As anyone who’s done an Internet search without carefully filtering the results can attest, people do some crazy things with their clothes off. Around the world, humanity has a grand history of holding some rather bizarre attitudes toward sex, and whether it leads to sexual proclivity or prudishness, there are a ton of strange happenings regarding sex.
10Nazi Sex Dolls
It is easy to forget just what a horrifying scourge syphilis used to be. Today, the offending bacteria is easily cleared up with a regimen of antibiotics, but not so long ago, it waylaid entire generations. The latent stages of syphilis ravaged the entire body and left victims brain-damaged. Al Capone, a well-known sufferer, was said to be raving and disoriented toward the end of his life, with the mental capacity of a child.
During World War II, soldiers consorting with prostitutes and acquiring sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis were a huge problem. In order to combat infections among the Wehrmacht, Hitler had blow-up sex dolls made. The dolls, which sported a fashionable bob haircut, enjoyed a brief trial before the campaign ended. It’s believed the last of the prototypes was lost during the firebombing of Dresden.
9 Impotence Trials
Catholics tend to be extremely serious about matrimony, especially the whole “til death do us part” bit. The Pope’s refusal to grant King Henry VIII an annulment led to the English Reformation. Worming out of a marriage, however embattled, was practically impossible. But toward the end of the Middle Ages, a bizarre trial emerged in France. While such concepts as “irreconcilable differences” had yet to be invented, there was one grievance the courts would hear: impotence.
Any man who has gotten pee shy while standing next to someone else at a urinal need not read further. Any husband accused of impotence obviously had the burden of proof. The test to indicate his prowess included “standing at attention” before a tribunal of clergy, physicians, and like-minded parties. He would then be forced to ejaculate to their satisfaction.
Not surprisingly, many gentlemen failed this audition. There was, however, a second chance. Should one wilt under scrutiny, he could request a “Trial by Congress,” which essentially boiled down to a live sex show between the indicted husband and the accusing party. Today’s divorce trials are certainly less entertaining, if no less venomous. Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church’s views on the issue have not evolved much.
8 Government-Funded Prostitute Visits
Amsterdam’s Red Light District, De Wallen, is well-known for quasi-legal prostitution and its traffic of international tourists. But among the back-slapping frat boys and narrow-eyed perverts, there are some unexpected customers. In an effort to grant the physically disabled citizens the chance to experience sexual intimacy, the government of Holland has been known to provide them with a monthly stipend with which to visit prostitutes. The Netherlands is far from the only country that affords the handicapped subsidies for adult companionship. They are also available in Switzerland and Germany, among other places, and there are movements to legalize sexual surrogates in Australia and France.
7The Thunderbolt Of Flaming Wisdom
We tend to think of Buddhist monks living a very spartan lifestyle, shunning earthly indulgences. But 500 years ago, a Tibetan monk named Drupkka Kunley enjoyed the kind of sex life that would make Hugh Hefner seem like a virgin. Although he accomplished much during his lifetime, including introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and building the Chimi Lhakhang monastery, Kunley was best known for his campaign of romance.
Kunley preached enlightenment through sex, earning the title “The Saint of 5,000 Women.” The monk, perpetually drenched in alcohol, claimed to be able to change demonesses into good deities by striking them with his penis, which became known as “The Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom,” clearly the coolest nickname for a dude’s manhood ever.
In much of the West, teenage sex is had under secretive circumstances, groping in the backseat of cars away from the prying eyes of parents. For a teenage boy in the US, the very prospect of meeting his girlfriend’s father inspires terror. And, while a report by the CDC indicates that teen pregnancy in the US is plummeting, it’s still extremely high, right around 30 cases in 1,000, more than six times higher than the Netherlands.
The statistic is especially curious given the sexually permissive culture of the Netherlands. In the US, teenagers would never dream of asking their parents for permission to sleep together at home. Dutch parents, however, are somewhat more accepting of the idea of “romantic sleepovers” held between teen lovers. There is some debate as to exactly how prevalent these rendezvous actually are, but it’s clear that Dutch parents are far more open with their children about sexuality, and this education has led them toward more responsible decisions.
Same-sex marriage has become a hot-button issue around the world, with 15 countries legalizing it and other nations, like the US, allowing it on a jurisdictional basis. But in the Caribbean nation of Jamaica, gay, lesbian, and transgendered people dream not of happy nuptials but of survival.
