History of Sex and Sexuality from 1866 to 1877

About the history of sex and sexuality from 1866 to 1877 A.D. including trivia about homosexuality, the female orgasm, and the Comstock Act.

UNCENSORED HIGHLIGHTS IN THE HISTORY OF SEX

1866 Sexual Physiology by Dr. Russell Thacker Trall was published in the U.S. The author of this sensational best-seller claimed that during his travels in the Friendly Islands and Iceland, he had noticed that "some women have that flexibility and vigor of the whole muscular system that they can, by effort of will, prevent conception." Based on these observations, Trall told the women of America, ". . . sometimes coughing or sneezing will have the same effect. Running, jumping, lifting and dancing are often resorted to successfully."

1866 Parliament approved the Contagious Diseases Act, which mandated that prostitutes working near military encampments or naval bases receive periodic medical examinations and, if necessary, treatment for venereal infections.

1867 "The Influence of the Sewing Machine on Female Health" was published in the New Orleans Medical Society Journal. The article strongly advised the use of bromide to prevent seamstresses from becoming too sexually excited by the erotic rhythms of the foot treadle.

1869 The term homosexuality was coined by Dr. Benkert, a Hungarian physician.

1870 Benjamin Disraeli, English prime minister and novelist, published his novel Lothair, creating quite a stir in society, because the characters were thinly disguised prominent personalities of the day. One character, Hugo, said about marriage, "I respect the institution, which is admitting something these days; and I have always thought that every woman should marry, and no man."

1872 The first scientifically observed female orgasm in American occurred when Dr. Joseph R. Beck of Fort Wayne, Ind., was fitting a pessary in a woman who had asked him to take great care since she was of such a passionate nature she might have an orgasm. Overcome by scientific curiosity, Beck deliberately induced the orgasm by sweeping his "right forefinger quickly three or four times across the space between the cervix and the pubic arch, when almost immediately the orgasm occurred." Dr. Beck later published a full account of the experiment.

1872 A London confectioner named Samuel Parkinson was jailed for selling sweets emblazoned with "the figures of men and women in the most disgusting postions."

1873 The U.S. Congress passed the Comstock Act, banning obscene materials--including rubber prophylactics--from the mails. Anthony Comstock himself, the legendary antivice crusader ("Morals, not art or literature"), was named special agent for the post office to help enforce the new law. This caused George Bernard Shaw to coin the word comstockery.

1877 More than 40 years after the publication of The Fruits of Philosophy, Charles Knowlton's pioneering work on birth control , Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were tried at the Old Bailey, London, for republishing it. The prosecution opened with ". . . this is a dirty, filthy book, and the test of it is that no human being would allow that book to lie on his table; no decently educated English husband would allow even his wife to have it. . ." Although the jury declared the book was "calculated to deprave public morals," it exonerated the defendants, who had been charged with having "corrupt motives." On appeal, Besant and Bradlaugh won the rights to publish.

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