Becklard’s Physiology; or, the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Three

Chapter Four. Everyone should have children, but even this doctor recognizes the fact that sometimes, the time is not ripe for children – due to economy, or injury or disease, and so on. He knows that some will take umbrage with his tips to prevent pregnancy, but he avers that it is better to teach prevention than wind up with cases of infanticide.

Here are some ways to prevent pregnancy, as thought of in the nineteenth century:

– brisk exercise, such as horseback riding

– bathing in salt water after intercourse

– use of a sponge (which is once again on the market)

– an “oiled-silk covering,” presumably an early version of a condom

– eating spicy food

– warm water douches

– seeds of the Chaste Tree (which was thought to inhibit libido)

– a “supine” vagina, as without contractions, there can be no pregnancy. Women can’t become pregnant from rape, sayeth Becklard.

    “Thus, unless the female vagina [as opposed to the male vagina?] is in a busy, active state, there is but little apprehension of offspring. Let me add, that this supineness, even in the most healthy females, is a sure attendant of disgust or abhorrence; therefore, I have no faith in the stories of women, who are said to have borne children as the consequence of rape or violation. Indeed, the thing is impossible unless the parties are agreed, for the muscular effort, to the action of which the uterus responds, is voluntary on the part of the female, and is only called in play in moments of enjoyment.”

    A few sentences prior to this, however, he admits that the process of impregnation is “still a mystery.” Now we know where the “body has a way of shutting that thing down” bullshit has its origins. Sigh.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s