By now, the cat is out of the bag. I’m a huge Ken Burns guy. I’ve been spending all of my allotted Netflix time after work watching Ken Burns documentaries these past few weeks. Prohibition, The West, The Civil War – they’re all bangers. Time and time again, he brings the heat when it comes to documentaries on the beginnings of America.
In my time watching countless hours of footage from historians, I noticed something – no one really looked all that happy in the 1800s. It just seems like every single day as a man, woman, child, or dog was an uphill battle. Suicide rates were probably through the roof and for good reason. The common cold was basically a death sentence if you were living around this time period and every picture I’ve ever seen of people back then is just flat out grim.
Up until the 1850s, there was no such thing as prophylactics, which is both appalling but honestly not that surprising for a world that was still trying to find it’s footing. I mean, Christ, in the Prohibition documentary that Ken Burns did, there’s an entire segment on legislation that raised the legal age of consent from 10 to 14. 10 to 14! Are you kidding me?
Women led the charge for a ban on alcohol because their husbands would come home after spending their entire week’s wages on booze and just destroy their homes. It was a horrible time to be a human, but being a woman was exponentially worse than being a man. And since I’ve probably horrified all of the people who decided to read this, I’ll just leave it at that. It was not that cool to be a woman in America in the 1800s.
I know that pictures took something like 15 minutes to take back then so smiling was a little difficult, but even if those people could smile I don’t think they would. Basic amenities like dishwashers, insulation for a home, and Netflix didn’t exist.
There wasn’t a whole lot to be happy about when you’re spending every waking hour tilling the fields or churning butter. People were getting up at the ass-crack of dawn every morning just to find out that the weather ruined their crops. If that happened, your family was most likely doomed to a winter of misery, despair, and eventual death. What a life that must have been.
So all of this got me thinking – what was sex like in the 1800s? I mean, obviously, people were having sex but they weren’t fucking, you know what I mean? Like no one was going out on a Friday night in 1800s-era America with the express intent of bringing home a random from the local watering hole. Dowries were en vogue, and a scene between, oh I don’t know, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic simply wasn’t happening yet. Save that shit for the 1900s.
I just don’t think passionate, steamy sex was something that many folks got to experience in that day and age. People were reproducing to get a few more helping hands around the house, not to get their jollies off and brag about it to their friends the next day in a group chat. I’m sure men were enjoying themselves because ejaculating for a man is about as easy as snapping your fingers, but what concerns me more is the women of this time period.
Foreplay? Forget about it, man. Coarse, devoid of any kissing, and over as quickly as possible. That had to have been the modus operandi for sex in the 1800s. I’m not entirely sure men (or even women for that matter) knew that the clitoris existed. And even if they did know it existed, the men back then didn’t respect women enough to put in any effort. Sex was merely another chore for a woman, probably coming up right in between hanging up the laundry to dry in the backyard and preparing cabbage stew or whatever it is people ate back then.
I know this whole column is a tad bleak, but I just wanted you all to know how good you have it. If you’re a man and you happen to get lucky this weekend, make sure your partner gets off too. If you’re a woman and, by the grace of God let some poor schlub convulse on top of you for five minutes, make sure you get yours too. Everyone in this fine country deserves to get their rocks off. We’ve got air conditioning, the Internet, and no one has to churn their own butter to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Have fun, be safe, and let it all hang out. .
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