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Federico Andahazi


DIARIO CLARÍN, March 2, 2008

It's on sale "Pecar como Dios manda"/(Sin like you mean it), a book about our sexuality since colonial times to 1810

Sex tells its own history in the country and the chronicler is Federico Andahazi

By Carlos Subosky

  Federico Andahazi
The famous author of “The anatomist” says that he wanted to write - in three volumes published by Planeta - anonacademic history of our sexual practices. The first book of this series has been just published.

Michel Foucault in his “History of Sexuality” says that since Victorian age sex was doomed to silence and sexuality was carefully confined to its reproductive function. “If sex is repressed”, wrote Foucault, that is, “it is sent to banning, nonexistence and muteness, the only fact of speaking of it, and speaking of its repression, has a sort of deliberate transgression”.

That silence and that search of transgression were the inspiration which move Federico Andahazi to write his last book, “Pecar como Dios manda/(Sin like you mean it). Sexual history of the Argentineans. From the origins to May Revolution”, just published by Planeta, and which is his first nonfiction work. The author of “The anatomist” compiles the sexual history of the country and shows the repression, double standards, hypocrisy, silence, but also the sexual customs, practices and the fights for sexual rights. Another key element exposed in the book is the role Catholic Church played in the sexual history of the country.

According to the author, the Church imposed its strong presence. “I believe that no other institution took care of sexuality as the Church did, I would say that – some times – the Church is almost monothematic. If the Church told us what happened inside convents or monasteries, a great book of sexology and sexual practices could be written”.

For him, “sexuality is a nuisance for the power circles”. He says that his goal was to reveal everything hidden on purpose during all this time. Historical facts related to the sexual life of the country begin in the pre-Columbian era and finish in the first years of Independence fight. This work is the first of a three volumes series.

“I was working on a novel project which took place at colonial time in Buenos Aires - tells Andahazi - and when I began looking for information about some aspects of the sexuality of those years, I find out with astonishment that it didn’t exist any sexual history of the Argentineans. It seemed to me that was, at least, a suspicious absence. It was a bit rare, because it does exist indeed literature on the matter. Was for that reason that I decided to write this book, in which, besides my writer and investigator role, I also appeal to the psychoanalyst in me”.

One of his premises was to prove that “the history of our country cannot be understood if we don’t understand the history of our sexuality, and our sexuality was not born with us. It ´s the result of traditions, practices and behaviors that are given to us like a heritage”.

Between the sexual customs Andahazi gathers, there is the one of the Incan soldiers who before every battle used to visit the “Pampayrunas”, holy men dressed like woman. “This visit seemed to be a way of regain courage before the battle. They thought it was better to avoid any sexual relation with women before the fight, so they only had sex with the “Pampayrunas”, who had been chosen especially by their sexual talents”.

These millenarian customs were portrayed with details by the members of the Church that came to America to evangelize it. On the one hand, the repressed fervor, on the other, the chronicle and his analysis of the sexual practices of those natives: A double game that can be interpreted like a scientific interest, but also like a sort of perversion. 
Andahazi notices that since colonial times to May Revolution days, for example, nobody talked about sex. “It could be said that during these revolutionary process we progressed in political, social and economic matters, but we went back in the sexual one. You can see the same thing happening in French Revolution of 1789 or in the contemporary socialist revolutions. In these cases always prevailed, paradoxically, the Judeo-Christian moral. Something similar happened in May Revolution. The advances in social and political freedom had in contrast a remarkable backward movement in the freedoms of sexual order”.   

Sex was a forbidden subject in Buenos Aires; nevertheless the city rhythm of that quiet life of XIX century still had its surprises. In an archaeological excavation - related by Andahazi - three wooden dildos were discovered in a traditional family house. This discovery is mentioned on the chapter dedicated to sexual toys. “I don’t understand how, nowadays, we can think in such a retrograde way in sexual matter, given that some sexual practices are much older than many people suppose”.

One of the most important characters of the book is Mariquita Sanchez de Thompson, who lived in colonial Buenos Aires and also at the independent time. This woman rebelled against her parents and a forced marriage. She even took her parents to court to be able to marry the man she loved. For the writer, “the fight of Mariquita Sanchez de Thompson is the first great sexual battle of Argentina and the first great triumph for the women sexual rights. I believe she is a metaphor, somehow she represents all of those that were forced to share their sexuality with someone they didn’t want to. You can see how during every revolutionary process there is, at the same time, a revolt against moral principles and canons related with a certain exercise of sexuality”.
Another interesting character analyzed in the book is the Nun Lieutenant, Catalina de Erauso. Andahazi tells us that in XVI century, Felipe IV - King of Spain -granted the masculine identity to a woman – Catalina –long after she had lived with a masculine identity a great part on her life.

Catalina lived her childhood in a Spanish convent, from which she run away dressed like a man. As time goes by, she adopted a masculine identity and became Antonio de Erauso. She traveled to America to begin a new life and enrolled the army as a soldier of the Crow in the Conquest of America. Antonio de Erauso was known for his bravery and for being very attractive for women. This American Don Juan was promoted from soldier to lieutenant. Nobody knew the truth, until she was involved in a murder, found guilty and condemned to death. Nevertheless, a bishop found out her hidden feminine identity and finally interceded on her behalf, when he verified she was also a virgin.

Antonio was pardoned and returned to Spain, where he was received by Felipe IV. The king granted him titles under the name of Antonio de Erauso, by his bravery and heroism. And in a show of plentiful modernity, he authorized her to use his masculine identity. Years later, Pope Urbino VIII confirmed Felipe IV decision. Antonio returned to America with his new name and it is believe that then he arrived to Buenos Aires.
The book “Pecar como Dios manda/(Sin like you mean it)” shows a constant double moral that influenced Argentina sexual history since the moment Spanish arrived to America. “This double moral continues still today and in some way, it defines us on the sexual matter. One thing is the one it is exposed, showed, but it’s a quite different thing the one that happens in private”.

Andahazi is not worried about the impression his new book could produce on academic world. “I ´m not worried about how Academy can judge my work, I know who is my reader, and to tell you the truth, the only opinion that matters to me, is his. In addition, Academy always arrives late everywhere, I believe its thought is not much different from clerical one, because it has almost the same composition of the Church. That is to say, it has a pope and monks to maintaining him. It also has a dogma and a creed that goes beyond any logic. It’s for that I distrust of the vertical structures, like the academy. The exercise of literature and investigation has to do with freedom, with absolute freedom, not with dogma”.


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