This is a question that I am asked a lot. “She didn’t have “normal” sex!” What is “normal”? How do you measure “normal”? One of my obsessions over the past ten years has been researching the history of sexuality. I am so fascinated by how different eras and cultures have controlled and constructed sexuality, how religions or governments, Doctors or psychologists have told us what is “normal” and what is not, and how this reflects the social and political climate of the time. This is so vastly different throughout different times. From Ancient Greek culture through to Victorian times to now, we have had very different ideas about sex and sexuality and what is “deviant” even down to what we would find attractive in a fellow mate.
Dr Marty Klein sums up the reasoning behind these attempts to “normalise” and control sexuality perfectly;
“Historically, normal sex has always been about defining and imposing boundaries. Various sexual activities, thoughts, and ideas were demonized, even criminalized. Most people really did fear, condemn, and stay away from whatever forms of eroticism they learned were abnormal. The adventurous—Oscar Wilde, Marquis de Sade, Margaret Sanger, Hester Prynne—were punished.
Much of this was about controlling procreation. Some of it was about ignorance toward female pleasure, and hostility toward female enthusiasm. Some of it was about dividing the body into clean and dirty areas, hence clean and dirty activities. Some of it was about managing virginity, which was valuable family property.
Beyond all this, a key reason religion and repressive government have always wanted to control sexuality is because it’s a place where people can experience profound autonomy. Since the beginning of time, even the poorest, least intelligent, least attractive people have been able to feel powerful during sex. Even when you have absolutely no power over the important circumstances of your life, you can, if not instructed against it, still do and imagine whatever you want in bed. What powerful social institution would NOT want to control this bottomless well of personal power?
Therapists find that when people become empowered around their sexuality, they often keep growing: “If I can be uninhibited in bed, where else can I express myself? If I can make up my own rules in bed, why not in my relationship, my family, my community, or even with my God?”
So defining and patrolling normal sex is an important political tool. Every religion and every government knows that.”