July 10, 2003
The high cost of private morality (a classic case of confused values....)
A friend recently asked my opinion about this ebay item (if you hurry you can still see it while the pictures are up) -- an apparently authentic Victorian chastity belt. He was rightly suspicious, because he assumed things like this had gone out of fashion in the Middle Ages (where, I guess, things like that belong).
I know, I know, this is hardly a "Classical Value." (The closest thing the Romans had was the Fibula -- not a chastity belt but a toga fastener which gave later Medieval prudes the idea.)
Nor is the ebay item a good value, by any standard. My immediate concern was the ridiculous price: the wretched thing sold for over $500.00. I hate to see friends get ripped off, so I did a little research, and found a more "modest" reproduction -- at a far more reasonable price.
Here it is! A nice deal for any parent or husband who wants the best value in "blocking hardware" to be found anywhere in any store that I know of. I sent the URL to my friend immediately, not to butt into his business, but because I worry that he is wasting money on frivolous items he will never use -- the genuine Victorian chastity belt being a perfect example. The modern reproduction is the way to go. Plus, the reproduction is more strictly "TRADITIONAL" -- as I will soon explain.
(So much for my "value judgment.") But economic issues did not end my inquiry, because my friend raised another point about the distinction between devices available in the respective Medieval and Victorian marketplaces. Not that he is intending to use the thing, but he expressed concern about the mechanics of taking a dump. Indeed, if you look closely at the monstrous ebay contraption, there is no opening to speak of in the anal area. Instead, there are a few holes through which a girl under suspicion might have been barely able to wiggle a turd, but only if she shifted her already tortured derriere to an insufferable degree. And I stress "might"; I wouldn't want to try it, especially if I had the frequency which must result from eating the food in the days before such things as refrigeration and running water.
I thought about this problem, and I realized that the designer of the Victorian chastity belt was in one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situations. The problem, of course, is obvious from the laws of physics. To allow egress is to allow ingress. And, considering that the Victorians were the sort of people whose sensibilities were offended by things like uncovered table legs (see this article), I think it is fair to conclude that they would have wanted to skirt (sorry!) the anal issue entirely.
But what about the call of nature, you ask? Isn't it a stretch to thwart one of nature's laws in order to prevent a violation of nature's laws?
Not so fast! This is a bit complicated, and I will try to explain.
Take a look at this more, er, "classical" Medieval chastity belt. Clearly, the designers anticipated the problems of both ingress and egress. Instead of concocting a fanciful array of fluted iron shapes (which must have chafed unwashed private areas something awful), they had two simple holes -- the smaller one in front and the larger one in the rear. BOTH feature "one-way" spikes pointing outward, in a similar manner to modern urban parking garage treadles. You can drive it out, but you can't drive it in. (Again, I am sorry to have to engage in such circumspect language, but I am trying to live up to my PG-13 rating.)
I hate to say this, but clearly, the Medieval chastity belt designers were more realistic, and more humane. If I had to wear one, I would go for the strictly "traditional" value.
There I go -- upholding traditional values.
What is coming over me, anyway?
posted by Eric on 07.10.03 at 03:07 PM
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