Feminizing Venereal Disease: The Body of the Prostitute in by Mary Spongberg

By Mary Spongberg

In 1497 the neighborhood council of a small city in Scotland issued an order that each one gentle women--women suspected of prostitution-- be branded with a sizzling iron on their face. In overdue eighteenth- century England, the physique of the prostitute grew to become nearly synonymous with venereal illness as medical professionals drew up special descriptions of the irregular and degenerate characteristics of fallen ladies. all through a lot of background, well known and scientific wisdom has held girls, specially promiscuous girls, because the resource of venereal disorder. In Feminizing Venereal Disease, Mary Spongberg offers a serious exam of this tradition via reading the development of venereal affliction in nineteenth century Britain.

Spongberg argues that regardless of the efforts of medical professionals to regard medication as a natural technology, clinical wisdom was once vastly prompted through cultural assumptions and social and ethical codes. through revealing the symbolic significance of the prostitute because the resource of social disorder in Victorian England, Spongberg provides a forceful argument in regards to the gendering of 19th- century drugs. In a desirable use of heritage to enlighten modern discourse, the publication concludes with a compelling dialogue of the effect of Victorian notions of the physique on present discussions of HIV/AIDS, arguing that AIDS, like syphilis within the 19th century, has develop into a feminized disease.

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Extra resources for Feminizing Venereal Disease: The Body of the Prostitute in Nineteenth-century Medical Discourse

Sample text

First, there was the simple gonorrhoea that arose spontaneously and was non-venereal. Secondly, there were two forms of venereal gonorrhoea. Both were believed to be the result of 'impure intercourse' and both were virulent. One however was considered to result from intercourse with women during their menstrual period or when they were labouring under inflammatory or diseased states of the vagina. It was maintained that such women furnished men with discharges of an acrid and irritating nature.

His descriptions of prostitutes were to be repeated until the end of the nineteenth century. 11 By categorizing prostitutes in a 'scientific' manner, Parent enabled doctors to present clinical solutions to the problems arising from prostitution. De la prostitution dans la ville de Paris became the canonical text of the study of prostitution in nineteenth-century Europe. Parent's methodical analysis of the bodies and lifestyles of prostitutes set the pattern for subsequent studies. 12 His work had a critical impact on the discussion of prostitution and disease in Britain.

12 His work had a critical impact on the discussion of prostitution and disease in Britain. Parent not only provided those in England who favoured regulation with an explicit language to express their concerns, but furnished them with an extensive working model of how this could be done. Parent saw prostitutes strictly in terms of a public health problem. 13 Prostitutes were to be treated as sexual canals used to drain the seminal excess of male desire. The task of the public hygienist was to sanitize these sewers so as to promote their cleanliness and efficiency.

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