History 2185 Lecture Notes - Masturbation, Zoophilia, Missionary Position

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31 Jan 2013
Oct, 22, 2012
The Middle Ages
-Deals with the 10th century to the 14th century and there is a transition from marriages that were pragmatic
economic arrangements to the idea of romantic or courtly love and the church did not approve this
-Was a contradiction in the prescriptive literature of the church versus actual sexual behaviour of everyday people
-The status of women was low in these times and they were seen as the root of all problems and this attitude
stemmed from Genesis and they were seen as sexually voracious, lustful, and predatory and the church couldn’t
forgive their ultimate betrayal in the Garden of Eden
-They were regarded as property and they could be beaten within certain bounds
-Women’s menstrual blood was seen as evil and containing female seed that needed to be expunged from the
body each month and it if was not it was thought the blood would suffocate their uterus and this would lead to
many illnesses like fainting and madness
-They didn’t understand anatomy so pregnancy was a desired thing but it stopped the blood from coming out and
this was a bit of a contradiction but they did not see it this way
-Getting rid of the blood was necessary for the safety of the women and their husbands (thought it was poison)
and it was believed if her blood flowed to her eyes her stare could kill someone
-They were very superstitious and they believed fanatically in religion and they also believed in magic
-The attitudes about women translated into a very weak status for wives and girls got married at a very young age
around puberty and this is because people were not living long at all (average was 30’s)
-They also married young because death was very common for all age groups (time of the plague) and it’s
estimated in a village of 100 households there would be one funeral a week (superstition explained deaths)
-Marriages had little to do with love early on and they were economic alliances between families and they were
regarded in property as part of the dowry (most money made the girl more attractive for marriage)
-Investigated and scrutinized before marriage by the local clergy and they actually inspected all aspects of her body
and then they would write reports of their findings (health, proportions, attractiveness, suitable for child birth, etc)
-Church was highly intrusive in sexual and marital lives of their followers and women who had a previous
reputation for being a sinner were especially scrutinized
-It is true that women as the church suspected did not always follow the dictates of the church and neither did
men in terms of sexual behaviour but women were punished much worse
-Practiced contraception even though it was banned because child birth was their leading cause of death
-Some methods were to drink the intestines of a rabbit, wearing a pack of herbs around the neck, but the most
affective way was abstinence and drinking a mans urine would put you off men and turn off the man as well
-It was believed if they swallowed a bee they would never conceive but none of these methods worked and they
were based on wives tales not science
-The interesting part is that women instigated contraception and not men but at this time this was not something
for single women but a means for married women to control family growth
-The church wasn’t impressed with the control they had over their own bodies and there were strict dictates
-Sex was only allowed to happen in a marriage, only with a man and a woman, and only for procreation but this
was not followed by the public so to enforce the dictates the church became obsessed with punishing people who
engaged in different kinds of sex with different types of people
-The obsession got worse because it was trying to regulate and punish what it saw as deviant sexual behaviour and
this was seen as intensifying with courtly love
-Courtly love emerged in the 12th century and it was a revolutionary shift in the way people thought about love and
sex especially among the elite and it originated in southern France where travelling musicians and poets began to
talk about women and love in a new way and they were called troubadours
-They were talking about women and love in a way that was romantic, passionate, and sensual instead of talking
about them in marriage and economics and they placed them on a pedestal
-They spoke of men yearning for women and missing them and there were new ideas about falling in love
-These new ideas were circulated by these people but one woman really popularized this and her name was Mary
de Champagne who was the daughter of Louis XII and she embraced these ideas about courtly love (love
popularized in the court and monarchy) and she promoted this among the elite and turned it into what was seen
at the time as a fad
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