fulfilled much the same function. These frequented chronicled the adventures of pure, virtuous women victimised and abused by members of the nobility with cruel or vicious tastes. Although not necessarily socialist or even politically radical, this type of literature did demonstrate the sharp alienation of certain sections of the contemporary urban working class to the aristocratic order.
For example, one passage of contemporary literature with an immense appeal to its largely illiterate audience of costermongers, described the heroine’s imprisonment within specially designed armchair, from which sprang manacles and steel bands. Naturally, the heroine possessed ‘glowing checks, flashing eyes and palpitating bosom’ and her manacles and steel bands were ‘covered with velvet, so that they inflicted no positive injury upon her, nor even produced the slightest abrasion of her fair and polished skin’. The reader of this particular lurid passage noted the galvanising effect it had on his audience. “Here all my audience … broke out with – “Aye! that’s the way the harristocrats hooks it. There’s nothing o’ that sort among us; the rich has all that barrikin to themselves.” “Yes, that the way the b—– taxes goes in,” shouted a woman.’ [22]
The literature of alien abduction, like this antiquarian porn, performs exactly the same social function: it documents and promotes an increasingly radical alienation from the state. Like their predecessors of previous centuries, the leaders and senior bureaucrats of the modem state are engaged in a massive campaign of victimisation and exploitation. They may, with the exception of the royal family, no longer be the aristocratic seigneurs of the ancien regime, but the bourgeois politicians and mandarins of Whitehall and Washington still fulfil the same functions within this particular pornographic discourse. They are cruel and sadistic abusers, intent on perpetuating some even more secret, hideous conspiracy. It’s this aspect which allows the abduction hysteria to blur and merge seamlessly with the recovered memory scandal into one gigantic conspiracy theory.
The works of Hopkins, Mack, Jacobs and Streiber are of a type, and an influence on, the equally bizarre narratives of Cathy O’Brien and her deprogrammer, Mark Phillips. O’Brien’s memories, as recorded by Phillips, are about her programming and abuse as a sex slave for a series of American presidents and senior political figures as part of the Monarch mind control programme. As is to be expected from conspiracy material of this type, at the heart of the Monarch programme are the allegedly Satanist royalty of Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain and Britain, Nazi and Italian scientists working for the US military after the War and, of course, our old friends the Illuminati. Despite the lack of any documentation for all this aside from O’Brien’s testimony to Phillips, it’s been enthusiastically taken up by certain elements in the American extreme Right.
It’s discussed extensively in Contact, the magazine of the dubious revelations of Hatonn, a 9 1/2 foot tall reptilian from the Pleiades, who utters his tedious comments and daft insights through Doris Ecker. [23] Hatonn, or Ecker, declared sometime ago that there really was a Jewish plot to enslave gentiles, like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and that flying saucers were built by the Nazis. Ecker’s has connections with Bo Gritz, one of the leading figures in the American militia movement, and has clearly influenced Texe Mars and David Icke. Unfortunately, O’Brien is not the only victim of memory obsessed with the alleged reptilian nature of the royal family and their rapacious thirst for human blood. There’s also Arizona Wilder and Christine Fitzgerald. Unsurprisingly, Fitzgerald also claims to have been a friend and confidante of Princess Diana for about nine years. [24]
The great concert by Jean-Michel Jarre marking the Millennium at the great pyramid of Giza, according to Marrs, wasn’t harmless entertainment, but a ploy to divert attention from Masonic rituals conducted by former President Bush and the British royal family to usher in the Age of Horus. [25] Marrs cited as his authority for this ridiculous statement David Icke, already notorious for including holocaust denial material and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in The Robots’ Rebellion and later tomes.

The heroines of the ancien regime’s pervy books were spirited, liberated women adopting an active role in support of democratic, libertarian ideals

There is, however, a profound difference between the political use of this type of material and the politicised porn of the 18th century. The heroines of the ancien regime’s pervy books were spirited, liberated women adopting an active role in support of democratic, libertarian ideals. The right-wing conspiracist of the latter fin de siecle may claim to act in the name of democracy and liberty, but their ideals are distinctly authoritarian.
Liberte, egalite, fraternite were the watchwords of the French revolution, but this has long since departed from the far Right. All Marrs and his fellows offer is religious and racial intolerance. The women narrating this discourse are entirely passive. They have no role except as the victims of the new political elite. In this it mirrors the worst of Restoration pornography, which was expressly misogynist. Within its discourse, `women … are frequently epitomised as their sexual organs.’ [26]
While this is undoubtedly influential in the development of the image of the cruel and debauched aristocrat, it also attests to the perennial antifeminist use of much pornography, especially that involving violence, in reducing women to objects. The violently misogynist pornography of the Restoration came after the feminist upheaval of the English revolution, during which women became preachers, left their husbands for other men, and which increasingly stressed mutuality, companionship and affection within marriage in the theology of the more progressive and radical of the sectarians.

