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Sun Jan 19, 2014, 10:13 AM

10 Monumental Historical Misconceptions About The Female Body

You may have heard about Hippocrates’ hilariously insane belief about women’s wombs wandering inside their bodies, but have you have heard about the clitoris that could be used as a penis? That’s right, the ancient Greeks thought that women with particularly big clitorises could use them as penetrative appendages for intercourse. So prevalent was the belief that it carried over well into the 19th and 20th centuries, when American and European physicians also incorporated it into their study of lesbianism.Perhaps one of the most vocal supporters of the existence of the “female penis” was Italian inquisitor Ludovico Sinistrari. As a priest and author who specialized in demonology and sexual sins, he stated that women who were overcome by lust could enlarge their clitorises and transform themselves into men. In a time where lesbianism was a crime punishable by death, Sinistrari made the odd postulation that such a crime could occur only if the accused successfully penetrated the other party with her clitoris, an argument that may have saved some lives. Nevertheless, Sinistrari advocated extreme punishment for those found guilty of the crime.


Shunamitism—the practice of an older man sleeping with a young, virgin girl without any sexual contact—took its name from the biblical story of King David. Worried for his health in his old age, his attendants found a beautiful virgin named Abishag of Shunam, who slept with him in his bed. While with no established medical rationale—although it has been speculated that it could raise testosterone levels in old men—shunamitism has been practiced in varying degrees by a variety of different cultures. A fourth-century doctor prescribed it for an upset stomach, while in 18th-century England it was believed that a virgin’s breath had health-giving properties. Across the Channel in the same period, the practice turned a profit for French entrepreneurs. One hostess named Madame Janus owned a house with fifty virgins who catered to rich old men, again without any sexual contact.In India, a variation of shunamitism called Brachmarya has been in vogue for a long time, with its most famous practitioner being none other than Mahatma Gandhi.

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Being one of the greatest philosophers of all time apparently did not prevent Aristotle from making a whole list of mistakes about the female body. He believed that women were deformed men, with their genitals inside their bodies due to a lack of the “heat” needed to form a “perfect male body.” He also speculated that this disability prevented women from making semen and therefore they were passive recipients in the child-making process. Other gaffes included Aristotle’s declaration that women had fewer teeth and skull sutures than men, and his failure to distinguish the vagina from the urethra.Aristotle equated his findings about the supposed inferiority of the female body to a justification for male dominance in all aspects of life. After his death, his views remained popular until the 15th century and contributed hugely to the prevalent chauvinism of the era.

http://listverse.com/2014/01/19/10-historical-misconceptions-about-the-female-body/

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Arrow 10 replies Author Time Post
Reply 10 Monumental Historical Misconceptions About The Female Body (Original post)
ismnotwasm Jan 2014 OP
Squinch Jan 2014 #1
ismnotwasm Jan 2014 #2
Squinch Jan 2014 #10
chervilant Jan 2014 #3
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2014 #4
redqueen Jan 2014 #5
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2014 #7
redqueen Jan 2014 #8
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2014 #9
redqueen Jan 2014 #6

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 10:23 AM

1. What? I can't hear you. I have a womb stuck in my ear.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 10:26 AM

2. LOL!

Because we're from Venus--or something

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 11:33 PM

10. Wombs that wander INSIDE the body are one thing,

but when they go out in the middle of the night to get a pack of cigarettes and leave the front door wide open, that's a whole nother thing.

Those mens. Such a nutty bunch of Martians.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 10:45 AM

3. Of course, we radical feminists

must watch our tone, and avoid any mention of the Patriarchy, rape culture, or male privilege!

Apparently, we can whinge if a Republican richly illustrates rape culture, as does Virginia Senator Dick Black, who insists that spousal rape should not be illegal.

And, to add insult to injury, too many members of this forum label most attempts to discuss these issues "gender war."

Sigh... We seem to be sliding back into the abyss.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 12:36 PM

4. to be fair and honest they got a lot wrong about male bodies, too

but, yeah ... it would be interesting (to me) if we could also post the misconceptions that women had about the male body.

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Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 01:51 PM

5. Misconceptions among the general populace are one thing.

Outrageous, ill-founded theories promoted by people who are looked up to as authority figures for whatever reason (naturally this excludes women throughout most of ancient history) are another thing entirely.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 01:57 PM

7. I understand but, I think women have always looked to other women and have not always

taken the man just at his word alone. Midwives come immediately to mind.
anatomy and physiology. medicine and science. we all got it wrong and are all still learning.
Just this past year a "new" ligament in the knee was "discovered" ....

Phys Ed November 13, 2013, 12:01 am
Doctors Identify a New Knee Ligament
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

Last month, knee surgeons from the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium announced that they had found a new knee ligament, one that had not previously been specifically identified despite untold numbers of past knee dissections and scans. This surprising announcement, in The Journal of Anatomy, should improve our understanding of how the knee works and why some knee surgeries disappoint and also underscores the continually astonishing complexity of human anatomy.

To find and characterize this new knee part, the orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven Claes and Dr. Johann Bellemans and their colleagues gathered 41 knee joints from human cadavers and began minutely dissecting them.

The knee, as those of us who own and operate a pair know, is complicated and somewhat fragile, an intricate construction of bones, cartilage, fluids, ligaments (which attach bones to bones) and tendons (which attach muscles to bones). Ideally, the various parts move together smoothly, but they can tear, rupture or fracture if the knee abruptly twists or overpivots. Knee injuries and pain drive millions of people to doctors every year and result in millions of knee exams, scans and surgeries.
The newly identified anterolateral ligament (A.L.L.) stabilizes the knee, researchers say, but can be easily injured, contributing to knee problems.The Journal of Anatomy The newly identified anterolateral ligament (A.L.L.) stabilizes the knee, researchers say, but can be easily injured, contributing to knee problems.

So most of us probably have assumed that the entire internal structure of the knee has been fully mapped and delineated.


The Journal of Anatomy
The newly identified anterolateral ligament (A.L.L.) stabilizes the knee,
researchers say, but can be easily injured, contributing to knee problems.

more at link:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/13/a-surprising-discovery-a-new-knee-ligament/

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Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Reply #7)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 02:03 PM

8. As an academic exercise, I get it.

However, the stuff in the OP seems to me to be partially (or largely) informed by misogyny, and not simple ignorance.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #8)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 02:06 PM

9. possibly true enough. --

I really hate judging the past by modern knowledge but, I can see how, over time, patriarchy impacted all aspects of culture.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2014, 01:54 PM

6. It's comforting to think some of this nonsense was done with good intentions.

But in cases like this, one has to wonder.

In 1873 Edward Clarke, a doctor and former professor at Harvard Medical School, published his reasons why women shouldn’t be educated in his book Sex In Education; Or, A Fair Chance For The Girls. He asserted that since women were predestined to be propagators of the human race, education was of secondary importance. He pointed out that their brains were inferior to men’s and thus weren’t meant to handle higher levels of education. He also warned that those women who persisted in learning risked damaging their reproductive organs, especially if they were menstruating. For a time Clarke’s theory became a hot topic for debate and was frequently used as a bible by activists against women’s education. Eventually the theory faded away as more women flocked to colleges and universities and proved themselves as good as—or better than—their male peers.

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