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 The Modern Emasculation and Feminization

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PostSubject: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:26 pm

Women are not the only ones I think forced to live in a doll glass house. I think this was a failure on the part of Henrik Ibsen in his famous play of the 18th century depicting women as deeply oppressed to cultural sexual roles of a authoritarian patriarchy.

It wasn't just a phenomena that women were expiriencing but rather it's somthing also that men were expiriencing in the 18th century as well long into our present.

He failed to also see the constant sexual tyranny of cultural expectative roles of men on a wide scale and the oppression or isolation on those males who couldn't meet them.

Men are infact still tyrannized by many cultural sexual roles that women don't know very much of or care little to even grasp.

Everytime it's been tried to be publically discussed it usually get's ignored or laughed out at in censorship.

Feminism obliterated the notions of expected cultural sexual roles for women that were deemed oppressive but of course in the process of that nobody dared question those of which men have been forced to oblige by for countless millenias unto this current day.

The myth of feminism is that somehow women were far more oppressed than men have ever been. This is just a deceptive myth that has no basis in actual history or reality. Men are highly socially oppressed especially when it concerns some of the sexual cultural roles expected out of them that they are forced to live by.

With the advent of feminism or social political correctness we can see alot of double standards when it concerns sexual inequalities which is one of the reasons why the men's rights movement is becoming more and more vocal all over the globe.

The rights of women being elevated over men has caused many males to be either displaced socially or actively discriminated against in reversal.

My question in this thread is a simple one. Do men in many cases find themselves being tyrannized by a variety of sexual cultural roles and pressures when it concerns social expectations?

Modern men have their own glass houses they retire to daily and I think this is a discussion worth discussing more.

Are men the disposable sex?







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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:04 pm

Impotence, A Cultural History.

Angus McLaren wrote:
"In Western culture women’s sexual reputations were always more at risk than men’s, but reports of a man’s sexual activity or, more importantly, nonactivity could also affect his status. A man was supposed to assume social and political responsibilities as a spouse, husband, father, and patriarch. To be known as impotent was to be labeled as unmanly and lacking virility, power, morality, and strength. Sexual impotence was not so much a problem in itself, but in what European culture believed it represented and could in- evitably lead to—the social disorder starkly represented by the woman be- coming the sexually active partner and making her man a cuckold. A sense of how preoccupying men found such a scenario is indicated by the many references made to impotence in seventeenth and eighteenth-century plays, poems, ballads, and court cases.

When in 1784 William Pitt the younger became Prime Minister his uninter- est in women was noted:

’Tis true, indeed, we oft abuse him, Because he bends to man;
But Slander’s self dares not accuse him Of stiffness to a woman.29

The Romans joked about limp swords and bent spears; the early moderns about faulty guns and inkless pens. In a 1674 tract against coffee purport- edly written by women, the authors asserted that they once prided them- selves on “the brisk Activity of our men, who in former Ages were justly es- teemed the Ablest Performers in Chistendome; But to our unspeakable grief, we find of late a very sensible Decay of that Old English Vigour; our Gallants being every way so Frenchified, that they are become meer Cock-Sparrows.” Drinking coffee, the authors argued, had emasculated them and now like poor troops, “their Ammunition is wanting; peradventure they Present, but cannot Fire, or at least do but flash in the pan, instead of doing execution.” Aristotle’s Last Legacy likewise referred to a “vanquished Bridegroom” on his wedding night, “for he must be vanquished that has in the Encounter lost his Artillery.”  

Elderly husbands were fair game in plays, songs and lampoons. An old man in Jack of Dover (1604) gives his wife fancy stockings: “Because I can’t please her above the knee, I must needes please her below the knee.” In re- viewing the errors of marriage, Aristotle’s Master-Piece noted a great gap in age would inevitably lead to the cuckolding of doting old husbands. The song “Cuckolds Haven” warned men of the fate that awaited them if they did not sexually subdue their wives: “Let every man who keepes a Bride / take heed hee be not hornify’d.

The penis remained a perennial source of crude humor. Medieval badges worn to ward off the evil eye depicted copulating couples, erect penises (sometimes dressed as pilgrims), penis animals, winged penises, and vul- vae carried by penises. In Anglo-Saxon riddles attempts were made to
embarrass others into naming the shameful member by asking what was “stiff, strong” (a key), a “boneless wonder” (bread dough), and “rooted I stand on a high bed” (an onion). Shakespeare exploited similar double en- tendres. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Ford declares himself afraid of being cuckolded and bewitched. He refers to having “lost my edifice by mistak- ing the place where I erected it” (2.2.194–217). Falstaff—whose very name suggested either the fallusstaf or flaccid member—asserts if it is heard he dressed as a woman he will be “crestfall’n as a dried pear” (4.5.93–99).

