A satirical 16th-century publish showing a chastity belt Heinrich Wirrich/British Museum (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

A German publish from the late 1500s, now at The british Museum, depicts a young, largely naked mrs bidding her husband farewell. As she go so, she hand him a key, come the a locked belt about her waist, her only little bit of clothing. In the shadows lurks an additional man v a 2nd key, the male leaving has the donkey-ears of a cuckold and also is visually contrasted to a silly in the corner attempting to save fleas in a basket, a doomed attempt because that sure. You are likely acquainted with the principle of the chastity belt — a piece of hardware that literally locked up a mam or daughter"s netherregions, supplied in the middle ages. The problem is the they never actually existed. 

As sarah Laskow writes because that Atlas Obscura, men likely did no gird their females with metal contraptions designed to keep them faithful. But if chastity belts were never common, exactly how did the myth pertained to be? Laskow explains:

What can account for the persistence of the story? "Male fear," follow to . "There’s always a lover in the background who currently has the duplicate key, the says. In other words, even in the 1500s, no one took the idea of locked-up steel underwear really seriously together an reliable anti-sex device. Once chastity belts to be depicted, it was in the Renaissance tantamount of Robin Hood: guys in Tights—and the audiences for those pieces of art most likely thought the idea of a steel chastity belt simply as giggle-worthy as late 20th century teens did.

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Classen details the story in his book The medieval Chastity Belt: A Myth-Making Process. The couple of devices the make an illustration in museums to be constructed much more recently 보다 the Middle periods from whence they case to come hail. The british Museum has one such fake chastity belt. On their website, the item is accompanied by the keep in mind that "It is probable that the great majority of instances now existing to be made in the eighteenth and also nineteenth centuries together curiosities because that the prurient, or together jokes because that the tasteless."

Laskow describes that textual recommendations to chastity belts may have actually originally been serious, yet were allegorical.

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Women told to keep their chastity belt or girdle about the body knew the advice wasn’t expected literally.

While the middle ages version most absolutely did not exist together a serious thing, contemporary chastity belts are real — though many are confined come the realm of fetish play, whereby male chastity belt wearers can also get in top top the fun. Oh and there’s likewise a band based in Walla Walla, Washington that goes through the name Chastity Belt. ​

Marissa Fessenden | | READ an ext

Marissa Fessenden is a freelance scientific research writer and also artist who appreciates small things and large open spaces.