A bunch of condoms and a secret language of lesbians: sex during the great depression

Close on the heels of the "roaring 20th", quietly crept up to the Great depression, bringing with it a fundamentally new decade, a nightmare from the economic point of view. Mass unemployment, the daily struggle for a piece of bread... everything has Changed, including sex life. Weddings played less, but the desire is still there.

A bunch of condoms and a secret language of lesbians: sex during the great depression

Compared to the sexual freedom of the 20's difficulties of the 30's made the move to revert back and again to give place to traditions and hypocrisy. This was partly dictated by purely economic reasons — when there is nothing there, you need to simplify social life. And what could be simpler than a return to traditional models. At least, this is much easier than to build new.

A bunch of condoms and a secret language of lesbians: sex during the great depression

Being a lesbian during the great Depression was risky and lonely. The male ego was hurt due to the fact that many heads of families have lost the ability to act as "breadwinners", that is to perform its primary function, therefore, lesbians were perceived almost as a threat to the institution of marriage. Suspicion fell not only an open lesbian, but women who are too much interested in the sport or too few men.

Many lesbians were forced to marry to protect themselves from suspicion and to avoid social stigma. But among women, however, caught the secret language, which helped to identify "their". For example, if a woman said she was "in the Life" is signaled about her homosexuality.

Unmarried lesbians often had more freedom than their married friends. For example, they could travel in the company of other women under the guise that it is safer. But to find a permanent partner was very difficult: women have met in universities and prisons, but openly live together could not. In the book about a lesbian relationship the twentieth century, Lillian Faderman published a history of same-sex couples: women, lived together for 20 years, did not even know that others like them, exist.

A bunch of condoms and a secret language of lesbians: sex during the great depression

Before the great depression the use of contraception is not encouraged — this is speaking about men. Woman and not been able to make a decision to have or not to have children. But poverty is changing a lot. Including the attitude towards large families. A lot of kids is a lot of mouths to feed.

In 1873 was passed the so-called Comstock act — Federal law prohibiting the publication and mailing of obscene materials. Under the "obscene" was defined as any materials "corrupting the minds". Rather vaguely, I must say. But the materials related to contraception, no doubt was considered indecent. However, in the 30s, everything changed.

Women gained access to condoms and vaginal diaphragms, and there were even female condoms. In 1927, the senior medical officers of the US army began to promote the distribution of condoms and conduct educational programs for the military.

Moreover, even the Anglican Church sanctioned the use of condoms for married couples. However, Catholics in retaliation, issued the Encyclical Casti Connubii, which prohibits the use of all contraceptives. Sold in the U.S. 1.5 million condoms per day, but the price was 33 million dollars per year (in prices of that time).

A bunch of condoms and a secret language of lesbians: sex during the great depression

Prostitution has remained profitable profession, despite all the financial difficulties and fear of sexually transmitted diseases. In the 30s women were able to earn money as prostitutes in brothels. They were supposed to do this, pass the examination and receive a certificate, which showed Madame and clients. Prostitutes in brothels were 10-15 clients per day. Independent prostitutes were much harder and more dangerous work, they were often arrested.

Due to the constant lack of money crime bosses, owning houses, and the Madam who ran things there, had almost unlimited power over the girls.

A bunch of condoms and a secret language of lesbians: sex during the great depression

20 e gay, although still not accepted in society, in big cities like Chicago or San Francisco they can live relatively peacefully. During the great depression, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, and homosexuals again fell under the scope.

Gay clubs, drag shows and other "Pansy" massively shut down, and same-sex relationships were regarded as severe mental illness. In the few remaining gay bars were raided, and in Germany, the Third Reich did was to send gays to concentration camps.

A bunch of condoms and a secret language of lesbians: sex during the great depression

Due to the economic uncertainty, many prefer joint life "without a stamp" marriage. First, marriage required attachments. Secondly, in the prevailing conditions did not promise any benefits. Not in all States, it was common, but in many.

Keywords: The great Depression | Lesbians | Condoms

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