Temptations of the Flesh: Virginity and Chastity from the 16th to the 21st Century
Original title: Les tentations de la chair. Virginité et chasteté, 16e – 21e siècles
A cultural history spanning five centuries that explores our relationship to sexuality and the impact of male fantasies on the female condition.
Although they had seemed to have become bygone notions since the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s-1990s, virginity and chastity have actually been undergoing a huge revival. Both individuals and groups have established them as their life goal, without necessarily basing it on religious belief. Numerous health-centered websites extol the “advantages of abstinence,” even for couples. And around the Western world, despite a hyper-sexualized society, the “No Sex” movement has been booming.
This remarkable overview provides an exploration over an extended period of time of the wide range of practices covered in the west by two terms that are often mistakenly used interchangeably and are more complex than they might seem at first glance. From the hymen, an unreliable proof of virginity, to the misbehavior of priests who take a vow of celibacy, from the continence imposed on the newly married until the 17th century to the first “sex strike” promoted in the late 19th, you’ll learn everything there is to know about our difficult relationship to sexuality.