A Taste for Vanilla and Vanilla Sex

4 April 2014


In tracing part of the evolution of the word “vanilla” from simply a flavour to something meaning “plain” or “boring” (often in a sexual context), Murrell-Harvey (2014)[1] points to its history of use in the increasing (cultural) visibility LGBT community of the 1970s:

The continuing openness of the LGBT community [then] not only brought about the need for different cultural and political events, but also created a new social scene. As it was noted earlier, there is a text sample of vanilla being used to describe a gay bar that is not SM (Rodgers, 184).[2]  SM refers to “sado-masochism, a combination of the words sadism, meaning to take pleasure in inflicting pain on others, and masochism, to take pleasure in pain inflicted on you,” as an eloquent entry on Urban Dictionary puts it. Wayne Dynes also uses vanilla in a similar fashion in Homolexis when describing SM aficionados who “dismiss gays of simpler tastes as mere fluffs, who limit themselves to timid exercises in vanilla sex” (Dynes, 123).[3] The LGBT community uses the standardized meaning of vanilla to describe sex or gathering places as plain or boring. One of the many possible reasons the LGBT community probably used vanilla as their choice description is because it seemed innocent. The homosexual community was already, and continues, to face much hostility from general society. Why would they use a descriptive word that would only draw more negative attention to their personal lives? Also, vanilla was and is probably used amongst the LGBT community because it had already been standardized by American society. As it was discussed earlier, people began to standardize vanilla to mean plain or boring since before the 1940’s.  It would only make sense for the LGBT community to use a descriptive word that is already common amongst the society they are attempting to be equal members of (¶7).

Murrell-Harvey cites a usage of “plain vanilla” in a headline from Life Magazine in 1942 (“Willkie Evolves a Plain Vanilla Foreign Policy for Republicans”) from which it “can be inferred that vanilla began to shift from a description of an actual flavour to something meaning plain or boring before the 1940s” (¶4). Yes, though I would propose that the sense here may not point yet to rather than “plain or boring” but only “with nothing added in”—a sense which informs the gay subculture usage later for vanilla sex and which, as a phrase used by S&M adepts, might well have evolved into meaning later “plain” or “boring” sex explicitly.

I less intend to start a debate over the merits of this proposed middle step between “flavour” and “plain or boring” than to extend Murrell-Harvey’s insight further by asking (or trying to intuit) why a food metaphor like “vanilla” got marshalled into making this distinction at all. As others have shown in the domain of adoption criticism, food metaphors applied to people (in this case children) become highly problematic; for example, from a Twitter bio, we have “adoptive vanilla mama to handsome chocolate son” (see here, plus the relevant comments). Murrell-Harvey also cites an instance of a sorority sister saying, “Vanilla men are alright, but I think you need some chocolate in your life” (¶1).

Vanilla, Chocolate, & Food Metaphors

I can’t convince myself that no racialized overtones whatsoever cling to in these (sexualized) senses of vanilla—especially with the sorority sister example—but where a food metaphor gets invoked, it seems likely at least at first glance to suggest something desirable, something one would want to eat or, more metaphorically, to consume as consumers. This sense seems indisputable where would-be adopters refer to cinnamon or chocolate babies, &c., and not always (unfortunately) without the sexual overtones, as any number of transracially adopted girls attest. Even without this, resonance here with the “I’m-going-to-eat-you-up” of Hansel and Gretel sounds loudly and clearly, s also any memory one might have of the relative who pinches your cheek and declares, “You look good enough to eat.”

Of course, a use of a food metaphor may attempt to generate disgust, as Huxley does in the opening of his (1932)[4] Brave New World:

Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in a long recession down the work tables (1).

From Lopez (1998):[5]

This paragraph does not feature the only repulsive use of food and drink in Brave New World. Discussing how excised ova are preserved after extraction, the Director of Hatcheries “referred to the liquor in which the detached and ripened eggs were kept; and, leading his charges to the work tables, actually showed them how this liquor was drawn off from the test-tubes” (3). The use and repetition of “liquor” here almost reflexively invites the reader to have a glass of ripened and detached ova in saline (with probable gag results), but that again does not efface the fertility of the image, if the pun will be excused. And, after the main course of butter and goose-flesh, apparently washed down with eggnog, Huxley then serves us a “warm bouillon containing free-swimming spermatozoa–at a minimum concentration of one hundred thousand per cubic centimetre” (4). I suspect that the word “warm” lends this description its effectiveness more than the concentrated thickness of the bouillon itself; again, though, the inadvertently positive link here between eating (food) and life-renewal is obvious.

