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ver the centuries, people in search of erotic experiences have
generated various methods of sex play. These games have had
different origins and often arose from complicated feelings; some
people were inuenced by social conditioning in childhood or
adolescence and needed to replicate as adults a sensation they
had felt in the past. Yet others were simply adults on the look out for
new sexual adventures sometimes straightforward sex was simply
no longer enough.
New ideas were conjured up in the form of openly displaying,
or passively watching, the sexual activities of others; there were
watchers and doers, actors and spectators. The more aggressive forms
of exposure were seen in public exhibitionism. For the more pas-
sive personality types, voyeurism often gave equal pleasure the
eighteenth-century female dominatrix might play the role of gov-
erness to the pupil; Victorian men and women experimented with
slave and master relationships (although this game did not neces-
sarily follow the path of current sadomasochistic role-play); in the
twentieth century, nurse and patient games developed, or mother
and child games in adult-baby play. People in same-sex relationships
played different games – cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians –
or dressed up as public servicemen or tradesmen such as firemen or
builders. These forms of play might involve ‘extras’ such as copro -
philia and urolagnia, sometimes known colloquially as shit-loving’
or ‘golden showers’. These roles and games also varied throughout
history – but when did they arise, how were they defined and how
they were played out?
The Games People Play
There are rules against shitting that way; you should at least have given us
notice; you know damned well that we are prepared to receive shit at any
hour of the day or night.
Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom (1785)
Exhibitionism has taken various forms throughout the ages. According
to Herodotus, the Egyptians who travelled to Bubastis to celebrate
the festival of Artemis exposed themselves to those they passed by.
They came on barges in great numbers and on the way the men
would play flutes and the women sing, clap and clatter castanets.
As they passed by a town on the riverbank, they would bring their
barge close into the shore and the women would ‘shout abuse at
the women of the place, or start dancing, or hitch up their skirts
These activities were an expected part of the procession. However,
there were a variety of reasons and opportunities for showing off,
and not all fitted neatly into patterns.
People have also exposed themselves as a form of insult. One
woman called Mara from sixteenth-century Dubrovnik had gone
to the house of Fiorio Petrovich and condemned him as a sodomite,
calling him a horned goat’ while gesticulating with lewd gestures.
Afterwards, according to Petrovich, ‘to spite me, she lifted her clothes,
Playing games, from the Marquis de Sade,
Juliette (1797).
More games, from Sade, Juliette (1797).
showing her private parts’.² Such displays of intimate body parts
were later to become recognized by twentieth-century anthropolo -
gists as methods of challenging or aggressive behaviour in ‘primitive
people. As Evans-Pritchard remarked of the Azande women of Central
Africa, ‘unusual action of the female genitalia is considered unlucky.
A female dancer exposes herself to a satyr. Martin van Maële, La Grande danse
macabre (1907).
It is injurious to a man if a woman provokingly exposes her vagina
to him, and it is yet more serious if she exposes her anus in the pres-
ence of men.’³ This belief gave women an innate power over men.
Yet this type of exposure was obviously undertaken not only by
tribal people but was also a common form of expression made with
the intention of frightening the onlooker.
Some exhibitionistic acts undertaken in the past do not fit into
a category of serious sexual deviance but were intended to shock
with a laugh. Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale’ in his fourteenth-century
Canterbury Tales told of one man involved in an incident in which
he bared his buttocks:
And so he opened window hastily,
And put his arse out thereat, quietly,
Over the buttocks, showing the whole bum;
And thereto said this clerk, this Absalom,
‘O speak, sweet bird, I know not where thou art.
This Nicholas just then let fly a fart
As loud as it had been a thunder-clap,
And well-nigh blinded Absalom, poor chap . . .
However, the seventeenth-century libertine was equally capable
of intentionally insulting other people by showing off his buttocks,
as Samuel Pepys was to record. He reported an incident of lewd
exposure in his diary after the infamous Sir Charles Sedley had been
celebrating at the Cock in Bow Street in June 1663, along with a
party of friends that included Lord Buckhurst and Sir Thomas Ogle.
Drunk as lords, they went out on the balcony, and according to one
observer, ‘putting down their breeches they excrementized in the
street: which being done, Sedley stripped himself naked, and with
eloquence preached blasphemy to the people.’⁴ He was heavily fined
for his actions.
More innocuous acts involved tempting bets from friends who
urged each other on to expose themselves. The Observer newspaper
reported that on the evening of Friday, 5 July 1799, at seven o’clock,
a naked man was arrested at Mansion House, the official residence of
the Mayor of London. From there he was sent to the Poultry Compter,
the small prison run by the Sheriff of London. The prisoner confirmed
that he had accepted a wager of ten guineas (worth about £750 in
today’s money) to run naked from Cornhill to Cheapside. While these
types of exhibitionism were not taken too seriously (although there
were sometimes small fines involved), laws were introduced to deal
with more obvious intentions to shock, frighten or insult.
The Vagrancy Act of 1824 enabled the prosecution of ‘every
person willingly, openly, lewdly and obscenely exposing his person
with intent to insult any female’.⁶ It was thereby deemed to be an act
perpetrated by a man towards a woman. Henceforth the perpe tra-
tor would be deemed ‘a rogue and a vagabondaccording to the
law. However, men continued to exhibit themselves. On 2 January 1843,
43-year-old George Herridge was indicted ‘for indecently exposing
Thomas Rowlandson (1856–1827), The Congregation.
himself; he pleaded guilty and was jailed for twelve months. However,
when 31-year-old John Daniels was found guilty of the same offence
nine months later on 23 October, he only received only one month
in jail; there is nothing in the records to indicate why there was a
disparity in sentencing. Some years later, on 2 July 1849, 62-year-old
William Joiner was confined for four months for indecent exposure.
Without more in-depth knowledge of the incidents, it is impossible
to understand why some were treated more seriously than others,
but other mitigating circumstances may have been involved. Then
again, sentencing was, and is, notoriously inconsistent from one
court to another.
In any case, given the low sentences passed, the activity was evi-
dently not regarded as being too threatening. Even when the case of
exposure took place in public places, it was often difficult to obtain
a conviction. When, on 5 January 1857, Felix Hue exposed himself
to Elizabeth Williams, it was on a public highway. Nonetheless, he
was found not guilty, so presumably there were no witnesses. Even
when there were witnesses, it seems to have still been problematic
to ensure a conviction. On 27 February 1860, 31-year-old Giuseppe
Pugno was accused of exposing himself to Margaret Stafford in the
presence of William Henry Crocker. The incident had taken place
in a railway carriage used for conveying passengers along the South
Eastern Railway. Crocker’s defence argued that the carriage was not
in a public place and suggested the carriage ‘might then be lying
under some shed, or undergoing some repair in the carriage-house’.
