5 Ridiculous Sex Myths From History (You Probably Believe)
Since the sexual revolution of the '60s, we tend to think that sexuality from the Baby Boomers back to the beginning of time was a long history of repressed urges, prudish fundamentalist restrictions and brutal rape politics.But it turns out that a lot of what BBC dramas tell you about sex in history is just a fanciful cover for sex lives that didn't differ that much from our own. Myths that persist to this day include ...5Victorians Were Repressed and SexlessWhen you think about the Victorian era, you probably remember a whole bunch of jokes about how women couldn't show their ankles without it being considered indecent exposure. If they ever did have sex, they would first have to peel off so many layers of clothing that it almost wasn't worth it.Queen Victoria is rumored to have told her daughter to "just lie back and think of England" when the princess was concerned about having to fulfill her wifely duties on her wedding night. There's even a myth that Victorians covered the legs of because they resembled female flesh.Frankly, we're surprised that the population of England didn't collapse after men got sick of sobbing their way through sex long enough to impregnate their wives.It's true that Victorians weren't exactly into halter tops and assless pants. In public, that is. In private, they made up for it by producing . And not just any porn, but the type of porn that would make the most seasoned Internet deviant blush and cover their table legs. We're talking incest, rape, pedophilia, orgies, BDSM ... and .Here's a taste from a piece published in 1907:-From Alas, Victorians also left their table legs as bare as their marvelously hairy women: furniture-leg covers are a myth originally peddled, ironically, by demonstrating prudishness to his British audience. As for the famous prudishness of Queen Victoria, not only is the "think of England" exchange untrue, but the Queen's diaries reveal she was , and often presented her husband with male and female nude artworks. Oh, and this is those diaries were heavily censored posthumously by her children.So the Victorians weren't exactly Puritans. Then again, neither were the Puritans ...4Puritans Were Puritanical Every American schoolkid who has sat through a lesson on the history of Thanksgiving was told that the pilgrims who founded America , a group of sexually repressed religious fanatics. In reality, but since that's the only context in which most of us have even heard of Puritans, we just mentally combined the pilgrims and the Puritans into a single group of people who loved turkey but loathed sex.But those early settlers in America were part of a much larger group in the Church of England who were working to purify the world of anything relating to genitalia.Although sex between unmarried couples was theoretically a crime in Puritan society, that hardly slowed them down. It just meant that their society was rife with shotgun weddings. According to , up to 1 in 3 Puritan women were pregnant when they were married. The odds of becoming pregnant from one act of intercourse are a lot lower than that, so that's a lot of deviant behavior for a group that cheerfully crushed people to death for looking "witchy."Given that they lived in such a repressive and extremist society, these dangerous criminals must have carried out their illicit affairs with discretion, right? Not even close. The Puritans had sex . They had sex in churchyards. They had sex in ditches and in hedges. They had sex in bars and in bean patches and on porches. One of the most common places for Puritan servants to have sex was in the kitchen, often while the other servants watched.It's not even like the clergy were uptight about a little action in the bedroom or bean patch. The Puritan church not only condoned sex for pleasure between married spouses, it actually it. Sex was not only because it produced offspring, but because the Puritans believed that sexually pleasing one's spouse was a religious duty. At least one man was excommunicated from the Puritan church for refusing to have sex with his wife. Impotency or poor sexual performance was considered grounds for divorce, and a man was not to withdraw from his wife in case he ruined her orgasm.So, how could the Puritans justify awesome sex for married couples but no sex for the unmarried? The Puritan church believed that because marriage was between a man, a woman and Jesus, sex should also be between a man, a woman and Jesus. This wasn't even a metaphor: The Puritan church by describing the "voluptuous delights" that awaited them in heaven with their "heavenly husband." Yeah, they're talking about sex with Jesus.3Jews Had Sex Through a SheetThis one turns up in all the time, and Christopher Hitchens as an example of religious crazy: Jews conduct the marital act by way of a hole cut in a bed sheet, so as to avoid the lustful distractions of nudity.The story is so pervasive that whenever someone has occasion to discuss Jewish sex, you can be sure there's going to be some to it. They joke about it on . When it came time to write a book about the subject, they called it, "."If the media is to be believed, Orthodox Jewish men must go without ever seeing boobs in a sex-related context.These kinds of references tend to be as much a learning experience for Orthodox Jews as they are to other people, since the Jewish community have always made love like normal, non-furry people: . In fact, Jewish law clothed or covered sex. This means