Well promiscuity in human sexual behavior as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary “refers to the practice of casual sex with multiple sexual partners. The term can carry a moral judgment and is viewed in the context of the mainstream social ideal for sexual activity to take the place within exclusive committed relationships.” Society in effect shuns this type of behavior because it defies social norms.
C.L. Moore best illustrated this social vice in “Shambleau” where she encompassed the idea of this monstrous sexual mythical being into a foreign society. Shambleau is a vampiric and Medusa-like creature with slimy, snaky hair locks that feeds on men’s vital juices. She is seen in the form of a woman in which a character Northwest Smith encounters and saves from a mob at the outset of the story. The mob plays a pivotal role in demonstrating the blatant discrimination of what this “monster” conveyed in their society. When Northwest made the claim that he owned her, one of the individuals in the crowd in puzzlement “stared at him wordlessly, and horror, disgust and incredulity mingled on his weather-beaten face…He waved an arm to the crowd and said loudly ‘It’s his!’ and the press melted away, gone silent, too, and the look of contempt spread from face to face. ‘Keep her then’, he advised briefly over one shoulder. ‘But don’t let her out again in this town!’” (256) This scene clearly expresses the level of hatred the individuals in the town had for the woman Shambleau. In extension Moore was mirroring the contempt that the Victorian society had towards female sexuality and promiscuity. It was something that was foreign in nature and not tolerated. Individuals that participated and indulged in such behaviors were frowned upon and were made to be castrated from society. This is evident in how Moore shows the adamant request by the masses for Shambleau to leave town. They (the mob) left “the vicinity swiftly as if whatever unknowing sin he (Smith) had committed were contagious”. (279)
In another occasion Moore brought to the surface the secret obscenity of a woman through the fears of Northwest’s’ character. Northwest described the feeling Shambleau emitted upon him as ecstasy. In the final dialogue between him and fellow victim Yarol, they talked about the impact of Shambleau, or in deeper meaning, the sexually erotic woman as an alien figure. “Nobody knows where they come from…what are they? God knows not human…that maybe an illusion or maybe I’m crazy. I don’t know. They’re a species of the vampire or maybe the vampire isa species of them.” Yarol further explains exactly how they seduce and empower their sexuality upon men by drawing on their “life forces” which can be symbolic to semen. Only at this point does Northwest “understand why the crowd was disgusted”. Only at this point, we see the dreadfulness of the drug known to society as female sexuality and promiscuity. It is to the effect that is not even talked about. Often times such ones are dismissed as crazy and poisonous. C.L. Moore’s use of Shambleau effectively gives insight into how the aggressive female sexuality is viewed as monstrous in society.
In like manner, Marion Crawford also contributes to the ill-treated notion of female sexuality and promiscuity as monstrous in “For…