Sex History: The Victorian Era
Victorian morality is a term for the moral views held by the people under Queen Victoria’s rule during 1837-1901. During this time the idea of marriage after love, as opposed to marriage as a family arrangement became popular. It was also a time where sexuality was repressed, and people carried themselves under a strict social code of conduct. But were the Victorians as prudish and conservative as we would like to believe? In this edition of Sex History we look at the ins and outs of the Victorian era of sexuality.
The Horny Prudes
Despite upholding prudish ideals in society, they actually had some encouraging sexual practices. For instance, they believed that both sexual partners must achieve an orgasm at the same time in order to conceive a child (what an aspiration!). They also believed that the weather and circumstances of which you had conceived a child would yield a specific personality. For example, illegitimate children would be “fiery and unpredictable” as a result of their conception. The most contradictory fact about the Victorian era was that most intelligent people, even royalty were into sexual arts and practices that weren’t even allowed under their own code of conduct! Many men in “elite” society and even royalty would often be involved in pederastic relationships (relationships between an older male and a younger male). Queen Victoria, herself, had a pornographic collection of the male figure and she even sketched nude men!
Despite the ideals of the time, prostitution was, not only common, but it was also very popular! During the mid 1800’s, there was about 4% more women than men and in the police reports of the time, there was an estimated 8,600 prostitutes in London alone! Though it was common, it was a profession that many in society looked down upon and was dubbed the “Great Social Evil.” The British government even stepped in to address the concern. Despite these obstacles, prostitution was viewed by some woman as an opportunity for independence from the traditional role as mother or lifelong servitude to a husband.
During this time, homosexuality was considered a criminal offense, but it didn’t stop the human mind from exploring it. Many artists were persecuted during this time for art and literature relating to homosexuality (Like Oscar Wilde). During this time, the platonic or “Greek” (pederastic) relationship was also regaining popularity in higher class and universities of the time. At the end of the 18th century, questions and studies involving sexual identity were turned into a scientific investigation called “sexology”. It seems that sexuality in the Victorian era was mired with contradictions at every corner and it’s safe to say that repression likely played a big hand in the “sexual deviance” committed during that time.
Stay informed, and stay sexy my friends ;P
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