A Brief History of Taboo

In Features /

By Carly Basian

Ancient Times: Adultery

In Greece, an unfaithful pair was starved to death or dragged by horses. In Egypt, men were castrated and women had their noses severed. Nowadays, there are websites to facilitate adultery.

1100s: Sex for pleasure

At this time, sex wasn’t for pleasure. Lust was considered inappropriate and sinful. Religious leaders encouraged sex solely for procreation and premarital sex was criminalized.

1300s: Homosexuality

Though homosexuality was common in ancient Greece, attitudes shifted drastically. During the Renaissance, men caught engaging in homosexual activity were fined, imprisoned or killed.

1500s: Sodomy

Sodomy was punishable by death in the 16th century, and was illegal well into the 1900s across much of the USA. Canada had similar laws.

1600s: Race and marriage

Many laws in the late 1600s prohibited mixed-race marriages in both Canada and the USA. These laws remained in place until the mid-1900s.

1800s: Masturbation

The Roman Catholic Church stated that orgasm without procreation was as sinful as sodomy and homosexuality. However, self-love is beneficial, as it can lower stress and alleviate menstrual cramps.

2000s: Gender reassignment

Mainstream society was quick to ostracize those who chose to undergo a sex change because they were born with male and female anatomy (intersex) or felt they were born as the wrong sex (trangender). The issue became steeped in controversy at the turn of the millennium, when the Ontario government declared that gender reassignment operations would no longer be covered by OHIP.

The Future: Fetishes

While people are more sexually liberal, many people cannot accept or openly discuss more extreme fetishes. Some of the remaining taboos include erotic asphyxiation, scat play, diaper fetishes, and rape fantasies.

Illustration by: Lindsay Boeckl

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