39) In fact, this conception seems to explain some of the particular ways in which Iphis characterizes her 'unnatural' passion.
Unlike Myrrha, however, Iphis uses these examples to show that her love is universally unnatural and non-existent.
44) Although anatomy is underplayed in Ovid's telling of the myth, the problem of two vaginas (and no penis) is likely hinted at when Ovid says that Iphis and Ianthe had an aequum / vulnus (720-1)--a phrase primarily referring to their equal wounds of love, but also to their matching genitalia.
Indeed, shortly thereafter, Iphis says, 'spes est, quae capiat, spes est, quae pascit amorem; / hanc tibi res adimit' ("It is hope that captures love, it is hope that nourishes love; [but] the facts take this [hope] from you," 9.
We see, then, how very different the 'strangeness' of Byblis's and Myrrha's passion is from that of Iphis's: Byblis and Myrrha possess an unconventional love, whereas Iphis possesses, in addition, an unnatural--that is to say, incomprehensible and impossible--love.
The Iphis story is connected to the next tale by the transferred presence of the marriage god Hymen, who first presides over the newly male Iphis's wedding and then is summoned by Orpheus for his marriage to Eurydice.
Thus, for sex (rather than 'sex') between Iphis and Tanthe to be rendered comprehensible, Iphis's desires must be naturalized (56) and she herself must undergo a compulsory metamorphosis from female to male.
My analysis has demonstrated that the Iphis story is not only about the relationship between gender, sex, and sexuality (though it is about those things as well), but also about the uniquely unnatural concept of non-penetrative 'sex: Moreover, Ovid's framing of the larger narrative set of which Iphis is a part--itself representing a conceptual scheme of sexuality coexistent with the penetration model--reveals in turn that Augustan-era Romans held in their minds multiple models for classifying sexual acts.
Ovid's Iphis and Ianthe: When Girls Won't Be Girls.
An important contrast between these two articles is that whereas Pintabone 2002 argues that Iphis is rewarded for acting like a gender-normative girl, Raval 2002 contends that the metamorphosis occurs precisely because Iphis succeeds in her performance as a boy.