This all takes some untangling then.

If we could identify some cultural space where chocolate invokes disgust rather than appetite, then this would strengthen the (negatively) racialized sense of the vanilla/chocolate food metaphor cited above. In general, however, this seems more an exoticising (i.e., Orientalist) racial sense of chocolate. Here, it seems not only less “something added in” and also exactly the opposite of something “boring” or “plain, but rather (and precisely) something exotic.

Of course, if we want conventional sense of chocolate as “disgusting” (or erotic) then this takes us immediately into the world of scat, and one may thank Pynchon in his (1973)[6] Gravity’s Rainbow for drawing out an example of the racialized element this may convey:

Now her intestines whine softly, and she feels shit begin to slide down and out. He kneels with his arms up holing the rich cape. A dark turd appears out the crevice, out of the absolute darkness between her white buttocks. He spreads his knees, awkwardly, until he can feel the leather of her boots. He leans forward to surround the hot turd with his lips, sucking on it tenderly, licking along its lower side … he is thinking, he’s sorry, he can’t help it, thinking of a Negro’s penis, yes he knows it abrogates part of the conditions set, but it will not be dined, the image of a brute African who will make him behave (235–6).

As with similar passages in de Sade, or in various trivializing commentaries on Pasolini’s (1975)[7] Salò, usually a certain amount of scrambling results from those seeking safe high ground even to acknowledge they’ve acknowledged a passage like this. Murnighan (2001)[8] presents it as one of a spectacle of excerpts; Wilson (2002)[9] wraps it up as “imagining disgust” in the domain of psychology (Moore’s (1990)[10] Dark Eros keeps and admirably level head about it, avoiding the term “disgust”); the Internet refers to the scene as “hilarious” or “also sad as fuck” without admitting the possibility of its eroticism (intended by Pynchon or not), &c.

Let’s admit, rather, some people have a taste for it (de gustibus) and try to focus on more salient matters—much of the shit we eat under the guise of food anyway (e.g., McDonald’s) may prove worse than shit itself anyway. Moreover, Canetti (1960)[11] suggested that the celebrated German paranoiac Daniel Schreber put on public display in his (1903)[12] Memoirs of My Nervous Illness—perhaps precisely through the only allowable channel of a publication about his insanity—an authentic slice of the (dominant) German national psyche, in its depiction of Schreber’s fear and loathing for Catholics, Poles (Slavs) and Jews.[13] If so, we might say similarly that Pynchon puts forth—and similarly through the only allowable channel for it, a fictional novel about World War II—an authentic slice of the dominating (white) US national psyche.

All of this serves to contextualize the complicated mess of food metaphors, sexuality, and exoticising and condemnatory commentary on the same. It also, I think, helps to point away from a strictly racialised sense of the word as it came into use with SM adepts in the 1970s.

I do not mean by this, of course, that no racism prevailed then. I’ve not studied the matter, but it would surprise me to learn that the dominating racial patterns in the US at the time did not scale themselves down to the LGBT communities then as well. I simply mean to suggest that if we would ferret out where “vanilla” comes into parlance (amongst mostly “vanilla” skinned folks anyway), then racialised discourses may play a secondary role.

Vanilla, Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Ice Cream

As Murrell-Harvey notes, a curious feature of “vanilla” (and her own article seems to fall gently prey to this as well) involves the conflation of the flavour with the ice cream associated with it—so that the not-white colour of the vanilla pod and the bean themselves disappears from consciousness—an unpleasantly apt metaphor. Going back to the “nothing added in” sense of vanilla, the lesser popularity of (and even the need to specifically articulate the distinction of) vanilla bean ice cream, with its innumerable black specks in the otherwise uninterrupted field of white, points to the resistance to anything added in one might encounter. This echoes Camille Paglia’s remark about menstrual blood in her (1990)[14] Sexual Personae,

It is not menstrual blood per se which disturbs the imagination—unstanchable as that red flood may be—but rather the albumen in the blood, the uterine shreds, placental jellyfish of the female sea (11).

