Monday, 13 February 2012

Pigs Bladder & Lemon - historical preventatives

Nothing says I love you like a bit of dead pig

I've just been privy to a fascinating twitter chat between authors Isobel CarrJo Bourne and Lynne Connolly about historical contraception.  

Do you like a heroine who takes measures to protect herself from pregnancy?  Or a hero who slips on a bladder to protect himself?

Do you like your contraception up front and explicit, vaguely alluded to, or completely absent? 

Me, I quite like to know that these things have been considered.  And if they have been considered - and ignored - I like there to be some thought, or mention, of the consequences.  Unless a heroine is utterly ignorant of the Ways of the World and the processes of her own body (possible, I grant you), there should be something.  

This is a Modern Thing.  In Old Skool romances, your average alpha didn't think too much about putting a cap on before taking a dip.  No doubt he was too bent on rapine folly.  However, these days we expect more of a hero - and certainly more of a heroine.  Which presents the modern author with a challenge - how to make contraception sexy?  Or at least, how to stop it being unsexy. 

What are the options? 

Well, there is the pig's bladder.  Soaked in water - or milk - so it was sufficiently soft and squidgy (how about a little spontaneity folks?), your average hero can tie it on and away he goes.  Oh and for the environmentally minded amongst us, it's reusable too.

But who needs to slaughter a pig when there are lemon trees in the hot house? Most recently seen in Elizabeth Hoyt's marvellous To Beguile a Beast, half a lemon could provide a tangy treat and still serve as a diaphragm (though apparently only to the lesser endowed of the less fair sex).  

On reflection, I was persuaded by Lynne's view that sponges were the way to go. Still in use today (kind of, if you can count the modern descendant) the old sea sponge steeped in lemon gave the woman power over her own body.  

Still, not exactly sexy is it? 

Writes good cunny 
But here's the thing.  Anything can be sexy if it's written right.   A parallel discussion about sex vocabulary highlighted some significant differences in opinion.  Do you prefer a honeypot over a cunny?  Are you willing to overlook the historical inaccuracy of using the word sex (for intercourse) in order to avoid a jarring (to our modern ears) swive

The fact is, I've read some great sex scenes using the word cunny - in dialogue.  Again, I point you to Elizabeth Hoyt (can you tell what I've been reading lately?) - this time Wicked Intentions - whose hero Lazarus indulges in some rather explicit sex chat. And yes, he uses the word cunny.  More than once.  And yes, it's sexy. 

In the end it doesn't really matter what word is used, it's how it's used.  Used with confidence and well written, despite sounding like a small furry rodent, even cunny can work.  

And tup.  

Well, okay, maybe not tup.  Tupping reminds me of sheep, and sex with sheep ain't good.  Even when it's well written. 


Jayaly said...

Half a lemon? In your hoohaa?!

That's one way of discovering any abrasions from your last passionate encounter.

Meg McNulty said...

Hoyt wrote it well but still, I winced. Couldn't help but think of rogue pips and sloppiness and lost rind... also, she described the insertion but I think, not the removal. I think. Where did the lemon go? WHERE DID IT GO?