So let’s get all Salt-n-Pepa and talk about sex, baby. Better yet, let’s talk about sex throughout human history. After all, Iwan Bloch, considered by many to be the first sexologist, believed that “historical knowledge offered an important key to understanding contemporary problems of sexuality”. History can also provide valuable perspective on how attitudes about sex and sexual mores have changed over the centuries, and how religion has shaped some ideas we might have about sex today. Here are eight things you never knew about sex in different cultures and eras and were afraid to ask.
Sex Attitudes: Rome And Orgies
Let’s start in ancient Rome, which has the reputation for being permissive when it came to all things sexual. Its anything-goes rep might be somewhat warranted. In ancient Roman culture prostitution was legal; what might be considered “pornographic” art was collected in upper-class households; it was not uncommon for Roman men to be attracted to teenagers of both sexes; and pederasty—the homosexual relationship between a male adult and an adolescent male—was commonplace and acceptable so long as the younger partner was not a freeborn Roman. Though effeminacy was frowned upon in men, there was no distinction in Roman society between homosexuality and heterosexuality. In fact, the language did not even contain words for the concepts.