The indictment was squashed on a technicality as ‘although it alleged
the exposure to be in the presence of another person, it did not allege
that it was within the view of that person; who, though present,
might have been blind or sleeping’.⁷
‘Streakingor ‘mooning’ became new terms for old activities.
‘Moon ing’ as a popular term originated in the .. only around 1968
and was specifically used to apply to the act of publicly displaying
the bare buttocks. It was usually done for fun rather than erotic
arousal. Although the term ‘to streak’ had been used since medieval
times to mean ‘to rush or run around’, it only came to imply naked-
ness from around 1973 onwards; this occurred after a mass nude
run by 533 people took place at the University of Maryland. It seems
to have been a particularly popular pastime at sports grounds – at
cricket, rugby, football, tennis, snooker, golf and even the Olympic
Games in 2006. One of the most famous female streakers (mainly
because of the size of her breasts) was Erica Roe, who ran across a
rugby match during an international tournament, showing off her
forty-inch chest. Thousands of people saw the incident as it made
headline news. Exhibitionism and its prohibition or acceptance
therefore is, to a large extent, dependent on time and place.
The Medical Invention of the Twentieth-century
The French physician Charles Lasègue first described exhibitionism
in 1877 as the act of receiving gratification by exhibiting sexual organs
to persons of the opposite sex, commonly to children or ‘innocent’
people. Overall, sexologists classed exhibitionism as a perversion and
recognized it as an illness, a psychological disorder. Lasègue thought
these types of acts were performed mainly by men.
Krafft-Ebing defined exhibitionism as acts ‘exclusively those of
men who ostentatiously expose their genitals to persons of the oppo-
site sex . . . without, however, becoming aggressive’. The cases he
described generally involved older men (not youths) who exposed
themselves mainly to young children. Many of those he interviewed
were married and had suffered from some sort of brain deterior -
ation. He therefore concluded as with most other sexual perversions
that those who committed such crimes were men of moral or
mental weakness, degenerates or idiots.
Once the law was involved, exhibitionism officially becameinde -
cent exposure’. An example of this can be seen in Krafft-Ebing’s Case
210 in Psychopathia Sexualis (1886):
At nine oclock at night in the spring of 1891, a lady, very much
in great trepidation, went to a policeman in the city park
of X. and stated that a man, his front absolutely naked, had
approached her from the shrubbery, after which she has run
away frightened. The officer went at once to the place indi-
cated and found a man who exposed his naked belly and
genitals. Although the man attempted to escape, he was over -
taken and arrested. He stated that he had been excited by
alcohol and had been at the point of going to a prostitute.⁸
While the ages and excuses of the perpetrators varied, this case was
fairly typical of reported incidents. Many of those caught exposing
themselves claimed to have been urinating, others that they had
forgotten to do up their trousers. Also known as ‘lewdly exposing’,
and later ‘flashing’, exhibitionism was just one of the fixations that
men and women experienced sometimes compulsively, according
to sexologists.
Various sexologists, including Iwan Bloch, Sigmund Freud and
George Merzbach, interviewed and assessed exhibitionists and
concluded that their behaviour was a weakened form of sadism.⁹
In other words, the exhibitionist was forcing himself or herself on
to unwilling victims who had no option but to watch. Only when the
exhibitionist’s own behaviour became a problem to himself was it
classed as a psychological disorder.
Certain physical ailments such as epilepsy were connected to
exhibitionism and sexologists believed that its onset usually took
place while a patient was still young (mid-teens or early twenties).
They noticed that the exhibitionist frequently felt decidedly uncom-
fortable with his actions, but was compelled to go through with
them. This was attributed to a feeling of guilt on the part of the
perpetrator. An example can be seen in a case reported by Albert
von Schrenck-Notzing involving a loving husband and father who,
unable to stop himself, exposed himself to women in the street and
suffered terrible guilt thereafter.
Guilt was associated with an emotional feeling that was expressed
by a person when they had committed a moral offence for which
they bore responsibility. The appearance of this emotion came as
a result of a shift from public shame to private guilt.¹⁰ Prior to this,
in the medieval period in rural areas, people had been shamed into
conformity, which prevented them from acting in a way that might
be considered as out of the ordinary. In these incidents, there was
not necessarily any guilt involved on the part of the perpetrator,
only shame, and then only after he was found out. As rural commu -
nities broke down and people moved to urban centres, there was less
supervision of public morals from the local neighbourhood. The
Lutheran Reformation also shifted attitudes towards sin, encourag-
ing the development of a more internalized world of personal guilt.
An inner, closer God who made a person responsible for his or her
own sins replaced an omnipotent, retributive God. These sins were
no longer so easily absolved by a local priest but elicited strong
inner feelings about moral responsibility for ones own actions. This
new feeling of inner personal guilt was partly responsible for giving
an added frisson to exhibitionism.
As the licentious eighteenth century gave way to the more
reserved Victorian period, exhibitionism became more prevalent.
Although the whole argument around the great Victorian cover-up
has been questioned, the increase in the middle classes and the
emergence of a morepolitesociety meant there was more potential
for shocking people. Evangelicals in particular wereconsistently anti-
sensual as was humanly possible, with a restraint placed on revealing
dresses for women, dancing and reading novels. One shocked London
footman remarked on women’s dress, ‘they are nearly naked to the
waist . . . the breasts are quite exposed except a little bit coming up to
hide the nipples’.¹¹ By the twentieth century, the German sociologist
Hans Freyer was reporting entirely different reasons for exhibi -
tionism than the early sexologists had. A 35-year-old barber had
the usual array of ‘tainted’ family members: his father was a drunk
and his mother and sister both suffered from nervousness. As a
child of between seven and eighteen years old, Freyers patient had
suffered from convulsions, but he had managed to achieve sexual
intercourse from the age of sixteen. At 21, his behaviour began to
change and he started to display unusual symptoms: he passed a
playground and began to urinate there. When the children noticed
him, he admitted he obtained a sexual thrill, leading to an erection
and ejaculation. From then on, he found it difficult to have sexual
intercourse with women. His exhibitionism was only detected
when he was caught and imprisoned after inviting a young girl to
touch and feel his penis. On physical examination his penis was
found to be smaller than average but he was of sound mental condi -
tion. The diagnosis was that his complex had arisen due to his small
penis size.
