Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Brief History of the Condom by Kathleen Bitner Roth

Welcome back to History Undressed, our regular first Tuesday blogger and author, Kathleen Bittner Roth! Today she's taking us on a fascinating little jaunt with the history of condoms!


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CONDOM

by Kathleen Bitner Roth


Condoms show up in contemporary romance novels these days as an integral part of the love scene. The term “No glove, no love,” seems to appear everywhere. As it turns out, my research on the condom indicates that we’ve been chanting little mantras like that for thousands of years.  

The Grotte des Combarrelles Caves in France have paintings on the walls dating back to 11,000 BC showing the use of condoms. As far back as the 1400’s the Chinese used condoms made of oiled silk paper or lamb intestines. In the 1500’s an Italian physician tested linen sheaths dried in chemicals on a few hundred men. Not one man tested contracted what was at the time a fatal disease. The good doctor pretty much saved the lives of those lusty Italian men at a time when syphilis ran rampant. 
Historians have come to the conclusion that even though condoms in one form or another have been in use for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the early 1600’s when people figured out that the condom not only prevented disease, it also prevented pregnancy. A Catholic theologian, Leonardus Lessius, condemned the condom as immoral, saying it not only prevented birth, it also encouraged men to become immoral—curiously, that debate goes on today in some churches and sectors.
Came the Renaissance and animal intestines and bladders treated with lye or sulpher were added to the linen variety which were treated with chemicals. This turned out to be much better than the Dutch who used leather condoms that covered the entire penis providing for little sensation. Or what about the Japanese who used animal horns over the glans? Ouch! 


At any rate, the argument that the use of condoms was immoral and sinful raged on while use of the condom grew in popularity. By the 1700’s, they came in various sizes and shapes and were being sold in pubs, theaters, markets and other public places throughout Europe and Russia. Unfortunately, they were often rinsed out and reused and oftentimes lent to a friend or two which did nothing to prevent the spread of disease. By the early 1800’s, for the first time, promotion of contraceptives to the lower classes took place.
Eventually, the use of the condom found its way to America, but they were expensive, so at first they were was used only by the upper class. More and more people began to advocate for birth control however, and in 1839 Charles Goodyear invented the rubber condom. It was thick and heavy at the time and didn’t provide for much sensation to the male, but it did prevent disease and pregnancy. 


Ironically, Feminists of this time period wholly disapproved of the condom. They wanted birth control to be organized and controlled only by women. Today, both partners are held responsible.
In the latter part of the 1800’s, the German military began promoting condom use for their soldiers.  In 1912 a German chemist, Dr. Fromm, developed a new method in the manufacture of the condom that gave it texture and was thin enough to give the male the best sensation of anything made to date. The condom he developed was called Fromm’s Act, and the product is still being manufactured. In fact, the brand is one of the most popular condom brands sold in Germany today.


Around 1920 the sales of condoms doubled worldwide, and in 1927, the American military began distributing condoms to soldiers as standard issue. Lo and behold, soldiers soon discovered many uses for the condom. They used them to cover rifle barrels and muzzles as a waterproofing method; they waterproofed underwater demolition with them and stored corrosive materials in them. 
In 1957 lubricated condoms came on the market. Until then, jelly products were used. When the AIDS epidemic hit in the 1980’s condom sales skyrocketed. Today, condoms are the most popular form of contraception and protection from sexually transmitted disease.


Kathleen Bittner Roth thrives on creating passionate stories featuring characters who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. However, she still keeps one boot firmly in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota. A member of Romance Writers of America®, she was a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Find Kathleen on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest and www.kathleenbittnerroth.com.


THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH MARKS is book one in Those Magnificent Malvern series: When a proper Victorian miss awakens next to a handsome stranger, she must rely on the man's benevolence as she struggles to regain her memory and hold onto her heart. BUY LINK
PORTRAIT OF A FORBIDDEN LADY is book two in Those Magnificent Malvern series and is due to release in May 2016 (cover not yet available): A young widow returns to her childhood home after a forced absence and faces her first and only love, but despite their powerful attraction, danger compels her to remain his forbidden lady. 

CELINE, book one in the When a Heart Dares series, is on sale now! BUY LINK

3 comments:

Tamara Hughes said...

Interesting information. Thanks for sharing!

Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

You're welcome. I did a lot of research for Josette, book three in my When Hearts Dare series set in New Orleans in 1857. Until then, I didn't know how long it took for America to adopt the use.

Gina Danna said...

Very interesting - appreciate the history :)