We got an interesting email from Ara recently, and I thought it deserved a discussion:
One of the organizations of which I am a part has a rather interesting custom that I would not have seen as a complex issue before starting to read Hathor: the cloven fruit. I’m told these are common in other parts of the reenactment community besides the corner I inhabit– anyway, the point is that you stud a fruit with cloves, offer it to someone, and the recipient either refuses it or decrees what part of the body (ranging from hand to mouth to “let’s go romp in the bushes”) they wish to have kissed. The rule is that the shyer person dictates the body part, or in some areas that the woman dictates the body part.
They’re a lot frowned upon in some parts of the group as Improper, and some people don’t like it because they feel pressured. I can see feeling pressured– I probably would have when I first joined up. As much as we like to think of ourselves as a friendly bunch who would never dream of pressuring anyone… well, there are bad apples in every group.
So I’m curious about what your opinion of the practice is and whether it is something automatically terrible and evil, or something to only be done if you know everyone involved, or something to always be done with disclaimers… since while Hathor has opened my looking at things, I know I don’t see all the same nuances you do yet!
I think there are a lot of nuances to be seen. I’ve always felt comfortable putting my body sovreignty ahead of any social considerations, so if someone is offering me a sexual encounter I’m not interested in having, there’s no social pressure in the world that would make me have it. But even I feel bad rejecting potential suitors, because I’m empathetic, and I know what rejection feels like. What sort of pressure might someone else feel from a ritual like this?
And on the other side, what sort of opportunity might it be for someone who wants a sexual encounter, but feels she or he can’t ask for it, for whatever reason?
On an even larger canvas: are there any good rituals for courtship? Dating is awful, but I’ve never been able to think of a good substitute. The best courtships are the ones that just kind of happen naturally, but they’re few and far between – for some people, even non-existent.