Unlike Freyer’s case, other reported cases of exhibitionism found
that the size of genitalia was not an issue. In the 1950s book Sexual
Perversion and the Law, Porter Davis found that the size of the penis
of exhibitionists varied widely some had very big penises and
some very small. Their display was more likely to be based on feel-
ings of inadequacy. Davis believed thatthe exhibitionist is usually a
less virile person and less intelligent than the flagellant. His sexual
impulse is much weaker and he is often a degenerate.’¹² According
to Davis, indecent exposure rarely went further than exhibitionism.
A man did not approach or want to touch the woman to whom he
had exposed himself. His excitement was gained merely from the look
of disgust his actions evoked on the woman’s face.
Explanations of exhibitionism were still relatively new and some -
times contradictory. While some doctors believed that the behav-
iour was a result of a physiological defect, others began to explain
exhibitionism as a result of a psychological problem, increasingly
so with the development of psychoanalysis. The law was less ambig -
uous and tended to recognize it as indecent behaviour. Nonethe -
less, exhi bitionism was not taken particularly seriously. In the
1950s, the New York Penal Law outlined its stance on indecent
expo sure: A person who willfully and lewdly exposes his person or
the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where
others are present – is guilty of a misdemeanor.However, it would
seem that unreported crimes of exhibitionism were far more
widespread than police statistics indicate. When interviewed by
doctors, many victims were found never to have reported the inci-
dent to the police.
In his Variations in Sexual Behavior (1957), Frank Caprio argued
that exhibitionism was one of the most common sexual offences,
yet displayed a misunderstanding of what it was. When he declared
thatExhibitionism was a widespread phenomenon among primitive
people’, he was failing to recognize the urge behind the perversion.
Nakedness or exposing one’s genitalia among primitive’ people
cannot in itself be considered exhibitionism, since the intention is
not to shock but to insult. When tribal people want to exhibit them-
selves, they use different methods and it means different things. They
might aunt their bare bottoms to another person, but this was
considered an aggressive act, or even witchcraft their behaviour was
not necessarily to do with genitalia or sex.¹³
In an equally ill-conceived statement, Caprio asserted, ‘Among
adult groups wend vicarious expressions of exhibitionism in today’s
nudist camps.’¹⁴ Again, nudism in the West cannot be seen as exhi -
bi tionism, since nudists have no intention to shock or disturb other
people or to elicit attention. Frequently they congregate with like -
minded people – and in an enclosed, private colony rather than in
public. Naturists tend to just want to take a break with a group of
people taking part in normal daily activities pitching tents, playing
volleyball, swimming and so on. These forms of nakedness therefore
would not generally be consid ered as sexually perverted or as para-
philias, although they might well be considered deviances in law.
However, certain forms of flaunting one’s naked body, such as bur-
lesque, strip shows (which Caprio also mentions), and lap and pole
dancing, are legally acceptable as ‘entertainment’ but nonetheless
can be seen as exhibitionism, but only in as much as any other form
of public dancing is. This shows just how confusing the Western
concept of exhibitionism is.
By the mid-twentieth century, the psychological profile of the
male exhibitionist had been fleshed out. He was thought to be a
man who feels inferior, is insecure and needs attention; he was driv-
en to exhibitionism as a means of proving himself a man by provoking
a reaction. Because this insecurity was deeply ingrained, the prospect
of legal penalties did not deter him from committing the illegal act
again and again. In contrast to Krafft-Ebing, who had found his
patients to be men of moral or mental weakness, in the 1950s, Caprio
found his patients to be overly moralistic and often well-educated.
Nonetheless, the old sexologists’ idea that these people possessed
hereditary problems continued to linger. Discussing one nineteen-
year-old who had displayed his genitals since the age of fourteen,
Caprio noted that the family history washeavily tainted’, since both
his parents had been neurotic. His father was religious and had
attempted suicide. One uncle was in a lunatic asylum; another had
been dismissed from his job as a teacher for exposing himself.
Caprio thought the reason for his young patient’s trauma was that
his mother had showered in the same bathroom while her son was
cleaning his teeth; we would hardly consider this traumatic now.
In another case, Caprio commended one wife who chose to stand by
her husband after he confessed the full story to her, but only after he
had been caught exposing himself while driving around in his car.
But, according to Caprio, ‘Many wives become quite hysterical when
they learn their husbands have been arrested for indecent exposure
and immediately run to an attorney for a divorce.’¹⁵
Frotterism was seen as a sort of progression of exhibitionism,
described as a mans irresistible urge to rub his penis against a womens
body, the target usually being her buttocks. The behaviour was usu-
ally carried out in crowds in a public place, say on a crowded train.
One man was caught at a bus station in the act of rubbing his penis
on a woman’s bottom. He repented deeply, but admitted that it was
the womans noticeable posterior that made it irresistible. Although
he admitted to becoming ‘confused’, he was apprehended and sent
to an asylum. But prejudices against women reigned in the 1950s
and ’60s, with men blaming women for not taking enough care of
themselves and wearing provocative clothing. One author, in a book
on sexual deviation published in 1964, suggested that such sexual
advances, though distasteful to many women, are not always repelled’
– all men, it would seem, are likely to have felt the urge.¹⁶ He even
blamed women who walked alone over heaths and commons for
seeking out exhibitionists, grumbling, ‘the woman who complains
that this experience often happens to her may generally be justly
accused of seeking it out’.¹⁷
Other erroneous statements were made about exhibitionism,
too. One writer discussing sexual perversion and the law claimed,
True exhibitionism never involves any actual sexual connection
such as rape.¹⁸ More recently this has proved not to be the case at all.
In a series of studies undertaken by psychologists and beha vioural
scientists, it has been found that extreme sex crimes such as rape have
often been preceded by the lesser crime of indecent exposure. In
1998, Freund and Seto undertook a study based on a sample of
127 rapists. Twenty-two per cent admitted voyeurism, with the same
number admitting exhibitionism. Whether this shows an escalation
from exhibitionism to rape, or that exhibi tionism is just another
sign of sexual deviance, is unclear. However, a further study under-
taken by Rabinowitz-Greenberg and his colleagues provided a clearer
picture when they assessed 221 exhibitionists between 1983 and 1996.
They compared recidivists and non-recidivists in order to examine
the probability of escalation in the offence chain, and to clarify the
differences between hands-on and hands-off sexual offenders. The
results indicated that indecent exposure was often a recurring crime,
with the same offenders brought before the court again and again.
