The term chastity belt may be a mystery to some of our readers but most of you will have either seen reference to it in a museum, a movie, or an adult store. A chastity belt is a device that a man or woman wears around their genitalia that stops them from being able to fornicate. The most common chastity belt seen through literature is a metal encasing that a woman wears that has a lock on the front. This stops her from being able to have sex and only the holder of the key is able to unlock it.
While we do have a lot of information about medieval times and they were certainly a lot crueler than modern-day, the idea of a chastity belt still seems a bit too much. Even for women back then who had no rights the idea of locking away their ability to have sex with what looks like an incredibly uncomfortable garment seems too cruel to be true.
According to historians, it is too cruel to be true. They claim that the idea of a chastity belt started in the medieval ages as a joke, a metaphor, and as a cartoon image. There is no evidence of any chastity belts that existed in medieval times. There are many drawings but most of these are attempts at humor. In many depictions, the woman is laying on the bed handing her husband a key while in the curtains in the background we see a second man hiding, also holding a key. The idea of the belt then was to poke fun at those who served in the military at the time who left their wives and assumed they were being faithful.
If that is the case then, why are there actual chastity belts in museums across Europe? According to historians these were actually made far later and were again just making fun of the old idea from medieval times. They were never actually used for their purpose. If you look at the belts in the museum it makes sense too. While they would stop a woman from being able to have sex they would also permanently injure a woman after only a few days.
One of the most famous depictions of the chastity belt is in the movie, Robin Hood – Men with Tights. Here we see Robin Hood finally get the girl at the end of the movie and to make matters perfect he is the only one who has a key that appears to fit the belt. The joke at the end of the movie though is that the key won’t turn (perhaps it has rusted from lack of use) and Robin Hood desperately tries to find a locksmith to help him.
While chastity belts were not real in medieval times, they have become real today. While it is surprising given we think that we are less cruel, today people wear these belts by choice. Any adult store usually has a strange supply of chastity belts and those interested in practicing BDSM will often have one. Interestingly statistics show that chastity belts for men sell far more than chastity belts for women!
This story shows that we can’t always trust strange museums that are set up for tourists and that we should always be skeptical when something seems too strange to be true. In this case, though I think we should be happy that these belts never actually existed. While they would have stopped women from having sex they would have caused a lot more suffering than that. It is nice to know that even in medieval times the world was not that cruel.