Self Pollution and 19th Century Anti-Masturbation Devices

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A man suffering the final stages of self pollution.

Starting in the 17th century, doctors began to believe that masturbation caused insanity, disease, dysfunction and poor character. Basically, it was the root cause of everything that could go wrong with the body.

The link between masturbation and sin was originally made a con-man author in 1712, when he published a sensational book linking masturbation to a story in the bible where a man failed to impregnate his brother’s widow. The book tapped into popular concern about individual’s increasingly uncensored private lives, stoked by fear that the newly invented printing press was threatening to upend the social order. It was therefore in the public’s interest to clamp down on individuals’ autonomy. Masturbation became the symbol for uncontrolled, uncensored private lives.

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Anti-masturbation devices for men.

Control over orgasms was given to doctors, who diagnosed sexually frustrated women as ill, then masturbated them to release the “hysteria”. Talk about an early monopoly…

Vaginal examination , from Maygrier, Nouvelles.1825 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Vaginal examination , from Maygrier, Nouvelles.1825
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Devices were designed to prevent the wearer from touching or stimulating him or herself. They were often used in mental institutions and sometimes in the home. The 19th century papers carried advertisements for the devices, some of which are included below.

…Funny how Victorian era anti-masturbation devices strongly resemble today’s fetish gear. One era’s sin is another era’s kink?

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A man wearing an anti-masturbation device.

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Got an erection? That’s an electric shock for you!

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Don’t think the ladies get left out of societal shaming. A corset anti-masturbation device.

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A figure drawing of a female wearing an anti-masturbation device. Leaves room for going number 2 at least….

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I think the bow really adds a nice touch….

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Translation: Don’t masturbate you freaky monkeys!

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Preach.

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