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Chastity belts are definitely not as old as you think they are

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Posted January 17, 2019

Chastity belt is a device meant to prevent sexual intercourse or masturbation and you probably already know that. It is also very much ancient, but how old is it really? Many people believe that these devices were used in Middle ages, when crusaders used them on their women. However, it is actually a complete myth. The entire chastity belt story is, in fact, nonsense.

Let’s come back a bit. Chastity belts were first described in the beginning of the 15th century, which does fall somewhere in Middle ages, depending on who’s counting. However, the last Crusade ended in 1272, which is way before someone would thing of using chastity belts. Of course, in the 15th century people were still fighting, but chastity belts were not used in any significant numbers until the 16th century and even then they were extremely rare. So where does this myth of chastity belts and knights come from?

Iron chastity belt, Europe, 1501-1600. Image credit: Science Museum, London, CC BY 4.0 via Wellcome Collection

Iron chastity belt, Europe, 1501-1600. Image credit: Science Museum, London, CC BY 4.0 via Wellcome Collection

Well, during Renaissance people started romanticizing the medieval love and knighthood. Someone decided that it was very romantic for men to “protect” their women with chastity belts and so it became a living myth. In fact, some people started using chastity belts during Renaissance because they believed that they are inspired by the Middle ages. However, chastity belts were never really common, because they were absolutely terrible.

Chastity belts were made from metal. They sort of hit reproductive organs, but still allowed urinating and defecating through a couple of sharp-toothed holes. Because a constant contact with metal resulted in infections, chastity belts from the Renaissance era were covered in fabric.

Chastity belts were made from metal and had strategically located holes. Image credit: Stevenj via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

It was advised that chastity belts must be washed as frequently as possible to avoid irritation and even death due to sepsis. Chastity belts were also hugely expensive due to labour costs – can you imagine cutting all those tiny teeth by hand?

However, chastity belts were sometimes worn voluntarily during the Industrial revolution. Many women started working in factories. Due to long shifts, sometimes they had to leave late, which was always dangerous. Quickly growing cities attracted all kinds of people and rape was a considerable threat. By wearing chastity belts some women tried protecting themselves.

Chastity belts designed to prevent teenagers from masturbating – these kind of devices were used up until 1930’s. Image credit: Albert Moll via Wikimedia

Later on chastity belts became an effective measure to prevent teenagers from masturbating. This cruel practice actually lasted until 1930’s. It was believed that by masturbating children lose their connection to God and indulge in impure thoughts, which is, of course, a sin. These more modern chastity belts were typically made from leather, but they were still quite uncomfortable.

And finally we arrive to today, when chastity belts are made from latex. These devices nowadays are a part of fetish-driven BDSM culture. In fact, because of how huge sex toy market is today, we can predict that chastity belts are more popular today than they were at any other point in history. At least, definitely more popular than during Middle ages when they simply didn’t exist.

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