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Sent: Fri 1/5/2007 9:12 PM Julian Carter asked for clarification on my previous post: >do you read the > correspondence columns as dominated by coded advertising? As I thought I'd stated in my previous message, coded advertisments of a kind already familiar to me from contemporary journals such as _The Pelican_ appeared _on_the_same_ page_ as these letters. Clearly I did not phrase this terribly well. I don't consider the letters themselves advertisements: for one thing, they are usually signed with pseudonyms and do not give specific addresses, just the area. This does not strike me as very effective from a marketing persepctive > but I tend to think that the existence of advertising records the > trace of a market for the wares it hawks. There was no advertising, that I could see, for nipple-piercing as such (or even bosom jewellery); however the advertisements did seem to be offering 'specialist services' of a sado-masochistic nature. I don't think anyone seriously doubts that there was a thriving market of practitioners of le vice anglais! Although probably something of a 'niche market' rather than a universal taste. There are also numerous (illustrated) advertisements for corsets (male as well as female). "Corporal punishment" and > tight lacing were both real socio-sexual practices that allegedly > enjoyed a certain vogue, so why should nipple piercing not have been? I am not doubting that these practices (including nipple-piercing) did or may well have existed: what I am querying is the huge edifice of assumption about a widespread fashion for nipple rings throughout British society during the 1890s, on the basis of correspondence in one, single, journal with a track record of letters clearly appealing to, and possibly written by, a fetishist market. Flogging for disciplinary purposes took place in the home and in boys' schools and women wore corsets in the Victorian era. However, there are significant distinctions to be made, I feel, between these relatively quotidian practices and the scenarios set forth in the letters in _Society_. I do not think that anyone of the slightest degree of sophistication would make any assumptions about the disciplinary practices of the vast majority (or indeed, any) Victorian girls' boarding schools on the basis of the letters to the Editor of _Society_, which have distinct resonances with the ritual scenarios of overt 'fladge porn' of the era. And I would assume that it was only a minority of women (and men) who proceeded to the extremes of the vogue for tight-lacing. The distinguished fashion historian Valerie Steele has already pointed out the very fetishist tone of this correspondence in _Fashion and Eroticism_ (1985). I strongly suspect that this whole notion of high society ladies flaunting mammary jewellery derives primarily from Iwan Bloch's citing of this correspondence, via E Neumann's reprinting of it in German translation along with similar correspondence from other Victorian periodicals, in _Sexual Life in England_. Peter Fryer (_Private Case, Public Scandal_) has remarked upon Bloch's uncritical attitude towards his sources, and additionally upon the persistent (not always attributed) mining of his work by numerous later writers of popular histories of sexual life. I have come across so many other cases of the perpetuation of myths and misunderstandings of Victorian sexual life (http://www.lesleyahall.net/factoids.htm) that perhaps I am inclined to over-interpret in the other direction. Nonetheless, I am quite strongly of the opinion that the existence of a 'modern fashion craze' of 1899 that can only ultimately be documented from this one source, which is one presenting significant problems around interpretation, must be regarded with considerable scepticism. Lesley Hall email@example.com www.lesleyahall.net