Married Priests? Lesbian Nuns? Yup.

Yup. Way back when, married guys could become priests. Even some of those oh-so-holy desert hermits, like the ones in the Bible, had wives! Although the hermit-y guys SUPPOSEDLY didn’t have sex with these women-they-lived-totally-alone-with-day-after-day-week-after-lonely-week. (Yeah. Right.) Hermit wives supposedly just did all the cooking and cleaning up:

  1. “Pick up scorpion.”
  2. “Eat it.” (avoid stinger).
    Come on. How much cooking and cleaning is there to DO in a desert?

“I’ve Finished Catching Today’s Lizards–Can You Think of Anything ELSE We Can Do Besides Pray For the Next 23 Hours?”

Now it is true that priests weren’t allowed to marry AFTER they became priests, only before, but their before-wives were allowed to keep living with them. Early Christians just weren’t as uptight about sexual matters as later ones. Then, a few hard#sses spoiled it for everyone.

St. Paul the Not Too Bad

The first spoilsport was the apostle Paul, but at least he had logic on his side:
He thought everyone should drop Sex For Fun because we should devote ourselves more completely to God. Less focus on our body gives more for the Spirit. But Paul realized we’re not all capable (willing!) of that much self-control, so he also said, basically, “Okay, if you MUST have sex, go ahead and marry, and then do your conjugal duty by each other.”

Even Paul, very sexist by today’s standards, felt that the duty was mutual: That husbands should satisfy their wives, too. That’s an apostolic creed (belief) I can get behind!

St. Augustine the Hypocrite

But then we come to the “great” St. Augustine. Prior to his saintliness, randy-man Augie had partaken freely–enthusiastically!–of sex. He’d even joked that when he’d decided on turning over a new spiritual leaf, he had prayed to God: “Give me chastity—but not yet.”. But the new Saintly Augie didn’t think anyone ELSE should enjoy themselves like he had.

“Just Take My Word For It–Sex Isn’t All That.”

What bugged him the most about sex was that one part of your body acts like it is the boss of all of you. The little brain runs the big brain. (Augie definitely had that right. Women had recognized the male little-brain phenomenon long before this: When an early cave-dude, Dah-Ahg, had swung his hairy noggin so fast to check out the sexy brow-ridge on the babe the next cave over, he wound up walking right into the first fire. Oh, how Pok and Neexa hooted scornfully at him!! Oral tradition tells us they actually coined two of pre-history’s first words:   “Hot Babe”.)

Annual Celebration of That Roving-Eyed Dah-Ahg’s Come-Uppance

Augustine was so full of himself he even came up with a brand new name for our little-brain parts–our privates–even though they had lots of perfectly good names already. Augie didn’t think the old names captured just how low-down dirty they were. He called them “pudenda” (“pew-DEN-duh”–that’s for more than one–just mine or yours would be a “puDENdum”) from the Latin root “pudere”—to be ashamed.

Aug decided that intercourse for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden must have been a lust-free “Insert Part A Into Part B.” kinda thing:

Do NOT Enjoy Yourselves. See Also: Following Diagram.

Substitute Pudenda for Hands (If Parts Squeak, Add Holy Oil)

But then, evil Mr. Snakey slithered by, sprinkled lust dust on Adam and Eve’s naughty bits, and turned Eve into a dirty, dirty girl. That’s why we needed to cover up those bits with fig leaves. (Too bad it wasn’t fig newtons—that could have been fun, if a bit sticky!)

Preferred Way to Remove a Fig Newton Leaf

Other holier-than-thou types jumped on the no-no bandwagon and agreed with Augie, only even more so: Sex was icky, icky, icky. Clearly the most holy folk had the least sex. Priests should most definitely avoid it. It took the Church a few hundred years to force their way with this. And they’re still trying.

Lesbians? Cool. But no SELF-Pleasuring!

The Church almost entirely ignored female homosexuality. But if nuns were found using long hard objects in private (dildos), they were punished severely. So: Males thinking women-on-women action is totally hot goes WAY back–and so does the male fear of being outperformed by something that always stays hard. (Whenever we want it, baby!)

No WONDER Nuns With Long Hard Objects Wound Up Using Them in Anger (Uh…Am I Going To Hell For Saying That?)

Gays? Less Cool. But No Biggie, Back Then.

For an uptight intolerant bunch of repressive control freaks, Church folk were remarkably tolerant of male homosexuality. The church had a “graduated scale” of tolerance: Males kissing males were punished less than two males masturbating, who were punished less than two having oral sex. The worst punishments were reserved for those discovered having anal sex. Fair-mindedly, for all of these, older participants or those who held high positions in the church were punished more than those under the age of 20.

For more than 500 years, “homosexuals were in fact treated no more harshly than were couples who practiced contraception.” (Reay Tannahill, Sex in History)

In other words, the Church gave the merest tippy-taps of a slap on the dangly wrist. (Drat. Now I’m definitely going to gay hell for saying THAT. At least there’ll be hardwood floors and good landscaping. Oooo! And Oscar Wilde!)