that not only are movie portrayals of deliberate Jewish sheet-covering inaccurate, but that those love scenes in which the actress mysteriously leaves her bra on are . Well, that's how we choose to interpret it anyway.But how on earth did such a specifically wacky myth start? The theory is that it arose from the tallit katan, a Jewish religious undergarment that does look a bit like a bed sheet with hole in it:That thing actually goes over your head. But back in the day, non-Jewish people saw their Jewish neighbors washing or drying something with a hole in it and thought, "." Combine general anti-Semitism with the depthless perversion of the human imagination and you have the most oddly enduring penis-related myth since "It'll be OK just this once if we pull out."2Feudal Lords Could Legally Rape Peasant Wives (Like in Braveheart)"Droit de seigneur," or the right of feudal lords to sleep with peasants' wives on their wedding nights, is probably most familiar today from , in which Mel Gibson's troubles with the English begin with him refusing to allow them to have their rightful way with his new girlfriend. But it can be found all over the place: It's a major plot point in the opera , there's a movie about it, it even pops up on the TV series . Basically, if you were a male peasant in the Middle Ages, you had about as much a chance of bedding an actual virgin as you did of finding a good Wi-Fi hotspot.In fact, a whole second myth rose out of this supposed law. If popular opinion and email forwards are to be trusted, the word "" actually came about because the king's permission was once required to have sex with your wife ever. If you wanted a baby other than the one delivered nine months after your wedding that looks suspiciously like Lord Peeblesworth down the street, you first had to hang a placard outside saying "Fornication Under Consent of the King," or "F.U.C.K." (presumably subtitled "If the dirt-covered hovel is rockin,' don't come a-knockin.'") Other versions of this tale feature soldiers obtaining this "consent" in order to rape foreign women.The subject of rape-kings come up in a bunch of historical texts ... always in reference to some country. According to pretty much everyone in Europe, the neighboring kings and lords were raping everybody out there, but no country actually listed this right in its laws, or for that matter, . In other words, rape-lords are the historical equivalent of spreading rumors about rival high schools, and Mel Gibson was promulgating an outdated form of medieval racism. Man, who would have thought?As for the old chestnut about the F.U.C.K. acronym, that's even more spurious, as most likely the word evolved like most other words do, from some ancient European word -- in this case, "fokka," to strike or to push. Hardly scandalous.1Contraception and Knowledge of the Female Orgasm Are NewAs the theory goes, the ladies had it pretty bad in bed for most of Western history. Until the rise of modern feminism, men pretty much used sex as an elaborate form of masturbation, giving no thought to how to please their women sexually, and the art of female pleasure was about as well-known as space travel. And if this bad sex wasn't bad enough, it also inevitably resulted in at least 25 children, since reliable birth control also didn't exist at all until very recently.It's easy to see why so many of us have this idea: After all, it was only a generation or two ago that the views of Dr. Sigmund "clitoral orgasms are a sign of immaturity" Freud were massively popular. Surely things before that must have been even , right?The female orgasm not only has an extensive history, but before the rise of Freudianism was even celebrated than it is now. We've about shady Victorian doctors who used their magic hands to cure uptight women, but the mystical properties of the female orgasm go back far earlier than this. In medieval times, that the female reproductive system was the same as a man's but inside-out, and they thought that babies were only made upon partners achieving climax. And even if you weren't aiming at baby formation, a lack of orgasm in sex could still lead to a of "seminal humor." Thanks a lot for ridding us of piece of ignorance, Modern Science.As for contraception, every form of it save for the Pill has a long history, and we mean long. Diaphragms and other barrier devices, made of everything from wrapped sea sponges to crocodile dung and often containing materials that melted inside the body and sealed off the cervix, have been in use , and popped up among the ancient Greeks and Jews. Women in the Roman Empire even had called silphium, modern-day fennel. And if you're thinking, "So what? They probably also believed that eating blessed leeches cured stomach cancer," consider this: Modern tests in which scientists gave rats closely related versions of the herb found that it was effective . Oh, and the reason the scientists couldn't use the exact strain the Romans used was because the Romans relied on it so much that they .: women love casual sex (you're just bad at it), everything you've heard about your "sexual peak" is bullshit and your favorite book sellers are now taking pre-orders for a ! Hitting shelves in October, is a fully-illustrated, systematic deconstruction of all of the bullshit you learned in school.It's loaded with facts about history, your body, and the world around you that your teachers didn't want you to know. And as a bonus? We've also included the kinkiest sex acts ever described in the Bible.