On the Origins of the Allure of Stockings


Hello dear reader,

And may I say what a pleasure it is to be addressing you in the hallowed pages of Erotic Review.

Of course, the more learned and well-read amongst you will be familiar with my work so I need hardly introduce myself and, needless to say, when Erotic Review came seeking answers as to the evolution of the stocking it was my oak, iron-studded door to which they applied their curious knuckles.

The allure of stockings has prompted the positing of many theories, none of which have been altogether convincing. Although one that was not entirely wide of the mark concerned likening a woman in stockings to a chimpanzee.

The female chimp’s back end resembles a half-chewed lump of spam framed by dark fur and it is thought that the contrast of this swollen, pink rump with the darkness of the pelt asserts a strong sexual attraction on the male. Indeed, in a recent experiment the majority of male chimps in the test group made vigorous attempts to mate with a signed photograph of Rory McGrath.

Another theory points to the striking similarities between a woman wearing stockings and high heels and the proud, alluring behind of the Arabian Oryx – which has existed throughout the Middle East since the Miocene period and would have been the quarry of early Homo sapiens during the late Pleistocene.

The black hind legs and creamy buttocks of the Oryx may still trigger some dormant, primeval hunting urge in modern man – a convincing idea, given credence by studies on sexual arousal in human males when shown film of the Arabian Oryx prancing coquettishly about the Saudi Arabian desert.

Detractors have suggested that interfering with Oryx on the steppe of the Arabian Peninsula thirty thousand years ago is hardly the way to go about passing on one’s genetic material – and hence, one’s sexual propensities – but being sexually aroused by its sumptuous flanks does not preclude the use of Oryx as a source of meat and, therefore, as a sign of hunting prowess with which to attract a mate. So this theory may also go some way to explaining our inclination to combine sex and food – our responses to which are physically linked in the limbic system of the brain, which controls emotional activity. This is unsurprising for, as well as insemination from a male, the female also requires him to be a good provider of resources.

But these theories make too much of the idea of pale skin contrasting with dark stockings, when other studies suggest that most men with a penchant for hosiery still register a tingle in their scrotum when shown photographs of the darker-skinned wildebeest in hold-ups.

So, the matter would appear far from resolved. But, dear reader, fear not. For after many man-hours of dedicated research I can finally solve this riddle for you.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you the woolly spider monkey. The Lindsay Lohan of the primate world. The Charlie Sheen of tree-dwellers.

The woolly spider monkey, or Muriqui, is the largest species of the New World Monkeys, found in the Atlantic coast forests of southeastern Brazil, and would have first come into contact with Homo sapiens after the expansion of our ancestors into South America around 15 thousand years ago. Once living alongside each other, humans cannot have failed to observe certain extravagant mating practices of said primate, whose proclivity for the multi-perpetrator penile event – or ‘gang bang’ – is well-documented.

The female spider monkey will mate with upwards of ten males in one ‘session’. Amid such strong competition for procreation rites the Muriqui male has evolved larger testicles to deliver a veritable testicular power shower to douche out a rival’s sperm from the vaginal canal.

So, whilst finding oneself ninth or tenth in the queue might feel something akin to churning butter or copulating with a pot of regurgitated yoghurt, it certainly does not diminish one’s chances of successful mating.

The gang bang is a staple of modern man’s pornography and experts believe that the arousal caused by such scenes is a mechanism to promote sperm competition in the male – to spur him on to greater efforts to ensure his is the successful sperm.

Now living alongside these rutting, woolly maniacs one could hardly fail to notice such goings on. So, it is not unlikely that arousal in our male ancestors may have been elicited by witnessing such scenes in the Muriqui population. The women, seeing their men stimulated to such heights, will of course wish to inspire such arousal toward themselves, so it is not unreasonable to assume that the alluring lower portion of the spider monkey female was something to aspire to. A thing to be coveted.

Thus, human females took to capturing and killing their Muriqui counterparts – requiring agility, strength and cunning – and wearing their lower limbs as sexual signifiers to attract one or several males. This, of course, involved the removal of the monkey’s legs which would then be opened vertically down the back and the meat and bones removed before securing them about their own legs by means of needle and twine – further selecting for females of a ruthless nature but also a skilled hand.

At some point in the evolution of the stocking, Muriqui became more and more scarce, or in some regions non-existent, and so with the escalating price and lack of availability, women took to mimicking these proto-stockings by staining their legs with the sap of the giant hogweed plant, which causes permanent dark discolouration of the skin when exposed to sunlight. They would then draw a line up the back of the leg with a piece of charcoal to echo the stitching, or seam, of the genuine article.

So mine is an elegant and convincing solution to the conundrum of the origin of the beloved stocking and is borne out by the recent discovery of remnants of these hollowed-out monkey legs in later levels of the Niah Great Cave in Borneo – mistakenly, to my mind, identified as water-carrying skins – which also alludes to a very successful trade in dismembered monkey shanks over great distances, growing into the multimillion pound hosiery industry of the present day.

But in reality things are never this cut and dried. The truth behind the evolution of the stocking is most likely a mixed portfolio of several theories but we can say with a fair amount of certainty that modern, stocking-loving man is descended from early Oryx-bothering voyeurs and modern, stocking-wearing woman from the ruthless, monkey-butchering needleworkers of the Brazilian rainforest.

So the next time you take pleasure from a multi-perpetrator penile event, experience the thrill of a revealed stocking top or are simply enjoying the sensual, cool silk against your skin, remember the bloodstained, grisly beginnings of the stocking.

And spare a thought for the Arabian Oryx, a noble creature molested to the brink of extinction, and the woolly spider monkey, now the rarest of the world’s monkeys due solely to its beguiling, tantalising lower limbs.

Dr Ryegold is the author of several best-selling books based on his many years experience as a healer, research scientist and polymath and is currently working closely with a top UK lingerie company on a range of antelope and primate inspired hosiery.

Illustration by Michael Faraday.

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