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Eighteenth Century Europe

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History 2185
Monda Helpern

Nov, 05, 2012 Eighteenth Century Europe -Had transformations in all area and their bodies were understood more than ever -Era regarded as a turning point in modern medical understanding of sexuality and the body and as with all eras these developments are linked to other major transformations of society -New ideas about gender emerged and more and all these notions are accompanied with ideas about complimentary gender roles, sexual passivity and aggression, etc -The enlightenment was all about intellectual and political change largely in Europe and it can be summarized by five main points: 1. New emphasis on free will and autonomy (could have independent thoughts and reason) -This indicts the church and state as being controlling and counterproductive to new ideas 2. New ability to reason led to the truth -If you could reason you could study and gain knowledge and not just rely on faith and superstition -Science brought advancement in all areas which had been stalled before this point 3. Enlightenment philosophers believed secularism should prevail because it was superior -Religion does not lead to the truth and it is not objective and should be separated from the state and politics 4. They believed everyone was equal -They believed that because all people could reason they should be treated the same and that class should be overcome and this was a revolution in thought about social order -Still though women were excluded from this and none of them would have argued for women’s rights 5. They believed people could govern themselves -They thought they did not need corrupt monarchies and aristocracy and that the middle class needed a bigger role and that all people should strive towards democracy -The French Revolution in 1789-1798 epitomizes this revolt brought about by new ideas and the people were fighting against the excess of Louis 16 and the church -There was a new emphasis on science and this led to new discourses in medicine and new ideas about body functions of men and women -Before men and women were seen as mostly the same under the “one sex model” and with only minor variations and women were simply thought of as imperfect versions of the male body -One major theory of this time previous to the enlightenment was humorism which was derived from Greece (means juice or sack in translation) -They believed health was determined by too much or too little of four distinct body fluids and quantities of each depended on diet, occupation and activity and any imbalance led to physical and mental problems -Each humor corresponded with an organ where black bile went with gallbladder, yellow bile with the spleen, phlegm with the brain and lungs, and blood with the liver -They were also related to a certain temperature (hot or cold) and a certain texture (wet or dry) and the necessity of balance was the core idea of physiology (they were also related to the four elements) -In relation to a person’s mental health each humor was associated with a certain temperament where black bile went with melancholy, yellow bile with colic or anger, phlegm with phlegmatic (little emotion), and blood with courage and hopefulness and each trait was seen as bad and a sign of disease -Men were thought of as being dominated by black bile, yellow bile, and blood and they were hot and dry -Women were dominated by black bile, phlegm, and blood and were cold and wet and this was seen as worse than the conditions of man -In the enlightenment this theory was discarded and seen as irrational in light of new discoveries -The genitals were also thought of with the same idea of slight variation where a man’s sexual organs were outside the body and the woman’s inside -Women were believed to have the equivalent of each male part where the labia was the foreskin, uterus the scrotum, ovaries the testicles, etc but women’s were believed to be simple and interior to men’s th -The 18 century changed all these ideas of sameness with the “two sex model” where men’s and women’s differences were stressed instead Nov, 05, 2012 -For the first time medical texts were showing real female skeletons but all were shown with large hips and small heads and their genitals as well were shown for the first time and labelled with the scientific names were use today (ex: vulva) -Some say the new way of conceptualizing was not just scientific but made in reaction to new ideas of equality thus taking women’s power and putting them in their place (being so different from men was their justification) -Prior to this they believed conception occurred through the active male seed mixing with the passive female menstrual blood but this “one seed model” later changed to two seed which emphasized a greater role of women -Before they believed the women could not contribute to conception of she did not achieve orgasm but by the mid 18 century the “two seed model” no longer included any mention of female pleasure -Another big change was that females were less and less seen as lustful and they were seen as passive and void of any sexual desire -In turn men were increasingly seen as sexually energetic and with greater desire (almost like ancient times) -This new idea of men’s greater sex drive fuelled their pursuit fth autonomy and independence -Divergent
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