In France, Gabriel Cheval- lier lashed out at the war hospital nurses who treated their castrated patients like babies. In Germany, Ernst Toller made his point all too clear in his play
Hinkemann (1923) by cruelly presenting a wife cuckolding her emasculated war hero husband with his best friend Paul Grosshahn (Big Cock). Such a scenario had a particular resonance in the defeated nations of central Eu- rope in which nationalists regarded their states as crippled as their veterans. Weimar filmmakers proceeded in the 1920s to mine male insecurities by pro- ducing movie after movie in which powerful women humiliated weak men. The most explicit was the Czech film Ecstasy (1933), in which Hedy Lamarr’s spouse—shamefully exposed as sexually incompetent—sees himself as having no other recourse than to commit suicide.

Many worried that World War I had created a generation of shell- shocked and physically incapacitated males whose fate was uncertain. Obviously the war focused an unprecedented amount of attention on the sexually disabled. Nevertheless the conflict exacerbated rather than created a preoccupation with Western men’s declining virility. As the discussions of neurasthenia revealed, the concern that masculinity was undermined by the stresses of the modern world preceded the war by several decades. One response to this perceived threat was the displacement at the turn of the century of the Victorian restrained model of masculinity by a new ideal of aggressive masculinity—tanned, muscular, youthful, and virile. Countering older messages that manliness was manifested by postpone- ment of gratification, a new consumer-oriented culture lauded arousal and fulfillment. Given the emergence of the “new woman”—be she suffrag- ette or flapper—the arrival of a new complementary type of man was to be expected. A generation of novelists goaded hen-pecked males to stand up to cock-sure feminists. And as the Victorian model of masculinity that valorized restraint was displaced by a more relaxed ideal, the early twen- tieth century witnessed a shift from moral to psychological explanations of impotence. When nineteenth-century writers noted male sex problems, they tended to attribute them to sexual excesses; in contrast in, twentieth- century writers increasingly traced them back to a lack or a loss of desire.

Under the caption “The Impotence Boom (Has it hit you yet?),” Esquire carried on its October 1972 cover a photo of an apparently nude Burt Reynolds casting a worried look at his loins. Philip Nobile’s inside story played off claims by alarmists such as Dr. George L. Ginsberg that in recent years there had been a marked rise in impotence, against the reassurances of Dr. Albert Ellis that only reports of such dysfunctions had risen. The general tenor of the story was that worrisome changes explained why impotence was now a topic that novelists, magazine writers, and moviemakers avidly exploited. Men were on the defensive. Nobile titled his story “What Is the New Impotence, and Who’s Got It?” The “old impotence” was attributed to tired, older men bored with their middle-aged partners; the “new impotence” was experienced by younger men increasingly daunted by the demands of sexually liberated women. Nobile cited a Harvard undergrad who stated that in dating the question now was not “Will she or won’t she?” but “Could he or couldn’t he.”

Like any journalist, Nobile concentrated on the sensational, but he touched on a number of key issues in the shifting of gender relationships and the resulting recasting of impotence that took place in the decades between World War II and the 1980s. In these years the media portrayed incapaci- tated males as casualties of the war, of the social pressures of the consumer- ist, conformist culture of the 1950s, and finally of the sexual revolution and the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. These were the decades in which preeminent sex surveyor Alfred Kinsey and the therapists Masters and Johnson became household names. In rewriting the sexual script, they popularized notions of new models of the sexual body, and in their very different ways advocated a shift in treatment of male dysfunctions away from psychotherapy and toward sex therapy. Such sex experts presented them- selves as freeing the anxious from the burdens of old taboos and restraints. They defended or legitimated a number of common sexual practices previ- ously regarded as sapping male sexual vigor. They provided accounts that should have reassured the anxious. But the “sexual revolution” they helped sponsor had its inherent tensions and contradictions. The experts justified the increased attention they paid to a man’s sexual practices on the gravity of his “performance anxieties.” Yet the very fact that a sex therapy profes- sion emerged and increasing numbers of “patients” allowed themselves to be subjected to the most intrusive forms of help imaginable suggests that in a so-called age of liberation, the pressure to meet sexual norms increased rather than decreased.

In 1950s America discussions of male sexuality were colored by the notion that individual men, like the nation as a whole, were vulnerable to attack. Films and novels tapped into such insecurities, representing virility as a means by which to beat back the perversions of communism and homosexuality. Employing a transparently sexualized rhetoric, politicians accused opponents of being “soft” and prided themselves on being “hard” on subversives. They warned the citizenry that in the outside world lurked communism and other forces of evil that might “penetrate” and overwhelm democratic societies. At home sexual pessimists bemoaned the growth of suburbanization, white-collar work, and youth culture to which prosperity had given rise. They pointed to declining fertility and rising divorce rates as symptoms of the erosion of family values. These problems were in turn traced back by a new generation of experts to the notion that men, women, and young people were failing to fulfill their prescribed age and gender roles. The war-time economy had lured countless women into doing “men’s jobs.” A host of sex counselors in the 1950s accordingly sought to correct the war’s corrosive impact on notions of masculinity and femininity by exaggerating “traditional” gender divisions. Believing that New Deal welfare legislation, military regimentation, and stultifying office work had all undercut masculine forcefulness, they looked to sex surveys for evidence to back up their assertions.

