Friday News: 17th C sex manual, Asian wedding photos, bedtime story that really works, and the politics of Addyi
When the Birds and the Bees Were Not Enough: Aristotle’s Masterpiece – There is an odd perception that certain societies throughout history have shunned sex. The New England Puritans, for example, are erroneously blamed for sexual attitudes that are actually much closer to the Victorians. Couples who were not in proximity to a magistrate would live together without benefit of marriage, and premarital pregnancy was only frowned upon when the woman hit her second trimester and the couple was not yet wed (at which point they might have to pay a fine). Anyway, this article on the 1684 publication of Aristotle’s Masterpiece, provided sexual information, remedies, and even instruction through hundreds of editions, well into the first third of the 20th century. Yeah, it’s not exactly scientific in some ways or free from a variety of biases and myths, especially about female sexuality, but if nothing else it challenges the notion that sex was something people just didn’t think or talk about “back then.”
But the Masterpiece was not just read by teenaged boys. In a copy of the first edition held by the University of Pennsylvania, there is a series of inscriptions that tell a different tale.6 First is what appears to be a courtship vow, a promise between a George Hoare and Elizabeth Vincent, living in rural Somerset. Evidently they pledged themselves to each other in 1684, the year the Masterpiece was first published. The vow wasn’t written down, however, until December 12, 1685, with each partner promising, “I do wish that I may never prosper if I be the cause of breaking of it”. A few years later, on June 29, 1687, they pledged again on the next page of the book, and this time the vow seems to have been accompanied by a gift of pieces of silver, probably from George to Elizabeth. Such courtship gifts were not uncommon guarantors of fidelity. Nine years after their first promise, George and Elizabeth were wed on Boxing Day in the small village of Dowlish Wake; ten months later their son William was baptized in the same parish. For this couple, the book, with its implicit promise of marital sexual pleasure, became the tangible form of their commitment to each other. –Public Domain Review
Beautiful Asian Wedding Attire – Pauline Yang of Audrey Magazine (a lifestyle publication focused on “the Asian experience from the perspective of Asian-American women”) has compiled a photo essay of different wedding ensembles from eight Asian countries, including Bangladesh, the Philippines, Japan, and Vietnam. Beyond their obvious beauty, these photos offer an alternative to Romance’s largely Western (aka Anglo) presentation of weddings.
Growing up with a diverse group of friends, I’ve always wondered what kind of weddings we would each have, especially since weddings often reflect a couple’s personality and background. As my interest in event planning and wedding photography grows, I also want to explore the unique rituals and attire of different cultures. While this list barely scratches the surface of each culture and its wedding traditions, it was interesting to see both the similarities and differences in wedding attire throughout Asia. All are beautiful in their own ways and certainly rich with history.–Audrey Magazine
‘The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep’: Why This Bedtime Book Makes Children Konk Out -So have you seen this story that uses psychology to make children go to sleep? Apparently you can download a free copy of The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep from the author’s website, but if you’re curious about the actual science behind the sleepiness, this article breaks down the techniques that have pushed the book to bestsellerdom. From a “calm cadence” to repetition and strategically placed cues to yawn, the story kind of hypnotizes and quiets the child’s mind, focusing them away from whatever emotion (often anxiety or fear of falling asleep). And apparently it works on grown ups, too, in case you’ve got a case of insomnia:
“The Rabbit” may be geared toward the kindergarten set, but plenty of adults have reported succumbing to its sway. Khatwa knows one father who put the audio book on in the car for his toddler, and ended up falling asleep at the wheel. (Luckily, dad and son were okay, but he had to shell out $3,000 in car repairs.)
“The same as with children, anxiety plays a big role in insomnia for adults,” says Khatwa. “Stress about work or relationships can keep our minds churning.” The Rabbit is so effective because is it establishes a soothing atmosphere that helps quiet the mental chatter. –Yahoo Health
– Liz Canner, whose documentary, Orgasm Inc., is about the pharmaceutical companies’ attempt to create a drug aimed at female sexual pleasure (or “sexual dysfunction” as it’s cast), provides commentary on the FDA’s rejection and approval process for Addyi. While the drug’s chemical composition never changed in the five years the drug company attempted to get the FDA to approve it, the politics apparently did. But not in the way you’d hope. That is, instead of the process being woman-centric and authentically focused on improving the sexual experience and pleasure of women, a drug with potentially fatal side effects was approved by men, and, the way Canner tells it, basically for men.
The people behind it, in this case, is Sprout Pharmaceuticals, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based company dedicated to “breakthrough firsts in women’s sexual health.” A picture of eight women with arms crossed and stern faces greets users on the homepage. The eight males who make up the nine-person Board of Directors must have been out that day. . . .
One major organization after another got up and told FDA panelists that “all of their members” needed the drug. “By the end of the hearing, you felt like there were 20 million women in the room who wanted it,” says Canner. Individual women spoke about their marriages—as did their counterparts. “Husbands showed up and started crying, saying it destroyed their marriages and if they didn’t approve the drug they were going to divorce their wives,” says Canner. “It was that man-to-man thing.” –The Daily Beast