Monthly Archives: March 2012

Women and their crazy diseases, part one

A treatise on the diseases of females, by William Dewees. This was published in 1854, so you know it’s just chock-full of misinformation.

Dewees, on the title page, identifies himself as late professor of midwifery and a current member of the Royal Medical Society of Denmark, but also is a member of the American Philosophical Society. What, I ask you, has that to do with anything?

Author’s advertisement. He makes no apology for presenting this information to the public, so you know it’s gonna be good!

Some highlights from the table of contents: deranged menstruation, spitting of frothy saliva, irritable uterus, milk leg, and, of course, hysteria.

Chapter 1- Of the Peculiarities of the Female System. God made men and women different, in case you weren’t aware. Women’s bodies are weird! And since she’s different and weird, she has weird diseases that men cannot get because they don’t have the same organs.

Now we shall examine some of the differences between female and male. Women are generally shorter and smaller. And, apparently, we have smaller brains! We also have a difference of our muscular system, which leaves us more open to convulsive and spasmodic diseases. Our nerves are delicate and easily frayed, so obviously, we cannot understand business or other manly endeavors.

Of course, we women also have the uterine system, which is our most important, as that particular organ exerts a force upon us more powerful than anything else, according to ancient medicine. However, Dewees refutes this idea, because apparently, science knows better now.

And yet, he cites a Mr. Fogo, with whom he does not agree, who states that the uterus is so passive, and of so little consequence, that it could be removed from the body without any suffering of the rest of the system. Did Fogo not know that that’s where the fetus is housed during gestation? That’s a bit frightening, even for this time period.


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I Want to Be a Nurse, or, Let Sexism Get in the Way Of Your Dreams

A long time ago, in a kingdom far away, I read a book called Pink Think, by Lynn Peril. Basically, the author unveils a collection of ways in which women of the 1940s through the 1970s were made to “think pink,” that is to say, be ultra-feminine. The era where woman’s goal was catching a man, that sort of thing.

I raided that bibliography. Fun Fact: one of the sex ed books in that collection of works was the genesis for this very blog!

Anyway, one of the books in the list was called I Want to Be a Nurse, by Carla Greene. I finally tracked down a copy via WorldCat, and was giddy when my local library emailed me to let me know that it was in.

It’s a children’s book, and the only way to get the full feel for it is through images, so I’ve taken the liberty of taking photos of the pages. I have a scanner, but the book is so old that I didn’t want to do further damage to the spine. So, cropped pictures it is! (Please ignore any remnants of cat-tail that may appear; she wouldn’t get out of the way of my important business)! [Pictures will open into large versions when clicked].

Look, the baby doll is desperate to escape!

From this page, you can see that the copyright date is 1957.

What Jane means to say is, “I stabbed her with the scissors in my pocket. You’re next, Jack, with your stupid sailor hat and ugly trousers!”

And why can’t the little girl be a doctor? There were female doctors during this time . . . Ugh.
It almost seems like Jack is taunting her, with his “Do you know how to be a nurse?” Whatta douche!

Here comes Miss Baker, tripping along in her cape. For all nurses wear capes.

Miss Baker, instead of doing her real job, shows Jane how to give her doll a bath. Wait, she has an open wound; you can’t just immerse her into a tub of soapy water like that! Meanwhile, Jack learns how to watch. Stop ogling the naked doll, pervert.
Continue reading


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UPDATE – I’m still here!

Okay, so Out of Harm’s Way just didn’t do it for me, you guys. It was impossible to make that book funny. He’s no Phil Phillips, that’s for sure.

Then Real Life intervened, what with the holidays and all. But I am back, and up next is a children’s book from the 1950s about nursing.

Stay tuned!

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