I love history! Scouring history books often leads to the discovery of fascinating information, which can legitimize ideas, flesh out characters or provide plot inspiration. And sometimes... well, sometimes you simply learn the darndest things whether you want to or not.
Take yesterday, for instance. I found a great book at Cosco, The Book of Amazing History by Publications International, Ltd.
You can find it here: Amazon.com
Of course, I couldn't resist tapping into this resource for historical insight. After flipping through several pages, I landed on this topic: Early Contraception.
Sex and contraception are topics romance writers juggle every day, not to mention the fact that billions of people deal with this very issue on a daily basis. It appears preventing pregnancy has always been big business. Check out the amazing things I learned about this topic. I think you'll find them v.e.r.y. interesting. ;)
Did you know:
In ancient Greece, women who wanted to conceive were told to jump backwards 7 times after intercourse? As opposed to tying a bag of cat's liver to your left foot or spitting into a frog's mouth to prevent pregnancy. (Was this the ancient way of snagging a prince?)
Barriers used in ancient times? Yes! Pebbles, lemon halves, dried elephant or crocodile dung were used. (A new perspective to skipping stones, making lemonade out of lemons, and trailing behind Big AL or Crocodile Dundee.)
In 1550 B.C. a mix of ground dates, acacia tree bark, and honey were applied to a woman's, dare I say it, lovenest. High in lactic acid, the acacia plant provided a perfect source for stablizing PH balance. (Or attracting bees.)
Aborginis in Eastern Canada believed tea brewed with beaver testicles would prevent pregnancy. (Tea time must have meant something completely different in those days. Don't tell the ladies at Downton Abbey! In the meantime, I'll try not to think about it when I drink tea in the mid-afternoon.)
In 17th Cent. B.C., silphium was discovered in the Libyan mountains. The plant, part of the fennel genus, was cultivated to work like a morning after pill and was extremely successful. Unfortunately, it could only be found in Libya and was harvested into extinction by the 2nd Cent.
Men have been using shealths since 1,000 B.C. Romans and 17th Cent. British used animal intestine. (Was there a reference to pigskin before this or is this where the diddy "little pig, little pig, let me come in" came from?)
Fabric soaked in spermicidal liquid was used by Egyptians and Italians until vulcanized rubber bounced onto the scene in 1844. To this day, the shealth remains the primary contraceptive used around the world.
Now I don't know about you, but I'm surprised any of these people still wanted to have sex!
As they say in Jurasic Park, "Nature found a way."
I've heard debates on how much emphasis should be given to contraceptives in romance novels. What are your thoughts? Are romance authors accountable for promoting contraceptives? Or is this something left to the reader's imagination?