And this evokes, even more generally, the terrors of miscegenation, the myths and fetishes surrounding the one-drop rule, and the radical denials of genetic realities that comprise all “white” people as white—once again, the unpleasant metaphor that bleeds out the colour of the seed pod and beans to pretend that the essence (the flavour) of it constitutes a refinement of the thing itself apart from some original not-whiteness. And if commercially available vanilla extracts can restore something of the original colour, now might serve as a good time to dig even more deeply etymologically and remember that the term vanilla links also to the genocide of the Americas and patriarchal sexism:

1660s, “pod of the vanilla plant,” from Spanish vainilla “vanilla plant,” literally “little pod,” diminutive of vaina “sheath,” from Latin vagina “sheath of an ear of grain, hull of a plant” (see vagina). So called from the shape of the pods. European discovery 1521 by Hernando Cortes’ soldiers on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico (from here).

The relationship of this to European conquistadors amongst indigenous American people makes the racist note sound plainly enough, but to make a lot of hay about sexism seems too far off topic, i.e., remains so deeply buried in the archaeology of Occidental discourse that it seems to have become invisible here.[15] If I did want to try to find a connection to the 1970s sense of vanilla, I’d look at whether the term arose or had more social cache amongst the male-only subcultures of homosexuality at the time, i.e., if it did not get articulated first amongst lesbians. I might also wonder if the conventionally hypermasculinised character of much of the “leather scene” at the time didn’t betray its links to the homosocial hypermasculinity of conquistadors[16] (or soldiers, more generally), &c. For now, if I call these links tenuous I do not mean to dismiss them as trivial.

And I underscore all of this in any case mostly to point to a piece of something like bad faith, or at least an inconsistency at work when one tries to make a vanilla/chocolate/cinnamon and white/black/brown analogy. This doesn’t mean we don’t now encounter or receive “vanilla” as “white”[17] but that we needn’t simply rehearse this conflation while remaining ignorant of it.

If, however, we do adopt this equation, it might become tempting to locate the distinction that the SM adepts of the 1970s noted between themselves and practitioners of vanilla sex in their frequently visible black leather gear. In this case, vanilla sex would involve the “nothing added in” of naked (admittedly albanocentric) white sex. I don’t think this amounts to a very convincing equation, unless somehow all body hair gets moved onto the SM side of the equation and Twinkies ( much more overt and obvious food metaphor) get left on the other.

Vanilla Tastes

Meanwhile, perhaps readers will bear with me if I find fruitless (pun not intended) the attempt to locate the emergent use of vanilla in the LGBT community of the 1970s in any “flavour of vanilla” sense. It seems entertaining to imagine that if anything in a sexual sense might attach to “vanilla” as a “flavour,” then the best candidate seems semen. A prevalence for the use of the word “cream” as slang for semen might couple as well with the use attested since 1929 of “to beat, thrash, or wreck”. Cream in general gives us:

early 14c., creyme, from Old French cresme (13c., Modern French crème) “chrism, holy oil,” blend of Late Latin chrisma “ointment” (from Greek khrisma “unguent;” see chrism) and Late Latin cramum “cream,” which is perhaps from Gaulish. Replaced Old English ream. Re-borrowed 19c. from French as creme. Figurative sense of “most excellent element or part” is from 1580s. Cream-cheese is from 1580s.

which certainly makes the slang use fun, with iced cream specifically attested since 1744.

However, none of this seems especially to land us anywhere near to vanilla (or cream) as a flavour and most semen (except from dead or absent donors) tends to arrive at a temperature well-above frozen.[18] Also, simply to speak frankly, it seems more wishful thinking than any sufficiently widespread enough experience amongst semen-imbibers that they collectively could or would liken the many flavours of semen only (or first) in terms of vanilla (whether the extract, credited to chemist Joseph Burnett in 1847, or the ice cream). Having said this, one might still note the actual range of colours that vanilla ice cream exhibits—certainly almost never a totally pure white, specifically due to many of its additives—and this colour range at least also analogizes to the colour range of semen, if only accidentally. Someone alerted me also that vanilla extract now comes in two colours: the traditional brown but also a clear colour. The overarching irony then hinges on the fact that vanilla itself becomes “something added in” with all of its resultant colour variations. The unpleasant aptness of the metaphor continues apace.

