Female promiscuity was highly taboo.
Sex is very difficult to speak with authority about even in contemporary times because it's always going on in the background, but no one truly knows the habits of other people. As Prince George said, "Sex is like socks: tons of it about but I can never find any." (Blackadder)
So yeah, basically we don't know, but the few examples that have survived 2,000 years can't tell us a great deal. Imagine trying to extrapolate the sexual habits of western people by examining Trump, Biden, Johnson, Merkel ... *shrug*!
Only about 5% of women in the western world are virgins at marriage today. In ancient Rome, it is likely that the number was close to 100%.
But while the Romans had extreme aversion to female promiscuity, they were not always prudes. Drawings and sculptures of pensises were common as a good luck charm. Furthermore, certain forms of male sexuality were considered acceptable. (Although nothing like today).
Imagine knowing close to zero about 95% of women today, and only knowing a small amount about the most prominent women - and all of that told by men. You might just as confidently assert that close to 100% of women today are virgins at marriage.
Remember, the vast majority of what survives from ancient Rome has nothing to do with the lives of ordinary people. What does survive that deals with the lives of ordinary people, especially from sites like Pompeii, suggests nothing more and nothing less than normal people going about their normal lives.
For example, you could say "we don't know for sure that regular peasants in the Middle Ages didn't like to dress up like chickens and go around clucking for fun". But there is no reason to think that they did.
The same for the Romans. While it's impossible to prove a universal negative, the simplest explanation is that the surviving literature and laws from the time are an accurate representation of the culture.
Finally, from a common sense standpoint, prior to birth control, promiscuity was much more difficult due to the likelihood of getting pregnant.
In any case, I'm glad we can both agree that the question is correctly worded and accurate. :)
But, promiscuity has been seen widely throughout the history of our world, and chicken costumes haven't.
"if everything that we DO know about the ancient Romans suggests an extreme aversion to female promiscuity..." - I don't agree at all that it does. I would suggest that this idea comes from trying to extrapolate the experience of 99% of women from what men have told us about 1% of them.
The little we do know of daily life in ancient Rome (a very blurry term in itself) suggests a culture comfortable with sex in its midst. Taboo, yes. Naughty, certainly. Discouraged, absolutely. Common, why not?
And to wax pedantic briefly -- by way of giving another argument -- Roman legal frameworks, including licensing, did in practice accept and encourage promiscuity in sex workers including 'meretrices'.
If a Roman woman can be policed & denigrated for having sex in the wrong way, or for being a slave, or having a uterus, a high voice, or just for being a woman...and if a Roman man is policed & denigrated for exhibiting 'women-like' qualities, we must carefully consider the nuances of the past power relations we're trying to understand.
Or is the question just asking re: general commission of sexual transgression? (I mean, transgressions aren't generally condoned, kind of their point ;)
It sounds like you understand well the relations of Roman men and women.
As I'm sure you know, virginity was absolutely paramount for any women looking to maintain respectability in Roman society. Contrast that to today where, in the West, people of both genders are expected and even encouraged to sexually experiment before marriage. I'm sure you know this of course.
"What about the Bronze Age? There wasn’t any bronze in Australia. The Hellenistic period? Huge swathes of the Earth’s land area remained un-Hellenized. The Time of Troubles? Actually, outside of Russia there were no more troubles than usual. The Era of Good Feelings? Maybe there were a bunch of bad feelings not in the US.
Every other historical age name is instantly understood by everyone to refer to both a time and a place. The only time anyone ever gives anybody else grief over this is when they talk about the Dark Ages. This is an isolated demand for rigor. And if this is really your true objection, let’s just agree to call it the Western European Dark Ages, as long as we can also agree it existed and was bad."
I mean, it's not exactly hard.
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