Nature has always provided the anatomical equipment, along
with a strong chemical and hormonal desire to procreate.
it is the inherited social and cultural framework of human
sexuality that make it all the more intriguing.
mating have been a biological fact of life since humans first
evolved from the apes some 100,000 years ago.
then, Adam and Eve have remained the role models for most
of the cultural taboos of sex in Western Judeo-Christian society.
But it is the Greeks and Roman that we look to for a peek
inside sexual desire unfettered by biblical interpretations
of the sinfulness of sex.
Party on, ye Greeks and Romans
That sex was a mix blessing was discovered early on by the ancient Greeks who were taken to worshiping a number of gods and goddesses. Not the least of these was Eros,
the god of lust, love, and intercourse who
bestowed the gifts of desire and sexual pleasure ("while simultaneously driving most people mad".)
At one point, the government was even forced to legislate
marriage and children merely in order to maintain the population in a society where nymphomania, prostitution, lesbianism,
bisexuality and homosexuality were all common practices.
Later, the Roman counterpart to Eros - Cupid - was more apt to inspire thunderstruck
romantic love rather than pure unadulterated lust.
Not that Romans were without a need for wild abandon. Worship of another Roman god, Bacchus,
inspired Romans to party with copious consumption of wine which often led to rampant
sexual couplings during the Bacchanalian
party's over: sex and the Middle Ages
Rome's fall, a dwindling population caused by endless
wars of empire (and diseases like the plague) did little to
promote sex as a social pleasure.
It was also a time when
the Catholic Church arose as the main influence on sexual
coupling, or the lack thereof.
Sins of of the flesh were perceived
as part of Adam and Eve's fall into sin, with a revolutionary
new Christian teaching that didn't even allow for Jesus himself
to have been conceived by normal means but by Immaculate
In a complete
turnaround from the freewheeling Greeks and Romans, sex
in the Middle Ages would have been unrecognizable to the
ancients, as sex became a necessary evil. Sex outside marriage was considered
heresy, as was homosexuality or masturbation. Even contraception
was viewed as promoting lust and sex.
Sex marches on
civilization got a firmer footing, however, the Renaissance reversed
course on sexual restrictions. Renaissance
artwork and sculpture resulted in an orgy of human nakedness
best seen in the Sistine
Chapel (of all places) that would never have been allowed
during the medieval age.
Following Martin Luther's Protestant
revolution, and Henry VIII's battle against the old teachings
on marriage and divorce, the Enlightenment later ushered in
a more adult look at sex in all its variations, most titillatingly
seen in the novels of the Marquis de Sade.
We are not amused.
it was apparent that the old repressive days in regard to
sex had come and gone, the 19th century Victorian age surprisingly ushered
in an another about-face.
In an era that can best be described
as confused, the new age of psychiatry and science had suddenly
become the ultimate authorities. The result was some pretty strange
ideas about sex during the Victorian era that regarded
masturbation, homosexuality, sex outside marriage, or any other
"deviant" behavior not so much as a sin as a mental
the Victorian age is looked upon with dread not only for its
proper and repressive rules of societal etiquette, but for
the apparent hypocrisy of a society that saw love-starved
housewives dissolve into "hysteria", while an explosion
of brothels resulted in the high levels of venereal disease among the male population.
Sex, drugs & rock n roll
While Victorian attitudes still echoed well into the 20th century, a new sexual revolution appeared in the 1960's that proved to be a watershed decade as the birth control pill allowed women much more sexual freedom.
of Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll preached by the hippie movement also promoted more liberal attitudes and social tolerance that gave rise to everything from more sex in advertising to the gay pride movement.
Today, while its allure still helps sell everything from toothpaste to automobiles, sex remains an important bellwether in gaging society's views on 'family values', although not by any means consistently.
In the US, for example, where conservative religious views help influence acceptable sexual mores, public opinion on homosexuality and same-sex marriage remains surprisingly liberal and forward-looking.
Meanwhile, newer challenges are on the horizon as science promises to forge an even stronger separation of sex from reproduction — with the emergence of surrogate mothering, test tube babies, and cloning.
Around the Web, discover more about the history of sex through the ages including fun facts and trivia, images, interactive time-lines, along with special looks at sex in the movies, modern advertising, and pop culture ....
about the history of sex around the Web:
A Brief History of Human Sex - LiveScience survey that's brief but jam-packed with related resources, a video, and interesting side notes on the societal aspects of sex.