Sex History: The Not So Puritans
The Puritans are often considered history’s greatest prudes, but were they as “moralistic” as society claims them to be? In this article, we delve into the often unknown, misunderstood sexuality of the Puritan Colonists.
New America’s Unknown Values
When The puritans arrived in the New America, they had every intent on revising the culture of religion, relationship, sex, and marriage. They enforced strict rules against homosexuality and premarital sex. Though these were the ideals intended, they did not deter the puritans from experimenting with sexuality. So, even though these rules and ideals were in place, they were broken right from the start. The first trials that dealt with sodomy were had almost immediately, showing us that even though the puritans had good intentions, they are really just as naughty as you or me! 😉
It’s also interesting to observe that even though the Quakers and English Calvinists are considered the puritans, they did not have the exact same value system. These two groups of people did not even arrive in the new colonies at the same time.
The first recorded case of homosexuality was in 1629 and occurred on a boat at sea on the way to the colonies. Massachusetts was so “offended” by the act they refused to deal with it so the perpetrators went to trial in England. This was possibly the only time that disgust towards homosexuality was actually a helping attribute to their situation because it was only a capitol offense in England whereas it would have been punishable by death in the colonies. At this time, lesbianism wasn’t even defined and was not punishable or a capitol offense. Despite how harsh the punishment was for homosexuality, puritan leaders hesitated to enforce them. This hesitation increased more and more through the 17th century. If only they had butt plugs and anal toys like we have now!
Another example of possible homosexuality is the story of Thomas Morton of Merrymount, a puritan who founded the Merrymount colony. He and his men would have large parties where they would drink, flirt with the Indians, and act with great “licentiousness” meaning complete lack of morals! Thomas Morton was banished for the many “illicit” acts that he committed, but sued a group of puritans later and won the trial, becoming a local celebrity and spokesman of liberty. This shows us that even though the puritans weren’t accepting of homosexuality, or even masturbation or oral sex for that matter, they could fight against them in some way and change the moral landscape.
Looking back again at the puritans, you can see that their rules were merely a guise and those who were willing to sneak around were much more abundant than first thought. Another interesting fact is that sodomy wasn’t a capitol offense until 1636 at Plymouth Massachusetts.
Puritans centered a lot of their ideology around marriage. Premarital sex was punishable, but rarely enforced. Also, the idea of love being a part of marriage did not really exist at this time ( Marriage because of love came about during the Victorian era). Marriage was almost an agreement among families, for procreation and nothing more. Although premarital sex was considered an offense against god, it was obviously committed a lot as there were many “shotgun weddings” being conducted during that time. So, it’s safe to say that even the “snooty” puritans had problems maintaining their morals.
Another thing not uncommon among the puritans was adultery. Society seemed to facilitate it in the colonies as many single women or spinsters were employed to take care of children in large families. These women at times ended up having affairs with the men in the house, even the husbands themselves! This was a punishable offense in the eyes of puritan society, but punishment was often refrained as it was a very common occurrence.
Another strange part of puritan ideology is that sex is mandatory among married individuals. If a man was impotent, or unable to perform sexually, the couple could be separated. Pleasing your wife was your duty. So, it was rule of divine law that you knock boots in the name of Jesus or feel his wrath! It was also common for people to have sex in public, specifically in the kitchen, in front of the servants. It seems like the puritans were exhibitionists……Kinky!
I think it’s safe to say that the puritans were not so pure and probably not pure at all. They were normal sexual beings living under a repressed ideologies of their time. Though punishment was conducted for these acts, it almost seems like it was less punishable then during the 1900’s in modern society. If you want to experience the repressed ideology, we suggest that you try our chastity devices! Also if you have anything to add to the article, or you want to say “Hello” please send me a message in the comments below!
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