Meanwhile, this apparent cul-de-sac into “flavour” may actually point to the way out. If we imagine sex conceived and judged as a matter of “taste,” then the metaphor that turns literal vanilla taste into figurative sexual taste might finally (and convincingly) link the usage. We could point then also to the panoply of other food-related phrases: a taste for Twinkies, Oreos, Bananas, Coconuts, Rice, &c.[19] Obviously, once someone makes the original equation, others will articulate further details and examples of it, and from that point then, to have any taste may come to mean having bad taste and/or boring taste or common taste, as the phrase “white bread” also attests.

Vanilla Sex & Cultural Misappropriation

At this point, while the mystery seems mostly unravelled,[20] it remains as yet unclear why the LGBT community specifically provided the vanguard for this usage in the 1970s. More precisely, at this point in on Murrell-Harvey’s (2014) research, it seems this usage became visible to culture more generally via the LGBT community in the 1970s. This involves not merely greater LGBT vocalness and visibility in the 1970s but also an increase of print publication, which leaves behind the traces Murrell-Harvey can recover. One might wonder whether the heterosexual BDSM communities of yore ever adopted the usage. It seems an adorable irony that a quick check of Sacher-Masoch’s (1870)[21] Venus in Furs (available here; the link starts a PDF download) contains the word “vanilla” but only in the front matter of the linked PDF, which announces “**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**”.

To hazard an answer why, I will go out on a limb and say that the gesture of cultural appropriation typically requires a cultural Other first to give voice to or to express an interdicted or taboo social form, one either actually unknown to the culture at large or one that (like BDSM) remain shrouded in silence. This appropriation may happen directly (like white kids and hip-hop these days) or indirectly (like white kids and the Rolling Stones in the 1960s), but the salient gesture involves the cultural performance of that which otherwise gets deemed unperformble.

In the present case, though Kraft-Ebbing and others had documented in various ways various paraphilias and “sexual deviations,” the psychiatric category this proposes renders the practitioner of such deviations as safely identified, contained, and delimited; the term “pervert” here serves to function as an apotropaic ward.[22]

To make this point more broadly, one might recall how the Jivaro people of South America would raze a neighbouring village in order to obtain a tsantsa, or shrunken head. This powerful ritual object required binding and all sorts of magic to keep it from destroying the village that made it, but this underscores the original insufficiency of the village itself, insofar as the villagers must acquire such an object from outside of it in the first place. Bringing the dangerous thing into one’s environment involves all kinds of requirements, and so acknowledging the “pervert” as a psychiatric category similarly invokes this sort of “binding magic”. Sometimes (and still to this day), such binding took the very literal form of restraints in psychiatric wards, but “banishing” the “pervert” into the temenos (into a sacred circle or “cell”) of the diagnostic category of “crazy” also affects this binding and thus delimits the extent that the “pervert” can affect society. Similarly, one might find the “permitted nigger” in a sundown town—an African-American who does not actually get run out of town at sunfall—or one might point to the openly gay character in the otherwise totalitarian and anti-gay world of Moore’s (1989)[23] V For Vendetta. These “exceptions” prove the rule, of course, precisely (I would say) because they remain “contained” within the cultural constraints that view and bind them.

Those not so contained pay the price, of course. BDSM, as a part of Occidental culture generally, could only take cognizance of it seriously—and not simply as a psychiatric category—when first given cultural voice and when first expressed by a punishable Other. I do not ignore that culture generally already viewed homosexuality as psychiatrically pathological. Most assuredly, the homosexual got shunted into the category of “pervert” along with all other sexual non-conformists. An (or but) the very era of greater visibility under consideration also points to a time when the subaltern began speaking—having its own printing press and getting its own message out. Or, to add a touch more historical accuracy, the incorporation of the homosexual voice (literally transcribed) into psychiatric literature provided some of the first “framing” of this subaltern voice. Admittedly, a merely well-intentioned framing at the best, that still took as a premise the mental illness of the condition, but a voice viewed (at least in ideal cases) compassionately. Less widely read, of course, were various texts that made pleas for compassion, like Radclyffe Hall’s (1928)[24] The Well of Loneliness.

Not simply the greater militancy of the push-back from the LGBT community in the 1970s against this psychiatric designation—which led, of course, in 1973 to the removal of the diagnosis of homosexuality as a mental disorder—but the increased textuality of the discourse helped to put the denunciation of “vanilla sex” more in the public eye. In feminist (and lesbian) circles of the era, the issue of BDSM remained extremely controversial to the extent that “submission” itself seemed already one of the key cultural tropes or demands that feminism felt it ought to banish forever. Women who sought (to control) that kind of experience often found themselves attacked as traitors or backsliders.

