Actors of the Commedia dell’Arte by Francois Bunel (1550s)
A cuckold is a man whose wife is or has been unfaithful, who is regarded as an object of derision, however, today cuckolding has been fetishised, with both the cuckold and his partner deriving sexual gratification from his position. It derives from the word cuckoo, as female cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. In femdom, being cuckolded is the ultimate sexual humiliation. Where a husband or slave must accept, watch or even assist with his dominant partner’s desire for a younger, more endowed virile lover.
In Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ (1603), Iago tells Othello “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss…”
The Cuckold’s Horns
In much of Europe (and other countries further afield) cuckolds are often referred to as ‘wearing the horns of a cuckold’. The meaning of this is not entirely clear, however, it is thought that it refers to the fact that the man being cuckolded is the last to know of his wife’s infidelity. He is wearing horns that can be seen by everybody but him. It has also been suggested that the ‘two finger gesture’ held behind someone’s head without their knowledge, was a cruel mockery of a man’s cuckolded status. Horns are often used as a symbol of masculinity and virility, while ground animal horns have since the middle ages been used as a cure for male erection and libido problems. And, rutting stags lock horns in order to determine dominance and secure mating rights. Thus, it has also been suggested that the ignorant cuckold does not know that the beast with horns (a more manly, powerful, virile man) has crept behind him and ‘had’ his wife. In fact in modern sexual slang the man brought in to pleasure the wife (the alpha male) is known as the ‘bull’.
Celebrating the Birth by Jan Steen (1664)
Celebrating The Birth
This Classical painting by Dutch master Jan Steen is an intriguing cuckolding tableau. The birth of a male heir would result in a celebration but here rather than a traditional mother and child scene we have the father holding the baby. He is further emasculated as he is wearing both an apron and a chatelane (a belt of keys etc. usually worn by a woman). The husband carries a purse indicating he is a wealthy man who has attracted a younger wife, her back (possibly guiltily) is turned to us. In the centre of the painting at the back (see close up section left) is a young, grinning man mimicking the cuckold hand sign above the baby’s head, suggesting the illegitimacy of the child. This cheeky man is probably a self-portrait of the artist. Interestingly, it was only when the painting was cleaned in 1983 that it was discovered that the hand sign had been painted over in the 19th Century, obviously a past owner had censured the gesture. It has now been restored.
The painting is littered with symbolic sexual imagery and visual puns. The brass bed warmer, prominent in the foreground, signified that the coals in this pan were the only warmth in this marriage bed; denoting a lack of marital sex or the husband’s impotence. The broken egg shells strewn around the floor are a reference to ‘cracking eggs’ a 17th Century euphemism for sexual intercourse. While the maid at the fireplace is grasping a phallic but rather limp sausage. With a wry smile she faces towards us – the audience to the painting, aware of the sexual farce unfolding. A mocking satire of the marital home or a moral warning?
In Chaucer’s ‘The Miller’s Tale’ (1380s), an elderly husband is suspicious of a young suitor who is attempting to entice his young wife away from him. “For she was wild and young, and he was old, And deemed himself as like to be a cuckold.”
And A New Twist
Here at the Mansion we excel at extreme sexual humiliation and have been exploring more wicked ways to cuckold slaves (see here also); and both Mistress T the Queen of Cuckolding and myself spent a fiendish afternoon indulging our cruel fantasies with 2 male slaves and 1 female slave. If you want to know more you’ll have to watch the film,
‘A Tale of Two Slaves’ – Now showing inside The English Mansion.
And, Cuck Husband POV also with Mistress T maestro of erotic humiliation and true cuckoldress.