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Female sexuality middle ages


Medieval female sexuality is the collection of sexual and sensual characteristics identified in a woman from the Middle Ages. Everything in her life ultimately led to marriage, and it was within wedlock that her sexuality developed and took shape into what today could be recognized as a sexual identity.

The scope of sexuality for a married woman during the Middle Ages was broader than that of an unmarried woman. While there are many reasons for this, an important one is that the Church only acknowledged the potential for a sexual identity in a woman partaking in sexual intercourse with her husband alone.

Outside of marriage, virginity and purity were prized, and sexuality was limited to small displays of beauty, such as embroidered hair coverings or fine clothes. Chastity removed the possibility for any kind of sexual identity as would be seen in the 21st century. Even medical problems related to female organs were disregarded with the Female sexuality middle ages that only sexually active women could have them, and even so, help was difficult to find.

However, within the bonds of marriage came sexual intercourse for these medieval women and with it, sexual problems. Those problems included conception, birthing, abortion, and health problems related to sexual organs.

These three entities came to define female sexuality and sexual identity in the Middle Ages. Sexuality for the medieval woman began before marriage as a young virgin.

It was not necessary for her to be beautiful to be married off because marriage was traditionally based on politics, material wealth, and social status. It would have been intensely disapproved of for a man and woman to marry based on physical attraction or love. When a family made a match for the daughter, choosing a mate based on sexual attraction was never considered.

It was very rare to find references to love and beauty in the negotiations for marriage between two families. However, it was not unheard of for young men and women to create relationships for themselves with sexual attraction in mind. Women displayed their availability for marriage through their hair, which would have been a great symbol of sexuality in the Middle Ages as it was kept hidden. Medieval women allowed their hair to grow throughout their lives.

Married women would have kept their long hair tied up in braids beneath a head covering of some sort. Single women would allow their hair to fall freely over their bodies signaling that they were available for marriage. In fact, a beautiful woman in poor clothing would go generally unnoticed while a much less attractive woman in fine clothing would receive far more male attention, although modesty was throughout considered to be her greatest triumph. Legally, if a woman were to dress like a whore, she could be codified as one.

It was understood that a certain amount of physical attraction between potential partners was necessary to encourage reproduction by allowing the male to be stimulated sexually.

While an unconsummated marriage was subject to annulment, once a woman lost her virginity to her husband, the consummated marriage was permanent. The act of adultery Female sexuality middle ages considered by far the worst of sexual sins, but it "Female sexuality middle ages" noteworthy that usually Female sexuality middle ages women would be punished for it.

A husband would be forbidden to murder his adulterous wife, but if he did, the courts were reluctant to punish him. Although adultery was a severe sin, Female sexuality middle ages woman had another option and that was of separation from her husband.

While divorce did not exist with regards to its forbidden status within the Church, a woman could file for a separation from her husband on the grounds of ill treatment and in many cases was granted the separation.

Sex outside of marriage did of course exist, but promiscuity was considered to be more heinous in females than males. Most of those beliefs revolved around women during intercourse. "Female sexuality middle ages" was acknowledged that women had sexual desire, but it was also believed that women were extremely lusty and seductive, more susceptible to temptation, and always ready to engage in sex. She was believed to receive far more pleasure from a sexual encounter than men and reach her sexual readiness far earlier than men.

Perceived as more sexually mature than males, women were expected to conduct themselves to higher standards than men, leading to a double standard of sexual morality.

One threat of the natural male hierarchy occurred Female sexuality middle ages the bedroom: It was a sin for a woman to dominate a man by reversing roles in the bedroom because it made the husband subservient to the wife. However, it was a firmly held belief that because the man could not produce his portion of what was required for the woman to become pregnant without him reaching orgasm, it was likewise believed that the woman could not conceive a child without her also reaching orgasm; one consequence of this belief was that women who were raped and conceived a child were thought to have experienced pleasure from the experience, in spite of any other evidence to the contrary.

The laws of the Catholic Church and the secular laws of the medieval period mixed into, generally, one united front. Whatever would have been a concern for the Church, was automatically reflected in the concern of the secular court. The ultimate purity for the Church was for one to maintain virginity throughout one's life, but if one must have a sexual life, it would then only be legitimate for procreation through marriage. However, for a woman, sex was a very limited activity because of the restrictions placed on the instances in which she could engage in sexual activity.

For example, sex was a forbidden activity during the following times: Since the goal for a woman was to give birth to as many children as possible and nurse them all into good health, a woman, given the set restrictions, would not have had much time to engage in sexual activity. When a woman did have sex with her husband, there also existed laws in Female sexuality middle ages bedroom.

Sex in the missionary position was the only form of sex Female sexuality middle ages acceptable and natural. All other positions and sexual acts were considered sodomy ; the charge of sodomy was so serious that it would have been tried in the secular court and possibly been subject to a death sentence. Another large piece of female sexuality of concern for the courts was that of prostitution.

A woman selling sexual services during the Middle Ages was, in theory, frowned upon by the Church as committing a sin, but in principle and in practice, the authorities believed that prostitution was a necessary evil and a public utility for preventing men from worse sins. Female medical experts of the period such as Trotula and Hildegard of Bingen had great interest in sexual topics concerning women and desired to aid women in the upkeep of their sexual health.

Sex in the Middle Ages...

These healers were interested in: Doctors and healers well understood the medicinal use of plants and herbs and were regularly consulted about menstruationcontraceptivesand abortion aids. Menstruation was universally seen as a means of purification and as the blood supplied to the fetus and the blood Female sexuality middle ages to breast milk for nursing. Often women would come to healers or herbalists to receive a concoction which would instigate menstruation.

Although it may be hard to understand why this would be desired, it becomes evident that this was an abortion aid. Stimulating menstruation in a woman who had recently become pregnant would deliver a miscarriage and hence abort the embryo. There was a great reluctance to give wives any form of birth control and what recipes did exist had terrible directions and caused more harm than good.

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A Book of Essays New York: University of Chicago Press, Female sexuality middle ages,, 87, Oxford University Press,91, Bollough and James A. Berg, Retrieved from " https: Women and sexuality Medieval women.

In the Middle Ages sex...

Orphaned articles from December All orphaned articles All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from December Articles with unsourced statements from August Views Read Edit View history.

This page was last edited on 15 Decemberat By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. In the Middle Ages sex was considered, as it is now, Female sexuality middle ages be a normal and.

Women's health was considered to be somewhat mysterious in its workings, and was. Medieval female sexuality is the collection of sexual and sensual characteristics identified in a Female sexuality middle ages from the Middle Ages.

Like a modern woman, a medieval. Using medieval western art to speak of female sexuality is difficult.

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