St. Thomas the Total Twerp

St. Thomas Aquinas bears a lot of the blame for the change. He wrote an argument “proving” that since the sexual organs were clearly designed by God for procreation (pro-cree-AY-shun–making babies), that was the only use for them, and anything else was verboten (vair-BOE-ten–not allowed): No anal sex or oral sex, whether you’re gay or straight. No sex for fun.

Surprisingly-Modern Medieval Priest Headgear

Unless you are like many young men, even today: You think that the more babies you help make, the more of a man you are, so your idea of fun is to try to make a baby every time you have sex. That makes you like a termite, or a cockroach. They make lots and LOTS of babies. In your case, you really DO have a pudendum (shameful part) between your legs–and between your ears.

Just Sorta Tacked On Bit:
Did You Know Every Priest Is Jesus’s Twin?

In 1977, at the height of feminism, the Church announced two reasons women still couldn’t be priests:
1) Jesus chose only men for his apostles
2) Each priest reminds his congregation of the actual physical Jesus, and female priests can’t do this.

Really? Do you mean to tell me that both skinny, 6’4″ red-headed Father Keavney, and short, fat, white-haired red-nosed Father Kerry BOTH reminded me of the SAME Jesus?

THIS Jesus? (A Little Too Pale for a Middle-Eastern Jewish Man, But You Get the Idea.)

What about that day I was pulled out of Catechism class and Father Keavney literally screamed at me for daring to ASK A QUESTION? Was THAT supposed to remind me of Jesus, too? I guess that must have been from the Bible’s money-changers-in-the-temple scene. But it seems to me that my every-day Catechism teacher–pretty, petite Sister Bernadette–was a lot more Christ-like.


  1. This is the fourth in a series of posts based on information from “Sex in History” by Reay Tannahill. Misplaced my notes and have donated my book to the library, but I think most of the stuff here came from around page 160.

  2. I was never taught by a mean nun. All that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing were kind, caring women–even the strict ones–and I never witnessed a hand or wooden stick of any kind raised to a child in anger.

Next Post in the Series: Better Sex You Say? And Tao!
Previous Post in the Series: Ancient Greek Dudes Were NOT Gay…Kinda

It’s Gatherer-Hunters!

Who Really Brought Home the Prehistoric Bacon?

“At the peak of the ice ages it was man who kept the human race alive, and his social status at such times must have soared to gratifying heights, even if it often slipped back when the climate improved and woman’s contribution to the food supply rivaled his own.”
(Reay Tannahill, Sex in History, somewhere between pp. 17 and 45 in my paperback copy…)

They Feared and FED Men

Oh, Brother! Even if male mammoth-murder did see us all through when the air got a mite nippy, I got a mite snippy when I read that the female food fraction “rivaled” man’s.

On the next page, Tannahill repeats the insult: She credits women with providing, in warmer weather: “…as much food as men…” [italics mine].

When I was in college, (also in prehistoric times, BTW), I was taught that women in Gatherer-Hunter societies (yeah—I said it) brought in 70% of each tribe’s food supply—in comparison to the men’s far-more-meager 30% (this was based on field observations of the G-H societies then known).

What’s more, the women had to spend a great deal of time daily to find and gather food, while the men’s efforts were of shorter duration and separated by far longer periods spent on activities not related to survival.

This Cave-Dude Hunter Clearly Has Plenty of Leisure


Who Fried That Bacon Up In a Pan AND Even Made the Pan?

In primitive prehistory, as in technologically-primitive third-world societies today, besides bringing home the bulk of the figurative bacon, it is a good bet that women also did all of the:

• hauling of water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
• grinding, chopping, cooking, and serving of food.
• pounding, scraping, spinning, weaving, and sewing of clothes
• basket-weaving, gourd-carving, or clay-working to make containers
• young child care
• cleaning of everything needing it: floor, clothes, containers, kids
• often, house-building, if houses were built of sticks or grasses
• AND: episodic bleeding and cramping, baby-carrying, and birthing.

So, even during the Ice Age, when more of the calories likely came from male-provided meat, primitive men likely had plenty of time to rest up from their food share efforts within their exhausting one-tenth share of the total work.

That would have given them the energy to lord it over the women and claim higher status, yes?

It’s Lucky for Him Wilma Loves Him

Now, to be fair, in the years since Tannahill’s book was written and since I was in college (Good ole’ Styracosaurus U.), anthropologists have learned more about Gatherer-Hunters.

According to one anthropologist (see after the end of this post), in some G-H societies, women and men were closer to equals (except, I bet, for that list of daily chores given earlier).

That almost makes me want to go out and start gathering nuts and acorns, ’cause, with what’s going on today in the undoing of Roe V. Wade, living in a prehistoric society might be a better place for a woman than living near today’s Republican party.

