The Politics of Pleasure: Female Sexual Appetite in the Hippocratic Corpus

DISCOURSES OF SEXUALITY: FROM ARISTOTLE TO AIDS, Domna C. Stanton, ed., University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pp. 48-77, 1992

16 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2007

Abstract

Foucault was mistaken to view the ancient Greek expectation of female sexual behavior along the lines he developed for their expectation of male sexual behavior. To the Greek mind one of the main dangers to a man's health was too much sexual activity. For women the threat tended to lie in too little intercourse, which could cause her womb to dry out and wander to more moist parts of her anatomy. On the surface this theory looks like a completely male-derived strategy to ensure that women acceded to intercourse even if they felt no desire for it. However, in the context of ancient Greece, where it was acceptable for a married man to have several different sexual outlets, it could also serve to allow a wife to insist on sexual attention from her husband without herself appearing lascivious.

Keywords: Foucault, Hippocratic, Aristotle, sexuality, gender, ancient gynecology, ancient medicine, ancient biology, wandering womb, sexual intercourse

Suggested Citation

Dean-Jones, Lesley, The Politics of Pleasure: Female Sexual Appetite in the Hippocratic Corpus. DISCOURSES OF SEXUALITY: FROM ARISTOTLE TO AIDS, Domna C. Stanton, ed., University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, pp. 48-77, 1992. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1010240

Lesley Dean-Jones (Contact Author)

The University of Texas at Austin ( email )

1 University Station, C3400
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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