This was in sharp contrast to the traditional, medieval conception of matrimony as a social contract for the procreation of children in which the female partner was firmly subordinate to the male. The modem narrators of such tales of perversion and exploitation are no different. The Gnostic knowledge retailed by Icke claims to set people free, but its narrators remain located firmly in their delusionary bondage. As self-professed victims, it’s not surprising that they claim kinship with Princess Diana, who since her death has arguable become the most powerful image of feminine suffering in the late 20th century.
These differences aside, the parallels between the abduction literature and pornography, in both form, content and social function, are too close to be disregarded. Regardless of its alleged intention to inform, rather than arouse, contemporary abduction and close-encounter literature is the modern equivalent of late 18th and 19th century gothic and Decadent erotica. Describing it as such is one thing. Dealing with it is another.
At the societal level, the masochistic elements of the abduction fantasy are profoundly contrary to contemporary trends. Most of the heroines of popular science fiction in recent years, for example have been active, even aggressive figures: Buffy, Xena, and Ripley of the Alien movies, to name but a few. Even the mass merchandising launched on the back of the abduction craze tries to play down the victim’s passivity. One of the t-shirts advertised in one of the less discerning magazines described its central image of a woman surrounded by her alien captors as ‘their willing victim’, presumably in an attempt to avoid the accusation that they were encouraging rape. It’s almost as if the percipients, or their hypnotists and interrogators, were wilfully and perversely trying to retreat from their more active role into a more traditional discourse of feminine victimhood and passivity.
As traditional masculine roles and status is challenged by feminism, it’s a role which an increasing number of men feel compelled to accept. Their apparently active role in the rape of female abductees is illusory. As meat puppets under the control of the Greys’ telepathic will, they themselves are passive objects of lusts and desires not their own. Their experience as traumatised prisoners in their own bodies, passively observing while something else rapes and abuses through their flesh could represent a fantasticated form of alienation from their own sexuality in which the morally censorious superego, impressed with feminist suspicions of male sexuality, tries to distance itself from the appetites of the flesh by projecting its actions onto a rapacious, omnipotent other. It may also represent a form of the terror of losing control which habitually assault many obsessive-compulsives.
Although obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterised by the intense compulsion to perform repetitive, ritualised acts, usually to ward off some threatened disaster, it may also take the form of obsessive ruminations in which the sufferer speculates obsessively on what would happen if he lost control and performed some abhorrent, usually violent or sexual act. Cases from the 19th century include that of a man who surrendered himself to the police, fearing that he was about to murder his sister. The man stated firmly that he was devoted to her and that she was more precious to him than anything else in the world, yet he feared being overtaken by a violent, pathological mania which would result in her destruction.

More recent examples include a woman who sought medical help after imagining that she was eviscerating her husband while gutting fish, for the same reason as the above Victorian gentleman. She feared that she was about to lose control, and give in to a savagely irrational urge to harm the person closest to her. Of course, it could also be that the reports of rape by ‘turned off’ males are projections of the aggressive elements of the investigators’ personalities which produced the confabulations of abuse and rape within the abduction narrative.
The psychological trauma and distancing of the human puppets in this part of the scenario could be a form of passive resistance, in which the male abductee attempts to shrug off the role dictated for him by the investigator. Regardless of the precise cause for this retreat into passivity, it represents an attempt to evade the danger of responsibility for one’s own actions, something of which the percipient, female or male, can be absolved through their status as victim. It’s clear from these fantasies’ content that many of the percipients are uncomfortable with their sexuality. One solution may be for health professionals to reassure those vulnerable to such false memories that their sexuality is a normal, natural part of their psychology. It goes without saying that care should be taken not to encourage socially unacceptable forms, such as paedophilia, or where the percipient may act out extreme sadistic or masochistic fantasies.
A change in the broader discourse of pornographic narratives could be beneficial as well. Although much pornography is misogynistic, it was not always so. The School of Venus, published in English in 1680, which took the form of the sexual education of a young girl, Fanchon, by the older and more experienced Susanne, has been described as being ‘not a piece of escapist pornography but a realistic glimpse of sexual happiness’ in contrast to ‘the neurotic and sadistic pornography of the last two centuries.’ [27] Human nature may not be as biologically fixed and determined as the evolutionary psychologists consider. Contrary to the predictions of the sociobiologists, it now appears ‘that promiscuous women can be perfectly happy and enjoy it, and that well-paid female executives have abandoned the old, supposedly hard-wired female preference for men with resources.’ [28]
It may be that as society changes a more female-friendly form of pornography will once again emerge. In this context even the abduction narrative may be altered for the better under the influence of porn. One anonymous female correspondent to the Fortean Times Hierophant column noted the display of ‘an alien probe’ in one of New York’s sex shops. ‘While reluctant to road-test the implement in question, she did confide that she now feels significantly less alarmed at the prospect of abduction.’ [29] This could be seen either as the further contamination of women’s sexuality by the misogyny of much contemporary sexual discourse, or as women subverting this misogyny by appropriating it for their own sexual amusement. I prefer the latter.
For most abductees, I would suggest, much could be done by simply reassuring them that their sexual or emotional problems do not stem from abuse by aliens. It is with this object in mind that the above essay was written. 
At the level of ufology, it should be incumbent on all researchers to challenge and submit claims of abduction and sexual assault by aliens to close, searching scrutiny. If possible, any published investigative material on abduction should be subject to the ethical constraints informing the publication of medical material. Most contemporary accounts of alien abduction are published by amateur investigators with little or no formal, recognised medical training, in a form designed to be populist and accessible. With the exception of sex manuals and other material written by doctors, gynaecologists and obstetricians with a view of encouraging people to enjoy a more fulfilling sex life, most sexological material written by academics is strongly antaphrodisiac. It’s dry, clinical, considered and as about as erotically arousing as a tax form. And rightly so: the material is written to inform, not arouse. Its writers and researchers are also under the strict supervision of ethical review boards.
One American academic who runs a course investigating human sexuality and body language was reported in the pages of the Daily Telegraph’s Sunday supplement over a decade ago as insisting that her students take an oath to prevent them abusing their knowledge. This was after one of her students used the insights in the course to summon a strange man to her side from the other side of an airport bar and then ignored him for the rest of the evening. To the ethical researcher, the dignity of individual human beings far outweighs the possible value of his research or its publication. Any abduction material should therefore be subject to the same process of peer review, professional ethical codes, and published using the same deliberately anodyne discourse. Failing this, I would suggest that it should not be published at all. And none of it should be aimed at children.
In the meantime, if you’re stuck in Waterstones facing a long and boring railway journey and your literary choice is either something by Mack, Hopkins, Jacobs et al, or the latest bonkbuster from Jilly Cooper, I’d go for the Cooper. It’s probably better written, doesn’t claim to be anything more than a work of fiction. and there’s usually a happy ending, something which rarely occurs in the context of abductions.

