Translated into psychological symbolism, the character of Turandot
stands clearly revealed. The icy princess is afraid of sex. She hides
this behind an air of regal hauteur, making herself feared and hated.
When suitors approach her, she meets them with scorn—the verbal
defense mechanism of psychological sadism. She mocks them and flouts
them. If they persist, she asks her riddles, thus exposing their
ignorance and bolstering her own dominance. When they fail to answer
the riddles, she has their heads cut off—an obvious symbolic
castration. What better way to rid yourself of a nuisance of a male who
wants to have sexual intercourse with you, than by castrating him?
Ultimately the barriers are broken down. Turandot meets a man whose
skin is so tough that her insults bounce off. He conquers her and
triumphantly takes her virginity, and as the curtain descends we can
hope that she will be a loving and passionate wife thereafter.
(In the case of Joan, the verbal sadist described immediately above,
a curious if predictable fate occurred. She met a man of strongly
masochistic tastes who enjoyed being cut to pieces by her sharp
tongue. They were married and, so far as I know, lived happily ever
The Turandot Complex is extremely common among unmarried women. It
serves wholly as a defense mechanism intended to conceal insecurity,
fear, and feelings of inferiority. Unwilling to risk the possible
humiliation that may be reaped in a sexual-emotional relationship, the
Turandot type effectively frightens all men away with her coldness, her
sharp manner, and her hostility. Even if someone persists in courting
her, she fights back determinedly, attempting to perform a
psychological castration upon her unwanted lover by humiliating and
mocking him in every way she can. And, sad to say, only in the
story-books and operas does the handsome prince generally get through
Turandot's last line of defense and conquer her impregnable virginity.
Most women of this type go through life isolated and untouched,
becoming withered spinsters before they are thirty. Such sexual
pleasure as they get, they derive from their verbal combats with men.
And so their psychological sadism becomes a perversion, since it takes
the place of normal and healthy sexual relations.
The sex tease is a psychological sadist of a related species. Like
all other sadists, she derives an ego-bolstering satisfaction from the
infliction of pain. But the weapon she uses is her own body.
In the mildest form, the sex tease may simply put her body on
display, with a “Do Not Touch” sign attached. Such women may be seen
everywhere: the girl in the extremely skimpy bikini on the beach, who
enjoys showing off her well-developed breasts and firm buttocks, but
who refuses even to flirt, keeping a haughty distance; the woman in the
breast-baring cocktail gown, who reaches for a verbal sword if you
attempt to approach her; the lass in the skin-tight sweater and
buttock-hugging slacks, who strolls provocatively down the street,
willing to be seen and appreciated but not to be touched.
These girls are relatively harmless. They arouse desire through the
display of their bodies, but they choke off any attempt at a
relationship before real pain can be inflicted on the men who are drawn
to them. Such showoffs are usually lonely, severely neurotic
individuals who are unable to break through the iron cage with which
they have surrounded themselves.
Much more vicious is the girl who flirts and holds back the ultimate
satisfaction. This is particularly common among girls from fifteen to
nineteen years old, who are led by society to think that their
virginity is a precious commodity that they must not surrender at any
cost, but that any other kind of intimacy with a boy is permissible. (I
call this type the “technical virgin.” I have studied it in detail in
my book Virgin Wives, published by Monarch Books in 1962.)
This sort of sadist is willing to go almost all the way in a
sexual relationship. She will allow herself to be fondled and caressed.
She may permit her bare breasts to be handled, may even allow her
companion to engage in manual exploration of her genitalia. If she is
particularly sadistic in her inclinations, she may even deliberately
stimulate the genitals of her escort, rousing him to a fever pitch of
excitement through fellatio (oral-genital contact) or by means of
Then—just as he attempts to proceed to the logical conclusion of the
lovemaking, intercourse—the tease drops an iron curtain.
“No,” she'll say. “I don't go all the way.”
The pain that this inflicts is both physical and psychological. A
fully aroused male, if he is denied the release of orgasm, generally
suffers severe discomfort of the genital organs for some hours. This
pain can be relieved by masturbation, but what cannot so easily be
soothed is the stinging pain of the girl's refusal. It is a blow to a
man's pride, a jolt that is a kind of psychological castration.
Not very surprisingly, many teasers find their sadistic strategy
exploding in their faces. Some men, when they have been led to a point
of no return, are wholly unable to turn off their emotions. They reply
to a teasing refusal with an act of rape. There have been many
instances of forcible rape and even of murder committed by a
lust-maddened male driven berserk by the mockery of a teasing bitch.
It is interesting to realize that some teasers explicitly seek such
an outcome. This urge-to-be raped may exist either on the conscious or
on the unconscious level. Their teasing behavior, whether they realize
it or not, is an invitation to be raped, and when they find that the
invitation has been taken up, they often respond enthusiastically after
an initial period of resistance.
Where teasing is used as a strategic provocation for rape, we once
again see the intimate relationship of sadism and masochism.
Sadism—the teasing mechanism—becomes a lure by which the masochistic
What are the dynamics of this strange attitude? Why should a girl
deliberately provoke rape through cruelty?
She is saying, in effect, “I am too proud, too locked up in my own
neurotic self, to be able to give freely of myself and love another
person. Yet at the same time I very much want sexual intercourse. The
only way that I can have sex, without breaking down and admitting that
I need another person's affection, is to goad a man into raping me. So
this is what I will do.” When rape fails to materialize, the girl gets
the sadistic gratification of causing injury. When rape results, she
receives the sexual experience (along with accompanying injury and
humiliation, masochistically gratifying) which she fundamentally
The teaser, then, is a kind of psychological castrater. Other women
prefer to do their castrating after the sexual act. This is
particularly common among frigid wives, whose behavior often follows
the pattern of Edward Albee's Martha in Virginia Woolf.
That is they submit to intercourse with their husbands—and then
proceed to tear the man apart with destructive criticism after the act.
They assail his virility, his technique, his ardor, everything. Without
mincing any words, they coldly and brutally let him know what they
think of his lovemaking.
The end result of this, of course, is to demoralize the husband.
Faced with the initial challenge of a frigid wife (frigidity is a
masochistic phenomenon, often) they are further assailed by bitter
words at a time when they want only to relax and sleep. Many men take
refuge in impotence. They become so thoroughly demoralized by their
wives' sadistic criticisms that they become incapable of the sex act.
Others refrain from having intercourse with their wives, satisfying
their sexual needs through infidelity. Still others separate altogether
from the sadistic wife.