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Lecture 14

CLA232H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Reproductive Health, Physis, Soranus Of Ephesus


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA232H1
Professor
Victoria Wohl
Lecture
14

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CLA232 Lecture 14
Hippo. Tries to explain medicine based on physis but nomos creeps in
Sex=physis, gender=nomos
Works try to focus on sex/biology but influenced by gender
Sex already shaped by nomos/social expectations
Aristotle Greek living in Athens in 4th century
Galen Greek from Asia Minor, writing in 2nd century A.D. (after Roman rule)
Female health = reproductive health, similar to today (ie. In US women’s doctor = OBGYN)
Hysteria caused by wondering womb, continued to 19th century
Male body is norm and female body is the oddity, still continues
Doctors usually male
In texts, male doctors inquiring into female body
Male self = observer, female body = the observed
Women are passive, males creative/active
o Ie. 331, both have sperm but female’s are passive and need male sperm to activate
Female’s body strange phenomenon for males
Male writers, writing for male males so use strange metaphors they will understand
Male doctors need females to tell them what’s wrong (bit can’t b/c not rational) and doctors cant
proceed as if treating male
o Female = exotic specimen
Women ask and advise each other about their sicknesses
o Ie. Spontaneous abortion, H. Excited to see embryo, girl jumps up and down, embyo dropped
down with clatter, female body = data to H.
o H. Also eludes to women saying taht when pregnant the seed stays inside
Hipp. (343) says get women to feel if womb is smooth
o Hippo. Cant do it himself b/c respect, no way to reference whether smooth or not
Soranus wrote training manual for midwifes
o Tells how/who good midwife, i.e. long fingers, literate (so can read text), intelligent
o Tells how to induce abortion /miscarriage but only if mother’s health at stake not for vanity
Different male vs. Female physiology
o Temperature women colder
o Males hard body, females soft
o Male is procreative/active one
o Same genitals but male outside, females inside (351) Galen: mole eyes, eyes are useless like
female’s imperfect inward genitals, unfortunate for females but good for human race, b/c
women cold don’t have heat to push out genitals and don’t burn off all their nutrients so can
feed babies
Male and female two variations of the same sex
Definition of female= imperfect male/incomplete male
o Boys and women similar but boys grow into men and women permanently stunted
One sex theory difference between men and women is gender
Aristotle - different not because of physiology (both have semen) but quality matters
o Allows him to deny the woman’s role in procreation (women provides clay, man shapes the
clay into statue)
Father is only real parent, mother is like incubator
o Mother is stranger to the child
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