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Lecture 14

Lecture 14 Jan 29, 2014.docx

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Western University
History of Science
History of Science 2220

January 29, 2014 Lecture 14 His 2220: Gender and Health Impotence - Oxford dictionary since 17 C th th - Earliest reported evidence: 7 C BC in Mesopotamia - Scholars have also found spells from this time to counter any sort of witch craft that could have been put on a man th - 19 C England – believed main cause was excessive masturbation - Now it’s believed to be blood circulation Social History of Impotence - Male sexual incapacity aka impotence - Socially or culturally structured o Less to do with actually being sick, it’s more about the labels with it and how society views it - Impotence itself is not a disease - The way it has been perceived overtime is influenced by society - Changing social expectation - Paying attention to vocabulary: the words used over time to define impotence and create a perception of how society viewed it Impotence in the Ancient World - Manhood = proved by penetration o Did not matter if it were a women, man or child - Notions of sex and gender: o To be considered a man, a vigorous character was essential o Romans fixated on idea of self-controlled and aggressive man o Had to appear strong and active - The penis: January 29, 2014 Lecture 14 o Judged solely by illustrations:  Small, thin and pointed foreskin o For Greeks:  A dainty penis was more attractive and more serviceable for reproduction  Idea was that man has semen and if it is a smaller penis than it has less distance to travel  Also if there is less distance to travel, less heat would be loss and more likely to reproduce o Romans:  Big penis’ were preferred  Erect penis was symbol of maturity and power  Representations of penis found everywhere in Rome o For describing:  Erect = one’s equipment, a spear, a tool, a ram  Flaccid = a snake, rope and it represented failure - A man had to either penetrate or be penetrated - Viewed as a male’s healthy sexuality - Historians of Ancient world: pre-sexuality: an era as there was no such thing as sexual identity o Because few didn’t have a desire for one sex – much more fluid ata this time o Hence why historians referred to this a pre-sexuality - A man = an inpenetratable penetrator - A man who penetrated, dominated either men or women - Man who sought to please was more passive partner and could be partner of man or women January 29, 2014 Lecture 14 - If suffered from impotence: o Failure o In terms of diagnoses: explained as associated with old age or youth o Ancients took it almost as a given that it would happen as you got older o Practioner’s warned young men that they risked being impotence if they over-indulged th o Over-indulgence leading to impotency = lasted until 20 C - Excessive fluid release: 4 humours, imbalance of fluids = their belief of why overindulgence would lead to this - Treating a patient = typical courses of action  look at arousing pictures, books, encouraged to purchase ‘dancing girls’ – most common treatment = linked to diet and diet changes - Dietary: involved any root, vegetable etc. that resembled a penis ex: asparagus, orchid like plants, etc. th Impotence in Early Modern Europe (16-17 C) - Thought it was funny and others believed it was caused by witch craft - Joked about “faulty guns” - Jokes enter into print world by 17 C – helped popularize jokes about impotence among the masses of people – spread easily and this is why many thought it was funny - Terms used to describe: fumbler, a bungler, a weak doing man, good man do little and Johnny cannot - Samuel Pepys (1680s) o “Fumblers Hall” – his pamphlet o A wife is testifying against her husband – she is saying that her husband is impotent o Women were thought to be passive though naturally inclined to be lustful o If a woman was sexually frustrated she could fall ill January 29, 2014 Lecture 14 o Idea of a man being unable to satisfy his wife was preoccupying and made easy context for jokes and songs o Adultery = can be blamed on husbands failing to perform th Impotence by Age of Reason (18 C) - No longer funny - Impotence goes through two striking transformations: o Start seeing impotence described as a physiological problem (seen as a medical problem) o Start seeing subject of impotence treated with greater reserve  Breaking away from humour - Starting to be more secretive about it  therefore seen more tragic - Also see old idea: masturbation = impotence if done excessively - By 1700s: becomes one of most feared symptoms of masturbation - Medicine and body: doctors were worried that orgasm exhausted the body o Man excessively masturbating = excessive fatigue and lead to more problems - Also: society perspective: no good side to it – nothing good comes from masturbation - S.A.D Tissot (1728-1797) o Wrote influential article on masturbation o 1760: published monograph about orgasm  wrote masturbators are debilitated  It exhausts the powers, the spirits (animal spirits) are dissipated and this occasions weakness o Says not on masturbation lead to impotence but also give yourself gonorrhoea th o Late 18 C: doctors abandoning belief in humors and focusing on nervous origins of disease (how he was looking at things) January 29, 2014 Lecture 14 o He believed Nervousness: artificiality that caused men and sometimes women to get sick  Treatment: simplicity – avoid excesses in any one area in one’s life  Re: work, diet, etc. o Doctors believed simply being healthy required energy – sexual excesses would exhaust the body and irritate the body and brain o Concept of nervousness: carried itself into 19 C Nineteenth C Manhood - Cultural commentators (doctors, authors, etc.) – attributing man sexual functions were exposed in a new range of environmental changes going on around them - Industrial age  factories, railroad (believed to be a significant stressor), moving into urbanization o All of these are draining on one’s nerves and stressing them out - Describe illness: Neurasthenia o Concept of nervousness transferred into this o Stresses of modern day life could manifest itself in a variety of ways in the body o Ex: insomnia, indigestion, irritability, depression, physical fatigue, etc. o Modern day life = causing body to weaken and run down - George Beard, 1839-1883 o Created neurasthenia o Linking symptoms to environmental overstimulation o Electricity is more relevant to people’s lives now – fully electrified o These new technological devices are creating a crisis in human health o Telegraphs, street cars, lights etc – posing more physical and emotional demands than any reasonable person can withstand o Nerve exhausting age January 29, 2014 Lecture 14 o Pressing symptom of height of nervousness = impotence o Casting blame for lack of sexual  physicians shifted attention away from men to external stimuli on the body - Earliest form of treatment= electric belt o Relatively harmless o Originally: used batteries o Later on: were able to plug them into the wall o “the modern cure for the modern man” o Men were encouraged to seek treatment – images on advertisement: linked to penile health and masculinity o Electrical belt were seen as modern solution to modern problems o Why they went with electricity: believed electrivity in the body, so if worn down, it made sense to re-energize the body Epilogue - Rise in the study of endocrinology (hormones in the blood) o 1920s:Becomes serious area of study and once it does, it legitimizes impotence as a scientific study - Also changing impotence concept socially  believed it was a problem for two people and would find treatment of wom
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