The Terrifying, Mythical Chastity Belt Was a Joke
Chastity belts are things of legend, and looking at one of these penis bear traps is pretty awe-inspiring and scary. The idea of a man locking up his wife while he went away to fight valiant wars has captured the imagination of people for centuries. But it turns out that the chastity belt is likely a myth, invented and perpetuated by Renaissance and Victorian societies eager to distance themselves from the terrors of the Middle Ages and play naughty jokes on one another – the blow up doll of the 1800s. Earlier this month, this article from the Telegraph and this one via Dangerous Minds outlined how while there may have been the occasional legit use of chastity belts in the Middle Ages, historians now believe that they didn’t exist the way we’ve always been led to believe. And when you do a little research on perceptions of sexuality in the Middle Ages, it makes sense why these iron contraptions would not be placed on women. According to this article published via Birmingham-Southern College, in the Middle Ages it was believed that both men and women had seminal fluid or “seed” that was released during intercourse at the point of orgasm. Of course, men’s seed was treated like gold and considered the more important of the two, while women’s was considered inferior, and even dangerous to her health. Ironically, this meant two things that were unfortunately erased from the perceptions of sex that were later developed by the Victorians – one, that a female orgasm was considered essential for procreation, which was the whole point of having sex, therefore women were encouraged to orgasm every time they had sex; and two, that if a woman was not having sex, masturbation was encouraged in order for her to rid her body of the dangerous build up of her seed that may cause her health problems. In an even further turn of irony, men were vehemently discouraged from masturbating because their seed was so precious! Hilarious, considering how the tables turned so sharply in subsequent centuries. So with this information in mind, it makes it highly unlikely that chastity belts were ever used in practice, because women whose husbands were away would be subject to a dangerous buildup of poisonous female seed with no way to release it. But they are still fun to look at!