How morality became personal in 18th-century England. By Faramerz Dabhoiwala. Buy from Amazon.
Imagine yourself as a young person during an era when there was no sex ed in high school. Sure, pornography exists, but you're more likely to get your hands on the smallpox virus than a properly illicit " French Postcard. And yet your wedding night approaches.
How did one word come to have so many different meanings? It also could apply to a woman with a dubious sexual reputation, but then so many words of female address can, including dame, madam, miss, hussy derived from housewifemother, wife, lady, and queen. A man who employed servants or apprentices was a master Mrand a woman who did so was a mistress.
The subtitle in the program, to the effect that the 17 th century was not Victorian England, was added by Paula Goodlett, then-editor of the Grantville Gazetteas a teaser, I believe. Probably not. Europeans in the 17 th century do not appear to have been seriously inhibited by the presence of an audience. Consider, for example, the 17 th century afternoon in a tavern in Henrico County, Virginia, as depicted during a county court procedure by the observers who placidly narrated that his hand went up here and her hand went down there, after which they went out for a while and then came back in and drank some more.
When I was a teenager, I had an older relative who used to like to tell any young person who crossed her path, "You kids think you invented sex! After all, hadn't sex been pretty much limited to heterosexual missionary-style couplings with the lights off until, like, ? Of course, after I took a break from having my vagina touched and decided to go read some cultural history, I learned that sexual innovation was nothing new.
After all, settlers had to populate their new home somehow. Intimacy during the colonial period was somewhat restricted - and hygiene was a whole other matter to take into consideration - but this time wasn't without its passion. At the time, though, if you were caught engaging in the act, you were expected to do the socially acceptable thing and marry your partner.
Samuel Pepys, the famous womanizer and diarist, was certainly no prude. So what was the book that made even Pepys blush? It turns out to be a surprisingly modern exploration of sexuality written in the form of a dialogue between a teenage girl and her more experienced cousin.
Aphrodisiac, eroticism, homosexuality, narcissism, nymphomania, pederasty all these terms are derived from the language of ancient Greece which tells you something about its society. The myths of Homer and Plutarch told stories such as that of Aphrodite, goddess of sexual intercourse, who emerged from the foaming semen of her father's castrated testicles. Then there were the mortal heroes such as Hercules, who it is said ravished 50 virgins in a single night, but who also had an affair with his nephew Iolaus and fell in love with "sweet Hylas, he of the curling locks".
Without the Christian church of the Middle Ages, Sigmund Freud of the 19th century would have been out of work. The Church had opinions and laws about every aspect of sex. Adultery and fornication in some cases were sins punishable by death, but for a time the Church actually condoned prostitution, admitting that it was a necessary evil.