#2. Feudal Lords Could Legally Rape Peasant Wives (Like in Braveheart)
"Droit de seigneur," or the right of feudal lords to sleep with peasants' wives on their wedding nights, is probably most familiar today from Braveheart, in which Mel Gibson's troubles with the English begin with him refusing to allow them to have their rightful way with his new girlfriend. But it can be found all over the place: It's a major plot point in the opera The Marriage of Figaro, there's a Charlton Heston movie about it, it even pops up on the TV series Merlin. Basically, if you were a male peasant in the Middle Ages, you had about as much a chance of bedding an actual virgin as you did of finding a good Wi-Fi hotspot.
"By the gods I will find love, even if I must deflower all the women in this village."
In fact, a whole second myth rose out of this supposed law. If popular opinion and email forwards are to be trusted, the word "fuck" actually came about because the king's permission was once required to have sex with your wife ever. If you wanted a baby other than the one delivered nine months after your wedding that looks suspiciously like Lord Peeblesworth down the street, you first had to hang a placard outside saying "Fornication Under Consent of the King," or "F.U.C.K." (presumably subtitled "If the dirt-covered hovel is rockin,' don't come a-knockin.'") Other versions of this tale feature soldiers obtaining this "consent" in order to rape foreign women.
"No butt stuff."
The subject of rape-kings does come up in a bunch of historical texts ... always in reference to some other country. According to pretty much everyone in Europe, the neighboring kings and lords were raping everybody out there, but no country actually listed this right in its own laws, or for that matter, in any record whatsoever. In other words, rape-lords are the historical equivalent of spreading rumors about rival high schools, and Mel Gibson was promulgating an outdated form of medieval racism. Man, who would have thought?
This man looks like a reputable historical source.
As for the old chestnut about the F.U.C.K. acronym, that's even more spurious, as most likely the word evolved like most other words do, from some ancient European word -- in this case, "fokka," to strike or to push. Hardly scandalous.
#1. Contraception and Knowledge of the Female Orgasm Are New
As the theory goes, the ladies had it pretty bad in bed for most of Western history. Until the rise of modern feminism, men pretty much used sex as an elaborate form of masturbation, giving no thought to how to please their women sexually, and the art of female pleasure was about as well-known as space travel. And if this bad sex wasn't bad enough, it also inevitably resulted in at least 25 children, since reliable birth control also didn't exist at all until very recently.
"Rice paper does nothing."
It's easy to see why so many of us have this idea: After all, it was only a generation or two ago that the views of Dr. Sigmund "clitoral orgasms are a sign of immaturity" Freud were massively popular. Surely things before that must have been even worse, right?
The female orgasm not only has an extensive history, but before the rise of Freudianism was even more celebrated than it is now. We've talked before about shady Victorian doctors who used their magic hands to cure uptight women, but the mystical properties of the female orgasm go back far earlier than this. In medieval times, it was believed that the female reproductive system was the same as a man's but inside-out, and they thought that babies were only made upon both partners achieving climax. And even if you weren't aiming at baby formation, a lack of orgasm in either sex could still lead to a harmful buildup of "seminal humor." Thanks a lot for ridding us of that piece of ignorance, Modern Science.
We're not sure what's going on here, but we'd bet money it's easier with Astroglide.
As for contraception, every form of it save for the Pill has a long history, and we mean very long. Diaphragms and other barrier devices, made of everything from wrapped sea sponges to crocodile dung and often containing materials that melted inside the body and sealed off the cervix, have been in use since ancient Egypt, and popped up among the ancient Greeks and Jews. Women in the Roman Empire even had a morning-after pill called silphium, modern-day fennel. And if you're thinking, "So what? They probably also believed that eating blessed leeches cured stomach cancer," consider this: Modern tests in which scientists gave rats closely related versions of the herb found that it was effective almost 100 percent of the time. Oh, and the reason the scientists couldn't use the exact strain the Romans used was because the Romans relied on it so much that they drove it to extinction.
Nero ate the last piece. The neckbeard made him do it.
C. Coville's awful Twitter is here.
For more myths we want to clear the air about, check out 5 Drinking Myths That Can Kill You and The 6 Most Frequently Quoted Brain Facts (That Are Total BS).
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn read some sexy fanfics involving Bigfoot and Loch Ness.
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