Monday, August 20, 2012

Stamp out nocturnal emissions!

We are stranded in an era where a crime committed with a penis is deemed to warrant greater punishment than a crime committed with a loaded gun; where college men are expelled for engaging in consensual sex because they asked for it too much; where a high ranking British leader suggested with a straight face that police and prosecutors be assigned quotas to nab more rapists; where legal scholars urge that the burden of proof to prove "consent" in rape cases be placed on the accused male, thus making the sex act a presumed crime whenever a woman cries rape; where female statutory rapists can hold their male victims responsible for paying child support for a child born as a result of that sexual assualt; where strip clubs are financially penalized because victims' advocates insist there's a correlation between looking at naked women and rape even though experts say there isn't; where the Department of Education mandates that your son be found guilty of sexual assault, with all the attendant destruction to his life, even though the disciplinary panel is 49.999% sure he didn't do it.     

In point of fact, mankind has always had a love-hate relationship with the penis, and penile hysteria is nothing new. Society's machinations to control the vile tendencies of the male organ of copulation have taken many wild and fantastic forms throughout the centuries. There always seems to be a cottage industry ready to spring up to wage the War on Penis Terror.

In modern times, few efforts were as barbaric as those stemming from the hysteria in the 19th and early 20th centuries over boys' and young men's nocturnal emissions. In the 19th Century, Spermatorrhea was considered a disease brought on by nocturnal emissions and "that dreadfully destructive habit of Self Abuse." The list of terrors -- physical and psychological -- that supposedly resulted from it is mind-boggling, but the "cures" were even more bizarre. This is from a Quebec newspaper, September 15, 1859, touting an invention to "permanently" cure young men of both nocturnal emissions and "the secret habits of youth":

We don't know what the "instrument" looked like, but we can imagine. There were all sorts of inhumane devices floating around in that era to keep young men from ejaculating, and they are cringe-inducing.

Here's a lovely device designed to awaken any young man who experienced the misfortune of an erection in his sleep (which, we know, is routine). It is referred to as "Jugum penis," and it appeared in the UK 1880-1920. According to NewScientist: "Guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes of at least half our readers, this device was intended as a treatment for 'nocturnal incontinence' and to prevent masturbation. It was designed to deter nighttime emissions by causing enough pain to waken the sleeper if an erection threatened. Until relatively recently, masturbation was considered a moral weakness and at least partly responsible for a whole range of debilitating medical conditions."

How about the thing below. The Frisky asked if you can "GUESS WHAT THIS THING WAS USED FOR."
"Go ahead," the Frisky wrote, "just guess. Fancy faucet? Nope. Ornate door knocker? Wrong again. This is a rare 19th century, copper anti-masturbation device. The oh-so-comfie looking chastity cup was strapped on with a belt and worn by boys in France in the late 1880′s to prevent them from committing the “sin.” This cruel antique was auctioned off on eBay in 2008 for starting price of a little under $1,000. I just hope the lucky owner is not using it. Oh, the things the Catholic church came up with to keep people from getting off. At least they had the decency to include pee holes. But still. Sad face."

It is frightening that these devices were once deemed acceptable, just as male infant circumcission is deemed acceptable today.