In his 1948 best seller, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male Alfred Kinsey set out before the public an exhaustive account of American men’s private practices. Kinsey boasted of drawing on tens of thousands of interviews to report on the variety of sexual acts ordinary white Americans actually engaged in. When Kinsey asked men about their sexual “outlets,” he found that over the course of their lives “true heterosexual intercourse” occupied only fourth place; masturbation, wet dreams, and heterosexual petting pre- ceded it. Masturbation, Kinsey pointed out, was ubiquitous and, though psychiatrists were still reluctant to admit it, harmless. So too was the ho- mosexual sex play that 60 percent of his subjects recalled having as boys. Once males began their sex lives they never stopped. Countering the old notion of a “seminal economy” that held that one had a limited reserve of sexual energy that should not be squandered, Kinsey declared that sexual activity was a sign of health.

Though he said relatively little about impotence, Kinsey’s key argument that abstinence impaired performance—“use it or lose it”—was later on taken up by a host of popularizers. There was no need to worry about ex- cesses. “The ready assumption which is made in some of the medical litera- ture that impotence is the product of sexual excess is not justified by such data as are now available.” 4 In fact Kinsey argued just the opposite. The age at which one began to be sexually active was the main predictor of sexual longevity; those who started early, ended late. Equating inhibitions with ill health, Kinsey surmised that the sexually apathetic were most likely poorly educated and religiously devout.

Kinsey’s findings should have dampened down fears of loss of male viril- ity yet, each subsequent decade saw some publication gloomily allege that a surge in male impotence was occurring. In the 1960s one study showed impotence jumping from about 7 percent for men age fifty, to 25 percent for those sixty-five, to 55 percent age seventy-five. In the mid 1970s, im- potence was described as an “epidemic,” affecting a third of men. Medical doctors had little new to offer. They continued to believe that most cases were psychological in origin though some were linked to disease. The treat- ments available in the late 1960s still included local measures (including circumcision, Lowsley’s operation, urethral diathermy, and employment of splints); hormonal therapies (the use of testosterone derivatives, thyroid compounds, and the Steinach operation); chemotherapeutic therapies (in- cluding doses of yohimbine, strychnine, apomorphine, amphetamine); and finally the psychological therapies (psychotherapy, counseling, hypnosis and relaxation, and behavior therapy).7

If in theory there were numerous medical treatments available, in prac- tice few doctors knew much about them. Before the 1960s physicians re- ceived almost no formal training on sexual matters. Most knew little more than their patients. Donald W. Hastings, the head of psychiatry at the Uni- versity of Minnesota, recalled in 1963 that when he was in medical school in the 1930s only one hour was spent on the study of contraception and that as a young intern he was embarrassed to be put in charge of a ward of prostitutes who knew far more about sex than the medical students who attended them. Little had changed in thirty years. Urologists in the 1960s dealt with surgical matters, not with the decline of the libido. In any event the vast majority of men did not seek sexual advice from their doctors. Dys- functions were self diagnosed and purchases made of quack remedies to increase vigor. The latter included in the late 1950s “Stagg Bullets for Men,” “Passionala,” royal jelly, and pega palo, a Caribbean weed that purportedly enhanced virility.8

Medical doctors largely conceded the discussion of impotence to psy- choanalysts and marriage counselors, and a vulgarized Freudianism per- meated much of their commentary. Though Kinsey believed psychoanalysis was just another means for instilling guilt, the science peaked in popularity in the 1950s. Leaders in the profession such as Edmund Bergler and Helene Deutsch attributed impotence to castration fears, homosexual tendencies, mother fixations, and infantilism. A man’s overattachment to his mother led to feelings of guilt and fear of castration. Such fears were reactivated by any woman “identified” as the mother. His inhibitions and impotence ensued as a protection against a symbolically incestuous relationship. In the first instance such interpretations attributed much of the blame for men’s dys- functions to their mothers. Drawing heavily on Freud, Philip Wylie in Gen- eration of Vipers (1955) attacked what he termed “momism.” Legions of de- structive, idle, middle-aged women, he asserted, had destroyed their sons, leaving them “limp and querulous.” Psychiatrist Edward A. Strecker held such “apron-stringing” moms responsible for the hundreds of thousands of men rejected or discharged by the army. Establishing “momarchies” by usurping the rightful role of the father in the family, such “moms in pants” doomed their boys to immaturity if not homosexuality.9

For the psychoanalyst a potency disturbance could not be understood without understanding the underlying neurosis. In a typically elaborate ex- ample of such psychoanalytic sleuthing Bergler traced back a young man’s marital impotence to his having seen the film The Human Beast, a dramatiza- tion of Emile Zola’s novel.