Of the 41 sexual recidivists, fourteen went on to commit more severe
hands-on sexual crimes (sexual assault). In a follow-up on the same
offenders (thirteen were ‘lost’) in 2006, the investigators found that
‘It is apparent that approximately 39 percent of our sample went on
to commit other offenses, with approximately 31 percent committing
a sexual or violent offense’, which points to escalating patterns of
offending behavior from non-contact sexual offending towards more
serious sexual assaults.¹
If in the past the motivation behind exhibitionism was the
desire of men to reveal their penises to passing female onlookers,
what might sexologists make of it today? In Sweden in 2006, as
many women as men reported having exposed their genitals to total
strangers and to have become sexually aroused by it. Again, the
people subjected to these displays were ususally children and ado-
lescents.²⁰ The question as to why this happens in a Scandinavian
country which generally takes a much more liberal attitude to
nakedness shakes the idea that more exposure and exhibitionism
might take place in countries where bodies are less on show. If bare
flesh, including genitalia, is available for viewing, why is there a
need for exhibitionism – indeed, what is the difference? Again, the
answer must be in the shock value, the reaction of the victim and the
lack of consent from the innocent party.
Generally, though, when women display their genitals in public,
most men are less upset than women are when men expose their inti-
mate body parts to them. There is an apparent disparity between
the sexes about how offensive exposing parts of the body can be (and
which body parts). The contrived exposure of flesh in the striptease
act illuminates the difference between men and womens reactions.
When men go to a strip club, or to watch pole dancing, they go to
experience sexual pleasure and to become excited by watching
women take off their clothes or dance naked. Women, on the other
hand, go to see male strippers such as the Chippendales for a bit of
fun, usually along with a gaggle of girlfriends. For hen parties or
all-female nights out, these strip clubs are arguably a spectacle of
mirth rather than taken as any sort of serious eroticism. Nowadays
we see a huge amount of exposure of the body, including genitals,
in the theatre, on television, in popular magazines and at the cinema
does this make us all voyeurs?
The exposure (and the watching) of bodies also seems to be
gender-biased in the media. Arguments currently circulate about
the sexualization of our media and culture and its ‘pornification’.
But generally it is women rather than men who have become in -
creas ingly sexualized in popular culture.²¹ And if we examine the
equivalent in the past for example, erotic prints and drawings they
consisted of mainly sexualized women rather than men, so perhaps
things have not changed so much after all. This concentration on
showing female genitalia has extended itself to television, which
shows vaginas and labia, though erect penises are still taboo. This is
generally the case throughout the media in most Western countries,
including America and Britain. Those concerned about censoring the
over-virile member use as their guideline the ‘Mull of Kintyrerule,
a crude benchmark which says that you cannot display a penis at
any greater angle of erection than that of the Mull of Kintyre against
the coastline of Scotland. But why should an erect penis so offend,
particularly when most people watching it have already seen one?
Post-television watershed, what does it matter?
The dividing line between naturism or nakedness and exhibition-
ism therefore depends to a large extent on the attitudes of the people
around that naked person and where the act takes place. Certain
beaches in parts of Europe have become known over the last few
decades for their leniency towards nakedness, and generally there
is a tendency to accept nakedness where there is an established
tradition. However, this all depends on the morality of the people
on the beach and they could well be within their legal rights to
con demn someone for exhibitionism in an area where everyone
else is clothed. The naked person on a naturist beach would not be
welcomed (or ignored) so easily in a town supermarket. As a result
of this confusion, and the ever more liberal attitudes to nakedness
in countries in the West, cases of nakedness have proved problem-
atic for the police. Nudism lacks a shock element – the nudist does
not have any intention to shock, and the person observing the nudist
is not shocked either. So where then does the law stand?
The Case of the Naked Man
When Stephen Gough decided he wanted to walk naked from Land’s
End to John O’Groats in 2003, the police were at first baffled about
what to do with him. Previously, he had worked as a lorry driver and
had been involved in environmental groups and communal living.
After moving to Vancouver for a year with his partner and children,
he had an ephinany. He revealed, ‘I realised that at a funda mental
level I’m good, were all good, and you can trust that one part of your-
self.He realized if he was good, his body was good the human
body isn’t offensive’ he says. ‘If that’s what we’re saying, as human
beings, then it’s not rational.’²² On his return to his home town of
Eastleigh, he asked the police if it was legal to walk the streets naked,
but they were unable to give him a definite answer. He was to test the
theory out for himself.
He set out on his quest to walk the length of Britain wearing
only hiking boots and a rucksack. On his first venture, he kept off
main roads and slept in fields and barns, and attracted little atten-
tion. However, on his second attempt, which was undertaken with
his then girlfriend Melanie Roberts in 2005, media attention on
him had increased significantly, and so had the interest of his fol-
lowers and the police. At every stop he was arrested, imprisoned,
fined, told to put his clothes back on and released. Bemused officers
would turf him out of the station on the sly by the back door. On
release, he would undress and carry on with his trek. Frequently
police took him to the border of the next jurisdiction so they would
not have to deal with him. He was usually taken into custody for
Breach of the Peace, for conduct which does, or could, cause the
public to be placed in a state of fear, alarm or annoyance’. Yet the
police found it difficult to rustle up witnesses willing to testify that
Gough’s nakedness had that effect on them.
Scottish sheriffs twice found in Gough’s favour and declared
that no crime had taken place either appearing naked in public,
or in court (he had decided to defend himself so he could not be
refused permission to enter court naked). Eventually, after further
arrests, he refused to put his clothes on at all, so was not let out of
prison. Because he refused to wear clothes in prison, he was not
allowed to move freely about but was only let out of his cell for 30
minutes a day in order to undertake daily chores post letters,
empty his rubbish and have a shower. While such a stance for one’s
principals can be admired, the law does not take a similar view and
continues to see naked bodies as potentially threatening to society.
In March 2012, Gough was still in Her Majesty’s Prison in Perth,
Scotland, serving 657 days for Breach of the Peace and contempt
of court. This was his seventeenth conviction in ten years and effec-
tively he had been in custody for six years. He says he will only be
released when he is allowed to walk home naked.
