Charles Xavier, Barbarian Sex God
On my homeworld I had a particular image, a constellation of traits, whether true or not, that people would attribute to me. They saw me as an old man, a relic of the earlier part of the century, well-preserved by drying out and becoming juiceless. I was asexual, aphysical, the stern mentor whom one could not imagine having a life, who was born old. Even those who didn't know of my telepathy could not imagine me as anything other than a force of pure intellect, untrammeled by the needs or desires of the flesh. The ultimate teacher, the paterfamilias with no mater to accompany him, I was seen as wise and ancient and all-knowing and virtually bodiless, my confinement to a wheelchair only the most obvious reflection of my total cerebrality.
Here on Chandilar, the viewpoint is... slightly different.
Here, I am the Empress' barbarian concubine.
Don't laugh. I'm not making this up.
On Chandilar, in the circles of the power-makers of the Shi'ar Empire, everyone is either sexually attracted to me, thinks they should be sexually attracted to me, or mentally chastises the empress for her lack of taste because they do not find me sexually attractive. My bald head is a subject for much lewd speculation, as is my mammalian nature and the fact that I possess hair and not fur. Speculation runs rampant as to what my primate ancestry might have done for the state of my genitals. Even my telepathy, seen on Earth as either a dark force that can reach out and invade minds or a revitalizing connection of intimacy and a bringer of peace, is mostly viewed in sexual terms here, the Shi'ar wondering openly what it might be like to make love to a telepath, and what sort of interesting things I might be able to do with the ability. Considering that Amelia was resistant to my use of the power, Gabrielle didn't know of it and I didn't have much control when I was dating Moira, they've actually come up with some uses for telepathy in bed that I've never thought of.
I see myself in their eyes, and despite my sedate dress, my attempts to express my calm and reasoned opinions at their councils, I still appear with the same emotional charge that an Earthman (or, perhaps more to the point, Earthwoman) might direct at a Boris Vallejo painting of a mighty- hewed warrior with flowing black hair, dressed in loincloth and sword and not much else.
You see, I am from Earth, a primitive planet, so I must be a barbarian. The fact that I am an enormously powerful telepath doesn't help me here; I come from the wild, lawless world where more and more of the population demonstrates superpowers and use them to do things like defeat Galactus or the Skrulls, while being wholly incapable of maintaing law and order in our homes. The perspective is oddly apt. Earthmen, to these Shi'ar, are dangerous, bloody, uncultured and probably superpowerful. My powers of the mind are to them the barbarian's sword, dangerous and violent but nothing next to the disciplined forces civilization could muster if it really tried. And because I am a barbarian, I must be an idiot. And because I am an idiot, my hold on the affections of their Empress must be sexual. I am obviously Lilandra's man-toy, too uncivilized to trust not to skewer the maidservants or spit on the carpet or eat with his hands, but far more robust and manly in my barbarian vigor than the soft, cultured Shi'ar men could hope to be. So the men hate me and the women swoon over me or gossip about me and absolutely no one but for Lilandra herself views me as a person, with a mind, that actually works.
I might find it flattering in a way if it weren't so ridiculous. These women actually view me the way women on Earth view Wolverine. And while I confess there's a small part of me that enjoys breaking free of my asexual, stereotypical teacher/mentor archetype and being seen as a body, and a desirable body at that, the rest of me is quite irritated. After all, I have in my life managed to be both sex object and intelligentsia at the same time, though I haven't really felt myself to be all that desirable since losing the ability to walk. To be seen as nothing but a sexy idiot, to be petted and patronized and fantasized about, to have my brain compared to a species of large Chandilaran fish comparable to Earth tuna and have this seen as an addition to my sexual mystique... it's frustrating. All the more so because I could change their opinions by force if I chose. I could make them see myself as I see myself.
But then I'd be a barbarian in my own eyes. And I won't do that.
No one in science fiction ever had this problem. Certainly I've read plenty of stories in which the plucky Earthmen go into space and are dismissed by all the aliens as stupid and primitive, upon which they manage to save the day with good old fashioned human drive and spunk. I don't think I've ever seen any in which the plucky Earthman becomes the alien empress' concubine and then is promptly ignored by her entire cabinet. And in science fiction, written largely from a masculine point of view, it's a good thing that alien women swoon over the lantern-jawed hero. We don't get to hear the alien women gossiping about the hero and declaring that he has the brain of a tuna fish, but shards, he's so sexy.
Unfortunately, people seem to forget that not only am I a telepath, I'm also not deaf. My hearing is better than most of the Shi'ar, and some of these women have been rude enough to have conversations like this at a distance where they'd know I could hear them if they cared in the slightest about my opinion of them.
Oh, Lilandra. I must love you dearly. I can't imagine putting up with this garbage for any of my previous lovers.
There are compensations. I am one of the first Earthmen to see the stars, and the people who live among them. I am certainly the first to sit by the side of the ruler of the Shi'ar. There's much to learn, and explore, and do, and my love, at least, never underestimates me. Often, after a day of putting up with this nonsense, the nights with her make everything worthwhile. (Well, I am a barbarian sex god, after all.)
But still, I'm so very tired of being patronized.
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