In it [the film] the protagonist shrinks from having intercourse because he fears that in his sexual frenzy he might strangle the heroine. The young man could not forget that central scene, applied the situation to himself and feared that he, too, would commit such a crime. He became completely impotent, and felt close to a “nervous breakdown.” . . . His fear pertained to castration threats, meted out by the father in his fantasy, and Father is undoubtedly an external person. In short, he played the role of the aggressive transgressor of educational commands, who is threatened by an outside danger of retali- ation. In his enforced “abstinence” (after a few fiascoes, he did not touch his wife), he secondarily avoided the “bad boy” situation. More, he preventively executed the sentence of castration upon himself, since an unusable organ is unconsciously synonymous with a castrated organ. This, in turn, imme- diately brought him into the orbit of “negative Oedipus” which in itself was but a duplication on a “higher” developmental level of the passivity he had experienced on the pre-Oedipal level.

Such inventive reasoning was all the more impressive given that psycho- analysts noted that neurotics, presenting other problems as a façade, rarely mentioned sexual difficulties in their first therapy sessions. But Freudians could detect impotence—even if the patient could not—because they saw it manifested in a variety of behaviors. Bergler argued that neurotics felt that every sex act was a test of their potency. “The wolf is (contradictory as it may sound) an impotent man who conceals that bitter fact from himself and others by constantly exchanging women. Were he to stay for any length of time with one woman, he, the great seducer, would be proven impo- tent. In an unconscious preventive action, therefore, he does not allow the situation to arise.” Bergler repeated the argument in Counterfeit-Sex (1958). Psychoanalytic-psychiatric studies revealed that “nine-tenths of all infidel- ity in women is based on frigidity, and nine-tenths of the ‘running from one woman to another’ in men is reducible to open or hidden impotence.” Bergler likewise pronounced that promiscuous women were actually frigid. Many mistresses were lesbians who really wanted a wife. “Paradoxical as it may sound, Lesbians are not woman-lovers but woman-haters and, in the deepest layer, gluttons for punishment administered by a woman. All Les- bian relationships, therefore, are suffused with hatred and suffering.” Such outbursts explain why Kinsey regarded Freud’s followers as simply carrying on the moralizing tradition of priests and philosophers.11

In looking for the cause of impotence, Freudians placed much of the guilt first on the man’s mother and secondly on his wife. In a study of un- consummated marriages, the English psychoanalyst Michael Balint stated that treating frigid women often cured men’s impotence. Balint noted how powerful such women often were. Those who sought artificial insemination were actually demonstrating a desire to have their own penis and thus to devalue men. Most of the women in the study suffered from tightness, or vaginismus, and had unconsciously chosen timid husbands. These women, according to Balint, had to learn to be passive and less independent. Sim- ply instructing the woman to permit her husband to be more manly often solved the problem. “There is no question that if the woman allows her husband to be aggressive, and even enjoys it, it might give more to him than any psychiatric treatment. We agree that to treat impotent men is a very long and difficult task, whereas here in a few weeks we can make them potent by treating their wives—heaven knows how.” In fact he did know how—by restoring the appropriate gender roles.

According to Bergler homosexuals were, unconsciously, “simply frightened fugitives from women, fleeing in their panic to ‘another continent.’ ” Their mother had been too strong and their father too weak. In treating homo- sexuals, therapists looked for the patient who had such a dad: “A father who is sexually inhibited, impotent, fearful of women, bisexual and/or homo- sexual.” Those who embraced the notion of the “flight to homosexuality” held that since virility in the modern world increasingly had to be proven by woman’s sexual response, weak men retreated into less demanding same- sex relationships. Socarides coined the term “variational homosexuality” to refer to those who because of their impotence or near-impotence, sought out homosexual experiences.

Some therapists held that impotence led to homosexuality, others pos- tulated that the homosexual was impotent. “Homosexuality is a form of impotency, although at times it may not evidence itself anatomically or completely,” asserted John Cavanagh. He went on to state that as a psy- chiatrist he had to “insist that the homosexual is psychologically impotent in heterosexual relations.” There was a positive aversion to the act itself. Furthermore, “the homosexual lacks the capacity for that unselfish love which is necessary for marriage.” While asserting that there was no nec- essary relationship between impotence and sexual deviation, psychiatrist George Henry described a case in which homosexuality and impotence were closely linked. “Egbert’s latent homosexuality was associated with impotence. He was troubled by panicky feelings about losing his health and his mind, by impulses to punch pregnant women in the stomach, and by obsessive thoughts such as: ‘I’m not of any value; nobody wants me. I’m a failure.’ ” Even progressives in favor of decriminalization of homosexuality like Eustace Chesser asserted that homosexuality was related to self-love, failure of sublimation, and arrested development. The liberal English sex expert Joan Malleson described homosexuals as neurotics who like bi- sexuals needed psychotherapy to draw them to “normal paths.” Like Ber- gler, such experts tended to regard homosexuality as a “curable disease.” The transition from homosexuality to a “sustained premarital relation- ship” with a woman would, however, noted Lawrence Hatterer, be marked by sexual complications. “Premature ejaculation, transient impotence, low frequency of intercourse, and an inability to abandon himself or to achieve mutual orgasm are just a few possible difficulties that may arise at this time in the patient’s new sexual adaptation.”16

