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
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
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