Sexologists described voyeurism as the opposite of exhibitionism:
watching people in the desire to glimpse their sexual organs or to see
them having sex. Voyeurs often benefit from watching people who
are unaware that they are being watched, the very secrecy providing
an added frisson. In ancient Roman friezes and paintings, depictions
of men and women having sex often included someone watching,
standing behind a door or peering through a window; in paintings
from Campania, someone else, usually a servant, is nearly always
around in the pictures depicting couples having sex. The Roman poet
Martial appreciated voyeurism when he advised one woman, ‘Always
with doors wide open and unguarded, Lesbia, you receive your lovers;
you do not hide your vices. The beholder gives you more pleasure than
the lover.²³
Peering through keyholes and gaps in walls seems to have be a
pastime with a long history, if eighteenth-century bestiality and
lesbianism trial reports are anything to go by. Many an upright citi -
zen gave witness to the debauched behaviour of their neighbours
after secretly peering through holes in their walls into adjacent
homes. Richer families shared their homes with a bevy of servants
who might sweep in at any time without a moments notice. Domestic
servants were particularly well versed as witnesses at trials because
of their close proximity to the rest of the household. Servants sleep-
ing in overhead garrets were often party to the sexual activities of
the inner sanctum of the boudoir of their mistresses. No doubt this
crea ted a sense of danger; the possibility of being caught in a clan-
destine relationship merely heightened the excitement.
Watching sex was also used as a method of instruction for young
people, who were encouraged to witness couples having intercourse.
John Cleland was worldly enough to have known about the regime
of brothels when he wrote Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748).
He shows how the ctional heroine Fanny Hill began her sexual
experience as a voyeur, watching through a hole in the wall while a
couple had sex in the next-door room at the brothel where she was
living. John Cannon (1684–1743) showed that this was not only a
fiction. At sixteen, he drilled holes in a privy wall so he could mastur -
bate while viewing the genitals of a maidservant living in the house
next door. Similarly, a bunch of eighteenth-century libertines from
Norwich planned their voyeuristic activities after they had drilled holes
in their guests’ bedrooms in order to watch them. They also peered
through keyholes to watch the sexual activities of others.²⁴
During the twentieth century, voyeurs were sent to psychiatrists
for assessment and treatment,²⁵ but most doctors seemed to consider
A man in the background watches a woman as a couple have sex through a glory
hole. Illustration by Paul Gavarni in The Places of Pleasure, c. 1840.
them harmless (if excessive masturbators). As with exhibitionism,
women were even blamed for mens problems. One contemporary
commentator of the 1960s exclaimed: ‘Some men provoke complaints
from women; but some women invite such attentions by dressing and
undressing with needless publicity.’²⁶ During the 1950s and 60s,
voyeurs were thought of as people who hung about parks, beaches and
swimming pools hoping to catch a couple having sex or obtain a
glimpse of genitalia. Others, known as Peeping Toms, peered through
windows under cover of night, lurking in gardens. The term ‘Peeping
Tomcomes from the legend of Lady Godiva, when in 1044 Leofric,
Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry, imposed excessive taxes on
his tenants which his wife, sympathetic to the townspeople, asked him
to remove. He agreed to do so only if she would ride naked through
the town. Lady Godiva did so, but all the townspeople averted their
gaze, except for Tom the tailor, who peeped though his window and
was struck blind as a consequence.²⁷
In the twenty-first century, voyeurism is no longer necessarily
conducted outside the home but can be quietly indulged in while
sitting at a computer. In the comfort of an easy chair, it is possible
to watch adults copulating, overhear schoolgirls chatting with each
other about sex, watch women undress, see men urinate or all
manner of acts which involve a state of undress – none of it illegal.
Housewives have set up webcams to expose themselves and get
paid for their services by the minute. Home videos now compete with
the higher end of the porn market: teenage girls masturbating, single
women having sex with their boyfriends, suburban married couples
sharing partners with their neighbours all are easily accessible to
view online. The concept of voyeurism has therefore been eroded to
a large extent, although there are still those who seek their pleasures
in a more 3 form. Striptease acts, pole dancing and naked bars all
offer full frontal viewing for the price of a couple of pints. The accept-
ability of voyeurism now comes down to a matter of consent.
One of the most recent forms of displayer/spectator sport can
be seen in a more equitable form of exhibitionism–voyeurism. Called
dogging’, this activity takes place in parked cars in public or semi-
public places. It seems to have started in the  in the 1990s when
people began to visit a particular area such as a car park or lay-by in
order to have sex in the car, but left on their lights so that other
people could watch. This also indicated to other doggers that they
were part of the scene. The phenomenon has spread all over the West
and several websites have sprung up to organize meetings between
strangers to have sex in public places.
Strangely, non-consensual voyeurism did not become a crimi-
nal offence in the  until 1 May 2004, and in Canada not until 2005.
These laws also cover the offence of secret filming. In the .., the Video
Voyeurism Prevention Act of 2004 amended the federal criminal
code to provide that whoever knowingly videotapes, photographs,
films, records by any means or broadcasts an image of a private area
of an individual, without that individuals consent, shall be fined
or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. Increasingly the
laws have had to be amended and updated to take into account new
ways of becoming voyeuristic. Meanwhile, exhibitionists and voyeurs
were to introduce new games to their sex play.
The Devil
copulates with
sleeping women
while other devils
watch, by Achille
Devéria, c. 1835.
Coprophilia and Urolagnia
Coprophilia (or coprolagnia) and urolagnia are among the ‘extras’
that are involved in watching and displaying. Once again Sade tops
the list in the exploration of perversions, describing coprophilic
activities in Justine, Juliette and The 120 Days of Sodom. He was per-
haps the first to mention rimming (licking of the rim of the anus) in
Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795): one character, Dolamance, says,
‘I am going to glide over this pretty little arsehole with my tongue.’²⁸
Sade’s coprophilia has been seen as the ultimate expression of a
sadistic superego, which represents an inversion of moral values,
‘his ultimate challenge to the social order and to the authority of
texts and tradition’.²⁹ Although Sade was said to have personally
indulged in coprophilia, other authors were merely enthralled with
it in their literature.
Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels and Dean of St
Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, has had his writings on faecal matter
dissected. Some critics have suggested that his descriptions of
women defecting and urinating not only show Swift’s obsession
with those bodily excrements, but delineates his misogynism. An
example can be seen in his poem The Lady’s Dressing Room’ (1732),
in which Swift writes, ‘Celia, Celia, Celia shits, as he imagines the
woman he admires defecating. He sets her in her toilet scene in order
to lower her status in his own mind and in the reader’s imagination
he deflates the idealization of woman by her own bodily functions.
In ‘Strephon and Chloehe similarly shows women in a poor light. He
describes the misadventures of a wedding night, in which the brides
reticence towards sex results from a need for urination rather than
any maidenly innocence, as is first assumed by her lover. Critics have
suggested that the sound ofdrippings and droppings’ in Gulliver’s
Travels may have originated from the overly intense preoccupation
with his toilet functions as a child, which then infiltrated his ideas.
But these analyses relied heavily on Freud’s ideas on the perverse.
