Introduction: Female Sexual Inversion and other Medical Embodiments of Female Same-Sex Desires in Italy and Britain, circa 1870–1920

  • Chiara Beccalossi
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


This woman is a cretin; she is fifty years old, and an inmate in the asylum of Pesaro, a small town in Italy. Her looks are rustic, and her appearance is mannish. She has a dolichocephalous skull, a wide forehead, badly implanted ears, dark skin, atrophic breasts, and abnormal genitals: at four times the normal size and nearly as hard to the touch as cartilage, her left lip is hypertrophic. Her clitoris is larger at the base [1885]. This woman is a spinster; she lives in Liverpool, England. Her body produces too much calcium and as a result her voice is low, man-like. She is also flat-chested. She has been masturbating since puberty, and her health has been bad ever since. The guilt over her own evil ways was so unbearable that her clitoris and labia were excised [1916]. This woman is a pretty middle-class teenage girl; she lives in a boarding school in Padua, Italy. Her face is pale. She is highly strung and has a restless temperament. Her attitude is masculine, and she is self-confident [1898]. This woman is single. She is forty-eight years old, and is an inmate at the Bethlehem asylum in London, England. She has no pubic hair and no breasts. The hands of this woman are like those of a man. She is very tall and broad, and has an overall masculine appearance. Her post-mortem examination revealed her uterus was like that of a child [1878]. This woman is a prostitute; she works in a luxurious brothel in Rome, Italy. Her hair is short, her clothes are fashionable.


Medical Discipline Medical Text Medical Writer Italian Psychiatrist Sexual Inversion 
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Copyright information

© Chiara Beccalossi 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chiara Beccalossi
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for the History of European DiscoursesUniversity of QueenslandAustralia

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