Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Penning novels set in the old west remains my favorite pastime, but I often wonder why since so much research is involved. When you write contemporary, anything goes, but you can't say the same for language, dress, or implements that may not have been invented or used yet during the eighteenth century...any century for that matter if you're dealing with historical facts.
This leads me to the blog title. Sexuality during the eighteenth century was not nearly as promiscuous as today, or even in the twentieth century. Employment opportunities for women were extremely limited, and women who worked in saloons or whorehouses were usually there out of needs not associated with their sexual prowess. These women were considered "lowlifes" and snubbed by their own gender...those fortunate enough to marry and not depend upon themselves for survival. For the larger part of the century, men even dominated teaching positions. Most businesses were family oriented, so boarding houses, restaurants, and the like were staffed by kin. Lord protect the women who lost their husbands, had to fend for themselves, and didn't have a prosperous family member upon whom to rely. There weren't many choices to be had otherwise.
Daughters were taught that flirting openly was scandalous, even making eye contact with a stranger caused wagging tongues, and not in the sexual sense. (smile.) In the old west, virtuous women rarely exposed their bodies Showing cleavage, or God forbid, an ankle, put a woman at risk of unfavorable gossip or rejection by their peers. So, how do we accurately portray a sexual female in a time where sex was taboo before marriage, and even then, rarely discussed. Shows of affection were rarely seen outside the home.
Yes, in fiction, we can stretch the truth a bit, but if we adhere to historical accuracy, can we truly find a woman with a sexual appetite who wasn't afraid to display it? Comments welcome. I've not strayed far beyond a kiss in my stories, except in the privacy of the ranch house or tepee, so I'm anxious to hear from those who have.