Freud believed that obsession with faeces and urine stemmed from
childhood events, axation taken into adulthood called ‘psychosex-
ual infantilism’. Other critics have suggested that Swift’s misogyny
possibly resulted from a rejection of marriage in 1696 by a woman
he called ‘Varina, who was thought to be Jane Waring, a respectable
local girl who had inherited a small fortune. Swift wrote to her,
‘Surely Varina, you have but a very mean opinion of the joys that
accompany a true honourable unlimited love?’³⁰
By the twentieth century, the psychiatrist Albert Moll was out-
lining his patients’ cases of coprophilia; one youth hid in closets in
order to catch young girls defecating, this desire having been with
him since childhood. Another patient of Moll’s described his desire
in more detail, ‘No-one can imagine what demonical joy I am pos-
sessed with at the thought of a beautiful naked boy whose abdomen
is filled as the result of long abstinence from stool. To observe defe-
cation would still further increase this pathological enjoyment.’ He
had the idea that he would feed the boy potable and coarse spread,
which delayed defecation, and would thereby derive greater excite-
ment when at last he watched it emerging from the boy’s anus.
The association between faeces xation and olfactory enjoy-
ment was first noticed by Wilhelm Fliess (1858–1928), a specialist in
otolaryngology, or  (ear, nose and throat), who associated many
disorders to the nose. Fliess had developed a theory connecting reflex
nasal neuroses to various pathological disorders, an idea which
influenced Freud. In Freud’s view, smell was most closely linked
with faeces and with theanal phase’ of psychological development.
A few decades later, in the 1950s, Caprio applied the same theory
John Collier, Lady Godiva, c. 1897.
when he analysed a patient who had become fixated on faeces; as a
ten-month-old child, he would smear his legs and thighs with faecal
matter and expose his buttocks through the window. By the time
he was between the ages of six and eight, he had developed a fixa-
tion with buttocks, while playing with little girls. It was then that he
devel oped his olfactory fetishes, rst picking up and sniffing his
sister’s underwear while masturbating, then graduating to sticking
pencils up his anus and sniffing them. He admitted to becoming
sexu ally aroused when he saw the buttocks of a naked woman. Caprio
perversely labelled this behaviour ‘masked homosexuality’, though
he does not give an explanation as to why homosexuality had any-
thing to do with the case.³¹ Sexologists were obviously still having
some problems with their categorizing and labelling, even at this
late stage.
More recently, coprophagia, or the eating of faeces, has been
celebrated in an act called the ‘Hot Lunch’, where one person defe-
cates into the mouth of another. There are variations on this activity:
one devised as a result of the invention of cling film entails a
person defecating on to cling film which is stretched over some -
one’s open mouth. Then, on masturbating to ejaculation, he bursts
through the cling film, giving the recipient a mouthful of faeces
and sperm. Such coprophilic activities are no longer always regarded
as a sexual perversion but are seen as an experience shared by gays
and straights in sadomasochistic behaviour. Faecal-based activi-
ties may be taken up in adulthood as part of a preferred lifestyle
choice rather than a result of strange childhood experiences: one
study informs us that the ‘participants were socially well-adjusted
and that sadomasochistic behavior was mainly a facilitative aspect
of their sexual lives, most participants being flexible in both sex-
ual activities and sadomasochistic role-taking’.³² Coprophilia is no
longer neces sarily always considered a perversion, but an alternative
sexual predilection.
Others have shown an inclination for urolagnia (the love of urine),
either through watching someone urinate or being urinated on.
This activity is now sometimes referred to as a ‘golden shower or
‘water sports’. This sort of attraction is evidently nothing new. In
My Secret Life, supposedly written by a ‘Victorian gentleman’ and
privately printed in 1895, the narrator, Walter, tells of his delight in
watching women urinate. He combined his fetishism with voyeurism,
drilling holes in the walls of hotels in order to watch, but frequently
holes were already there, indicating that others had taken up the
pastime before him. Although there were ‘holes in doors as big as
small peas, the women seemed oblivious to them.³³ There was
therefore at least an understanding of such sexual pleasures in the
nineteenth century.
Yet Krafft-Ebing said he had never known anyone who liked
this activity. He had been unaware of the fact that his fellow sexol-
ogist Havelock Ellis was an urolagnist, although most of Ellis’s
women friends seem to have known about it. His companion in later
life, Françoise Lafitte, called Ellis’s urolagnia a ‘harmless anomaly,
defending it against objectors. Lafitte became his ‘Naiad’ (water
nymph) and they both enjoyed the water play. She told a friend
that Ellis liked to have her urinate as they walked down the street in
the rain, and he once persuaded her to do it in a bustling crowd in
Oxford Circus.³ Unsurprisingly, therefore, Ellis was much more ver-
bose on the subject in his writings. In Analysis of the Sexual Impulse
he explained the special and intimate connection of sexual feelings
and the energy of the bladder; ‘in men . . . distention of the bladder
favours tumescence by producing venous congestion . . . in women
. . . a full bladder increases sexual excitement and pleasure.’³⁵ Ellis
referred to this preference as ‘undinism’ and connected his uro-
lagnia to an incident in his youth. At the age of twelve his mother
took him to a zoological gardens and while walking down a soli-
tary path he heard ‘a very audible stream falling to the ground.
His mother had urinated on the ground and he instinctively turned
round to see it. He admitted that many of his happiest moments
were associated with being close to women when they urinated. In
his Studies, he explored how a man might manage to urinate while
inside a woman, bringing them both immense pleasure. He devoted
over 100 pages to the subject of urolagnia.³⁶ In his book Fountain of
Life, he eulogized urine when he wrote about the woman H.D. (prob-
ably the poet Hilda Doolittle), as he watched asa large stream gushed
afar in the glistering liquid arch, endlessly it seemed to my wonder-
ing eyes, as I contemplated with enthralled gaze this prototypical
statue of the Fountain of Life.’³⁷
Usually there has been a distinction in sexologists writings
between being urinated on and drinking a womans urine. Ellis’s own
experiments with urine no doubt led him to a better understanding
A case of coprophilia, from Marquis de Sade, Juliette (1797).
The Piss‐pot, 17th century.