Often thought of as a tropical paradise by tourists sunning themselves on its beach resorts, Jamaica regularly vies with countries like Venezuela and Belize for the title of the world’s murder capitol. For gays, things are far worse. Although it’s not technically illegal to be gay in Jamaica, sex between men is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. There are no laws against hate crimes, and violence against homosexuals is widespread. Police rarely investigate these attacks and put forth a purely symbolic effort. In 2004, Brian Williamson, the head of J-Flag (a Jamaican gay rights group), was found stabbed to death, one of only dozens of such incidents.
Popular Jamaican reggae artists often incorporate vicious and hateful lyrics into their songs. Artist Buju Banton, tied to at least one assault, advocates shooting gays with Uzis and burning them with acid.
For those who frequent prostitutes (or play Grand Theft Auto), the concept of a car date will be quite familiar. You cruise down to one of your city’s seedier neighborhoods, pick up a lady wearing latex pants, and make for the nearest dark alley. Of course, the danger of such activities cannot be understated—prostitutes are a favorite target for serial killers. Gary Ridgway, better known the Green River Killer, had an infamous predilection for ladies of the night, and he may have killed over 100 such victims.
Sex drive-ins were first established in the Netherlands in the mid-1980s, spreading to Germany in 2001. In 2013, one even opened in Zurich, Switzerland. The facility resembles a row of open garages, where a customer can park his car in relative seclusion. Zurich’s sex drive-in serves a number of purposes. Built in an industrial area, it relocates prostitutes away from the city center. More importantly, it helps to ensure the safety and well-being of the girls. There are security guards on duty, along with alarm buttons wired into each box in case of emergency. An attending doctor and social worker promote physical and mental health.
Sex boxes are an extremely forward-thinking gesture, probably best described as being in their “beta phase.” If you’re hoping to see one in your neighborhood any time soon, you’d best write your congressman.
3 Lights Out
Halloween is naturally associated with horrors. Poisoned candy and razorblades in apples have largely proven the stuff of urban legend, but the world is full of real-life monsters. Millions of unattended children visiting the houses of strangers is an opportunity some predators can’t resist. In some areas of Texas, authorities have established a “Lights Out” program, which aims to keep sex offenders under control.
Lights Out was implemented in 2005 after a sex offender was seen at an elementary school Halloween party. It required all sex offenders to refrain from putting up any decorations or keeping any exterior lights on during Halloween, thus dissuading children from approaching their homes. The following year, the program was taken a step farther: Sex offenders were required to report to their probation officers on Halloween night between 6:00 and 9:30 PM, where they attend a counseling session and take a drug test.
2 Magdalene Asylums
The defense of a woman’s propriety has taken many strange turns, but few more punishing than the so-called Magdalene asylums. These facilities, ostensibly populated by prostitutes, were designed to keep women from sacrificing themselves to promiscuity. While some of the residents were prostitutes, many were ordinary girls, some just 12 years old, committed by family members who were afraid for their morality.
The best-known Magdalene asylums were in Ireland. There, the women were—for all intents and purposes—slaves. They generally acted as laundresses, symbolically washing away their sins as Mary Magdalene surrendered her immoral ways to become a disciple of Jesus. The women were forced to live asexual lives—their hair was shaved and their breasts bound. Abuse of all sorts, including beatings, were common.
While most of the world’s Magdalene asylums closed long ago, the last such institution did not shutter in Ireland until 1996. Controversial Irish singer Sinead O’Connor spent time in one as a teenager. In 2013, the government issued an official apology to the women who had served in the laundries and is considering offering some kind of compensation package.
1 Porn And Sex Toys
As the birthplace of the Kama Sutra, that ancient chronicle of erotic love with its detail of acrobatic sex positions, one might assume that India would have rather liberal views on sex. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, the sale of pornographic materials or sex toys is considering “obscene” by the government of India, and under Section 292 of the penal code, their distribution is punishable by up to two years in prison for the first offense. Subsequent offenses can earn you five years in jail. Although it’s a crime to sell porn in India, the laws regarding viewing it have been historically murky. Adult films have recently become quite popular in India; according to Google, Internet searches for the word “porn” have increased fivefold in the last 10 years. However, the rate of sexual violence continues to grow out of control in India, making international headlines, and there has been a push to ban porn altogether.