Doctors “rediscovered” the problem of homosexuality in the postwar years. In 1952 the American Psychiatric Association developed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-1) that declared homosexual- ity a sociopathic personality disorder. Fears of homosexuality also underlay the postwar panic over sexual psychopaths. Between 1947 and 1955 twenty- one American states passed laws targeting deviants, the purported purpose being to better protect women and children. In the 1960s doctors continued to suggest that impotent inverts were prone to commit sex crimes. “Many sexual offenses occur because the individual is seeking the stimulus neces- sary to overcome his impotence. The individual who has lost his potency frequently becomes obsessed with the idea that if he could receive a certain type of stimulus he could then perform a sex act quite satisfactorily. He may have enjoyed such stimulation or (more likely) has enjoyed it in fantasy. This stimulus may vary from some simple form of stimulation such as por- nographic pictures at one end of the scale to sadistic murder at the other.” Patricia Sexton stated that the typical murderer was a “nice guy” like Sirhan or Oswald (the killers of the Kennedys) who were quiet “feminized males” whose normal impulses were so warped they had to prove their virility by killing. Such accounts of “sick” perverts deflected attention from the fact that the vast majority of assaults on women and children were carried out by heterosexual male friends or family members.17 In the decades in which men were egged on to be more virile and manly, few arguments were more unsettling than the suggestion that impotence could lead to homosexual- ity, which in turn could lead to sadistic sex crimes.

Others were more intrusive. Edwin W. Hirsch asserted that civilization, prudery, bad education, and fears of masturbation produced sexual cripples.
Psychic impotence could be cured only by force of will. “Nature does not re- ward cowards and mental slackers.” Some still clung to the discredited no- tion of a spermatic economy. Premarital experiments often led to poor mar- riages, asserted one expert, but the healthy man could go on into his sixties if he had “exercised his sexual powers in a legitimate way.” The promiscu- ous would have their just desserts. “The man who has had many mistresses and has lived in a way that was sexually exciting to the extreme, is going to find that he is not sufficiently stimulated by the same woman, his wife, day after day, and he therefore tends to become impotent at a much earlier age than if he had been more saving of his sexual powers.” The more current writers followed Kinsey’s line that those who were sexually active soonest lasted longest.

Women had always been blamed for intimidating men, but in the 1960s a particular type of woman—the feminist—was singled out for attack. In a 1964 article denouncing sexologists, the psychoanalyst Leslie H. Farber asserted that when the woman did not know about the orgasm she did not miss it; it was not “isolated from the totality of her pleasures.” Now experts had “enshrined” the orgasm as her right. By the 1970s a conserva- tive doctor like B. Lyman Stewart, was asserting the “passive male” was ren- dered impotent by a “paternalistic or socialistic form of government” and by the fear of the sorts of aggressive women who supported the Women’s Liberation Movement. He pointed to the fact that younger men and non- Caucasians were now showing up in doctors’ offices as a sure indicator of a rise in male difficulties. Since more aggressive women had appeared, Stew- art saw as the only answer the need for even more powerful men. Some lib- eral commentators were bemused by such calls to arms, interpreting them as an inability to imagine egalitarian relationships. “We are in a situation where the bluff of male potency has been called by the militant sisterhoods of America and Britain, or so it would seem from the anger they provoke,” wrote Karl Miller. “The penis has sustained its comeuppance, or rather put- down.” Others argued that the increased popularity of oral sex was an indi- cator of men worrying about their ability to penetrate.

That symbol of 1960s sexual modernity—the contraceptive pill—played a central role in the emergence of the “new impotence.” From the nineteenth century onward it had been reported that the need to employ contraceptives sapped the ardor of some men. In the 1950s and 1960s birth control contin- ued to be cited as a cause of impotence due to men’s dislike of the condom and the anxieties associated with coitus interruptus. The fact that the main methods of contraception were the man’s responsibility compounded the problem. Finding that many men claimed they could not perform if forced to wear a condom, the birth control advocate Margaret Sanger saw the need to distance sex from contraception. Her goading of medical scientists and philanthropists finally resulted in the appearance of the birth control pill in 1960. With the coming of the oral contraceptive the sex act was finally divorced from both reproduction and the messy methods to avoid it. Most men were delighted that the pill relieved them of the responsibility for contraception and made women more sexually available. Yet, some were not sure. David Reisman worried that the pill allowed women to become “criti- cal consumers of male performance.” There were even men who lamented the fact that with the pill they were ignorant of a woman’s intent. Given the chances of getting pregnant in a pre-pill age, a woman would have con- sented to sex only if she were serious about the relationship. Now she was free—like a man—to shop around. Almost immediately the cry was raised that easier contraception caused even more impotence. Dr. Herbert A. Otto claimed that “the pill and the IUD contribute to a male perception of women as sexually demanding and possibly insatiable, since the fear of pregnancy which has acted as a deterrent to her sexual appetites has been removed.” In reality, the evidence suggests that the separation of intercourse and protec- tion by oral contraceptive largely allowed gender norms to go unchanged. The very fact that women took the pill well before having sex meant that they could continue to play the passive role.28

