Today I would like to share a guest blog from Rough Edges contributor, Christine Morgan. Christine has chosen to write about sex in history, which is very appropriate considering that her Rough Edges story is a steamy historical number 🙂
Sex in History
There’s Nothing New Under the Covers
by Christine Morgan
Every generation, every era, acts like they invented sex. They discovered it. They were the first to take it beyond the most basic, perfunctory acts of reproduction. Earlier generations surely weren’t into all THAT. Not our parents. Not our grandparents, eew. It was strictly lights-off missionary in those days, a necessary evil, glossed over with stories about storks and cabbage patches.
Going further back than that, well, people must have been ignorant, prudish, and unsophisticated. Or much too concerned with matters such as survival. They didn’t have the leisure time, the intellect, the luxury, the interest. Only we, nowadays, in our lofty and more highly-evolved –
Yeah, right. No. Dream on. Our parents, their parents, and countless successions of parents and non-parents before that, were very busy getting busy. When they weren’t doing it, you can bet they were thinking about it. Maybe thinking about it in yowza-yowza turn on ways, maybe repressively obsessing about it, but, face it, they were.
Yes, they were. YOUR ancestors. OUR ancestors. Kinky carnal exploits and acrobatics. Throughout all of human history. Since the dawn of time.
But, look at it this way … if they hadn’t been, we wouldn’t be here, now, would we?
This subject interests me particularly because I write a lot of historical fiction. Sometimes including romance, erotica, and/or smut. From the Old West to the Viking age … from ancient cultures such as Egypt, Greece and Rome, Central America … even as far back as caveman days.
And it’s there, all the sex, it’s there in the art and literature of the times. Bathhouses in Pompeii festooned with frescoes of positions, scholarly opinions divided on whether they were sex-menus or a fun way to remember in which cubby one left one’s belongings. The Kama Sutra, of course. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, even Shakespeare. Don’t let the vaunted prudishness of the Victorian era fool you; their porn to this day is some of the filthiest ever written. Maybe the anthropologists mostly go on about hunt-scenes in neolithic cave painting, but you just know there are some graphic enough to make Jean M. Auel blush.
I own many reference books on everything from prostitutes in gaslit London to sex in the Bible (all kinds of stuff in that Old Testament; the New is much tamer, more like the Disneyfied sanitized versions of classic fairy tales, some of which were seriously raunchy; let’s just say Sleeping Beauty was a wowser way before Anne Rice took a shot at it). I have books on the practices of Roman emperors – looking at YOU, Caligula – and how the legend of Lady Godiva got its start, and debunking that whole nasty rumor about Catherine the Great and the horse.
I also draw heavily upon folklore and mythology, and let me tell you, a whole lot of creation myths involve godly masturbation. There’s divine impregnation, bestiality, incest, homosexuality, dirty jokes and genitalia references of a thousand kinds. Once, to make an angry goddess laugh, Loki tied his testicles to one end of a string and the beard of a goat to the other – doubt we’ll see that in any Marvel movies soon, though probably to Tom Hiddleston’s relief. Speaking of Loki, he turned himself into a mare and gave birth to an eight-legged horse. He also made fun of Freya for farting during sex with her own brother.
And that’s but a few examples from Norse mythology. The Greeks had Zeus; we all know about Zeus and his transformation-seductions. Or Aphrodite, arising from the foam-crested waves after the fruits of Kronos’ castration were flung into the sea. The Egyptian goddess Isis, gathering the pieces of her dismembered husband Osiris, had to make a replacement phallus out of wood because a crocodile ate the original … but this still didn’t stop her from conceiving a son.
Here in our age, we may believe we’re all that, we’re modern, we’re enlightened, we’re edgy. But people have been ‘practicing alternative lifestyles’ since the dawn of time. People have been into body mods and piercings for all sorts of reasons, from religious to sexual (the Maya and Aztecs did more than foreskin or labial bloodletting to honor the gods). People have had their quirks, kinks, preferences, and fetishes (foot-binding, for example) for centuries. BDSM and poly arrangements are nothing new.
Heck, we can’t even take credit for tentacle porn; there are hints of it in plenty of pulp-era stuff, and further back … arguably, Zeus as a cuttlefish could be tentacle porn, or how about that snake in the Garden of Eden? We can devise nifty terminology like ‘breath-play,’ but erotic asphyxiation really began catching the public eye, so to speak, when public hangings were popular spectator sport.
What we DO have, in our modern era, is easy access to information and communication. We no longer have to rely on whispers and gossip, on plain brown wrappers, on clandestinely passed-around magazines or naughty lithographs or dogeared paperbacks with pages that fall open to the ‘good’ parts.
Side note: I was a teenager when Judy Blume’s *Forever* came out, and you would have thought it was the end of the world from all the moralistic carryings-on. At the same time, no joke, our local library figured that *Flowers in the Attic* was probably one of those *Anne of Green Gables* / *Little House on the Prairie* type things and shelved it in what was not yet then called YA.
Side note 2: I recently listened to the audiobook version of Nabokov’s *Lolita*, performed way too squickily well by Jeremy Irons. Had not read it before, but I knew its reputation. Widely (and, it turns out, erroneously) hailed as one of the most erotic books ever … which can only lead me to conclude a whole lot of people must not have actually read it … far from erotic, it’s a terrifying and absolutely monstrous profile of abuse.
The internet can teach us more about myriad sexual activities than we possibly ever wanted to know, with just a few mouse clicks. Those who used to languish in furtive and solitary shame, convinced they were the only sick freak weirdos to be aroused by fill-in-the-blank, can find entire communities and support networks of the like-minded. We have availability and awareness now, to an extent our predecessors never did.
So, it isn’t that we invented or discovered sex … it isn’t that we’re more adventuresome or sophisticated … or more perverse and depraved, depending on how you look at things.
It’s only that we, like with so much else of our lives, splash and plaster and splatter it all over the internet. And that is one genie – one probably pretty sticky genie – that we’ll never get back in the bottle.
Christine Morgan spent many years working the overnight shift in a psychiatric facility, which played havoc with her sleep schedule but allowed her a lot of writing time. A lifelong reader, she also reviews, beta-reads, occasionally edits and dabbles in self-publishing. Her other interests include gaming, history, superheroes, crafts, cheesy disaster movies and training to be a crazy cat lady. She can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/christinemorganauthor and https://christinemariemorgan.wordpress.com/
Christine’s story, “Emma’s Ride”, is included in Rough Edges, available now: