The best footnote ever

Traditional sex roles have it that the woman looks after the family hearth, tending the cooking and raising the children, while the man goes off to hunt and fight.

Many explanations can be offered for these assigned roles, but to my knowledge Sigmund Freud has the most, ummmmm, interesting explanation for why men are not in charge of keeping the fire going for cooking and warmth.

freud-137x100Freud notes that men like to put fires out — not by quenching them with water — but by urinating on them. Women, given their anatomy, would get pain rather than satisfaction from attempting to put out fires that way, so we can understand their disinclination — but what is it that draws men to the practice? Why is this urge so compelling in them?

I was oblivious to this phenomenon until I read Freud, and, for our joint edification, I now offer you his interpretation.

It turns out that the male psyche interprets the flames phallically — as thrusting upwards vigorously and persistently. And the male psyche is, consequently, homoerotically attracted to the thrusting flames. Hence, the practice of urinating on the flames is to engage in a homosexual duel with them.

I kid thee not. Check out the footnote on pp. 42-43 of this edition of Civilization and Its Discontents.

Since men cannot be trusted to control their sexual desires, they cannot be trusted with so important a job as keeping the family fires burning.

Consequently, women are the guardians and saviors of the family hearth.

[Don’t think I’ll invite Sigmund on my next camping trip.]

8 thoughts on “The best footnote ever

  • November 23, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Ah, but sometimes a fire is just a fire.

  • November 23, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Even so, be careful when lighting your cigar with it.

  • December 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Fascinating. With so many choices of what to do with a fire–play with it, stoke it, poke it, draw near to it with pleasure, back away from it with fear, take it home to the cave, use it as a commodity, set more of it around the forest, build it bigger, fan it, share it, burn down the enemy’s village with it…I had no idea it was the straight man’s impulse to piss on it! I’m wondering if Freud had data to support this, or was it just a “hunch?” As in..”that babe is hot…I’d better spray liquid in her direction.” 🙂

  • December 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    P.S. (pun intended) Of the other things man might consider doing with fire such as a.) tossing an animal carcass into it to improve dinner or b.) worshipping it, it’s just that Freud’s conclusion as to an instinct in this case seems unlikely and rather far down the list?

  • April 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    watching your movie…lets talk, it’s been a while


  • April 19, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Hi Tim. It sure has been awhile. I’m working on an art video project, so definitely let’s talk.

  • May 14, 2010 at 10:16 am

    So…does this mean I am a homosexual? well…I am.

    damn Freud, I hate it when he’s right. what a fag.


  • May 26, 2010 at 10:34 am

    An art video, huh… perhaps dealing with the issue of theming in art, the need for consciously choosing it, and the consequences when not so done?

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