It was hardly a coincidence that in the 1970s reports of a “new impo- tence” followed not only the widespread use of the pill and the emergence of second-wave feminism, but the discovery of the multiorgasmic female. The latter phenomenon was widely publicized by William H. Masters and Vir- ginia E. Johnson, the most important of the sex therapists who in the 1960s presented themselves as replacing marriage counselors and psychoana- lysts as the best qualified experts on sexual dysfunctions. Their best-selling Human Sexual Response (1966) claimed to provide the first scientific explana- tion of the mechanics of intercourse. Masters, who began his observation of orgasms in 1954 at George Washington University in St. Louis, in effect created the new field of sex therapy. In the late 1950s he married Virginia Johnson and they became a husband and wife team. At first they mainly saw men worried by impotence or premature ejaculation; in the 1960s their pa- tients were primarily women seeking orgasm. Much has been written about their work on women but little about their work on men.

Whereas marriage counseling had been all about communication and emotional adjustment, sex therapy was mainly about technique. It presented itself as more scientific, basing its recommendations upon the actual obser- vation and measurement of sex acts. When Masters and Johnson’s research was initially reported, the public felt an unease upon hearing that sex was be- ing subjected to laboratory experimentation and—with miniature cameras inside plastic penises—observation. They skillfully defused such worries by presenting themselves as white coated medical scientists rather than as sex radicals. In referring to “erectile dysfunction” and “female sexual arousal dis- order” rather than to “impotence” or “frigidity” they distanced themselves from the Freudians. More importantly, they presented themselves as a ther- apy team dealing with the “marriage problems” of both husband and wife, justifying their intrusiveness as serving the higher goal of marital harmony. They did not set out to cure individuals; the “marital unit” was the “the pa- tient” and the interaction of the couple accordingly crucial.

While Kinsey had argued that sexual performance varied according to social class, Masters and Johnson began with the basic premise that sexual intercourse was simply a physiological process. They believed that men in particular were hard wired to be orgasmic. Based on their fifteen years of lab experiments and eleven years of clinical trials they claimed that existing types of therapy lacked physiological insights. In asserting that the clitoris was a woman’s main source of pleasure and that her sexual capacities ex- ceeded those of the man, Masters and Johnson made their name, yet they simply demonstrated much that was already known. Their declarations both increased men’s sexual concerns and offered reassurances. Some men were no doubt daunted by the therapists’ claims of having discovered the multi- orgasmic woman. It was also humbling for some to hear that women could have more orgasms without men than with them.

Masters and Johnson dealt with both nonorgasmic women and impotent men. Their simple message was that, armed with new, scientific knowledge, overcoming marital problems was relatively easy. All that was required was a two week training session costing $2,500. They found that over the long term, negative thinking—depression, anger, fear, and boredom—were the main causes of the male’s sexual decline. Like Kinsey they reported the key factor was “consistency of active sexual expression” from middle age on. Nevertheless they claimed that those over fifty could still be “trained” out of “secondarily acquired impotence.” A man’s virility could be “reconstituted” or “restimulated.” In the short term, monotony, preoccupation with one’s job, fatigue, overindulgence in food or drink, and physical infirmities, all played roles, but they singled out the heavy burden of male responsibility in intercourse as the leading cause of the performance anxieties that led to erectile dysfunctions.

Stopes and Sanger had given their correspondents some general instruc- tions on how to improve their sex lives. Masters and Johnson provided in- trusive coaching aimed at behavior modification. They shifted the focus from Kinsey’s concern for the quantity of sex to the quality of the orgasm. By teaching techniques of orgasmotherapy, starting with an education in masturbation, they claimed it was possible to ignore cultural condition- ing and circumvent the psychoanalytic preoccupation with the psyche that might demand years of treatment. They reassured their patients that penis size was not important. Men needed only to relax, knowing that sexual intercourse was simply “a natural physical function.”

