Picked up a great little book last week called the Sex Lover’s Book of Lists. Just a whole bunch of trivia, really. Hundreds of lists about everything and anything sexual. I just finished the first chapter – History of Sex – and though I already knew a fair amount of it, I came to a realization.
In the 19th century particularly, masturbation was bad, wrong, and believed to be the cause of hundreds of ills up to and including death. You wouldn’t believe the steps these people took to prevent masturbation. However. I think a lot of those closed-minded, ignorant souls from the 19th century actually helped along the BDSM movement, by helping to link certain items and activities inextricably with sex.
Here are some examples of methods used to prevent masturbation:
- full-body wrapping (like mummification)spreadeagled bondagecorsets made out of leather and steelpenis bondagearmourchastity belts
Now I’m trying to imagine myself lying there, wanting to masturbate, but restrained through one or a combination of these methods. I’m betting at least some of the people subjected to this treatment would begin to link arousal with bondage. Strangely, what in the 19th century was done for medical health and punishment is now considered pleasurable to so many people. At least, pleasurable in the short term – today, we actually do get to have an orgasm, eventually. 🙂
Another interesting items was about the Comstock Act – a federal law passed in 1873 (not sure if it’s still a law) making it illegal to send “articles of obscenity” through postal mail. In the first six months after this law was passed (keep in mind, this is in 1873, when getting your hands on pornographic material was a LOT harder), they seized over 100,000 books, 200,000 pictures, and over 60,000 “rubber items” bring sent through the mail.
Both of these little facts fascinated me and made me laugh for one main reason – because even with restraint, people still masturbated. And even with federal laws, people still shared pornography. Sex is too big to be able to regulate or control effectively. The only real control that works is the control switch in our own brains. We do what we want to do, and (hopefully) only what we want to do. What others – the government, doctors, religious leaders – want, is immaterial.
Gives me great hope for the human race. 🙂