Victorian Anti-Masturbation Devices

Submitted by: TenorC

I thought you might be interested in something I stumbled across while I was doing some research into cooking/food history.

In her book, "Consuming Passions, Being an Historic Inquiry into Certain English Appetites" (Little, Brown and Company 1970), Philipa Pullar discusses historical influences and relationships to British cuisine and sex. In her section on the Victorians she introduces us to Frank Harris, a 19th Century Don Juan, who wrote "My Life and Loves" which was described as, "a pornographer's Grand Tour of Europe, through the eyes of his penis."

Pullar continues, "In most of his (Harris) contemporaries' view the sex-urge was, however,anything but beautiful; it was unpleasant and it was bad for the health. . . Masturbation led to madness and nocturnal emissions probably would as well. Spermatorrhea was recognized as a disease, causing complete lack of energy and exhaustion. Frank Harris found himself victim once or twice but cured himself by securing his penis with a piece of whipcord. Special devices were marketed to cure the unfortunate sufferers: electric alarums -- expanded by the erection -- roused the sleeper by ringing a bell beneath his pillow; or a leather ring was attached with sharp points turned inwards, so that the patient was roused by the pricking and could leap out of bed and arrest the impending emission."


Pullar adds in a footnote, "Apparently, in Edinburgh, masturbation was so common a practice among young girls and their mothers, who operated not only digitally but with vegetables, that John Moodie, M.D., was, in 1839, concerned enough to devise a girdle of chastity. This was made from a rubber cushion covered with silk, linen or other soft material, which formed a base into which a kind of grating was fixed to shield the genitals from manipulation. The apparatus was, in the best of style, secured by a padlock."


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