Sex in the wild west was well… wild! You might already know about the madams and prostitutes of the old west, but did you also know that crossdressing and taking poison for birth control was also common? Join us as we take a dive into the wild history of sex in the wild west — From birth control, to homosexuality, to prostitution, even crossdressing — It’s history, and it’s weird.
The cowboys and the shootin and the wranglin and whiskey drankin’ in the old American West is well covered… but what about all the sex? Shootin’, wranglin’, and drankin’ always leads to bang town, …so here are the craziest facts about what sex was really like in wild wild west
5: Homosexuality wasn’t a big deal
To start, gender roles were fluid and homosexuality was no big deal. That might come as a shock as we normally tend to picture the men of the wild west as big macho John Wayne types walking tall with a pistol in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other, spittin’ tobacco juice wherever they please. But Wild West society didn’t necessarily label people homosexual or heterosexual. It was a non issue. In an interview, University of Colorado History Department Chairman Peter Boag said, “people engaged in same sex activities weren’t seen as homosexual.” When women weren’t present in large communities, like a mining camp, some men would fill the role of women sexually and domestically. Effectively, Men in the Old West got it where they could.
4: Prostitution was big business
Speaking of getting it where they could, prostitution was big business. That shouldn’t be surprising, the goodly prostitute is is a staple of Old West iconography. The point is, it wasn’t just dirty run-down back rooms of saloons where cowboys got a quick one in, and prostitutes weren’t the scourge of society. some towns had a esteemed opinion of prostitution, and were home to eloquent, high class brothels run by equally fancy Madams. Prostitutes filled an important social and economic role. Most were young, uneducated and illiterate. Essentially they were equal in class to miners on the male side of things. Important as a whole, doing work needed by society but individually replaceable… like a razor blade. You’ll get a handful of shaves out of it… but then it’s dull and doesn’t do the job anymore.
3: Birth Control was poison
With all of that prostitution all over the place there had to be some sort of birth control… and there was… and it was basically poison. Well, not basically. It WAS poison. Condoms were around, but they were very expensive, so most prostitutes used abortifacients, which is a term for any substance that induces a miscarriage. Abortifacients contained poisonous plant ingredients that would kill unwanted pregnancy. For prostitutes, pregnancy could not only could their career, it had a good chance of killing THEM as women on the frontier dying during childbirth was extremely common. So, a little poison was a good alternative to, you know… death.
2: Cross-dressing was commonplace
Another thing about the wild west is that cross dressing was commonplace. In his research of the Old West, historian Peter Boag stated, “what I was unprepared for when I started uncovering all these female to male cross dressers, I also started to uncover hundreds of stories of men who dressed as women.” So not only did women dress like men, which makes a little more surface level sense, maybe dress like a man get treated like a man and get ahead in life… but there were a lot of men dressing like women. Why? The better question is why not? It’s just really fun.
1: Oral sex was a no-no
But what isn’t fun is oral sex. Well, according to cowboys in the wild west anyway. They weren’t into it. Chad Heap, Associate Professor of American Studies at George Washington University explains in his book that fellatio was considered a little too foreign for Americans during the time period and therefore wasn’t readily performed, asked for, or wanted. There’s evidence that prostitutes were also against it, and prostitutes who performed oral sex were looked down upon by the peers…. Which is slut shaming and mean.
I’m Jordan, and those are the craziest facts about what sex was really like in the Wild West