"The Act of Copulation being Ordain'd by nature as the ground of all Generation": fertility and the representation of sexual pleasure in seventeenth century pornography in England
University of Exeter
Women's History Review
Taylor & Francis
To a modern reader pornography and the representation of reproduction are mutually exclusive, despite their common subject matter: sex. But seventeenth-century pornographic texts do not conform to modern ideas about the nature of pornography. Sexual intercourse is defined as for the purpose of procreation with cataclysmic consequences resulting from its avoidance. In this period the pleasures of sex represented in the pornographic text are intimately entwined with ideas about reproduction and conception, and an understanding of the body which is temporally and culturally specific: sexual pleasure was understood as not complete pleasure if it did not have the possibility of conception. The connection between the sexual act and its reproductive function is emphasised through metaphors that connect the body and the state, or the land, emphasising that early modern social and economic stability depended on reproductive ability.
15(4), pp. 521 - 532