For the average person, "the deed" is a private event that takes place behind closed doors. But sex in history has had a dramatic effect on the world. Over the course of time, when private events went public, they unleashed consequences that were as explosive as the act itself. Ask Cleopatra or the Marquis de Sade, and they’ll tell you: "doing it" has been getting humans in and out of trouble since the dawn of time. And there are a lot of ways sex changed the course of history.
Despite its very basic use as a means of reproduction, history evinces that intercourse can be used in any number of ways to achieve a desired goal. Throughout history, engaging in physical relations has brought power to some and taken it from others, built up empires and torn them apart.
Learn about the times intercourse changed history, and shook things up for better or worse.
Vibrators Originated As A Cure For Female 'Hysteria'
In a strange twist of fate, a man’s tool of control ultimately became a woman’s tool of pleasure. Before the 20th century, doctors believed that women were incapable of experiencing arousal. When women came in complaining of fantasies, anxiety, nervousness, and wetness between their legs, doctors diagnosed this as “hysteria.” The treatment for hysteria? A massaging of the genitals until a woman experienced a “paroxysm,” relieving her symptoms of hysteria.
The only downside for the doctors was the chronic hand pain from treating so many hysterical women. The doctors were immensely happy when an alternative came along in the form of the electromechanical vibrator, at least until women started buying the cure for themselves.
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Discovered Sperm Cells Using His Own Fluids
Microscopes fascinated 17th century scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, which led to his discovery of bacteria. He examined anything he could get his hands on - and that included his own bodily fluids. When he exhausted blood, saliva, tears, and spit, he sought out the last liquid on his checklist: "man juice." He collected various samples, and discovered under the microscope that the fluids contained living cells, which he called “animalcules.”
The discovery made by van Leeuwenhoek changed the way scientists understood reproduction. Before, they only knew the part of the process involving an egg; but after, they had a more complete picture of the union of egg and sperm. Though van Leeuwenhoek was way ahead of his time in the fields of microbiology and reproductive biology, the credit for the seed of the idea goes, in part, to van Leeuwenhoek’s own seed.
Interracial Marriage Was Legalized Thanks To Premarital Intercourse And A Brave Couple
When two young adults fall in love and do what young adults do, sometimes things get complicated with an unexpected pregnancy. When the year is 1958, the place is Virginia, and the couple is interracial, the needle flies off the complication meter and up into the stratosphere. Such was the case for Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, when Mildred became pregnant and the couple decided to make things official.
Interracial marriage was illegal in Virginia, so the couple married in nearby Washington, DC. When they returned, an anonymous tip drove police into the couple’s bedroom, where they arrested the pair. Their case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which finally struck down the law against interracial marriage in 1967. Almost 50 years later, the Loving case, among others, was used in 2015 as a precedent to help end laws against same-gender marriage.
Christopher Columbus Possibly Brought Syphilis Back From The Americas
According to a study published in 2008, scientists theorize that the introduction of syphilis to Europe came from Christopher Columbus’s expedition. When Columbus and his men returned home, they might have brought syphilis back with them.
More recent analysis of bones at Pompeii, however, show evidence of congenital syphilis - calling into question the idea that Columbus and his crew brought the ailment to the European continent.