  1. Thompson, R., Unfit For Modest Ears: A Study of Pornographic, Obscene and Bawdy Works Written or Published in England in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century, Macmillan, 1979, preface.
  2. Legman, G., The Horn Book, New Hyde Park, 1964, pp. 245-6, quoted in Thompson, R., op. cit., p. 13.
  3. McClure, K., “Bogeymen”, Magonia 55, p. 4.
  4. Showalter, E., Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture, Picador, 1997, p. 196.
  5. See J. and A. Spencer, True Life Encounters: Alien Contact, Millennium, 1997, p. 148.
  6. Ibid, p. 148.
  7. Freely, M., “Blowing Hot and Hotter”, The Observer Review, 16 July, 1995, p. 12, quoted in Showalter, E., op. cit., p. 91.
  8. Showalter, op. cit., p. 196.
  9. Showalter, op. cit. p. 150.
  10. “Masochism”, in Paxton, J., ed., The New Illustrated Everyman’s Encyclopedia, Octopus Books, 1985, volume 2, p. 1040.
  11. Showalter, E., op. cit., p. 192.
  12. See Lorgen, E. F. The Alien Love-Bite January 1999, cited in McCluer, K: ‘Dark Ages’ in Fortean Times, no. 129, p.39
  13. Smith, M. G. ‘Differentiation and the Segmentary principle’, in Douglas, M and Kaberry, P. M. Man in Africa. Tavistock Publications, 1969, p.154.
  14. De Selincourt, A. trans. Burns, A. R. Herodotus, The Histories. Penguin, 1972, p.42
  15. Bridges, L. Uttermost Parts of the Earth, Century, 1948, p.359.
  16. Bridges, op cit., p.223
  17. Beckley, T. G. ed. UFO Universe, vol. 1 no.4, p.63
  18. See Schnabel, J. Dark White, Penguin, 1995, p.276
  19. Thompson, R. op. cit., p.34
  20. Thompson, R. op. cit., p 41
  21. Mayhew, H. Mayhew’s London. Bracken books, 1984, p.67
  22. See Fritz Springmeier, ‘Project monarch: How the US Creates Slaves of Satan’, in Parfrey, A. Cult Rapture, Feral House, 1995, pp.241-248
  23. McClure, K. ibid. p.31
  24. See The Sentinel (Arizona) of 15/11/99, reproduced in Victor Lewis-Smith’s ‘Funny Old World’ column in Private Eye, 24 December 1999, p.24
  25. Thompson, op. cit., p.26.
  26. Thomas, D. quoted in Thompson, op. cit., p.26
  27. Burne, J. ’Just desserts for jealousy’, review of Buus, D., The Dangerous Passion; Why Jealousy is as Necessary as Love or Sex, Bloomsbury, 2000, in Financial Times, Weekend June 3-4, page V.
  28. ‘The Hierophant’, Fortean Times, no. 117, p.61.