Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Mermaid Problem is an observation occasionally mentioned in literature, concerning the difficulty of having sexual intercourse with a mermaid. Although mermaids are commonly depicted as beautiful, variably nude, and enticing, a man attempting hypothetical sex with one would be thwarted by the typical portrayal of the creature: a fish from the waist down, with no vagina. Some fiction, aware of the long running question, deliberately avoids the question for humorous effect. More generally, it can also be a joking reference to the unusual sexual interest many non-human characters seem to have with humans in fantasy or science fiction, and potential physical issues therein.
Theoretically a mermaid would reproduce as most aquatic animals do, by external fertilization, requiring a human male to deposit his seed underwater onto her eggs. (The confusion is further compounded by the fact that mermaids are usually depicted with a navel, which would suggest placental vivipary rather than ovipary.) In some fantasy erotica, however, this situation is sometimes rectified by portraying mermaids as having genitalia more similar to dolphins than fish, or having the ability to change into human form.
Interestingly this was not always an issue. In the past it was not uncommon for a mermaid to be portrayed as having a split tail, with a vagina located (or merely inferred to be) between the two parts. The well-known Starbucks logo is one example of this. In the original version the mermaid is shown spreading her tail apart up to her head. While this has been cropped out, and the drawing in general slightly reworked over the years, her tails are still visible around the edges.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mermaid Problem. This entry is a fragment of a larger work. Link may die if entry is finally removed or merged.