A very important question.

Any discussion related to Victor's Hugo's Les Misérables, in any language.
Alex
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Re: A very important question.

Postby Alex » Thu Nov 25, 2010 5:10 am

I just went back to take a second look, and I realize now that you didn't disclose who was saying what in the dialogue leading up to it. I guess I just assumed... which is strange considering the line before it is "Grantaire tugged at Enjolras’ hands to pull him into bed, feeling him shiver faintly," so normally I would assume that the last person to do the action (that being Grantaire) would have been the one to say the next line, that being "I want you (inside of me)." Hmm... I guess I just got it into my head that Enjolras was normally a top, and my subconscious refused to read a fic that may have alluded to otherwise :lol: That's actually awesome that you left it ambiguous!

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Mrs Eaves
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Re: A very important question.

Postby Mrs Eaves » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:05 am

(First of all, I love that this is the thread with the most pages on this forum. :p)

Erm... I guess I'll say switch because I could argue for both sides with the whole "needing to keep control" vs. "giving up control." I think his main instinct would be to top, but if someone got him to bottom, I think he'd eventually like it.

(why, no, I have not met Enjolras in the book yet, why do you ask?)

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Re: A very important question.

Postby Alex » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:21 am

Heh, it turns out you were all wrong - the correct answer is, "Whichever Alex wants him to be at the time."

Good guesses though, everyone!

/shot

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hazellwood
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Re: A very important question.

Postby hazellwood » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:24 am

Mrs Eaves wrote:Erm... I guess I'll say switch because I could argue for both sides with the whole "needing to keep control" vs. "giving up control." I think his main instinct would be to top, but if someone got him to bottom, I think he'd eventually like it.

Well, does bottoming always mean no control/giving up control? Yeah, traditionally it's a more submissive role but he could be pushy. Then again, I really don't know enough about homosexual sex in that time period to accurately say what it has to do with control and masculinity and stuff, so yeah.

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Mrs Eaves
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Re: A very important question.

Postby Mrs Eaves » Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:05 am

I was just addressing the two extremes of the scale in that last post, sorry for the confusion. Pushy!bottom!Enjolras is actually my own personal canon. (I don't know much about that time period in general, so I wouldn't really listen to anything I say...)

(edit for faily wording)

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Roses for Ophelia
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Re: A very important question.

Postby Roses for Ophelia » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:32 pm

oh god we're doing this again! This thread is like the Frankenstein's Monster of Abaisse. No matter how many times it dies, there's always someone to revive it in the sequel!

Not that i'm COMPLAINING, mind you!
Rivers belong where they can ramble...

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2BFREE
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Re: A very important question.

Postby 2BFREE » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:55 am

You know, whenever I tell people that there's a 46-page long conversation on Enjolras's sexual position preference...they don't believe me. And then I have to show them. Oddly enough, I'm
*proud* to show them. So I felt I must contribute to the crowning thread of Abaisse.

I vote Top.

Majority rules. *shrug*
A toast to bread, for without it we would not have toast...nor Les Misérables.

The Victoriana
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Re: A very important question.

Postby The Victoriana » Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:51 am

Wow, I have never seen anything remotely like this thread before! Very educational and a bit mentally scarring at the same time. Very awsome though! :D I learned a lot about the mechanics and dynamics of gay sex that was really interesting.

A few questions: Does "top" refer to the guy who's doing the penetrating? Also, what is the difference between "Greek sex" and the type of gay sex you're referring to in this thread?

In answer to the original question, first of all, I never even thought of Enjolras having sex at all, gay or otherwise before reading this thread, and even now, imagining a canon Enjolras "doing it" is difficult. To me, Enjolras has always been more symbol than person. Even in a more personifiable version of him, I think he would not feel many sexual feelings or urges, and even if he did have an occasional stray thought, he would dismiss it and/or not really understand what it means and dig deeper (as Courfeyrac would have done in his first awakenings of sexuality).

About Enjolras being gay/straight/asexual, I find it interesting that people tend to equate Enjolras not having many sexual thoughts or feelings with being asexual. Enjolras could be either gay or straight, but just not have the area of his brain related to sexual thoughts and urges activated by much thought or stimulation. It is possible for a person who is not asexual (i.e. inactive sex hormones and/or receptors) to voluntarily supress his or her sex hormones (I can back this statement up with references and such if people think I'm making this up. I learned about this recently in neuroscience lecture called "Sex and the Brain" :) ). Enjolras might have done this because of his single-minded dedication and devotion to the cause from an early age and a dislike of what he would consider "worldly distractions".

