Artistic depiction of a sex position In the Graeco-Roman era, a sex manual was written by Philaenis of Samos , possibly a hetaira courtesan of the Hellenistic period 3rd—1st century BC.
The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana , believed to have been written in the 1st to 6th centuries, has a notorious reputation as a sex manual, although only a small part of its text is devoted to sex. It was compiled by the Indian sage Vatsyayana sometime between the second and fourth centuries CE.
His work was based on earlier Kamashastras or Rules of Love going back to at least the seventh century BCE, and is a compendium of the social norms and love-customs of patriarchal Northern India around the time he lived.
Vatsyayana's Kama Sutra is valuable today for his psychological insights into the interactions and scenarios of love, and for his structured approach to the many diverse situations he describes.
He defines different types of men and women, matching what he terms "equal" unions, and gives detailed descriptions of many love-postures. The Kama Sutra was written for the wealthy male city-dweller. It is not, and was never intended to be, a lover's guide for the masses, nor is it a "Tantric love-manual". About three hundred years after the Kama Sutra became popular, some of the love-making positions described in it were reinterpreted in a Tantric way.
Since Tantra is an all-encompassing sensual science, love-making positions are relevant to spiritual practice. It is a Daoist text purporting to describe how one might achieve long life and immortality by manipulating the yin and yang forces of the body through sexual techniques, which are described in some detail. The fifteenth-century Speculum al foderi The Mirror of Coitus is the first medieval European work to discuss sexual positions.
Constantine the African also penned a medical treatise on sexuality, known as Liber de coitu. The medieval Jewish physician and writer Maimonides is author of a Treatise on Cohabitation. Modern sex manuals[ edit ] Despite the existence of ancient sex manuals in other cultures, sex manuals were banned in Western culture for many years.
What sexual information was available was generally only available in the form of illicit pornography or medical books, which generally discussed either sexual physiology or sexual disorders. The authors of medical works went so far as to write the most sexually explicit parts of their texts in Latin , so as to make them inaccessible to the general public see Krafft-Ebing 's Psychopathia Sexualis as an example. A few translations of the ancient works were circulated privately, such as The Perfumed Garden….
In the late 19th Century, Ida Craddock wrote many serious instructional tracts on human sexuality and appropriate, respectful sexual relations between married couples. In Marie Stopes published Married Love , considered groundbreaking despite its limitations in details used to discuss sex acts. In Germany, Die vollkommene Ehe reached its 42nd printing in despite its being placed on the list of forbidden books, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum , by the Roman Catholic Church.
In English, Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology and Technique has 42 printings in its original edition, and was republished in new editions in and Although it did not feature explicit images of sex acts, its descriptions of sex acts were detailed, addressing common questions and misunderstandings Reuben had heard from his own patients.
Most notably, Reuben dismissed popular medical-psychiatric notions of "vaginal" vs. The Joy of Sex by Dr. Alex Comfort was the first visually explicit sex manual to be published by a mainstream publisher. Its appearance in public bookstores in the s opened the way to the widespread publication of sex manuals in the West.
As a result, hundreds of sex manuals are now available in print. Sex manuals and works of the sort became so popular during the sexual revolution of the s that even religious groups developed their own manuals. While they all required marriage, heterosexuality and complementarianism, they did push the bounds of accepted practice within their respective spheres of influence.
Books such as Mark and Grace Driscoll's Real Marriage encourage Christians to experiment in the bedrooms with their spouses, even encouraging acts that have long been rejected by protestant tradition such as anal sex. Now in its seventh edition, it has won several prestigious awards and been translated into 12 foreign languages since appearing in Hooper, Anne J , Sexopedia 1st American ed.