chapter  Chapter 14
24 Pages

Repression and Change in the Sex Lives of Young People

WithJean-Louis Flandrin

Repression did not only force single people to satisfy their urges by practices which were secret and perceived with anxiety: it led them to take even more pleasure in erotic thoughts and in analysing their unsatisfied desires. Pornographic literature was born in modern times, and is very different from the amorous or bawdy stories of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This chapter analyses radical change in their attitudes towards juvenile sexuality is unconscious and must be considered in relation to other complex transformations — economic, social, demographic and cultural. The change in ecclesiastic prescriptions is first and foremost a reflection of changing attitudes towards juvenile sexuality. In the early Middle Ages, the Church commanded parents to marry their children when they reached the age of puberty because it considered it very difficult, if not impossible, to prevent young people from engaging in sexual activity, at least outside of the monasteries.