The problem of lesbian invisibility, however, may have left the main currents of this debate less in the public eye than the images of leather-clad “macho” homosexuals. If drag queen had previously provided the “ambassador image” for what homosexuality “is” (never mind all of the problematics this brings with it), then “leather queens” similarly got turned into a kind of alternative to sexuality—specifically, non-vanilla sexuality—even as they remained within the interdicted zone of the “homosexual” generally.

Again, cultural appropriation proceeds from an interdicted Other first performing it—even if culture also punishes them for it (up to and including violent reprisals and death). By definition, such an Other reads as “uppity” to the dominating culture, and (only) political organisation will tend to keep the main blandishments of violence at bay—though not always, as white reactions to Civil Rights events caught on TV many times.

The interdicted Other models an otherwise cultural impossibility or impossible culturality. In the case of non-vanilla sex, modelled by SM adepts (both lesbian and homosexual in the 1970s), this modelling comes with the assertion of its legitimacy. It does not accept the dominating discourse’s definition, which in this case involved (1) a designation of psychiatric but also (2) a designation as abnormal by other LGBT members. The existence of this distinction seems critical, just as Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X (to pick just the most culturally acknowledged figures) made clear as well.

On this view, we would not expect (the heterosexual) Sacher-Masoch to challenge the dominating norm of culture. Once he “forces” dominating culture to take note of him, he gets consigned to the apotropaic ward—“ward” functions nicely as a pun here—of “pervert” and needs say no more about it. He does not serve as a modeller of interdicted Otherness, although his book might have inspired some to become such modellers.

Part of what I want to express here involves pointing to the debt of gratitude owed by the sorority sister who can refer to something as an alternative to otherwise vanilla sex. The existence of that distinction hinges particular on the anger and exposure risked by interdicted Others, who found themselves beleaguered not only by official bodies and psychiatrist, who wanted to condemn them as dangerous or crazy, but also by other LGBT people, who nervously at times distanced themselves in order to take on more of an assimilated (or assimilable) appearance. Under the pressure of the demand to conform (to assimilate), the “main body” of the LGBT community has jettisoned some of its “problematic members” (most pointedly NAMBLA from its national conferences), but also the BDSM community, &c., except that that community organised and pushed back.

This oversimplifies things for brevity, of course, but it doesn’t erase the cultural debt of gratitude owed for the emergence of the distinction afforded by the term “vanilla” sex. “Non-vanilla sex” denotes an always already fact of Occidental culture, even when that culture (1) pretends it does not exist, or (2) acknowledges it exists only in culturally denigrated forms (as “perversions” or “non-conformisms” &c). This suggests that the emergence of the term “vanilla” as pointing to “boring” or “conventional” sex does indeed have an increased chance of appearing precisely at a social locus where an interdicted Other (in this case S&M adepts in the 1970s) begins unabashedly or openly performing the “secret desire” (so to speak) of the dominating culture. One may call this a secret desire, because otherwise culture would not generally appropriate it, but would, rather, further interdict it by pathologising it, criminalising it, &c.

Let us not lose sight, however, that the secret desire here remains, not for homosexuality, but for non-vanilla sex—just as white kids appropriating Motown or hip-hop desire the “authenticity” of that music without desiring the “Blackness” out of which it necessarily originates. Somewhere down the road, perhaps, this appropriation might form one bollard at the end of a bridge that human rights activists (from the side of Black or homosexual America) might build toward, but in itself this appropriation does not challenge the delimitations and enclosures that surround the interdicted Other.


[1] Murrell-Harvey, C. (2014). Vanilla.  Lexiculture: Papers on English Words and Culture, vol. 1, article 8. http://glossographia.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/vanilla.pdf

[2] Rodgers, Bruce. The Queens’ Vernacular: A Gay Lexicon. N.p.: Straight Arrow Books, 1972. 100-84. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

[3] Dynes, WR (1985). Homolexis: a historical and cultural lexicon of homosexuality. New York.: Gay Academic Union

[4] Huxley, A. (1989). Brave new world. New York: HarperPerennial.

[5] Lopez, MR (1998). Two modern utopias: a comparative study of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Stanislaw Lem’s Return from the Stars. Unpublished Thesis. Antioch University. From here

[6] Pynchon, T. (2006). Gravity’s rainbow. New York: Penguin Books.

