By Alison M. Moore
This primary significant research of a apparently missed time period within the heritage of sexuality will intrigue scholars, students and fans alike. The authors take us via a trip throughout 4 centuries, displaying how notions of sexual coldness and frigidity were thought of via criminal, clinical, psychiatric, psychoanalytic and literary writers.
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Extra info for Frigidity: An Intellectual History
But he too was focused on conjugal duty, and appeared to be concerned with frigidity – in women and in men – only insofar as it resulted in sterility. Virey’s article also provided a list of the visible symptoms of frigidity in women. 21 This revised list was taken at times throughout the century to define an actual type of woman, providing a visible connection between a particular temperament and the lack of pleasure in copulation. 22 As the title declared, Virey was laying claim to a broad range of knowledge about woman, adding the literary to the physiological and the moral.
He opened up the question by talking about women’s production of seed. 38 It is easy enough to misread this statement as an inspired anticipation of later accounts of reproductive biology, but Zacchia was not talking about the union of sperm and ovum. He was talking about the wife’s full participation in copulation. 39 The woman joined with the man as they brought non-being into being in the likeness of themselves. 40 Zacchia was fully aware of the contrary argument that women could, after all, ‘conceive without pleasure’.
This contradiction may be resolved if we suppose that his earlier general statements were focused on men, and that the one we are about to quote was meant to modulate those generalizations in order to account for women. Having stated earlier that impotence and sterility were effectively the same, he now declared: Woman can be impotent, that is, unable to conceive, without being sterile, and can be sterile without being impotent. 12 Female Impotence in the Nineteenth Century 41 What made these women sterile?