Sex in history

(67 Posts)
Tamoo Tue 25-Sep-12 13:15:22

Apologies in advance for lowering the tone.

It occurred to me reading the Henry VIII thread (someone mentioned Anne Boleyn introduced him to oral sex) how awful sex must have been pre-modern era standards of hygiene.

Thinking of, say, 500 years ago, when only the wealthy had regular access to hot baths, and even then perhaps only used them a couple of times a year?

How could anyone bear the smell of intimate physical contact with someone who never washed?

And the rotten teeth. Imagine full-on snogging with someone before toothpaste was invented.

I'm aware they didn't know any different but still.

Just a few historical musings for the day blush

Tamoo Tue 25-Sep-12 19:39:03

Christ, it actually had soot in it?!

Learning more than I ever wanted to know on this thread smile

LiviaAugusta Tue 25-Sep-12 19:45:08

Oh my, that's quite the grossest thing I've heard about in a long time since the last time I googled anything mentioned on MN

LineRunner Tue 25-Sep-12 19:49:35

No - but - it's fascinating. It could be seen as the body having a self-cleaning function. Or self-abluting.

grin at doctrine.

ProphetOfDoom Tue 25-Sep-12 21:31:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TunipTheVegemal Tue 25-Sep-12 21:37:44

They used to share beds with complete strangers, NAKED, except for a nightcap.
confused

stubbornstains Tue 25-Sep-12 21:43:09

But going back to the smell thing...why are we expecting people from Olden Times to have had precisely the same attitudes towards hygiene and desire as we did? They might have found a rather, erm, "riper" odour to be erotic - crammed with hormones, after all- and, if transported to the modern day, may have found the lot of us pretty unsexy because we don't smell enough! Don't forget Napoleon's message to Josephine- "Ne laver pas, je reviens"- "Don't wash, I'm coming back"? (Apologies for any mistakes in the French...)

ProphetOfDoom Tue 25-Sep-12 21:44:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tamoo Wed 26-Sep-12 10:20:43

It's not just a ripe odour though, is it. I quite like a man who smells of himself IYKWIM without any cologne and I don't mind a bit of sweat. But for many people across much of history they would have been downright filthy: hard manual labour, impoverished liviing conditions inc. living with animals, grubbiness from open fires, untreated illness and infection, and so on. I just can't imagine something like oral sex (for example) being anything people would have enjoyed until relatively recent times. Exceptions being societies that did make a big deal of washing eg the Romans as mentioned earlier.

TunipTheVegemal Wed 26-Sep-12 10:39:38

Maybe if you were rich you would have oral sex once a year, after your annual bath grin

The privacy factor is something that intrigues me even more in relation to sex than dirt does. I can't imagine living without privacy just in general; what on earth your sexual relationships would be like without it, I can't imagine.

When they did that Iron Age village recreation on tv in the 70s the participants talked about how there was visual privacy but not aural privacy - you could hear the other couples at it in the dark in your roundhouse!

Well, and what about families living in one room? That wasn't terribly uncommon in the last century in the UK, was it?

That is hilarious about the Iron Age recreation ... some sounds you would not want to hear!

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 26-Sep-12 17:19:17

Has anyone mentione Napoleon? Apparanatly he sent a message to Josephine saying 'Back in X days, do not wash!'

TunipTheVegemal Wed 26-Sep-12 17:53:31

I've just remembered something.
Despite all this stuff about them not snogging, the normal Tudor kiss of greeting was on the lips. (No tongues or anything, but still.)

ProphetOfDoom Wed 26-Sep-12 20:42:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tamoo Thu 27-Sep-12 11:28:35

I can well believe that about incest, apparently it (and inbreeding) is still relatively common in very closed communities where branches of the same family live in consistently close proximity across several generations and where education (esp sex/health education) is either poor or non-existent.

MrsBovary Thu 27-Sep-12 11:33:14

Goodness me!

I have a copy of History of Women's Bodies too, R2. It's an interesting read.

R2PeePoo Thu 27-Sep-12 13:32:46

MrsBovary Its a good one isn't it? Haven't met anyone else who has read it before. I read it for the first time when I was pregnant which was a huge mistake!

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