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I've been watching Guy Maddin's 2007 My Winnipeg and there's a sentence there I have difficulty understanding. The narrator is talking about the coldest month, January, and it goes something like this:

The deepest part of the winter. No end in sight. The condoms come off. These are the bareback months of Winnipeg. Your breath freezes in front of your face and falls to your feet with a tinkle.

I assume the first sentence refers to the idea that when it's cold penises tend to "shrink" (or is it just me?). But what does the "bareback month" mean here?

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    Bareback: relating to or denoting sexual intercourse that is performed without a condom. Jul 24, 2020 at 7:40
  • @DecapitatedSoul Well, OK. I still do not get the "message" here. Is it sth like "It is winter. We stop using condoms and have unprotected sex"? (Why?) Jul 24, 2020 at 7:44
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    I don't know the hidden message. Jul 24, 2020 at 7:46
  • Both your and LPH's suggestions are possibilities. Perhaps the writer had both interpretations in mind. But I think that the only way to be sure is to somehow access the author's intentions. Otherwise, POB. Jul 24, 2020 at 10:40
  • @EdwinAshworth Can the "condom" part be a clue as to which interpretation is more correct, so to speak? If they "come off" = "are disposed of" -> the Soul's interpretation seems more exact (Winnipegers wanting to have some fun/improve the birth rate stats). If they "come off" = "slide off of small penises" -> it might be an image conveying the feeling of despair/hopelessness of the coldest month. Seems legit at all? Jul 24, 2020 at 11:02

2 Answers 2

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The phrase in question definitely have a sexual connotation. But not for vulgarity’s sake.

Bareback can refer to riding any animal without some covering or apparatus between it and the rider. But, it also, generically, means having ones back exposed or uncovered. A woman wearing a backless dress in an environment where it would not be appropriate could be considered barebacked. However, in the context of the statement in the question, it definitely means sex without a condom. Something that is considered risky.

During the extremely cold months in the US and Canada. People tend to stay inside their own homes more so than other months. With little else to do, couples find ways to entertain themselves and each other. And, since there is more time spent in close proximity, intimacy becomes the norm. Anecdotally, there is a rise in the birth rate nine months later (around the month of October, in this case).

Some people are half-facetiously predicting an increase in the birth rate for the year 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This particular author might call 2020 the bareback year.

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"Bareback" probably does not refer to sex, as this comment suggests, but instead to rodeo where "the bareback event(s)" is (are) considered to be the hardest part of rodeo.

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  • Bareback does not just refer to rodeo. Bareback can refer to riding any animal without some covering or apparatus between it and the rider. But, it also, generically, means having ones back exposed or uncovered. A woman wearing a backless dress in an environment where it would not be appropriate could be considered barebacked. However, in the context of the statement in the question, it definitely means sex without a condom. Something that is considered risky.
    – Dean F.
    Jul 24, 2020 at 14:04
  • @DeanF. It seems to me that there is not involved in this situation of particularly cold season any question of risk but the sole reality of its comparative harshness, which is , moreover, something hardly to be associated with sex.
    – LPH
    Jul 24, 2020 at 15:03

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