It’s easy to forget that historically people were having sex.
Oh sure, we know academically that they were having sex. Otherwise how would we be here? But filling up bathtubs with champagne? Using sheeps gut for condoms? Impressively sized antler dildos? That seems like the tawdry imaginings of a bodice-ripper novelist from today’s time, not actual historical fact.
The Twitter account @WhoresofYore seeks to rectify that misunderstanding. Our historical counterparts, it turns out, were kinky little devils. They hired Kolkata sex workers, or made sex toys that looked like flying horses (out of jade, no less), or made tawdry comics about sex work. We seem to view these forefathers through sepia tinged glasses, where they must’ve done the dirty with the sheets drawn and the lights out.
Aside from the obvious titillations (Whores of Yore will frequently post NSFW images, though they’re mostly historical) there are several reasons that you should be following @WhoresofYore. The account is a great deal of fun, for starters. It is frequently stated that well-behaved women rarely make history, and hearing these stories is the best kind of gossip. It’s full of humor, from the quotes from Spartan sex workers to corn-flakes originally being designed as an anti-masturbation aid.
It’s informative, and not just in the “here is the first image of a couple having sex.” Alongside images of cis-heterosexual couples, there is erotica, magazine clippings, and academic texts about gay and lesbian people throughout history.There is a certain historical erasure of the LGBT community, and it’s easy to forget that homosexuality is not a newfangled idea (another excellent resource – though not necessarily sex worker based – is Morgan M. Page’s dishy romp through trans history One from the Vaults). It’s the kind of history you never learned in school, which means it’s the best kind.
While the creator of Whores of Yore is not herself a sex worker (Kate Lister is an academic by trade) she does well in using sex-positive speech and referring to her charges in non-derogatory terms. No morality lessons here on whether these women (and men) were making good decisions, and aside from the eye-catching title, no slurs.
So sit back, relax and catch up on your historical homework about people roasting the broomstick.