When the words chastity belt are uttered, the images of medieval metal under-panties flood the brain of most people. Images of a punishment, torture, and worse for a woman who may have been adulterous (or the husband thought she was).
There are also many of those who say that there was no such thing as medieval chastity belts, that this was only introduced in the early 19th century by quack doctors at the time who believed that, through their over zealous religious beliefs, that any form of masturbation and sexual pleasure was ever so sinful. These so-called-doctors of the time were convinced that masturbation caused numerous mental illnesses (this is where our elders got the “you’ll go blind if you play with it” thing from, as this was serious medical miss-information that was spread at the time).
Yet, for all of those that now say that there were no medieval chastity belts, why were there so many poems written in the medieval age that include the description of the chastity belt? Some argue that this was a metaphor, a metaphoric promise of faithfulness. But, in order to use a metaphor, you have to actually have two things to compare, so that means that there had to have actually been a chastity belt. Not only that, Konrad Kyeser von Eichstatt wrote about the chastity belt in 1405 and even included a sketch of a chastity belt.
The nay-sayers gather some of their steam from the myth of the crusades. It was said that knights going on the crusades would have their ladies strap a metal, lock-and-key style panty on and keep them on until the knight’s triumphant return that would probably never come. This myth losses credibility as the steel would cause many infections and was in general extremely unpractical.
There is, however proof of cloth chastity belts that were used as a form of “anti-rape” devices. These were much more practical for the wearer, and were considered a gift. These gifts were also made with cloth and leather padding interior with silver and special engravings on the exterior. Still not meant for practical long term use, these could be worn with a certain level of comfort of a few days without needing to be taken off for cleaning. My hypothesis is that a knight would give the lady this gift before leaving, and entrust one of the servant girls to see that she wore this at all times in public at the very least and keep the keys to the chastity belt for assistance in cleaning.
There is also, moving into the Renaissance era, proof in many museums that show a belt of steel that would go around the waist, with a metal strap that would go between the legs. There were two holes in the areas that would equate with insertion points for sexual penetration. These holes were small, and included almost serrated edges that would be a major deterrent for any male who would think of inserting his appendage. This style of chastity belt was actually used as a form of punishment for a woman who had been adulterous. There is one of these on museum display in Venice at Doge’s Palace.
Another form of punishment for these actions was called the pear. The name in and of itself explains a great deal. This pear shaped metal device had a wing nut at the bottom. When turned, this pear opened up, spreading out in a full wingspan. This device was used orally in men and women, anally primarily in men found guilty of sodomy, and vaginally in women found guilty of adultery.
In today’s society, and possibly in medieval society as well, chastity belts are used in sexual pleasures with bondage and other dominate forms of sex. The wearer gains sexual pleasure by giving up control to his/her partner. And yes, I did say him or her; as there has been many forms of male chastity belts as well, just no proof of medieval male chastity belts.