The Remedy for All Diseases: Female Circumcision in Victorian England

“The state of enjoyment, which took place very often, vanished entirely after the operation, the wound healed completely, the patient’s condition is good. Sexual arousal does not bother her either, “composed gynaecologist Gustav Braun in 1865 after amputating his patient’s clitoris and labia. If you think that female circumcision is a tradition of a far-off uncivilized world, then you are wrong.

For centuries, males have actually sought to suppress female sexuality by separating ladies from their own bodies, making them believe that their sex drive is something alien, harmful and base. Making you feel embarrassed of your genitals.

As medical historian Leslie Hall composes, in the 19th century, “due to the absence of attention provided to the clitoris in the medical literature, only a few medical professionals might discover it with certainty.”

And it would be better not to find it. Because it was at this time that a new layer of emancipated females began to appear, who aspired to study their bodies and receive satisfaction from them, more strict procedures were required to manage female sexuality.

Cliterodectomy. By the 1860s, the clitoris was accused of being guilty of the moral indiscrimination of women. They become vulnerable to hysteria and mental disorders and may even act “unfeminine”. Yes, medical professionals in those days believed that because of the clitoris, women act “unfeminine”. That is, they “shy away from marital duty,” “move far from their own hubby,” reveal aggression and might even respond with taunts to their spouses.

Opponent of the clitoris

Enemy of the clitorisIsaac Baker Brown. That was the name of the individual whose publications initially mentioned clitoris amputation. He was a respected member of the London medical facility. He was born in 1812, studied at the College of Surgery, operated on ovarian cysts and tumors. And in 1858 he founded his own clinic in Notting Hill. He called it poetically and elaborately: “London Surgical House for the reception of women and reputable girls who suffer from diseases that are curable by surgical treatment.” Isn’t it florid? Nevertheless, in some cases he revealed himself in much shorter terms. He simply said “operation”.

In one of his operate in 1861, Brown calls among the conditions “hypertrophy and irritability of the clitoris.” In modern-day parlance, ordinary masturbation. Brown argued that “external stimulation of the external genital organs” adversely affects the female nerve system and can even cause infertility. However, he right away specified that “inflammation of the clitoris and its monstrous consequences are often curable.”

As a treatment in those days, doctors recommended putting leeches on the outer labia, taking cold baths and staying with a diet plan. Brown went even more: he thought that the service to the problem lay in the “operation.” And he had many fans.

The bad partner treatment

Baker Brown was an ambitious male. He declared that with his method he treatments illness that were previously incurable. Calling his method “humane and effective”, the cosmetic surgeon convinced everybody that cliterodectomy can be a redemption from catalepsy, seizures, hysteria, dementia and mania. In his works, he mentions the example of a woman who previously, according to her spouse, “attacked him and scratched his skin like a tigress.” After getting rid of the clitoris, she “ended up being an excellent other half in all respects.”

A 17-year-old lady with catalepsy, a condition characterized by body rigidity and lack of response to external stimuli, is also, according to Baker Brown, “cured.” Another “fortunate female” with dementia, after eliminating the clitoris, found out to read, mastered the Bible and even began to participate in services.

Rejection of the panacea

Of course, Baker Brown himself did not consider his actions “barbaric”, he genuinely believed in what was great. But in medical circles, doubts have actually settled about the effectiveness and ethics of this procedure, and in addition, about the infraction of specific legal subtleties.

In 1866, Baker Brown began to receive unfavorable feedback for his actions. Other specialists started to ask questions about the efficiency of the uncommon technique. In one of The Times articles, it was stated that Baker Brown is taking on the treatment of women who suffer from mental illness. And the cosmetic surgeon’s clinic did not have a suitable license, that is, formally he might not take on cases of mental illness.

In addition, lots of have actually argued that Baker Brown’s approaches are dishonest due to the fact that he does not constantly get authorization. No, of course, not the approval of the clients, however the authorization of their partners or fathers.

Baker Brown confessed that he often concealed the operations from the clients’ spouses, due to the fact that they begged him to perform the operation in secret from their liked ones. This argument did not persuade the professionals. Baker Brown was expelled from the medical community, his clinic was closed, and he was left broke. He passed away in 1873 from “softening of the brain.” Although his “operation” was no longer thought about efficient, it continued to be practiced in the United States. At the same time, the main restriction on female circumcision in England came out only in 1985.

Female sexuality

However with the death of Baker Brown, medical professionals did not alter their mindset towards female masturbation. Gynecologist William Hector wrote in his 1875 writing that “masturbation can be characterized as habitual intemperance that provokes disease.” He thought that “as a general rule, a simple lady rarely desires any sexual satisfaction for herself. She resigns herself to the welcome of her husband, but mainly in order to please him … A wife does not want to be put on a par with her mistress. ”

Much more years will pass before female sexuality finds its own “voice”, and females begin to learn not to be ashamed of their bodies.

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