Tuesday, April 21, 2009

'Strange' Anatomies

When one investigates LGBTI anatomies, transgender and intersex bodies aren't the only surprises awaiting us in the past.

Leaving aside psychopathology in the twentieth century, it is possible to delve further back to view lesbian and gay bodies as they were conceptualised before the rise of modern evidence based medicine.

By the eighteenth century, male doctors had "discovered" the clitoris, which had previously eluded them because premodern, Aristotelian medical orthodoxy had literally overlooked it. No sooner had that happened when anxieties began to arise about the alleged 'consequences' of female self-pleasure and lesbianism. As a consequence, racist and homophobic discourses swirled around non-European women in general, and lesbians per se, in which both were viewed as 'hermaphrodites,' who were capable of woman to  woman penetrative sex due to 'clitoral engorgement.' It may sound amusing now, but clitoredectomy (female genital mutilation) was one of the prescribed 'cures' for such an imaginary 'pathology.'

To read the whole article: Click here

This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International

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