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The History of the Chastity Belt By John Bernstein
What is a Chastity Belt <ul><li>A chastity belt is any constructed apparatus designed to prevent the possibility of sexual intercourse, physical sexual contact, and/or masturbation. </li></ul><ul><li>The original reasons for its invention are unclear and many modern assumptions have been misguided. </li></ul>
Pre-Belt Chastity <ul><li>Prior to the invention of the chastity belt, there were two surgical procedures used to prevent or control physical and sexual stimulation. </li></ul><ul><li>Women underwent the procedure known as infibulation, which involved the sewing together of the labia majora, leaving only a small hole for urination and the passing of menstrual blood. This hole was too small to allow for penetration or any other sexual access to the vagina. </li></ul><ul><li>Men underwent a similar procedure, also known as a form of infibulation, which involved the sewing together of the tip of the foreskin around the glans also leaving a small hole for urination. This created tension which prevented erectile expansion of the tissue and skin. </li></ul><ul><li>Both of these procedures are noted as painful and uncomfortable for years after the initial infibulation has taken place. They could furthermore cause mortal infection and disease. </li></ul>
Invention of the Chastity Belt <ul><li>The chastity belt is first mentioned as a metaphorical object of promise of fidelity. Its use was commonly found in medieval poetry. </li></ul><ul><li>In most of these cases, the promise was made between a man and woman, with equal agreement between them. </li></ul><ul><li>The chastity belt, as known to modern historians, was probably invented during the Renaissance in Italian cities, including Florence, Milan, Rome, and Venice. </li></ul><ul><li>Due to the time and locations of original use, some of the names the belts came to be known as included “The Florentine Girdle” and “The Girdle of Venus.” </li></ul>
The Myth of the Crusader’s Wife <ul><li>During the 12 th and 13 th centuries, the Crusades had over 300,000 men traveling from their homes to invade foreign lands to the east. </li></ul><ul><li>It was theorized that one of these men felt insecure with leaving his wife and daughters (and probably his mistress) fully capable while he was gone. </li></ul><ul><li>The idea caught on, and the chastity belt was mass produced for the sake of all crusaders. </li></ul><ul><li>The soldiers, however, were traveling through extreme conditions, causing a majority of them to succumb to the plague, at least 10% to die from battle wounds, and the small remaining percentage to possibly travel the distance home. </li></ul><ul><li>Furthermore, the designs thought to have come from this time would have been painful and unable to be worn for any extended period. </li></ul><ul><li>This myth was actually developed through the use of metaphorical chastity belts in medieval poetry, consisting of cloth, and not iron and locks. </li></ul>
19 th Century Medicine <ul><li>During the early 19 th century, sexuality became a topic of great discussion. </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual promiscuity was still unheard of, leading to secretive behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Masturbation became an issue open to medical discussion. Many medical professionals made statements about the health issues related to masturbation, claiming it could cause blindness, insanity, disorientation, disability, and even premature death. It was thus dubbed the “killer of youth.” </li></ul><ul><li>Due to these conceptions of the ills of sexuality, the chastity belt had its true awakening in the 19 th century, with patented designs and implemented use on young adolescents. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of these ideas were left over from medieval times, especially the moral influence by Christianity. The misconception was born that these devices were originally developed during this time. </li></ul><ul><li>Since then, dating technology has been used to determine the age of original chastity devices. Most of them have been removed from museum’s medieval exhibits, otherwise dates have been changed to represent their true age, usually from the 16 th century. </li></ul>
Early Examples of Female Chastity Belts (Renaissance Age, Italy)
19 th Century Designs <ul><li>These women are shown sporting one of the first patented designs for the chastity belt. </li></ul><ul><li>These are similar to those pictured in the previous slide, although those two were originally thought to be originals form medieval Europe. </li></ul>
Realistic Uses and Designs <ul><li>The most realistic use of the chastity belt was to protect the new population of working-class women from the ill outcomes of office sexual harassment. </li></ul><ul><li>This explains the rebirth of old designs, complete with integrated locks, in addition to new concepts of comfort and concealment. </li></ul><ul><li>The feminist movement of the late 19 th century found many women pushing for equality of employment. Many were given jobs in factories with closed quarters and no supervision, causing numerous occurrences of sexual assault. Since men would often not be held accountable for these incidences, many women took the situation into their own hands, designing protective devices that would be comfortable and concealable from their male coworkers. </li></ul><ul><li>The following slides will give some examples of modern designs, combining numerous attributes from past models and multiple purposes. </li></ul>
