By Mary Spongberg

In 1497 the neighborhood council of a small city in Scotland issued an order that every one gentle women--women suspected of prostitution-- be branded with a sizzling iron on their face. In past due eighteenth- century England, the physique of the prostitute grew to become virtually synonymous with venereal sickness as medical professionals drew up unique descriptions of the irregular and degenerate qualities of fallen ladies. all through a lot of historical past, well known and clinical wisdom has held ladies, specifically promiscuous ladies, because the resource of venereal ailment. In Feminizing Venereal Disease, Mary Spongberg offers a serious exam of this tradition via studying the development of venereal illness in nineteenth century Britain.

Spongberg argues that regardless of the efforts of medical professionals to regard medication as a natural technological know-how, scientific wisdom used to be significantly inspired by means of cultural assumptions and social and ethical codes. by means of revealing the symbolic significance of the prostitute because the resource of social ailment in Victorian England, Spongberg offers a forceful argument concerning the gendering of 19th- century medication. In a desirable use of background to enlighten modern discourse, the ebook 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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Additional info for Feminizing Venereal Disease: The Body of the Prostitute in Nineteenth-century Medical Discourse

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Some physicians claimed that on occasion gonorrhoea appeared 'spontaneously'. Other doctors ascertained that men suffering from gout and rheumatism frequently suffered from a clap that had no 'venereal' origin. Certain doctors maintained that some men engaged in 'impure intercourse' and became diseased while their female partners showed no sign of the disease, either in the form of discharge or chancre. Some believed that certain conditions in women, such as menstruation and leucorrhoea, predisposed them to infect their sexual partners.

Until the 1830s there was much debate over the question of the unity of syphilis and gonorrhoea. Benjamin Bell, a Scottish surgeon, was really the first to effectively challenge Hunter's reasoning. He was convinced that Hunter's findings were incorrect. In 1793 he published a Treatise on Gonorrhoea and Lues Venerea, in which he noted from clinical observation, that syphilis and gonorrhoea provided distinct clinical pictures and responded very differently to treatment. 48 He was also very critical of the way inoculation experiments were carried out.

17 He thus traced the diseases through their various stages, demonstrating beyond a doubt that syphilis and gonorrhoea were distinct diseases. The fame which Ricord achieved by disproving Hunter's theories was widespread. Ricord's work came to be treated with the same authority as Hunter's had previously. Not only were his ideas about the aetiology of the disease widely accepted but his theories on the control of prostitution were also well received. Like Parent-Duchatelet, Ricord believed that the regulation of prostitutes was an imperative duty of the state.

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