The artist as voyeur on a defecating man: Bernard Picart, The Perfumer,
16th century.
of his patients. He commented on one patient, a healthy young
man who connected sexual excitement with ingesting urine. The
patient was diagnosed as a neurotic who had masturbated until he
was sixteen. By the time he was 30, he had graduated to drinking
women’s warm urine. If a woman left his presence to urinate, he
Woman urinates in pot. Attributed to Peter Fendi, The Sovereign’s Entrance,
c. 1835.
felt compelled to follow her and would become greatly excited and
ejaculate. He was oblivious to the taste; his fascination, according
to Ellis, was based around erotic symbolism. For Ellis, the act took
place when ‘the lover’s attention is diverted from the central focus
of sexual attraction to some object or process which is on the periph-
ery of that focus, or is even outside it altogether. In other works it
diverts the person away from its true course of ‘sexual conjuga-
tion’⁸ This is revealing in that it shows that this was a time when
heterosexual vaginal penetrative sex was seen as the only normal
type of ‘real’ sex even for the more enlightened sexologist. Anything
other than this was classified merely as a ‘diversion. Yet drinking
urine was not always necessarily connected to any sexual predilection.
The practice of amardi, or ingesting ones own urine, has been a form
of therapy for centuries, well known to Yogis. German doctor Johann
Heinrich Zedler listed the many properties of urine: for example,
‘inflammation can be helped by gargling with urine to which a bit
of saffron had been added.In the case of Ellis’s patient, though,
drinking womens urine seems to have been undertaken as a sexual
obsession rather than for any health reason.
Although most of the cases of both coprophilia and urolagnia
involved male subjects, some women indulged in a passion for fae-
ces and urine. One of Albert Moll’s cases was an extremely intelligent
lesbian ‘with various masculine tastesand a feminine build. Although
she had lived exclusively with one woman, finding her sexual satis-
faction through cunnilingus, later her tastes developed to include
coprophilia and urolagnia, as well as being bitten and whipped.³⁹
Coprophilia and urolagnia also occurred in paraphilic infantil-
ism, otherwise known as baby role-play oradult baby syndrome, and
still continues today. This involves the participant dressing up and
acting like a baby, usually donning giant nappies and sucking on
large dummies. Lacy bonnets or romper suits are sometimes worn.
The role-player may defecate or urinate into outsized nappies, there-
by incorporatingshits and showers’ into fetish baby play. Adult babies
crawl about on the floor and sometimes large cribs are involved to
cater for their fantasies, which may also involve an adult or ‘parent’
role, played by another willing partner, who may bathe, dress, feed,
scold or nurture the ‘baby. Paraphilic infantilism has been seen as
reflecting the participant’s underlying need to surrender adult respon -
sibilities and be cared for for a short period of time, and are often
seen as a welcome respite for men in high-powered jobs. Renowned
brothel keeper Cynthia Payne reports that she threw ‘specialized
parties’ at 32 Ambleside Avenue in Streatham, London, where judges,
barristers and top professional men were among her best baby
clients.⁴⁰ The first public event for adult babies was celebrated at a
‘Baby Week’ occurring in San Francisco in the early 1990s. This sug-
gests that it is a fairly new sort of sexual role-play. The  classes
it as sadomasochistic, but the fetish does not necessarily take that
path (although it can). Little is known about it in history but its very
association with nappies and dummies indicates that it is a twentieth-
century phenomenon. So far, no mentions of this activity have come
to light further back in historical records.
Both coprophilia and urolagnia were, and still are, well-known
in pornography. Offerings of ‘golden showers’ orwater sports’ are
advertised on calling cards left by prostitutes in public telephone
boxes. This method of advertising services has declined with the
increase in mobile phone use and the corresponding dwindling
numbers of telephone boxes. Now it is more common to meet like-
minded people on the Internet.
The Flagellant and the Supplicant
Spanking orogging has its own history, with all manner of weapons
incorporated into its application cat-o’-nine-tails, nettles, birches,
riding crops, leather whips and switches among them. They have been
applied to backs, buttocks, shoulders and loins in equal measure.
Flogging has been used as a medicinal cure, as a penance for one’s
sins and as a punishment for a variety of crimes used everywhere from
the nursery to boarding schools, the British Navy and European
prisons. However, it was also used as a means of sexual gratifica-
tion, with the scenarios involved often connected to religion, child hood
beatings or some form of sadomasochistic fantasy. One of the ear-
liest depictions can be seen in an erotic painting found in an Etruscan
tomb, which shows a man caning a woman while he copulates with
her from behind and she fellates another man. Another group to
the right of the scene depicts a naked man and youth wielding a
whip over a woman. At times of fertility festivals such the Lupercalia,
young men chased women, whipping those who wanted to conceive.⁴¹
Although whipping may be classed as part of the perversity of 
role-play, in the past it could be used with the aim of increasing
fertility or by religious fanatics as a form of self-mortification.
From medieval times, flagellation was used on a regular basis
as a penance for sins. Abbott Peter Damian seems to have inspired
his fellow brothers in self-mortification during the eleventh cen-
tury so much so that he eventually had to intervene to prevent
them from harming themselves. He was particularly concerned
about sodomitical leanings within his abbey but seems not to have
A man watches excitedly as a woman urinates. From Gathering
Mushrooms, 1930s.
recognized that the punishment itself might have the opposite effect
to the one he intended and elicit erotic feelings. Other religious
leaders, such as St Francis of Sales, displayed equal fervour for the
whip. In 1604, he wrote to advise his friend Madame de Chantal, a
member of the French aristocracy,
As a third remedy, it would be good once in a while to take
fifty or sixty strokes of the discipline, or only thirty, depend-
ing on what you can take. It’s surprising how effective this
measure has been for someone I know. Undoubtedly that’s
because the physical sensation distracts from interior suffer-
ing and calls for the the mercy of God.⁴²
Some penitents, however, preferred more public admonishment.
In Spain and Portugal it was common for a procession ofagellants
to walk through the streets wearing high sugar-loaf head coverings,
flagellating themselves as they went. Countess Marie Catherine
D’Aulnoy described them during her trip to Madrid in 1685:They
make terrible wounds on their shoulders, from which the blood
flows in streams.’⁴³ Women gazed on in admiration and it was con-
sidered a blessing if the blood flew from the flagellants and landed
on a lady’s clothes.
Flogging was advocated as a medicinal cure for impotence by
the sixteenth-century German physician Johann Heinrich Meibom
(1590–1655). In his book A Treatise of the Use of Flogging in Venereal
Affairs, first published in Latin in 1629, he explained how the stimu -
lation of the circulation of blood helped no end in encouraging the
penis to engorge. As an example, he related the story of fifteenth-
century Count Pico della Mirandola, who hardened his whip in
vinegar to make it all the more tormenting. The Count declared
that a man has cause for complaint if a woman is ‘too lenient with
him, and is not fully satisfied of his desire unless the bloods flows’.⁴⁴
By the eighteenth century, the fantasies of the libertine gentleman
were being accommodated in specialized brothels to cater for the
increase in demand for flagellation. One contented customer wrote
commending the actions of the particular flagellants offering their
servicesMrs Brown, whom he found to havea pretty strong arm’,
Mrs Chalmers, who had ‘a very experienced hand’ and Mrs Wilson
of Marylebone, who ‘was no chicken at all’.⁴⁵
Flagellation scene from Marquis de Sade, Juliette (1797).
