So you had these Confucian principles that ruled your society. They dictated etiquette, properness, strict segregation of the sexes, and other things that basically snuffs out your sexual fantasies. Not too fun. Deprived of regular sexual acts, people engage in strange fetishes to relieve their unbearable sexual tension. Enter China, Tang Dynasty, 800 AD.

I went to a recent exhibit of antique sex toys in Shanghai. Originally a private collection, the loosening of Chinese society allowed these items to be displayed. Shunned by older folks, avoided by many younger Chinese (they were too scared to be seen there, I guess), the exhibit appealed to us foreigners and a handful of brave youngsters. It was very educational, to say the least.

To be frank, there was some wacky stuff there, some of which might make the modern-day fetishes seem tame and ordinary. All the sex toys were made of carved polished wood, with some nice artwork on the *ahem*, handles. The infamous bound feet fetish was displayed here, in the form of the tiny silk shoes that men would often play with for sexual pleasure (somehow they found it arousing). There were subtle hints of S&M fetishes. Not as obvious as the whip and the chains of today, but you could tell by looking at the "equipment".

A displayed collection of old pornography was very interesting. It could hold its own against any raunchy publication of today, minus the strange archaic customs. Hand-drawn illustrations instructed women on how to pleasure their husbands. Sort of like a Chinese version of the Kama Sutra. Not as comphrehensive, but it was more kinky, with numerous references to fetishes, sex toys, and the like.

The pattern of sexual oppression and perversion is still evident today, especially in Japan. That was over 1000 years ago. It is good to know that people back in those days are just as sexually perverted as we are. Everyone knows about the sexual perversions of Victorian England. Roman orgies, anyone?

You made a very good observation there about people always having been as sexually adventurous (I prefer that to "perverted") as we are today.

I still remember seeing with horrified laughter 4,000-year old clay figurines from Assyria depicting men and women in every conceivable coital pose.

In the movie "Reds" there is a great line by one of the elderly interviewees. She said "oh, there was just as much screwing around back then (in the 1920's, that is) as there is today. They just didn't talk about it so much. That's all young people today do, talk".

The exhibit you describe is a good reminder that just because we talk about it all the time, doesn't mean we're doing anything that hasn't been done before...

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