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To pierce or not to pierce

a look at body piercing and the alternatives

by deeyOni

For the past few decades, body piercing has become increasingly fashionable. Multiple earrings are pretty commonplace these days, as are nose-rings, tongue-studs and belly-piercings. Also on the rise is the popularity of piercing less visible areas such as the nipple, clitoris or labia. These intimate piercings have always fascinated me and I was curious to find out what the attraction is. In the process I also discovered how one can get the benefits of piercing without the associated pain.

But first things first. Piercing is not just a modern fad. The oldest discovered mummified body (Ötzi the Iceman, approx 3300BC) was found to have an ear piercing 7-11mm in diameter. Piercing is referred to several times in the Bible and nostril piercing has been routinely practiced by women in India and Pakistan since the 16th century or perhaps even earlier. And apparently in ancient Egypt only the Pharaoh was allowed to have his navel pierced – anyone else who dared to do so could be executed!

It appears that male nipple and genital piercing may date back to the Roman Empire. Roman centurions apparently pierced their nipples to signify strength and virility (Julius Caesar is said to have pierced his), and gladiators tended to have a ring through the head of their penis in part so that they could tie the organ out of harm’s way during combat, and also so they could be prevented from having sex without their owner’s consent (since the gladiator was ‘property’ a stud fee could be charged in order to breed the next generation of prize fighters)!

For women, nipple piercing became a fashion in the mid 14th century. Queen Isabella of Bavaria introduced the 'Garments of the Grand Neckline', where the dress was open to the navel. This fashion eventually led to the application of rouge to freely displayed nipples… and to placing diamond studded rings or small caps on them, even to piercing them and passing gold chains through them decorated with diamonds" (Dreamtime, Hans Peter Duerr).

In the late 1890’s the ‘anneux de sein (or ‘bosom rings’) returned to fashion for some more adventurous Victorian women and were sold in expensive Parisian jewelry shops. In 1898 a single Bond Street jeweler is said to have performed the nipple-boring operation on at least forty English ladies and young girls. One fashionable London modiste wrote a letter to Vogue in an attempt to explain the fad:

"For a long time I could not understand why I should consent to such a painful operation without sufficient reason. I soon, however, came to the conclusion that many ladies are ready to bear the passing pain for the sake of love. I found that the breasts of those who wore rings were incomparably rounder and fuller developed than those who did not. My doubts were now at an end...So I had my nipples pierced, and when the wounds healed, I had rings inserted...With regard to the experience of wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not in the least uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight rubbing and slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating feeling, and all my colleagues to whom I have spoken on this subject have confirmed my opinion."

If nipple rings are stimulating then presumably the same must be true for genital piercing. There is little documentation available regarding female genital piercings prior to modern times. The practice is generally considered to have been an offshoot from the general piercing craze that sprang from the San Francisco gay and BDSM scene in the late 1970’s. Many people call all female genital piercings "clit piercings" but this is more a reflection on the poor knowledge of female anatomy, rather than on the actual location of the piercings. In fact there are four or five "core" piercings that are commonly done.Click here for specific details. And indeed - besides providing an attractive adornment to share with one’s partner(s), most of these piercings are said to significantly enhance sexual stimulation.

But beware – piercing can be addictive! Just ask Elaine Davidson (pictured right), the world’s most pierced woman. Breaking the Guiness World Record in 2000 with 492 piercings on her body, Elaine now (as of May 2008) has over 500 in her genitalia alone. “I like pain, I love pain,” she explained in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

For those of us who aren’t so fond of pain but would like to try out the look and the stimulation of piercing without the permanence, there is a clever alternative. Arabesque Body Creations have developed a beautiful range of non-piercing body jewelry. You can experiment with ‘Ear Dangles’ and ‘Belly Brilliants’, ‘Nipple Rings’ and ‘Clit Caressers’ to achieve the pierced look as well as the sensual benefits as and when you choose. These unusual and rather gorgeous items are available now in the yOni unique gifts store. Check out the article Saving Ryan’s Privates for more about the origins of this unique range.


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