Chastity Belt – Fact or Fiction?
This week we’re stepping away from the “norm” as regards lingerie, underwear, and hosiery, and taking a look at an item we’ve possibly all heard about historically, even joked about – but which we may be uncertain as to whether it ever really existed: the chastity belt.
What is a chastity belt? Put simply, it is an item of “clothing” which locks onto the body and prevents any possibility of sexual intercourse, and may be worn to protect the wearer from either temptation or rape (or both). Made from metal, some may have had padded linings. With or without this consideration, prolonged wear would result in great discomfort, wounds, infection, and even death from blood poisoning in extreme cases.
Modern myth tells us that the chastity belt was first used during the Crusades: Crusaders (ie, men), travelling to the Holy Lands in the 1100’s to fight in the Papal Wars, would lock their female partners (left at home) up in these contraptions which would allow no access for any kind of sexual activity. Hence, the women were forced to be faithful and chaste; one can assume the men placed no similar restrictions upon themselves! Many other references have been made historically, but there is no evidence that these were more than metaphorical and perhaps wishful thinking on the part of men of the time.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that such an item existed until well after this date. The first historical reference to a chastity belt comes from Renaissance poetry in the 1500’s, when asking a woman to wear such a device was a poet’s way of embarking on a “mutual” commitment of fidelity to each other (though the man never volunteered the same courtesy from himself).
While there are certainly poetic references to chastity belts from the sixteenth century, the first real chastity belts we have evidence of today were manufactured in the 1700’s. Surprisingly, they weren’t actually designed to keep women sexually faithful: it seems they were designed as a way to prevent children from masturbating. Cruel? It seems so.
At about the same time, women started to participate in the workforce with the beginning of the Industrial revolution. Without any legal or practical protection against sexual assault, harassment and rape, some women may well have devised their own chastity belts of various designs in order to protect themselves from violation.
What is the role of the chastity belt in today’s society? Most commonly, these devices are popular as kink-wear in the BDSM community.
Fortunately, those at the extreme end of the abstinence-as-sex-education philosophy do not at this time lock their daughters up in chastity belts – though one could argue that the “purity” rings some fathers place on the fingers of their daughters while extracting formal promises of chastity until marriage to a man of the father’s choosing are a figurative “chastity belt”. What do you think?
And, surprisingly or not, women are still forced by men to wear chastity belts today: stay tuned next week…