[7] Pasolini, Pier Paolo, Citti, Sergio., Grimaldi, Alberto., Bonacelli, Paolo,, Cataldi, Giorgio., Quintavalle, Umberto P., Delli Colli, Tonino., Baragli, Nino., Morigi, Tatiana Casini., Ocone, Enzo., Morricone, Ennio., Ferretti, Dante, Sade. (Eds.) (1998) Salò, o, The 120 days of Sodom = Salò : o, Le 120 giornate di Sodoma [Irvington, N.Y.] : Criterion Collection,

[8] Murnighan, J. (2001). The naughty bits: the steamiest and most scandalous sex scenes from the world’s great books. New York: Three Rivers Press.

[9] Wilson, RR. (2002) The hydra’s tale :imagining disgust Edmonton: University of Alberta Press,

[10] Moore, T. (1990) Dark eros :the imagination of sadism Dallas, TX: Spring Publications

[11] Canetti, E. (1981). Crowds and Power (trans. Carol Stewart), 6th printing. New York: NY: Noonday Press.

[12] Schreber, DP (1955). Memoirs of my nervous illness (trans. I MacAlpine & RA Hunter). London: W. Dawson.

[13] I must confess a confusion, for when Canetti writes: “we have already seen the ‘later champion,’ not named by him, who experienced Catholics, Jews, and Slavs as hostile crowds in the same personal manner as he did, hating them for their very existence and ascribing to them the marked urge to increase inherent in all crowds” (Canetti, 447, emphasis added). The allusion to Hitler and his ilk stands clearly enough, but the phrase “not named by him” not so much, since Daniel Schreber died in an asylum in 1911 and could not have “named him” if he’d wanted to.

[14] Paglia, C. (1991). Sexual personae: art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books.

[15] More on this:

Latin “vagina” and Spanish “vaina” both mean “sheath” (scabbard). The vanilla bean pod is a hollow cylindrical container analogous to a sheath, hence the name. Anatomical terminology is often derived from analogies to instruments, implements, tools, and utensils: German “Kopf” (head) originally meant “cup;” the archaic English “brain pan” means “skull;” Latin “pelvis” means “basin,” Latin “tibia” means “flute,” and Latin “vomer,” which originally meant “plow,” was transferred to the penis. While this article makes too much of the connection between “vagina” and “vanilla,” it could have established a sexual connection by pointing out that the genus Vanilla is part of the family of orchids, and that “orchid” is from the Greek “orchis” (testicle) because of the shape of its bulb (from here, in the comments)

[16] Also this (though I’m not so sanguine about not changing the past):

Vanilla’s bland reputation is mostly due to diluted extracts or (ugh!) artificial flavor. Real vanilla, flecks of the pod and seeds in cookies, cake, ice cream or, dare I say, added to chocolate? Taking the broad perspective, a brown/white argument could be made for most tropical/new world products coveted by colonial powers: chocolate, coffee, spices, tea, tobacco, bananas…. But are we tainting the product with politics? We can’t change the past, only the future (from here, in the comments).

As for the past being the past: as Jung (1958)* notes: “The psychic catastrophes caused by the mental inertia of ‘experts’ do not appear in any statistics, and from this it is concluded that they are non-existent” (¶673).

*Jung, CG (1978). Flying saucers: a modern myth of things seen in the skies (trans. RFC Hull). Princeton: Princeton University Press

[17] e.g., “Meaning ‘conventional, of ordinary sexual preferences’ is 1970s, from notion of whiteness and the common choice of vanilla ice cream” (from here)

[18] Here again, a desire that “nothing be mixed in” connects in manifold biological, epidemiological, and racially genetic ways.

[19] I chose the terms here to deliberately keep their “racist” (or racialised) implications intact.

[20] I’d welcome input, amplification, and counterproposals from others. In particular, it seems one could seek additional confirmation by ferreting out analogous matters of taste from or in other linguistic or historical domains. &c.

[21] Sacher-Masoch, L. (2000). Venus in furs (trans J. Neugroschel). New York: Penguin Books.

[22] Shades of Paglia (1991) again here; see note 14.

[23] Moore, A., Lloyd, D., Whitaker, S., & Dodds, S. (1989). V for vendetta. New York: DC Comics.

[24] Hall, R. (1990). The well of loneliness. 1st Anchor Books ed. New York: Anchor Books.


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