How sexual freedom began to spread in the west, and how we moved away from a society that once executed adulterers and prostitutes:
Since the dawn of history, every civilisation had punished sexual immorality. The law codes of the Anglo-Saxon kings of England treated women as chattels, but they also forbade married men to fornicate with their slaves, and ordered that adulteresses be publicly disgraced, lose their goods and have their ears and noses cut off. Such severity reflected the Christian church’s view of sex as a dangerously polluting force, as well as the patriarchal commonplace that women were more lustful than men and liable to lead them astray. By the later middle ages, it was common in places such as London, Bristol and Gloucester for convicted prostitutes, bawds, fornicators and adulterers to be subjected to elaborate ritual punishments: to have their hair shaved off or to be dressed in especially degrading outfits, severely whipped, displayed in a pillory or public cage, paraded around for public humiliation and expelled for ever from the community.
“The First Sexual Revolution: Lust and Liberty in the 18th Century.” — Faramerz Dabhoiwala, Guardian
See also: “The Women’s Crusade.” — Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times Magazine, Aug. 17, 2009