@NBlackthorne on The Victorian Era and Sex Disorders

After writing my masturbation post a week or so ago, my awesome pal and fellow author, Natasha Blackthorne, reached out to me to let me know how much she enjoyed the post & that her upcoming new release had strong ties to the miseducation surrounding masturbation. I was THRILLED! Of course, considering I absolutely adore her historical erotic romances, I invited her to come over and play in my sandbox for a while. So, without any further ado, here’s the lovely and talented Natasha Blackthorne!

  
First, I’d like to say a big thank you to Kitt, for inviting me to her blog to discuss some of the history that underlies my upcoming release, The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne. Kitt has one of the most interesting and engaging blogs on sexual positivity and I am always honored to be a guest here. 

The Regency period is fascinating to me for many reasons. For me, it’s the psychological pressures and the resulting changes that took their society from the relative sensual indulgence of the Georgian era to the more, at least outwardly, restrictive and repressive Victorian era. To explain where the darker aspects of my story came from, I’ll give a little historical background information. 

The History

During the late Georgian Era, the emergence of the industrial age and the continued expansion of enclosure (the consolidation of formerly small and plentiful landholdings and farms into a smaller number of large estates owned by an elite group) the pressure on resources and jobs reached maximal levels.  

By 1789, Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, wrote an essay on “the Principle of Population”, painting pictures of humanity overcome by a population boom that drained all resource and led to mass starvation and suffering. He believed this population explosion would be fueled by out of control carnal lusts and proposed universal self-control and chastity as a preventative measure. 

The upper class wanted to conform to behaviors and self-control that would separate them from the increasing encroachment of upwardly mobile middle and lower classes. If mere birthright no longer guaranteed that a person was “worthy” of being privileged, then they would prove that they were morally superior and worthy by their behavior. 

Of course, uncertainty regarding overpopulation and shifting socioeconomic status was only one of the many anxieties swirling in the general psychological undercurrent. The Regency generation had already grown up under a cloud of anxiety due to the uncertainty caused by the Napoleonic Wars. It was a generation plagued by so-called fragile nerves and anxiety disorders. In response, doctors, both the well-intentioned and the unscrupulous, stood ready to prescribe the cures. 

This undercurrent of anxiety over health, both physical and mental, led to a push for more control over the human sensual animal. Unfortunately, the ladies bore the larger brunt of the pressure because men continued to have their sexual outlets in secret and away from normal, socially sanctioned family life. The human body became seen as a closed system of sexual energy, orgasm began to be referred to as a draining; a sort of “spending” instead of as a healthy release. Emotional disorders diagnosed in girls and women were tied to “inappropriate” sexual expression and desires. Female masturbation became a primary focus/target.

We associate the idea that “misuse” of sexual energy leading to mental debility most strongly with the Victorian Era, but the roots for these attitudes began earlier. Famous physicians with interests along these lines were men like Dr. Thomas Beddoes. He believed that sexual reading materials could lead to gluttonous desires and ruin young people’s nerves. 

Dr. Samuel Solomon, who published A Guide to Health in 1795, blamed frigidity, nervous disorders, general physical debility and infertility on early masturbation in females and called it the “foul pollution” among other names. He presented his “cordial balm” as a cure all for such excesses and likely sold a great deal of it to lonely, awkward young people who lived hard lives with little solace except a solitary one. These are just a couple of examples of the types of thinking that were beginning to circulate in the late Georgian period. 

The Delicate Matter….

In my story, The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne, Catriona is a young widow who has already gone through some experiences that have prevented her from expressing her true self. She’s trapped in a role that she has long outgrown and shamed for some very intimate sexual behaviors that were no one else’s business. But those around her want to control her, to prevent her from achieving her adult independence. And her sexuality is one area where they have invaded her privacy in an attempt to suppress her. 

Under pressure, she becomes distraught. Desperate. Others see her deep depression, not as a cry for help, but as a sign that she needs to be fixed so that she can return to her former, girlish role.  

Her late husband’s mother contacts a well-respected physician, Dr. Meeker, who is said to have an excellent track record with “handling” out of control and deeply disturbed ladies. This doctor believes that female sexual energy is a potentially destructive force on a woman’s mental and physical health.  

His prescription is to attempt to control and redirect Catriona’s exceptionally self-indulgent sensuality and to tame her sexual desires. His dark eyes and coolly intelligent, charismatic manner, fascinates Catriona at first, while his sympathetic understanding overwhelms her. He promises what she needs most. 

She is quickly trapped in a relationship of manipulation and abuse of trust. She becomes the subject of the most invasive and abusive experiments at his hands, with emotionally destructive consequences. She’s driven the ends of her ability to cope and, at the start of the story, she is battling in the only way she knows to overcome the manipulation and brainwashing to which she has been subjected. She’s fighting for her sanity. 

The hero, James Blayne, is her late husband’s cousin and the new Baron Blayne. A former naval officer and hero of the Napoleonic Wars, he’s a highly self-controlled gentleman, determined to protect her against any further abuse. He’s disconcerted by her alluring, sensual nature even while he experiences an overwhelming temptation to follow her lead and indulge in both sexuality and other sensual pleasures. His life has been one of duty, honor and obligation. Now his interactions with Catriona makes him question, for the first time, what is really important in life. 

When Catriona reached out to him, she did it out of self-preservation, a desperate chance to escape. But will she end up saving him as well? 

Wow, Natasha, it sounds like you’ve really outdone yourself this time & I can’t wait till your new release! What do you guys think? Is it any wonder I’m so thrilled to be one of the many authors participating in your Online Release Party on Facebook? All are welcome to join the party and WIN FREE STUFF, by the way. Just click the link to join. 

And if you’d like to learn more about Natasha, here’s where you can find her:

Blog: http://natashablackthorneblog.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Natasha-Blackthorne/217388964952800?ref=br_rs

Twitter: @Nblackthorne

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4878430.Natasha_Blackthorne

Google+: https://plus.google.com/109806914738068189660

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