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The Truth About Chastity Belts

Debunking popular mythology.

According to popular mythology, chastity belts with locks in the front were used in the 1100s as a result of the Crusades. Crusaders were said to lock chastity belts on their female partners while the men were away fighting the Pope’s wars. Despite the myth, no such contraptions existed in the 1100s, nor would they for several hundred years.

The first mention of chastity belts seems to have been in 16th-century Renaissance poetry. Asking a woman to wear a chastity belt was a Renaissance poet's way of saying, “Let us be true to each other,” not that the poets offered to wear a male version of the chastity belt.

The first real chastity belts weren’t created until the 1800s, and they weren’t for keeping women from straying sexually. The first chastity belts appear to have been crude devices designed to keep children from masturbating.

There may have also been another version of chastity belts during the 1800s. This was the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and women were beginning to enter the workforce. There were no protections against sexual harassment, which was rampant. Some women may have devised their own versions of chastity belts to keep from being raped or molested in the workplace.

The most popular use of chastity belts is probably today in the BDSM community. Some people enjoy this particular form of kink, although “chastity belt” is a bit of an oxymoron, given how chastity is not exactly the goal.

If leaders of abstinence-based "sex education" could force today's young women to wear chastity belts, I'm sure they would. But for now, purity rings and purity pledges will have to do.