History Books Told You This (Genius Breakthrough) Was Porn

Hey, check this out. It's the Venus of Willendorf, motherfuckers, and at 25,000 to 30,000 years old, it's one of the oldest things ever made by a person in the historic record.

And this thing is an ultrasound machine. It's what we use to look at fetuses to make sure they're not doing anything we don't like fetuses doing, like twisting themselves in their umbilical cord or smoking, etc.

It might seem like these two creations have absolutely nothing in common. But there's a good chance that fancy machine is actually a direct descendant of that weird-looking statue. That's probably surprising to hear, since the mainstream consensus on the statue is "it's very, very old porn."

Even the ever-family-friendly PBS's website explains that the creators of this statue must have been men who fetishized "fatness and fertility." No matter where you read about the Venus, you'll get the same basic line:

The name "Venus" is actually just a racist joke by classic scholars. The goddess Venus was seen as the ideal of Western beauty in the 19th Century, and so this chubby, pendulum-boobed lady was assumed to have been the "Venus" of a "less refined" civilization.

But back in 1976, a scientist named LeRoy McDermott had a different idea: "The university brought in a French woman to speak on these figurines ... I was listening to her lecture, and it occurred to me that you can't see your nose on your own face."

Based on this hunch, LeRoy proposed that the Venus of Willendorf and figures like it were in fact self-portraits by pregnant women observing the changes in their bodies and replicating them via clay. He made a wildly convincing argument by comparing the Venus to perspective shots of a young pregnant woman. Warning: boobs, but science boobs.

LeRoy worked on his theory over the years, and thanks in large part to his partner, Dr. Cathy McCoid ("Had she not taken interest in my work, and encouraged it, I'd probably still be rewriting the damn thing"), he published it in 1996 in American Anthropologist. The theory was too damn logical to easily poke holes in ("No one's ever challenged me on it," he's said), but it's only now starting to reach widespread acceptance.

It's weird, because this is literally the one and only case in human history where mainstream academia has chosen to go with the smuttiest explanation. When researching my book, which you can buy right now, I came across countless examples of smut and debauchery being whitewashed out of history. There's the case of the prostitute-turned-empress who became one of the first women's rights advocates in Western history, the state-sponsored prostitution that was at the core of the Babylonian state religion, the theory that we evolved fetishes to protect us from disease, and, of course, the sexy BDSM frescoes of the ancient Etruscans ...

... none of which you're likely to have learned about from your teachers in school. But weirdly enough, your teachers were probably fine with teaching you that the Venus of Willendorf was ancient erotica. Apparently, when the option is between "Ancient Women Helped Invent Medical Science" and "Look At How Old Porn Is!" academia is suddenly fine with smut.

If the Venus is indeed an obstetric aid, it might be the oldest example of a medical tool on record. Dentistry dates back to 7,000 BCE, brain surgery to 5,000 BCE. The Venus is several times older than either. And it makes sense that the birth of medical science would focus around baby-makin'. Pregnancy was pretty fucking dangerous for wild humans; it makes sense that ancient women would've wanted to track its progress to try to better understand what was going on with their own bodies.

This is literally the oldest known ceramic anything in history. But hey, men still have the airplane and (probably) public masturbation. We asked LeRoy how he felt about the long time it's taken his theory to get its fair day in Science Court. He thought that the resistance was "bizarre," and addressed the folks who still insist on seeing the Venus as porn made by men: "... there are authors who still argue the figurines were basically some form of trophy ... and it still reflects an erotic component. I just don't particularly see that. They're nude women ... but women have other concerns besides male interest."

Don't worry, there's plenty of ways in which sex, smut, and drugs did indeed influence human evolution. You can find them all -- and guides to recreating ancient drugs -- in my new book A Brief History of Vice.

Learn why most of the "camgirl" porn sites are actually fake in 6 Ways People Got Screwed By Websites You Use Every Day, and meet the internet's most famous scam artist in 4 Websites That Are Clearly Elaborate Pranks On Humanity.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see how naming a porno isn't as easy as you'd think in Do You Have What It Takes To Title Porn, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!

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Robert Evans

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