“Pornography did more than titillate”

Research conducted by Sven Molenaar at Antwerp University has revealed that around the year 1700 pornographic texts and songs were circulating in a secret society in Antwerp.

Researcher Sven Molenaar spent five years examining a manuscript, “"Het Mengelmoes" (The Mixture), as part of his efforts to acquire a doctorate.  The manuscript dates from 1696 and is full of songs and pornographic stories.

“It was a manuscript and not a printed book.  In this way you could escape the censorship of the Church” Sven explains.

The texts were read by a restricted group.

“The manuscript wasn’t read separately by one individual, but in a closed club. Prominent citizens and wealthy Antwerpners formed part of this club.”

The songs were very accessible: “Everybody can understand a song.  You don’t have to be wealthy enough to go to the theatre or be able to read. The songs also helped to launch new ideas.”

“An interesting song deals with six sisters throwing a dice to decide who can sleep with the priest.  Towards the end we learn that the priest has to pay.  The sisters are sex workers. 17th century pornography did more than titillate.  It questioned the nobility and the church and inverted roles. ”

“Libertarian ideas also surface too.  There’s the story of the lover who raped a married woman.  Afterwards she admitted she wasn’t too bothered because her husband couldn’t satisfy her!”

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