The one thing about Google is that it sometimes gives you a good laugh. Having spent two fascinating years at university sitting on our student council with people who made Life of Brian’s Peoples Front of Judea look like a glee club, I am sensitised to extremist thought. Somehow our friendly US based neo-Trotskyist web journal, Counterpunch, has decided to publish an article linking the term somnophilia with Bill Cosby. Bill is alleged to be the US equivalent of Australia’s own, Rolf Harris, an avuncular TV star with a hidden past. According to Counterpunches’s LA sex therapist, Dr Suzy, somnophilia is a paraphilia in which sexual arousal arises from fondling or having sex with someone who is asleep or unconscious. Clearly most of us who appreciate a nap ourselves and love sleep have had a word taken away from us by lexicon-bending LA sex therapists. Anyway, to strengthen her case, Dr Suzy has managed to dig out Christina Eugene’s Bowling Green State University, USA thesis entitled ‘Potent Sleep: The Cultural Politics of Sleep,’ who asserts:
“Sleep is the essential objectifier of all life. The passivity of sleep transforms subjects into inanimate objects, and in doing so removes the subject’s privilege of being able to act on the world of objects… This rendering of people into inanimate objects allows them to be fundamentally treated as objects – consumed, fetishized, and controlled. In accordance with the totality of capitalism and phallocentrism, an erotic fetish for sleeping beauties has surfaced”.
It took a while but capitalism is now to blame for somnophilia – Dr Suzy adds more fuel to the post-modern fire denouncing Bill, “his capitalist (read: “I own you”), controlling, consuming, phallocentric attitude towards the weak, the sleeping, the drugged, the imprisoned (who are often, ironically, subject to the torture of sleep deprivation) and those less fortunate.” The majestic sweep from Cosby to Capitalism to Guantanamo is a breathtaking giddy ride that also sweeps you through Monty Python’s Judea, the splitters and such. The Counterpunch article is a good unintentional belly laugh.
My other conclusion is that the sleep research field needs to claim back somnophilia – its got nothing to do with sex, its just loving sleep as opposed to the party-animals or hyperaroused insomniacs who have somnophobia – unless of course, Dr Suzy, thinks the vast majority of humans who prefer sex with people at least moderately conscious have a disorder that requires her services.