The Act of “Frigging” in Victorian London

The very first article from The Victorian Dictionary that I read caught my eye because of it’s title: “Masturbation — warnings against”. Naturally, I had to read it and had to know everything about how masturbation was treated in Victorian London. It was both hilarious and disturbing to me that the act of “frigging,” as it was lovingly called, was treated as a literal disease that could possibly kill you. It also, strangely enough, only seemed to be an ailment that infected men, so naturally women had to be the cause of it, because women don’t masturbate (you can’t hear it, but this is sarcasm). My favorite part of this reading was when the narrator discusses a book he’s found that describes “the diseases caused by sacrificing to Venus” (Jackson). I love that, “sacrificing to Venus,” because it literally makes the act of “frigging” yourself seem like some kind of pagan mistake that you have to sell your soul in order to achieve. This is hilarious. He goes on to say, “The illustrations in the book, of faces covered with scabs, blotches, and eruptions, took such hold of my mind, that for twenty years afterwards, the fear was not quite eradicated” (Jackson). They literally make you afraid to touch yourself.

This article, aside from introducing me to the word “frigging”, along the many others that discuss sexuality on this site, made it very clear to me how the Victorians (especially the more formal, upper class) viewed sex and sexuality. It was a disease given to you by “loose, bad women” (Jackson) that you shouldn’t act on because if you do then you will literally die. It was dangerous and life threatening, and something that, if participated in, would lead to your eventual placement in a “madhouse” (Jackson). The Victorians were so dramatic. Maybe if they frigged themselves a little bit more then they’d be a lot more relaxed, and it would have saved a lot of time and energy that they were wasting blaming things on women (and Venus) that weren’t even their faults in the first place.


3 thoughts on “The Act of “Frigging” in Victorian London

  1. The stigmatization of masturbation existed long after the Victorian Era. In the last decade, masturbation was first mentioned by the pope and the surgeon general. It is just recently coming to the table of conversation and still regarded with caution.

  2. I find it so funny that something that really is very natural, has been such a heavy topic for many cultures, including English culture (and our own for a long time). I guess it is just our generation talking but I think it really isn’t a big deal, but I find it fascinating that it was for a long time.

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