We commonly get questions — usually from a wife — about “weird” things her husband wants to in bed. Where did my husband get this crazy idea?

Well, as you know, humans have been having sex for a long time, and no matter how strict the rules are we’ve always been kinky. I recently listened to an episode of the Ask Historians podcast about libertine literature, and it mentioned a poem that I wanted to share titled “The Imperfect Enjoyment” from 17th century libertine writer John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. (You can see a portrait of him above — he’s hot for his time!) Rochester is frustrated by his own premature ejaculation, and has written this poem to curse at his penis for failing. An excerpt:

When, with a thousand kisses wandering o’er
My panting bosom, “Is there then no more?”
She cries. “All this to love and rapture’s due;
Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?”
But I, the most forlorn, lost man alive,
To show my wished obedience vainly strive:
I sigh, alas! and kiss, but cannot swive.
Eager desires confound my first intent,
Succeeding shame does more success prevent,
And rage at last confirms me impotent.
Ev’n her fair hand, which might bid heat return
To frozen age, and make cold hermits burn,
Applied to my dear cinder, warms no more
Than fire to ashes could past flames restore.
Trembling, confused, despairing, limber, dry,
A wishing, weak, unmoving lump I lie.

The poem is funny and poignantly humanizing. It’s easy to forget that our ancestors were as human as we are. The libertines are certainly not to be emulated in their philosophy, but why should they get to have better sex lives than married Christians? No way!

Do you have any sexy poetry to share? Leave a link in the comments.

“Can we *BLANK*?” is one of the site’s most popular and frequently referenced posts. You can go read the details, but the short version is that just about any sexual activity is acceptable within marriage! But it may not surprise you to learn that people in the middle ages had a different view on sex.

If it’s not procreative, it’s fornication. If it’s done on a holy day, it’s fornication. You see above what happens if it’s oral: you get a life sentence of penance.

The penitential writers saw marital sex as a concession, not as a right or even a gift from God. The pleasure it brought was inherently sinful, a gateway to lust, so sex within marriage should be carefully contained and scheduled to ensure the most possible procreation and the least possible pleasure. Married couples had to abstain regularly or the very state of their marriage would degenerate into an illegitimate and sinful union. Even the children born of sex during a period where the couple should have abstained — mainly based on the Church’s liturgical calendar and on the wife’s reproductive cycle — were to be considered bastards.

There’s even a handy flowchart!

It’s no surprise that Christians often bring so much baggage into their marriages! These man-made rules and fears can steal away the joy of sex with our spouse.

Of course, people then weren’t much different than people now — it’s one thing to write a bunch of rules, and it’s another thing to follow them. Fortunately God hasn’t created nearly as many rules as people have.

In the Victorian era, Halloween was less about scares than about finding true love. If you think modern Halloween is excessively sexualized, you may not want to read about how they partied in the early 20th century.

A century ago, the rituals surrounding the celebration at the end of October emphasized love. Newspapers recommended parlor games that promised to reveal romantic fortune. Even the cast of characters was more oriented toward matters of the heart.

“Halloween in the early 20th century had far less emphasis on blood, gore and scary monsters, and much more emphasis on courtship, romance and the opportunity for love,” Daniel Gifford, the former manager of museum advisory committees for the Smithsonian National Museum of American History explained in a museum blog post last year.

“In fact, the image of Cupid was often interspersed among the more familiar black cats, witches and jack-o’-lanterns.”

For Halloween maybe you and your spouse can play a fun Victorian game like snap apple! The image above will give you an idea of how to get started — it’s a seasonal bifecta! You can also check out the sexy Halloween games we posted way back in 2014, and leave your own ideas in the comments below.

The term “blow job” as slang for oral sex performed on a man, or fellatio, pretty much rules the roost. There are plenty of other terms for the act, but “blow job” is by far the most common. It’s such a strange bit of slang: there’s no blowing involved, and though it can be a bit of work it’s an act of love, not labor. So what’s the deal?

Here are a couple of analyses that purport to explain the origin of the term — I’ll try to quote the less graphic parts. Click the links at your own risk, but the etymology is quite interesting.

The inestimable (and late) Christopher Hitchens wrote that “blowjob” is Victorian in origin.

The crucial word “blowjob” doesn’t come into the American idiom until the 1940s, when it was (a) part of the gay underworld and (b) possibly derived from the jazz scene and its oral instrumentation. But it has never lost its supposed Victorian origin, which was “below-job” (cognate, if you like, with the now archaic “going down”).

However, Chelsea G. Summers writes that no-one ever connected “blow job” with “below-job” until Hitchens wrote it. She digs deeper into the seventeenth century to inspect terminology used to describe oral sex. She decides that “to blow” has a long history as a euphemism for orgasm (i.e., to explode), and that “job” descends from many other labor terms used as sexual slang.

And it’s not just Americans: the English-speaking world at large has enjoyed a long, filthy history with “blow.” An explosion, a hard hit, or the act of producing a sound from a horn instrument, “blow” is already a versatile word, and slang takes full […] advantage of its flexibility. “Blow” meaning “fellate” dates to 1930, but the word has been doing sexy duty for centuries. “Blow” meaning to achieve orgasm came about in 1700; “blow” meaning to bring to orgasm showed as early as 1650; and “blow” meaning [sex] appeared in a 1644 edition of Mercurious Fumigosus, a weird, smutty zine-style newsletter produced by John Crouch, a Royalist journalist imprisoned during the British Interregnum. While other terms have lost their erotic luster with time, “blow” has held firm. Dudes have blown their loads only since 1993, but we’ve got more than three hundred years of people achieving orgasm with “blow.”

Sex slang through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was deep into play. People engaging in sexual intercourse would “dance on a rope,” “play at mumble-de-peg,” or “frisk,” while “larking” was the earliest slang term for oral sex. True, “job” as slang for [having sex with] dates to the early sixteenth century, and both “business” and “work” to the early seventeenth, but the sheer number of play terms vastly outweigh labor terms until the early twentieth century. Then, “job” proliferates—hand, mouth, brown, finger, rim, and non-specific “sex job” grow like mushrooms in the shade of “blow job.” In modern times, sex slang is all work and decreasing play, and “blow job” leads the way towards labor.

So there you go: two options for the history of “blow job”. “Fellatio” descends directly from Latin for “to suck”, but unless you really must discuss oral sex in polite company it seems unlikely that “blow job” is going anywhere anytime soon.

What do you and your spouse call it?

Next time you’re giving your wife the business you can throw in some historical sex slang from her favorite century to liven things up before ringing her bell. Just make sure you pick some chronologically consistent slang… anachronisms really kill the mood.

Slang timeline for sexual intercourse.

Slang timeline for other sexual acts.

Slang timeline for orgasms and various secretions.

Slang timeline for the vagina.

Slang timeline for the penis.