If established patterns blocked healthy, natural reactions, the individ- ual needed reconditioning. “Negative conditioning”—due to bad memo- ries, fears, and hostilities—were the chief causes of anxiety. A “repressive upbringing,” a dominant mother, or notions of sin might all play a role. Embracing a behaviorist psychological model, the therapists believed an impotent man would inevitably respond to stimulus-response. The pur- pose of subjecting him to training or “sensate focus sessions” was to remove his unhealthy responses and develop his pleasure-giving abilities. These might include self-stimulation. Nineteenth-century doctors said masturba- tion caused impotence; Masters and Johnson claimed that in providing an “education” that overcame “performance fears,” masturbation could help cure it.

In some ways Masters and Johnson raised the sexual bar for men. Whereas Kinsey refused to view premature ejaculation as a problem, they went so far as to assert that a man who failed to bring a woman to orgasm at least half of the time had to be counted as suffering from the condition and well on the road to having the secondary form of impotence. They regarded premature ejaculation as a conditioned response resulting from petting and coitus in- terruptus. Neither the traditional attempts at distraction—the reciting of baseball statistics and so on—nor the use of sedatives and calming oint- ments worked. Instead the therapists explained how the wife in the female dominant position, should employ the “squeeze technique,” allowing the husband “to become acquainted with the sensation of intravaginal contain- ment in a nondemanding, therefore nonthreatening, environment.” Bet- ter than other therapies like hypnotism, drugs, tranquilizers, barbituates, and the creams and jellies used to reduce sensitivity, Masters and Johnson claimed the “squeeze technique” resulted in the curing of 182 of 186 cases.

Masters and Johnson defined “secondary impotence” as failure in 25 per- cent or more attempts at penetration. Here the goal of training was to re- move the man’s fears and teach the couple to communicate. The wife was instructed to mount the man so he would not be distracted by the “hunt” for the vagina. She was instructed to “tease” and warned that “a demanding pattern of female pelvic thrusting is indeed threatening to any man with erective insecurity.” With just such simple training over a two week period they claimed to achieve an unbelievable success rate of 75 percent. They even claimed to have cured nineteen out of thirty-two cases of “pri- mary impotence,” which they attributed to psychosocial causes, homosexual preference, and prostitute traumas. As a colleague reported, they prided themselves on doing more than restoring a man’s potency. “They add that the husband’s ability to perform effectively and securely in the sexual sphere has also profoundly affected his ability to play the male with confidence in other spheres of his life, and has revolutionized the marriage relationship.”

One came away from a reading of the works of such therapists with the sense that intercourse was now regarded as a highly organized event for which one had to train and carefully prepare. The popular sex manuals that followed in the 1970s set out problems and provided strategies, scripts, exer- cises, and illustrations. Calling for programmed spontaneity, they promised that the goal of the orgasm could be achieved if sexuality was approached in a conscious, calculated, technical fashion. Masters and Johnson did note the risk of making sex work, yet fell back on the use of economic and indus- trial metaphors, referring, for example, to a man who “simply cannot ‘get the job done.’”36 They instructed the man both to relax and to get on with his “job” of pleasuring his partner. Given that the sex therapists popular- ized the notion that women could have multiple orgasms, the task appeared all the more daunting.

In the most extreme cases, some went so far as to advocate the use of punishments. “The technique employed to reduce the patient’s aversion to the female genitals,” reported Helen Kaplan, “was a modification of the ‘stop-shock’ technique described by Feldman and MacCulloch, which is re- ported to be highly and rapidly effective in reversing the sexual orientation of secondary homosexuals. Briefly, the technique consists of pairing pic- tures of the female genitals with relief from an electric shock.” It would be hard to imagine a more striking example of compulsory heterosexuality. A similar sense of desperation was evident in therapists’ injunctions that penetration, no matter how achieved, was good. An American doctor gave instructions on the ways in which to “shoehorn” a limp penis into a moist vagina. An English team of therapists explained how after oral sex and masturbation had provided the man with the rudiments of an erection, the woman could employ the “stuffing method” to get him inside her. Another expert described how she should use the two-handed method, “exactly like the action used in milking a cow.”38 Though such stratagems might have given the partners some sense of accomplishment, they seemed unlikely to provide much delight.

More commonly filmmakers depicted social pressures as incapacitating the anxious husbands and sickly breadwinners of a conformist society. Al- fred Hitchcock exploited popular notions of Freudianism in presenting a series of frigid heroines and impotent males.49 Imaginative film critics have regarded the hero of Rear Window (1954) as what in psychoanalytic terms would be described as a castrated/impotent voyeur. The never-married central character of Vertigo (1958) is similarly unable to master females. In Frenzy (1972) Hitchcock explicitly chronicles the career of a psychopathic murderer who can only overcome his impotence by strangling women.

On March 27, 1998, Viagra became the first oral medication to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat erectile dysfunction.  

