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Probably everyone knows what chastity belts are - those devices that look like iron underpants with a lock. Well, the story goes that the chastity belt was invented in the middle ages by some paranoid Crusader who didn't want to leave his wife 'fully functional' at home while he was busy butchering people in the Holy Land. 

Naturally, all his Crusader pals thought this was a good idea, and had chastity belts manufactured for all their mistresses, daughters and wives (in that order, most probably).

As plausible as it might sound, the chastity belt is not however a medieval invention - the romantic stories outlined in the paragraph above are nothing but a product of the over-active 19th Century imagination. 

There are, in fact, no genuine chastity belts dating from medieval times: all known 'medieval' chastity belts have been produced in the first half of the 19th Century...The concept of a chastity belt itself is a lot older, but it was usually used in poems in a metaphorical sense.

Despite the common misconception, the use of the chastity belt was not usually imposed by men on women in order to force them to be faithful. If we use medieval poetry as a reliable source, we discover that the use of chastity belts was often in consensus between both parties. The use of the chastity belt in these poems is a metaphor for a pledge of fidelity. No locks or iron parts are ever mentioned - these metaphoric 'chastity belts' are usually made of cloth.

Real chastity belts became available later, and the majority of chastity belts were bought in the 19th Century, in England, by women. Often they would use the apparatus to avoid the consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace. Furthermore, the chastity belt was not imposed on people to avoid sexual intercourse.

Medical reports describe the prescription of chastity belts (or similar devices, which might have no resemblance at all with a chastity belt1) to prevent youngsters (of both sexes) from masturbating (alternative link), which in the 19th Century was thought to be both physically and morally harmful.


Women's History Magazine

The Venus of Willendorf was found in 1908 by the archaeologist Josef Szombathy close to the town of Willendorf in Austria. Notice of its discovery appeared in a report from anthropologist George Grant MacCurdy (1863-1947) of Yale, who happened to be in Vienna that year.

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Japanese police investigating the Yamaguchi-gumi, found a 12-question exam paper that members are expected to take. The test outlines the responsibilities of members and details “activities” that are permitted or banned.

The test checks knowledge of Japan’s revised Anti-Organized Crime Law holds high ranking gangsters financially responsible for the actions of subordinates. By ensuring a sound knowledge of the law, the leadership is likely hoping that they will be able to discourage junior members from being involved in activities that could lead to high-ranking members being sued.

Found on

In terms of first-date etiquette the manual is clear: Make him wait! Under the heading: "Is it proper for a woman to yield at the first address, though to a man she love?" the book points out that French and Irish soldiers haven't managed to kill off all the good men - so don't take the first offer you get.

"Besides," it adds, "you will get better Conditions if the Enemy does not know how weak you are within."

"Forgive, Ladies, all the Warlike Gibberish..."

The advice on wearing make-up is equally firm. "A painted face is enough to destroy the Reputation of her that uses it."

Adultery too, is likely to bring on the sinner a "World of Miseries".

And, in a section that some modern celebrities could take to heart, the manual cautions readers against starving themselves. "Bodies that are very Lean and Scragged, we must own, cannot be very Comely: It is a contrary Extream to Corpulency and the Parties Face always seems to carry Lent in it."

    Polyandry, or the practice of one woman marrying two or more husbands simultaneously, used to be fairly common in this extremely remote area of Himachal Pradesh and in other parts of India and Tibet. 

    With increased exposure to the outside world, fewer and fewer people now form such family structures. But just the opposite trend is true in the neighboring state of Haryana. 

    As polyandry fades from some of its traditional locations, like Lahaul and Spiti valleys, the lack of females in other states is fueling its resurgence.

    Polyandry's roots sink deep into the soil of Buddhist and Hindu culture here in Himachal Pradesh, a week's journey from the China border. The Mahabharata, an ancient Hindu text, mentions the practice in the story of Draupadi, a princess who married five kings at once, according to Indian historian Sarva Daman Singh, who wrote the 1988 book “Polyandry in Ancient India.” 

    Tibetans have practiced polyandry for centuries, although it is now officially illegal there.

    The husband in Kaza, Baldev Nath, 50, said that “everyone is pleased” with their shared-spouse arrangement, including his older brother and their common wife, 55-year-old Dalma Tashi, although he did not allow her to participate in the interview.

    “There are three causes of disputes between brothers: zar, zorou and zamin (gold, women and land),” Nath said. “If there is a common zorou, there is no dispute.” 

    Women's History Magazine

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