The End of Another Season
Taking a break to finish up some work and personal projects.
Hi, I’m Jeannette, and this is the 28th issue of The Sex Beat, a newsletter documenting my research on sex. It’s official – I’m graduating with an MRes. Next, a PhD! As always, if you want to stop getting this newsletter, unsubscribe here.
I didn’t mean to take two weeks off. But it’s been a weird half month – job, freelance, life things – that’s left me pretty drained. So I’ve decided to take a break, while finishing up projects and prepping for my PhD.
In looking at the issues for this season of The Sex Beat, I realised that I began with a piece about motherhood – Mothers Who Like Sex. The last piece was also about an aspect of motherhood.
It’s pretty obvious that I’ve been obsessed with monsters and mothers lately. So I shall end this season in that spirit.
I’m fascinated by the hantu tetek
I’ve been looking for stories about the Malay ghost called the hantu tetek (breast ghost, also known as hantu kopek) lately.
Although I’ve heard about her before, I became very engaged after I watched an episode in the TV series Folklore, in which an Indonesian mother loses her son and has to go up against a wewe gombel to rescue him.
“Isn’t the wewe gombel like the hantu tetek?” I thought. It turns out, they’re similar.
Both are older female ghosts. Both have oversized (or a large number of) breasts. Both steal children who are left unattended.
The Indonesian folk story is that the wewe gombel is the ghost of a woman who could not bear children while she was alive. She resented this so much that after she died, she still continued to want children.
In Malaysia, the story takes a sexual turn. It’s said that the hantu tetek also appears to men as a beautiful woman. When they have sex, she suffocates them with her boobs. She’s especially interesting because she’s a post-menopausal ghost who continues to exhibit high sexual desire – and thus, disturbs the idea of what a “proper” woman should be.
I’m hoping to write at least one chapter in my PhD thesis about her.
Monster studies and medical anthropology
These are my current obsessions – you would know if you’ve been reading so far.
So much so that when I was asked to give a “fun talk” at my office, I did a presentation on “hantu anthropology” (ghost anthropology).I prepared a lecture:
But was asked to fun it up 😆 So there are two versions of my slides. If you’re interested, the following version is more SFW and has memes: 2XFun_Jeannette_Hantu.pptx
Until next time! Bye for now
When will I resume a new season of this newsletter? I don’t know yet. But there are a few things I am working on right now:
I just set up my website for cultural consulting. I’m looking to help with research for media projects, especially film and TV-related ones. If you know someone who wants to discuss ghosts, get in touch.
I have hours of recordings of supervision sessions, in which my supervisor and I discuss sex and sexuality, monsters, neoliberal capitalism, psychoanalysis, and more. I hope to turn this into a limited series podcast, so I’ll be busy listening to these and editing them into episodes.
I’ve written my research proposal and am currently writing to potential PhD supervisors. It’s more energy-consuming than I thought it would be, but I might end up writing more about this in Rabbitholes.
That’s all for now! It’s been fun. If you’d like to start / continue the conversation, hit reply and let’s chat.
Studying ghosts to learn more about humans.