Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Naughty, naughty: The steamy underside of Victorian society

Things are not always as they seem...

 She cried, “Laura,” up the garden,
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me;
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.”
 --- From "The Goblin Market" by Christina Rosetti

It's not just what one sees in Victorian Society that captivates. It's what one does not see.

On the outside, things seemed perfectly restrained by a strict moral code that functioned much like a too tight corset. However, behind the closed doors of brothels, secret clubs and some homes, that uptight morality was being unlaced by men and women who valued the appearance of propriety over propriety itself.

In short, the Victorians were wildly and beautifully freakish.

The above poem is an example. The Victorian-era writer, Christina Rosetti, maintained that the poetic tale of two sisters lured away by goblins was written for children. But it was rife enough with sexual imagery to raise doubts. All the elements of an eroticism were there - the consumption of forbidden fruit, burning lust and, finally, an orgiastic sapphic frenzy.

Even when Victorians like Rosetti tried to be good, they were sometimes naughty. And the ones who tried to be naughty could be downright hedonistic. Brothels were legal, oddly enough, but men were expected to be discreet. Somehow, though, this wasn't enough. There were scores of secret societies for those who wanted to get their fuck on, and these clubs catered to a number of particular bents. There was the Flagellant's Club, for spanking was BIG in Victorian times (another reason to love the era). And there was the Mollies club, for gay men.

Pornography was wildly popular, much of it featuring men and women at the end of bundles of switches. Victorian parlors were, apparently, great places to get birched. Girl on girl nudie pics were in big demand. The proper lady who met her friends for tea may later masturbate to a contraband copy of "Lady Pokingham" or bend over while her patrician husband spanked her willing bum.

What is it they say? A lady in the streets but a freak between the sheets?

Perhaps it the chameleon in me that loves the duality of Victorian society. Where some people are excited by gratuitous displays of bare skin and raw sexuality, nothing excites me more than the unknown Freak Potential of a reserved man in a three-piece suit, especially if he is polite. As he holds the door for me, I nod appreciatively and wonder if, perhaps, he has a cane at home. And if he does, is he wondering whether I'd bend for it? One can hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment