View Full Version : did married people have sex more in the bad old days?

05-16-2011, 05:17 PM
there are various cultural references floating around to wives losing interest at some point leaving their husbands unhappy about it. A whole "stereotype", I guess, and stereotypes don't arise out of nowhere.

Well, so what do we know about this issue let's say back in the 19th century? Did the more dominant male position in the household and the non-supportive public opinion force women to just think of England and so this was a non issue? Or is the marriage ring as purity ring actually a trope of very long standing?

05-16-2011, 05:43 PM
On one hand, there was no reliable birth control, and unless a woman wanted to be pregnant her whole life and/or die in childbirth, I suppose turning off the marital tap was not unheard of. (Not to mention trying to support a dozen children, those who didn't die early in life.) On the other hand, there were estimated to be perhaps 50,000, or more, prostitutes in London in Victorian times. Not many jobs for women other than servant, laborer, nanny. I don't have cites, but those men not gettin' any at home seem to have had a wealth of options.

05-16-2011, 05:50 PM
Not to mention without TV, Computers, reliable lighting, there just wasn't a whole hell of a lot else to do if you were awake after the Sun went down.

Sierra Indigo
05-16-2011, 06:25 PM
Marital rape has only become a crime in some areas in recent years...

05-16-2011, 06:57 PM
And also remember that in the old days, many children died early. My great-great-great grandparents were homesteaders in the US midwest, and most of their children died (my great-great grandfather was one of the survivors, along with one of his sisters), so the family size ended up pretty similar to today.

05-17-2011, 09:51 AM
There's also the issue of arranged marriages. "Marry for convenience and love for pleasure" was a popular idea back then. Mistresses and prostitutes wetre common, and Southern masters and their male children had the right to their female slaves.

And women were brought up to believe that "nice" women didn't enjoy sex, that it was only a marital duty.

05-17-2011, 11:00 AM
it has always been my impression that Victorian era had a big problem with syphilis among the prostitutes. So you guys think that the married men (as opposed to the crazy single ones) patronize them regardless?

05-17-2011, 11:16 AM
Some religions (Judaism and Catholicism and, by extension, Anglicism and others) have or once had a huge list of Days You're Not Supposed To Have Sex. Certain Saint's Days, Feast Days, Holy Days, days before and after Holy Days, days after a menstruation, weeks after childbirth...really it's amazing there were so many babies born, what with all the days you can't have sex.

Not so much of an issue for most people today, in which such things aren't taken as seriously, but back when people were more literal to their religions' teachings, I can see it having an impact. Not so much on the turning off the tap over time, but limiting coitus all the same. A marriage with a devout wife is going to see a lot of "not tonight, honey", even if the man isn't devout himself.

There's also some evidence that it's just a biological thing. We now recognize that most relationships have a period of infatuation where people are screwing like bunnies under the influence of oxytocin (the "cuddle hormone" that bonds us to our partners) but that we eventually stop producing so much, or we become resistant to its effects. Add in the drudgery of keeping a home and caring for children, unwanted pregnancy, not wanting the milk for your current baby to dry up if you get pregnant again too soon, and I think it's not unlikely that this is one stereotype with some basis in reality.

05-17-2011, 02:15 PM
Southern masters and their male children had the right to their female slaves. Northern slave owners didn't have these "rights?"

05-17-2011, 02:42 PM
Northern slave owners didn't have these "rights?"

come on, people, the slave-owners were a minuscule percentage of pre 1865 white population even in America, to say nothing of the West as a whole. Regardless of slavery, it's true that in racially mixed places like Caribbean or Brazil patterns of sexual behavior may have been somewhat aberrant by Victorian or even modern standards. But that's not what this question is about.

05-17-2011, 05:11 PM
Aberrant how?

05-17-2011, 07:21 PM
To here some people tell it, all the horrors of slavery took place south of the Mason-Dixon line and that just isn't true. I'm old and cranky and I'm sick of the entire "Southern" slave owners myth. There were "Northern" slave owners who had just as much access to the female slaves as any owner in the South. The term "Slave Owners" does NOT have to be preceded by the word "Southern" when the evils of slavery are being discussed.

05-18-2011, 12:53 PM
Aberrant how?

Yeah, do you have pictures?

05-18-2011, 01:18 PM
Yeah, do you have pictures?

pictures of what? Of a small white minority managing to father a whole lot of mixed race illegitimate children whose descendants are now half the population of Brazil?

Maybe that's nothing special by the standards of the king of Swaziland, but Victorian era Westerners were not supposed to behave like that. Even modern Westerners at the very least are supposed to avoid sexual harassment of subordinates and not commit adultery when already married.

05-18-2011, 02:50 PM
Easy there, c_g, it was a joke.

05-18-2011, 03:46 PM
Easy there, c_g, it was a joke.

on second thought, I think I am slandering His Majesty. At least the guy gives cattle brideprice to families of the ladies who have his children. The people I am referring to were not that gentlemanly :)