Sex Clubs: A History Lesson

Annabelle River's picture

I love stumbling across alternative-sexuality history lessons. I love it because we're absent from most history accounts, due both to censorship and to our predecessors' desire for their own privacy.  And then sexually liberated people and conservative reactionaries end up with the same misguided belief that rampant, shameless sexuality is something Westerners invented in the 1960's.

So I highly recommend Tony Perrottet's recent article for, "Hellfire Holidays," about the sex clubs of 18th-century Britain.  As Perrottet reports,

"Sadly, during the prudish Victorian era, most references to these naughty clubs were scotched from the historical record.  Horrified relatives burned embarrassing documents and club regalia. But their subversive antics survived in pornographic novels, travel guides to risqué tourist sites, and, of course, popular memory."

When most people first fall into an alternate-sex community, it does feel exotic and revolutionary.  But seriously, the novelty and "naughtiness" wear off after a couple years.  Despite getting off on exoticism, and despite mainstream shock, we the currently living haven't invented anything new.  We have antecedents' example to follow and adapt; we simply have to study history that didn't make it to our textbooks.

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