wHoles in the Dyke: Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud Figuring the Lesbian

  • Georgia Johnston

Abstract

Analyzing changing cultural understandings of biological sexuality, Thomas Laqueur describes an ideology of sex and sexuality, before 1800, in which woman was considered the same sexually as man, but as a less-developed and biologically inverted form. In this earlier ideology, in “the one-sex body,” the “borders between blood, semen, often residues and food, between the organs of reproduction and other organs, between the heat of passion and the heat of life, were indistinct and, to the modern person, almost unimaginably—indeed terrifyingly— porous” (Laqueur 42). Laqueur reproduces illustrations from the 1500s and 1600s that show that Renaissance thinkers believed that the vagina was formed and worked like an interior penis; the “Renaissance doctors understood there to be only one sex” even while “there were manifestly at least two social sexes” (134). Laqueur marks 1800 as an approximate date at which understanding of anatomy changed, and the sexes were divided and were thought of as distinct—indeed opposing. These differing understandings of sexualized bodies affected much more than medicine; Laqueur gives the example of the lactating Christ to show how the early paradigm revealed itself outside anatomical medical books (106). Once the change occurs, “by the nineteenth century, behavior is irrelevant. The question of sex is biological” (132).

Keywords

Europe Lactate Coherence Assure Posit 

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Copyright information

© Georgia Johnston 2007

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  • Georgia Johnston

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