However, if you want me to take this hypothetically (like maybe he somehow survived the barricade and achieved his goal, and therefore feels free to pursue "distractions"), I would probably say "top", given a few qualifications. The first time he would probably be bottom, because virgins usually are bottom first time aren’t they (?), since they are learning (or am I wrong about this?). After that, he would probably switch, though he would be predominantly “top” with most, given a few exceptions, like Combferre. He would always treat his partners with respect and allow them to choose positions as well. I imagine him as the sort of man to always live by his ideals of liberty and equality, and live by them everywhere- from public to private life, to the bedroom, and even into his sleep.

I have a another question though purely out of curiosity: do gay couples typically stick to one position more than straight couples?

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Re: A very important question.

Postby Citizeness Feuilly » Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:11 pm

Victoriana, you've pretty much summed up my opinions of Enjolras' sexuality! And I don't know much about gay sex either, so we're in the same boat there..

He is not asexual - he represses his sex hormones to devote his energy to the cause. This may not be a conscious decision, might have been a defense mechanism of some sort triggered while in his early youth. Had he felt free enough to pursue other distractions, he would probably be a "top". At first, I think he would feel more comfortable being shown what to do - so I think he would be a bottom the first time round. Also, Enjolras automatically becomes a bottom when his partner is Combeferre. But, once he has his first sexual experience, I think our boy would be pretty enthusiastic and passionate. Still, his social-conscience side would make him question whether or not his partner is getting as much pleasure as he is, and he'd be willing to try other positions, if only for experimental purposes. He would also always try to be considerate and fair to his partners, and to make them feel like they have equal control over what happens.

This thread is so much fun - I've thought about this question many times, and it's nice to see my perverted mind is not alone. My family, who are all straight-laced conservatives, would probably fall over dead if they knew that there was a 46 page long academic discussion, spanning 5 years, on Enjolras' sexual orientation and positional preferences - but I love it!

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Marianne
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Re: A very important question.

Postby Marianne » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:09 pm

A few clarifications--yes, top = penetrating and bottom = penetrated. (Only as a figure of speech, though--it's certainly possible to do it with the pitcher lying on bottom and the catcher lying on top.) Greek sex = between the thighs (no penetration). And there are no hard and fast rules for whether a virgin should be top or bottom--it depends on what any particular set of partners chooses to do--but first-time anal sex would almost certainly be easier with the inexperienced partner topping. On the other hand, characters are by no means exempt from the virgin = feminine = penetrated association, so if they want to be "traditional" about it or they're just rolling with that assumption, the virgin could end up bottoming by default.

(I can give TMI anatomical details if necessary, but the basic reason it's easier for the virgin to be on top is because taking it up the ass hurts like a mofo if you're not relaxed, and someone who is nervous and tense and has no experience with relaxing those particular muscle groups is going to require a very patient partner in order to enjoy it.)

Anyway... I'm sticking to my guns here: top with Grantaire, because I have a hard time imagining them in a stable/functional enough relationship to let go of the top = dominant power dynamic, and there are very few situations where I could imagine Enjolras letting Grantaire dominate him. With Combeferre, I default to thinking "switch," but really it'd be personal preference (some people just really enjoy it one way or the other!) because I don't think they'd have that hard of a time decoupling physical acts from power dynamics and gender roles. With anyone else, it depends on how they're written, but generally I'm willing to believe anything besides blithely buying into pretty = feminine = penetrated = submissive in bed.

Basically, I picture him as a dominant personality by nature but concerned with egalitarianism. I can see him relinquishing some measure of control to be on equal footing with a partner, or even voluntarily assuming a submissive position in bed as long as it's a conscious and symbolic choice (bring on the BDSM!)--what I can't see is him just going along with it and bottoming for someone who wants to take him down a peg or two, as is/was common in fanfiction, or being sexually passive by nature.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

The Victoriana
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Re: A very important question.

Postby The Victoriana » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:42 am

Thanks for the clarifications, Marianne! That makes sense.