Official end of this post.
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Prev Post in This Series: The Evolution of Sexy

“This Post Ends Here”

“The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways”, by Robert L. Kelly, describes the broad diversity found among Gatherer-Hunter societies.

For an overview of the book’s material, see the very thorough and excellently-written review by L. Miller. An excerpt appears below, followed by a link to the complete review:

“Kelly investigates the relations of forage quality to settlement patterns, of kinship and marriage customs with foraging activity…the roles of abundance and scarcity…of foraging territory on cultural activities and structure…

Most important, the investigation culminates in an attempt to explain why some foraging societies are egalitarian and others inegalitarian, why in some men and women are veritably on social par, and why in others women experience lower prestige.

There is a strong correlation between inequality and ranked or hierarchical societies and the lowered status of women, and a high correlation between egalitarian social practices and the parity or near-parity of men and women in social status.

It appears that long-term-storage societies, which settle for long periods due to the nature of their food resources, have a strong tendency to become ranked and hierarchical and (not a term Kelly uses here) what many now would call “patriarchical.” Societies that remain highly nomadic tend to remain egalitiarian.”
Next Post in This Series: Ancient Greek Dudes Were NOT Gay…Kinda
Prev Post in This Series: The Evolution of Sexy

The Evolution of Sexy

a.k.a. “Sex in History Lite, Part I”

This is part of a HAWT (!!!) series of posts based on excerpts from Sex in History, by Reay Tannahill. (Thumbnail review: Read the second half of her book. Worth it.)

From Learning to Walk Upright, to Learning to Sashay in Modern Foot-Bindings

Does Kinky Rough Hair Equal Smooth Sailing?

In discussing the move to frontal sex that bipedalism opened up for us human-types, Tannahill has this to say:

“By the time the frontal position was generally adopted, early humans had probably shed most of the body fur of their ancestors, but they found it necessary to grow some again so as to reduce friction during intercourse.”

Hmm… Some of us sensitive Princess-and-the-Pea types find that certain men’s particularly rough hair down there hurts.

In those cases, I’d far prefer a bare bear who uses Nair. In no way can I imagine that evolution would have chosen any fur other than bunny or chinchilla to reduce the friction of (front-facing) intercourse.


Now Him I’d Consider!

Are Male Hairy Apes Less or More Sexist Than Male Humans?

“…it is said that frontal sex made the human female susceptible to something that is physiologically impossible for other primates—rape. In the living world, only one species of spider appears to share with humanity the ability to conclude a mating against the will of the female.”

This made no sense to me when I read it. How can a female animal, in estrus or not, physically close off the vaginal opening and prevent unwanted penetration?

Impossible for human females to prevent rape—we who are usually literally the weaker sex—and what about animals where the male presents with a penile bone?

I found Tannahill’s “animal rape doesn’t happen” claim very difficult to believe, and indeed, her claim was mistaken.

Rape does happen among non-human animals, and not infrequently among our fairly close primate cousins.

And No Wonder…

The book Sexual Coercion in Primates and Humans gathers together research papers examining sexual coercion by males against females—both by hairy apes and by our naked human variety.

The big question is, do patterns of behavior in rape and sexual aggression by human apes mirror patterns by non-human apes? So far, the book concludes, it appears the jury is still out on this.

Ooh, Baby, Twirl Those Belly Tassels!

Oh, dear—it was disappointing to read Tannahill trotting out a pulled-it-out-of-her-*ss theory right at the start of her book:

That this very *ss was the hottest-ticket part of a cave-woman’s bod back when doggie-style sex was in vogue before humans walked upright.

Cave-guys supposedly didn’t give a fig-leaf for anything on the front half of women (‘cause, what, they couldn’t reach around?).

“Ugh-Puh, Ak!” Translation:“Cover those up and back it up, bee-yatch!”

(Yeah, yeah, I know: Real cave-ladies’ probably didn’t have anything like that to grab up front—like today’s monkeys—but I bet their supposedly-hot backsides were pretty much “eh”, too.)

Tannahill then spews a corresponding dribble that I seem to recall reading from other (male) anthropologists:

That our supposedly tushie-lovin’ foredaddies later switched to the hots for bellies and boobs after humans switched to a bipedal strut and front-facing sex.

Now, why is it I’m thinking that most anthropologists:

(1) Are men of the white persuasion; and,
(2) Think missionary style is pretty much all there is?

Regarding Tannahill’s claim that the frontal sex switch caused a switch to a “liking for resilient breasts and stomachs” (Tannahill’s support: See those zaftig prehistoric “Venus” figures? They have big bellies and boobs, so guys musta liked dem tings!)

Venus Figure

If true, then when men starting wanting women with big, honking boobs, why didn’t they also want us with big, honking bellies to match?

Imagine a 300-pound Angelina Jolie with belly folds hanging down past her knees…How hot do most of today’s guys think THAT is?


This post was based entirely on information found on page 17 of my edition.
Next Post in This Series: It’s GATHERER-Hunters!

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