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Seven Swans a Swimming…

Trigger: rape
Rubens Leda and the SwanNot quite within 72 hours but I am working on the assumption I’ll get away with it, not least because Exhibit A likes a geeky list! I must confess, this is random even by my standards, but I do *love* researching random things and I had a couple of swan facts bubbling round my head, so I thought I would see if I could make it to 7…

  1. All swans were ugly ducklings once. C’mon, I couldn’t not mention this favourite childhood fairy-tale about self-image when this is a body positivity blog, could I? There are all sorts of moral tales in Hans Christian Anderson’s story of personal transformation, not least the negative impact of bullying others about and judging ourselves on appearance.
  2. Derrick SantiniHelen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, was conceived when Zeus, disguised as a swan, rapes her mother Leda. Artists have been depicting this story for centuries. From Rubens (above) to more recently Derrick Santini’s photograph which was removed from a London gallery on the grounds it condoned bestiality.
  3. Swans are not as monogamous as we once thought. Famous for mating for life and being symbols of fidelity atop many a wedding cake, it turns out the myth isn’t quite true. In 2006 the Australia Research Council found 1 in 6 black swan cygnets were the result of copulation away from the permanent partnership. Less scientifically, the Western Daily Press reported a swan threesome earlier this year!
  4. Based in Budapest, SWAN (the Sex Workers Research Advocacy Network) is a network of sex worker-led groups and organisations campaigning for the human rights of the sex workers in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Network lobbies to destigmatize sex work, improve the working conditions and health rights of sex workers and to end violence against sex workers.
  5. hannah-woolley-recipe-bookAside from a little salt and pepper, apparently the only seasoning this beautiful bird needs is a little ginger! Or so The Queen-like Closet, a recipe book published in 1673 claims. The author, Hannah Wolley, is the second known English woman to earn an income from writing. The first, published three years earlier, was ‘bawdy’ Aphra Ben who Virginia Woolf remembers in A Room of One’s Own as “she who earned them a right to speak their mind.”
  6. According to those well-known social analysists,, a ‘study’ of 2,124 British adults found that Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ sex scene in Black Swan is the UK’s favourite sex scene.
  7. I bang on about India quite a lot on Twitter, and occasionally here, but I do love it! In Hindu culture the swan (hamsa) is the animal symbol of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. The Paramahamsa (Supreme Swan) is a title granted to Hindu masters who have achieved ultimate enlightenment.

So there you have it, some random enlightenment about majestic swans. Oh, and if you didn’t know, ‘seven swans a swimming’ represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
For more #awesomechristmaserotica hop over to Exhibit A‘s place!


  1. Malin James

    This is fabulous. I love random trivia – you totally got me with this! Also, I had no idea that swans weren’t quite as monogamous as people once thought. Interesting… 🙂

  2. bigmissnaughty

    some thoughtful and funny points 🙂
    BMN x

  3. foresterinthewoods

    Thank you, this post is very enlightening.

  4. Ho-Ho-Ho-leander (@OleanderPlume)

    Thank you for being so kind as to use a trigger warning. Just wanted to let you know, it helped me get in the right mindset, and I was able to read your fascinating article without a problem.
    Swan threesome, eh? Very interesting! 🙂
    Have a wonderful holiday, my dear!

  5. Twigs at 100AcreSub

    Your post makes me want to watch black swan again, and debate the hypocrisy of the art world: it is old therefore allowed, its new so must be disgusting, forgetting too that the act it depicts is non-consensual, so how could it be condoning beastialty…knee jerk reactionary conservatism.rarrrr.
    Shall we just watch the film again? A much nicer way to get my heart racing.

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