Actually, I think that Enjolras' decision to repress his sexuality would be conscious, and the reason for that is that sex and sexuality is a difficult thing to ignore and give no thought to, and I think at some point during his adolescence (assuming he was not asexual) he would have had to confront his sexuality and make a conscious decision on whether or not to pursue it. There are people who repress their sexuality all the time, both then and now, for all kinds of reasons - societal expectations and norms, religious beliefs, personal goals, etc. For most people, it's not an easy thing to do, of course, but sometimes you do come across people who manage to live their whole lives celibate. So, for example, if Enjolras had a repressed straight sexuality, he might eventually have come to a point where he could gaze upon fair Evadne's bare bosom, and not really feel much of anything. :)

Anyway, I agree with the idea that Enjolras would be dominant by nature, but try to curb this trait with his partners because of his egalitarian ideals, and so allow them to switch occasionally (though perhaps not so much with Grantaire).

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Marianne
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Re: A very important question.

Postby Marianne » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:09 am

Yes, I agree, Victoriana. I do think it quite possible that he's asexual, but if he isn't, I'm not sure it would be productive to get all Freudian about his celibacy and conclude that it's pathological in some way. And not just because Hugo was working within an entirely different framework from psychology as we know it. He clearly shows us the cause for it, so it's not like we're forced to explain some mysterious aversion to women as a deep-seated neurosis or anything, and if all that repression were screwing Enjolras up, it's not as though Hugo--who after all wrote Notre-Dame-de-Paris--would be shy about letting us know. If he has a sex drive, he's chosen not to act on it and to put that energy towards other things, and whatever parts of his sexuality haven't been assimilated into "REVOLUTIONSEXUAL!" aren't demanding enough to torment him.

That said, I do think that whatever desires he may or may not be repressing/redirecting are probably not for women, simply because of his symbolic role and the conflicts Hugo sets up for him. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference--Enjolras is indifferent to women because he considers them irrelevant to his cause, but he has an ambivalent love-hate relationship with Grantaire, who is not irrelevant but antithetical to what Enjolras represents and cares about. Grantaire craves Enjolras' affection and esteem, and Enjolras would like to grant it to him but all his affections and desires are bound up in his Cause, and he can't bring himself to love or accept Grantaire until Grantaire has brought himself into the fold. That's where the tension is, and there's enough ambiguity in Hugo's language to suggest that the submerged sexual tension follows the same lines as the overt emotional tension.

Which isn't to say there's anything wrong with reading him as straight (or bisexual) but celibate (and I would totally read fic exploring what circumstances might allow him to show interest in a woman), I simply think the gay-but-celibate reading is more interesting and more closely aligned with his role in the book. And there's precious little of that in literature, so I'm holding on to this example of it. *g*
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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hazellwood
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Re: A very important question.

Postby hazellwood » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:24 am

Marianne wrote: The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference--Enjolras is indifferent to women because he considers them irrelevant to his cause, but he has an ambivalent love-hate relationship with Grantaire, who is not irrelevant but antithetical to what Enjolras represents and cares about. Grantaire craves Enjolras' affection and esteem, and Enjolras would like to grant it to him but all his affections and desires are bound up in his Cause, and he can't bring himself to love or accept Grantaire until Grantaire has brought himself into the fold. That's where the tension is, and there's enough ambiguity in Hugo's language to suggest that the submerged sexual tension follows the same lines as the overt emotional tension.

That's the best description of the Enjolras/Grantaire relationship I've ever read.

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: A very important question.

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:01 am

Citizeness Feuilly wrote:
This thread is so much fun - I've thought about this question many times, and it's nice to see my perverted mind is not alone. My family, who are all straight-laced conservatives, would probably fall over dead if they knew that there was a 46 page long academic discussion, spanning 5 years, on Enjolras' sexual orientation and positional preferences - but I love it!


I think the topic never really grows old, for as long as we are always thinking and learning more about the period.

But wow, the discussion is 5 years old already? (is horrified to realize that she was posting there as early as 2006, and it's already 2011....) Will wonders ever cease?
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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MmeJavert
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Re: A very important question.

Postby MmeJavert » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:16 pm

Aurelia Combeferre wrote: Will wonders ever cease?


:D I hope not. This thread is probably one of my favourite things about this forum.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"


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