With such strong connections forged between sex and flagel-
lation, it was unsurprising that pornography harnessed it as a theme.
Marquis de Sade (as with all subjects considered perverse) was the
master of descriptive flagellation in his sadistic novels. In Juliette, a
friend of the eponymous heroine admits her craving for agella-
tion and points to its benefits, ‘nobody doubts nowadays but that
passive flagellation is of prime efficacy: it is a matchless restorative,
supplying new vitality to the frame wearied by overindulgence.
Pornographic descriptions grew more torrid and fantasies ran to
the schoolroom as well as to incest with sisters, aunts, uncles and
mothers. The Romance of Lust (c. 1873), spoken of earlier in connec-
tion with incest, also indulged in flagellation fantasies. The narrator
describes how, as a boy, he had been the recipient of many a good
flogging from his governess:
Flagellation in an illustration from an 18th-century English edition of the works
of Sade.
I tossed and pushed myself about on her knees in a state
of perfect frenzy as the blows continued to be showered
down upon my poor bottom. At last the rod was worn to a
stump, and I was pushed off her knees. As I rose before her,
with my cheeks streaming with tears, my shirt was jutting
out considerably in front in an unmistakable and most
prominent manner, and my prick was at the same time throb-
bing beneath it with convulsive jerks, which I could by no
means restrain.⁴
Such scenes became the staple of Victorian erotica.
Victorian prime minister William Gladstone frequently self-
flagellated by way of penance. A godly man, he went out to try to
‘save’ prostitutes on the streets but his obsession was such that he
thought he needed some correction. He wore a hair shirt while about
his business and whipped himself when he came home as a penance
for any lewd thoughts he may have had. Meanwhile, some Victorian
poets found flagellation enjoyable and expressed their feelings in
verse. In his youth, Algernon Swinburne had been thrown out of
Eton for too visibly enjoying his punishments and captured the
scen arios of the whipping of small boys at Eton in his poem The
Flogging Block’. He revelled in Sade and read passages from Justine
aloud to his friends. In 1866, in his poem ‘Dolores’, he wrote about
‘Our Lady of Pain’, which portrayed a dominatrix.
Could you hurt me, sweet lips, though I hurt you?
Men touch them, and change in a trice
The lilies and languors of virtue
For the raptures and roses of vice;
Those lie where thy foot on the floor is,
These crown and caress thee and chain,
O splendid and sterile Dolores,
Our Lady of Pain.
He wrote the poem in reaction to the marriage of his cousin, Mary
Gordon, with whom he was madly in love. Gordon shared the same
sadomasochistic tastes as Swinburne and had been happy to provide
him with a sound whipping an indulgence that only seems to have
given him a greater taste for the experience.
During the nineteenth century, sexologists exploredagellation
as a perversion, grouping it under the category of sadomasochism.
One woman confessed to Krafft-Ebing that when she was only five
she had been placed over the knee of her father’s friend, who play-
fully pretended to whip her. From then on, she had fantasies about
being a slave to the man she loved: I revel in the idea of being
whipped by him, and imagine different scenes in which he beats me.
Nowa days, such slave-and-master relationships tend to involve
sadomasochistic role-play, but in the past they were a stranger affair.
One such was that of Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick. Munby
was an upper-middle-class educated man, a barrister who typified
the respectable Victorian gentleman. However, there was another
side to him. In his spare time, he loved nothing more than to stroll
around working-class areas to meet and to interview shop girls,
rag-pickers, milliners, maids and prostitutes – all were of interest
to him. He particularly liked those who undertook physical labour
that made them dirty faces, clothes and limbs covered in coal
suited him just fine. Meanwhile, Cullwick was looking for a man
to tell her what to do. Daughter of a Shropshire saddler, she took
Hannah Cullwick dressed as a slave. A 19th-century birching.
up menial jobs as a scullery maid. While employed in one large
house in 1853, the cook urged her to see a play of Byron’s called
Sardanapalus, about a king who falls in love with his slave. This was
to have a great influence on Cullwick and for ever after she took a
delight in self-abasement. After she bumped into Munby on the
street on her twenty-first birthday, they quickly became lovers. She
wrote to him, ‘I kissed you first when yoaxed me. It was to see what
you mouth was like.They quickly fell into their self-appointed roles
in which she called him ‘Massa’, her interpretation of how a Negro
slave would address his master. She would wash his feet ‘for being
useful and for showing humility and that I never wanted to be set
up’. She did not want to be ‘set up’ as his mistress; her humility was
her gift to him. Munby’s reaction was to have her black up, naked but
for a slave collar, and take photos of her. Both of them loved dirt. She
took joy in cleaning the toilet, used her bare hands to clean the foot
scraper free of horse manure, and licked Munby’s boots clean while
kneeling between his legs. She wrote: ‘Stripp’d myself quite naked
and put on a pair of old boots and tied an old duster over my hair
and then I got up in the chimney.⁴⁷ She loved to clean the kitchen
and sweep the chimney, and he liked to hear about her chores. Their
relationship was based on true affection, however, even though to
the outside world it may have seemed a little bizarre. ‘I showed my
strength with carrying him around the room’, she declared with
gusto. Because of his position, they had to continue their affair
clandestinely, but they married in secret and a deep and lasting
love was established.
Munby and Cullwick enjoyed the roles of slave and master, but
they did not fit the standard type of relationship. Indeed, the
slave-and-master roles were not mere enactments of sadomasochism
play but were embedded in their whole relationship he was a
Victorian gentleman and she was a domestic servant. Munby was no
sadist, but wanted the best for Cullwick. Nor was beating or vio-
lence part of their relationship, as far as we are aware. Cullwick liked
to undertake subservient behaviour, yet she was a strong character
and was by no means always passive. The class division between
them added a dynamic to their relationship – rather than keeping
them apart, it brought them together.
Sexual role-play is astounding in its diversity and its ability to
brighten up languishing sex lives. Yet most of the applications of
exhibitionism, voyeurism, coprophilia, urolagnia, flagellation and
slave-and-master relationships have been considered sexually per-
verse. Surprisingly, though, the supposedly most innocuous of acts
within this book exhibitionism and voyeurism were in the past the
ones which were most likely to be practised without consent.