The preceding chapters have argued that, amongst the various Victorian discourses explored in feminist fiction of the 1980s and 1990s, scientific discourse is one of the most significant — if only as a subtext. If this is so, it is perhaps because science is again playing a major role in our current ‘knowledge’ about gender and sexuality. Femininity is problematic: women are once more perceived to be victims of their bodies, although hormones, rather than individual organs, are now identified as the source of women’s disposition. Whether the ‘problem’ is pre-menstrual tension or menopausal symptoms, medical intervention is advocated to ‘normalise’ a sex prone to irrational moods, sadness or anger. These ‘syndromes’ appear to be the latest manifestations of ‘hysteria’ resulting from female ‘periodicity’. Interestingly, while the role of testosterone, particularly in male violence, has also been much debated, there has been no equivalent rush to provide hormone treatment to deal with this problem.
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- 1.See Margrit Shildrick, ‘Leaks and Flows: NRTs and the Postmodern Body’, Leaky Bodies and Boundaries: Feminism, Postmodernism and (Bio)ethics (Routledge, 1997), pp. 180–210. It is interesting to compare current demands for more social and medical control of the maternal function with Victorian debates over the same issues. See Sally Shuttleworth, ‘Demonic Mothers: Ideologies of Bourgeois Motherhood in the Mid-Victorian Era’, in Re-Writing the Victorians: Theoly, History and the Politics of Gender, ed. Linda M. Shires (Routledge, 1992), pp. 31–51.Google Scholar
- 2.Anne Cranny-Francis and Wendy Waring, Pam Stavropoulos and Joan Kirkby, Gender Studies: Terms and Debates (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003), p. 193.Google Scholar