In Pursuit of the Odalisque

An odalisque is female slave or concubine that lives in a Turkish harem.

In art, she is often portrayed nude and lying on her side, sometimes looking straight into the eyes of the spectator with an unflinching, unapologetic gaze. It’s as if she’s saying, “My body is his, he uses it for his pleasure and I am proud of my service and my charms.”

Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres,_La_Grande_Odalisque,_1814

As a fine arts student, I was captivated by the odalisque paintings from Ingres, Goya, Boucher and Lefebvre. Though I never told anyone, I had a secret desire to be an odalisque. I wanted to be owned by a master that knew that I was put on this earth to be his erotic plaything. I wanted to stay naked all day and dance to the beat of primal drums.

I was also seduced by the idea of being kidnapped solely for my beauty and what my body could offer. I fantasized about it all the time. How wonderful to be a harem girl; spirited away from my banal existence and forced to live in a palace full of exotic color, music and sex.

I would bathe and eat and sleep and please. That would be my life.

While nestled on a bed of silk sheets, waiting for him to summon me, I would get wet and needy with anticipation.

I couldn’t think of anything more glorious than to know my only job was to please a man. No paper pushing or emails or phone calls, just your body, your mind, your creativity.

An odalisque is a woman distilled down to her primal essence.

Yet it wasn’t enough for me to be a sexual object. I needed more. My master would love me, he would favor me above all the other beautiful girls in his harem. We would kiss until our lips swelled.

Before long, he would forget any of them existed and we could sink into silk sheets until we melted into one.


Header Image: Odalisque by Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1874).

Image within Post: Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1814)