Saturday, 29 October 2005

The History of Tampons

All of my female readers will know what I mean when I say that tampons are perhaps the best invention for women ever! (Male readers with sisters, live-in girlfriends and wives will also have a good understanding too of why I say this...). Apparently the ancient Egyptians first invented the disposable tampon - theirs was made out of papyrus, ouch! I did some research on the history of tampons and came up with the following interesting links:

Tampons through history

An essay on tampons in American history
The all-American tampon.

The Museum of Menstruation (and it's not only open for 4 days a month!) Fascinating!

And an interesting review of the aforementioned museum...

Saturday, 8 October 2005

Sex Trivia from Ancient Rome


To be the agressor during sexual activity was to be the one in charge, the honourable one. Thus the sex of the partner or the type of experience was not so much the issue as was the person who was doing the actual thrusting. This was an issue set in stone for the Romans, so much so that they had two different verbs to descibe vaginal, anal or oral sex; one verb to indicate the active and another the passive role in the act. This meant that the agressor would be the futuere, pedicare or irrumare, whereas the recipient of all this action was the crisare, cevere or fellare and could risk becoming an outcast of society.

The most humiliating punishment possible for an adult Roman male, was to be sexually assaulted. Statues of the god Priapus got this message across very clearly as they were painted bright red and possesed a huge and menacing erection. According to the Songs of Priapus the god would threaten anyone who stole crops or meddled with gardens (he was the protector of gardens) with the following: "I warn you, woman, you will be fucked; boy, you will be buggered; and as for the bearded man, he can give me his mouth!" says the god. And he continues: "This rod shall enter the thief's guts as far as the hair and hilt of my balls."

Similar punishment awaited a married woman's lover. The cheated husband was legally entitled to sodomize the man by force.

Friday, 7 October 2005

The Salacious Life of Casanova

Casanova - not the most handsome guy in the world...

Giacomo Casanova (1725-98) was more than just a man of the world. His manipulative charm enabled him to get round almost anyone. He even convinced the Pope to give him a dispensation to read pornographic books, which were forbidden by the Church. He managed to move around the highest aristocratic circles. Due to his extravagant lifestyle he was often in debt, and running away from angry creditors. He developed quite a reputation for seducing the ladies and so in 1755, at the age of 30, he was arrested by the Venetian Inquisition, charged with contempt for religion and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Of course, being Casanova, he could not stand for this and escaped from prison, and went on to travel throughout Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, England, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Russia and Asia Minor, having numerous affairs on the way.

Casanova was said to know how to manipulate women's minds as well as their bodies. He would make sure he had captivated them psychologicaly, before moving on to the physical part of the affair. Although his 'love' was passionate it was short-lived and ended once he had sated his desire fully, at which point he would move on to another woman. I reckon nowadays he would be known as a cad.

Casanova's sex life was in no need of spicing up, as one can see from his memoirs too. He generally preferred one to one sex with women, had a penchant for anal sex and sometimes liked to have two women in bed simultaneously. He also liked going to orgies. Homosexual wasn't really his thing but he did have some such encounters. One of these was in Turkey with the then Turkish foreign minister, another was fondling the penis of the impotent Duke Maddaloni and the most important was an encounter with a Lieutenant Lutin in St. Petersburg, who apparently looked like a woman. In Casanova's own words: "...he took hold of me and, believing that he found he pleased me, put himself in a position to make both of us happy."

Monday, 3 October 2005

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

Lady Caroline Lamb & Lord Byron (from two separate paintings)

Life for the rich and fashionable in London during the Regency period (1788 to 1830), was extravagant and decadent. Marriage was mostly seen as a business arrangement, with fidelity being very low on the priority list for both sexes. The idea was that a woman's duty was to provide her husband with at least one male heir. That objective having been achieved, the happy wife was free to amuse herself with as many lovers as she sought fit to.

Lady Caroline Lamb was a typical example of the time. She was brought up in an environment in which all the adults were having affairs and many of her playmates were their illegitimate children. In her early teens she was married off to William Lamb, an ambitious politician and son of Lady Melbourne, ex mistress of the Prince of Wales. Two out of five of Lady Melbourne's children were rumoured to have been fathered by her lovers.
Not long after her marriage Caroline embarked on a series of affairs, which arose her mother-in-law's hostility towards her as she made no effort to conceal her liaisons. A contemporary account describes Caroline as "...a woman of society and of the world, the belle, the toast, the star of the day. She was adored but not content. She had a restless craving after excitement...she was bold and daring in her excursions through the debatable land between friendship and love."

In 1812 Caroline met Lord Byron. He was already as famous for his affairs with women as for his poetry. After first meeting him she wrote in her diary that he was "mad, bad and dangerous to know". A wildly passionate love affair ensued. Lady Caroline's diary entry would however prove to be almost prophetic as alas, for her Byron did turn out to be dangerous to know and their affair led to her downfall. Byron soon got tired of Caroline, characterizing her as wild and improvident as she would often cause scenes in public and was becoming increasingly possessive with him. At one point, he refused to see her and she disguised herself as a boy in order to gain admittance into his lodgings. Byron started feeling that her behaviour was making him look riduculous and so decided to put an end to their affair. In July 1813, he arrived at a party with a certain Lady Oxford and in everyone's presence ignored Caroline completely. This drove her to distraction and she frantically collapsed on the floor screaming, took some broken glass, tried to cut her wrists and then stabbed herself several times with a pair of scissors. She was carried out in a straight-jacket. Although she survived her wounds, her reputation in high society had been ruined.

Saturday, 1 October 2005

The Tyranny of the Benedictines

Benedict - the founder of the Benedictines

In around 500 AD a Roman noble called Benedict, decided he'd had enough of food, sex, drink and everything the good life in the city had to offer, took one of his servants with him and settled in the countryside. There he started to develop a reputation for mending broken pottery, which inevitable attracted many visitors to him and forced him to seek his solitude in a remote cave, up a cliff face. Every day someone would lower a basket a food to him. Benedict believed it was pretty much a sin to enjoy yourself, so he made sure his meal was very plain. Too much enjoyment he thought, was distracting us from thanking god for the gift of life. Soon, Benedict's views started to appeal to others who sought to follow his example. He therefore set up his own monastery where he wrote the famous Rule, his set of regulations for monastic life. The Benedictines had arrived in the world!
Benedict's community consisted of men who worked hard and prayed for the service of the Lord. His Rule states: 'We hope to introduce nothing harsh or burdensome.' This was really a major understatement, as Benedict was a firm believer of unquestioning obedience. He says: 'For if the disciple obeys with an ill will and murmurs, not necessarily with his lips but simply in his heart, then even though he fulfil the command yet his work will not be acceptable to God, who sees that his heart is murmuring. And, far from gaining a reward for such wokr as this, he will incur the punishment due to murmurers..."
Benedict obviously didn't approve of murmuring, and he dissaproved of laughter so much that he had it banned. Furthermore, his monks were not allowed to speak unless they were given to permission to do so by their superior and were not alloweed to have any private possessions. Beds were regularly examined by abbots, to make sure nothing had been hidden. All aspects of everyday life for the Benedictine monks were strictly controlled, even down to what they should eat and when, what time they should sleep and how, what they should and should not wear etc. The Rule even stated that if a monk were to go on a trip outside of the monastery, he should under no circumstances relate what he has seen or heard in the outside world.