Gabrielle d'Estrees, 1594

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pilgrim Sex

I know its hump day... but tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I thought what better way to start the holiday than an entry on Good Ol' Fashioned Pilgrim Sex!  I know that some think Pilgrims didn't have sex for pleasure - and in some ways they're right.  Think about it... their clothing was drab and their houses were drab, so it isn't too far fetched to think that their sex-lives were boring.  Sermons have shown us what the "optimistic" pilgrims thought thought about sex. But sex aside, there was already this idea that all of God's creatures were damned right from the womb. Here's a pleasant little excerpt from a sermon by a guy named Thomas Shepard. I think it paints a pretty clear picture:

"Thy mind is a nest of all the foul opinions, heresies, that ever were vented by any man ; thy heart is a foul sink of all atheism, sodomy, blasphemy, murder, whoredom, adul-tery, witchcraft, buggery ; so that if thou hast any good thing in thee, it is but as a drop of rose-water in a bowl of poison.”

With such strict words, you'd think these pilgrims would be trying to embrace their "drop of rose water" and avoid things like whoredom, adultry and sodomy, right? Well... you're wrong. All of these and more were happening when the pilgrims were around.  Figures... I mean, what else was there to do back then?  There are actually court records documenting proof of these crazy pilgrim sex acts.  A healthy dose of lesbians, adulterers and incestuous lovers were all put on trial. There was even some bestiality.

Men who weren't hooking up with their buddies, their cousins, their neighbor's wives or their farm animals would generally try to court a woman when she was 14. Often, these guys would come into their lady's place of residence and spend lots of time with her and her family.  Here's the kicker: it was usually protocol for him to spend the night.  Where you may ask? Often a pilgrim's family would all share one big bed. And to think... we gave Michael Jackson such a hard time for this.  So he would actually just hop into bed with the family - usually next to his "wife to be." But they couldn't have the couple sexing in the family bed - so they'd put up a piece of wood called a bundling board in between the two. The idea was to create intimacy without intercourse.  Sounds like temptation island if you ask me...  More court records prove that this method didn't always work as many young lovers still found a way to get it on in the family bed - even with a board between them.  But lets face it; there's no stopping a horny man next to his virgin future wife.  

Bundling Board

There were also thought to be a few "peeping toms" around town. These sneaky guys took advantage of the low windows in most of the homes at the time. Figures with no internet, people had find some way to get fresh masturbation material. And its just common sense to think that many of these couples weren't just having sex to make babies. Some were having crazy pleasure-driven sex - the kind you'd want to watch! 

I know not all pilgrims were sex freaks. But a few of them certainly were. What I find interesting is that they tried so desperately to portray this image of being wholesome. Its even been recorded that they looked down on the sex acts of Native Americans, who embraced sex as a natural life force. And the truth is, they had it right. To deny the pleasure of sex is to deny a natural life force. Most of us can't do that. And why should we? The funny thing is, if they didn't look down on these crazy sex acts, they probably would have better portrayed their wholesome image. Thanks to them putting every sex freak on trial, we have historic court records of nearly every kinky pilgrim there was.


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