Sex and the (medieval) city: social hygiene and sex in the medieval urban landscape

I gave a talk for the London Science Museum Lates on medieval sexuality and the ways in which cities responded to what were considered the competing needs for sex and a harmonious Christian landscape.
Included: swearing, manuscript pictures of penises, and a lot of talk about sex work.
Enjoy!

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On women and desire

Like many people, you may have been hearing for your entire damn life about the ‘mystery of the female orgasm’. Over and over again, we have been assured, that not only is it mysterious how women orgasm, but why they do.  We toss about at night, unable to sleep, haunted and desperately hoping for ‘seven weird tips to drive her wild’. More recently, a whole army of apps determined to show you how to ‘make’ women come, and sometimes enumerating the ways in which that can be done.  (Twelve apparently.  No more. No less.)

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On power and entitlement to the bodies of lower-status women, or, the thing that IS actually medieval about Trump

Elsewhere, we have discussed why it is that the use of the word ‘medieval’ as a pejorative is, in general, quite lazy and a convenient way of distancing ourselves from the terrible things which take place in our own time.

Having said that, the medieval world still very much influences many of our political institutions, and our mind-sets.  If we consider, for example, that the Church and a universal concept of the West as the home of Christendom to be the overriding hallmarks of the medieval period, it helps us understand why for many people, theoretical Christian values are seen as an inherent part of being Western.

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These hoes ain’t loyal – on prostitutes and bad bitches in medieval and hip hop culture

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but a lot of hip hop songs refer to ‘hoes’. (I know, I know, stay with me.)  What that can mean in any given context varies, of course, but in general terms what we’re talking about are either sexually available women in general, or specifically actual sex workers.

The thing about the hoes is that whether you’re announcing to a woman that she is one (before taking her to a ho-tel), reminding everyone that you can’t trust them, telling them to leave if they can’t accept the basics, or simply wondering where they at – hoes are an integral part of the hip hop landscape.

In many cases the very concept of masculinity is pinned to one’s ability to either attract hoes, or traffic them, a situation which ain’t easy, and makes it hard out here for a select group of men.

Across the board, however, one thing is certain about hoes – they are not worthy of respect, and the fact that men don’t respect them is absolutely paramount to their street cred.  Jay-Z wants you to know he doesn’t eat with them.  Snoop just needs you to understand that G’s are more important than them.  Hoes are women who are available for sex, but don’t have the ability to hold emotional focus or respect from men.

Continue reading “These hoes ain’t loyal – on prostitutes and bad bitches in medieval and hip hop culture”