Liberation by Restraint: The Birth of BD/SM <ul><li>During a time of sexual secrecy and immorality, there was born a hidden movement. </li></ul><ul><li>Many individuals felt that there was too much restraint and thought being given to the ways that sexuality could be used improperly. While some decided to show their free expression through the first occurrences of pornography and exotic photography, others chose to express themselves through excessive forms of restraint. </li></ul><ul><li>These individuals found sexual excitement in the acts of being restrained with chains, ropes, or leather, and punished by being given levels of pain up to a point agreed upon by the participants. </li></ul><ul><li>While some notions of this behavior have been noted in historical documents, including information from the medieval era, these ideas were merely the influential impetus for the modern revival of the movement. </li></ul><ul><li>There have been many devices manufactured for the purposes of use in sexual behavior involving pain thresholds, domination, and restraint. </li></ul><ul><li>Due to all of these factors, the chastity belt saw its revival in modern times amongst these very same people. </li></ul>
Modern Female-based Designs <ul><li>This modern female chastity belt is designed of surgical steel, padded rubber, vinyl adjustment straps, and an integrated radial lock, found on many modern locks and safes. </li></ul><ul><li>It has also been designed to be easily concealed under clothing, tight fitting around the waist, and has small holes to allow for breatheability and urination without removal of the device. </li></ul>
Modern Female-based Designs <ul><li>This device is also intended for female use, and is designed for comfort and adjustability. </li></ul><ul><li>The materials are leather, imitation leather, high durability thread, and steel rivets. </li></ul><ul><li>The lock is small and light weight, adding negligibly to the overall weight of the device. </li></ul><ul><li>The device, while restraining the wearer from participating in sexual activity, allows for the desired feelings of submission and control, which are often sought by the BD/SM participant. </li></ul>
New Styles from Old Designs <ul><li>This is another example of a modern female restraint device, though this one is based on the supposed constructs found in medieval and Renaissance style belts. </li></ul>
New Styles from Old Designs <ul><li>This is the male form of the modernized medieval design. These never existed in the past, and are seen as ornamental, rather than functional. </li></ul>
Male Chastity Devices <ul><li>These are two design examples for male chastity belts. </li></ul><ul><li>The top diagram is from a US patent by Jonas E. Heyser, designed to be a male anti-masturbation device, lockable and adjustable to be worn for extended periods. </li></ul><ul><li>The lower diagram shows a modern design for use as part of restraint or BD/SM, bondage and discipline/sadism and masochism. This is a form of aggressive sex-play that involves binding and acts of violence and discipline. </li></ul>
Male Anti-Masturbation Devices and Chastity Belts <ul><li>Since men, and more so adolescent boys, were noted for being chronic masturbators, there were a number of devices designed to control this desire. </li></ul><ul><li>Moral ideals, fostered by religious beliefs and influential political movements, drove the need to design these devices. </li></ul><ul><li>While the devices were used to keep physical contact with the genitals to a minimum, they were also commonly combined with mental and emotional therapy and religious interventions. </li></ul><ul><li>Since the time of their design, masturbation has come to be known by the term of “pleasuring oneself.” This change in mentality has repealed the necessity of these devices, redirecting their continuing existence to a different stimulus, again the BD/SM movement. </li></ul>
This is an example of a modern, BD/SM based male chastity belt. Note the three small locks and ringed shaft compartment, flexible to allow for movement and expansion, but too constraining to allow for sexual stimulation or activity.
Drawn Tight to Conclusions <ul><li>The overall history of the chastity belt is not as far reaching into history as originally thought. </li></ul><ul><li>Many misrepresentations were taken from medieval poetry and construed into the physical concept of iron and locks. </li></ul><ul><li>Most “medieval” belts were actually dated to being either modern interpretations or the occasional real belt from the Renaissance period in Italy. </li></ul><ul><li>The revival of the 19 th century was fostered by women dealing with harsh and abusive working conditions in modern factories, as well as the medical profession’s push for sexual and masturbatory restraint. </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s chastity belts are commonly designed as artistic replicas of older designs, with others falling into the leather-clad domination movement of the BD/SM mentality. </li></ul><ul><li>Overall, they have not really been used to serve the purpose of forcing a female to keep chaste to ease the mental anguish of others. They have been short lived with little use found to be appropriate in the modern age. </li></ul><ul><li>They seemed to have held the same, if not more power when they were considered a metaphorical promise between a couple as when developed using metal, leather, and locks. Perhaps this is simply a case of poetic irony that they should be developed and manufactured in the first place. </li></ul>
Works Cited <ul><li>Ben-Dov, Yoav. Masturbation: the alleged 19 th century “killer of youths” . Yoav Ben-Dov: bendov.info. 2006 <http://bendov.info/cours/sources/masturb/masturb.htm> </li></ul><ul><li>Chastity Belt . Answers.com. 2007. <http://www.answers.com/topic/chastity-belt> </li></ul><ul><li>Stengers, Jean and Anne van Neck; translated by Kathryn Hoffmann. Masturbation: the history of a great terror . New York: Palgrave. 2001. </li></ul><ul><li>The Chastity Belt: myths and facts . H2G2 Network: bbc.co.uk. 8 June 2004. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2430118> </li></ul><ul><li>Thor, Jan. True Stories . The Chastity Belt Page. 2007. <http://www.janthor.de/khgstories.html> </li></ul>