The Victorians were kind of odd. And they do have this reputation for being prudish.
One Victorian belief was that masturbation reduced male fertility. The thought was that you were wasting semen and if you masturbated too much you wouldn’t be able to produce enough sperm to, you know, do the job. On top of that, they thought masturbation was bad for your overall health, for both sexes.
They were, of course, wrong, but this led to, well…
…male chastity belts.
Victorian men who couldn’t avoid the vice of self-love, would be prescribed anti-masturbation devices.
This generally meant a torture device you put around your penis that, well, made erections painful. Some men were advised to wear this at night to prevent nocturnal emissions. It’s called a jugum penis, and I’m not going to embed the image for the sake of all penis-bearers reading this.
(I can hear the wincing from guys now, given how normal physical erections are during sleep).
Other devices included trusses, which either prevented an erection or kept you from touching yourself. And yes, some of them locked on. Parents put them on teenaged boys.
Nowadays, we don’t do anything like that (although some kinksters use male chastity belts).
But to the Victorians, preventing masturbation was how you preserved fertility and sanity.
And they took it a step further.
They didn’t just think masturbation was bad for humans.
Horses Got It Too!
So, to start with, here’s a statistic.
A typical intact male horse masturbates about 15 times a day. And yes, they do so quite successfully without hands. Geldings (castrated males) masturbate less frequently, but I’ve seen them do it.
15. Times. A. Day. Because horses are harem breeders who might need to cover five or six mares in a short period, they have a much higher level of testosterone than we do.
And the Victorians saw them at it and went “Well…masturbation reduces fertility. If we let our stallion masturbate then he might not be able to father foals.”
If you think I’m making this up, look up “stallion shield,” the euphemism commonly used. I have a reprint of a horse equipment catalogue from the era that contains several of these devices, including ones made for young colts.
The shield was either a sheath to prevent erection or something which hung from the belly to annoy the stallion into, uh, putting it back.
Here’s a patent, under “Devices for assisting or preventing mating.”
Stallion shields were also (and sometimes still are) used for “teasing” mares, if the stallion used to help in heat detection isn’t the one intended to breed the mares. If he gets away and mounts the mare he won’t be able to penetrate.
But the Victorians left these things on in the stall, so it’s pretty clear what they were for.
So, yeah. Our not-so-distant ancestors were so prudish they put chastity belts on horses.
No wonder they had some very interesting porn…