An even more dramatic form of intervention was undertaken when sur- geons from the 1970s on implanted silicon rods in the penis of impotent men. In the 1980s American Medical Systems offered three models, the Malleable 600 Penile Prosthesis consisting of two silicon rubber rods that could either be bent for comfort or straightened for penetration, the Dynaflex Penile Prosthesis with two fluid filled cylinders that when squeezed inflated the penis; and the 700 Ultrex Inflatable Penile Prosthesis complete with reser- voir and pump hidden in the scrotum. These devices produced a formidably rigid member reminiscent of the body parts of the robot played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the popular film The Terminator (1984). Advertisements had wives reporting they found their spouses bearing such contraptions “were more relaxed and confident.” Such devices, claimed one doctor, “allow sex to be completely spontaneous.” Likening arousal to turning on a switch or pumping up a flat tire, such enthusiasts apparently equated “mechanical” with “spontaneous.” Late night TV comedians made the purchasers of such devices the butt of countless jokes. Serious critics such as Thomas Szasz, the libertarian psychiatrist, declared that the so-called satisfied patients were only deceiving themselves and their partners. He cruelly referred to such implanting (which could cost from $3,500 to $9,000 per operation) as “dildoization.” Szasz, who had a good grasp on the history of medicine, also pertinently noted that doctors were again following a fad. They once had cas- trated those who were not supposed to perform sexually; now they implanted sexual prostheses to allow the impotent to perform. Such inflatable penile implants were not initially examined by the Food and Drug Administration and were plagued by failures and infections. Nevertheless it was estimated that within a decade 250,000 to 300,000 had been inserted.

Viagra was explicitly billed as propping up the traditional heterosexual marriage in which the husband took the sexual initiative. A number of scholars have suggested that at a time when white, middle-class men felt that they were being squeezed out of the labor market by downsizing and had lost power to feminists, homosexuals and African-Americans, such an appeal would strike a cord. Countering the liberalism of the 1960s, a backlash of sorts did take place in the 1980s and 1990s represented by a resurgence of biological explanations of gender difference. A “Men’s Movement” emerged in the United States to counter feminism, with reform of the divorce and child custody laws the central preoccupation of the more militant men’s groups. The Million Man March of 1995 saw an army of African-American men converge on Washington, D.C. to pledge to be better fathers and hus- bands. Two years later almost as many white male “Promise Keepers” as- sembled on the Washington Mall. Even Playboy and Esquire joined the fray, asserting that men had had enough of the emasculating sensitivity induced by bleeding heart liberals. There were, however, powerful counter currents. The growing popularity of common law relationships in which partners sought to be open about such issues as the domestic division of labor and sexual reciprocity provided evidence of a search by some men for more equitable relationships. The media particularly attributed the appearance of the “New Man”—sensitive, antisexist, confused, cosmopolitan—to the influence of gays and feminists.34

Did Viagra represent part of a backlash against advances made by women? Did the pill counter equality? Those who argue that it did have no shortage of evidence. Often cited as the most flagrant example was the way in which Viagra was rushed onto the American market. And in Japan, though the government had postponed for thirty-four years the approval of the contraceptive pill, it took only six months to OK Viagra. It has also been pointed out that the makers of Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis all exploited tra- ditional notions of what it meant to be a man. Sociologists have noted that the advertisements for such products transmit “cultural scripts which serve as enforcers of normatively gendered expressions of sex and sexuality.”35 Should this occasion surprise? Commercial publicity campaigns are not aimed at changing society. On close examination, discussions precipitated by the appearance of the erectile drugs reveal that the views our culture has of sex, aging, and medical intervention are often more conflicted than they might first appear.

The first lesson to be drawn from such discussions is the extent to which physical performance was, at the start of the third millennium, still central to notions of masculinity. The defenders of the sex drugs propounded the old message that sex made the man. One did not say “he is a headache,” but one did say “he is impotent” implying that a particular condition denoted the whole man. Viagra’s implicit promise was that in dealing with a blood flow issue it would restore to a man all his masculine prerogatives. The old message that was so dear to nineteenth-century quacks was repeated by twenty-first-century scientists: a man’s identity depended on his being able to have an erection. For example a doctor attached to the Harvard University medical school actually reported that a sign of the return of one particular patient’s potency was that the man started to get decent haircuts.36

The great appeal of Viagra and its ilk was that it reduced the problem of impotency to a simple plumbing problem. Men preferred the medical model since it spared them shame. Urologists absolved men of failure by as- serting that, if anything were wrong, it was with their penis, not with them. Critics complained that this led in a curious fashion to men being separated from their penises. In presenting the man as suffering from a medical prob- lem doctors finessed the question of whether or not impotence was related to the relationship in which a man was involved. His condition ceased to have a history and he was spared the need to discuss it. Men were, of course, notorious for not wanting to broach such subjects. A New Zealand male psychologist reported that when injections were first made available sex counselors found that some men were so desperate to avoid discussing their sexuality that they actually preferred sticking a needle into their penis to talking to their partners.37

In their publicity material Viagra and the other erectile pharmaceuti- cals shored up an existing model of masculinity in which heterosexual male desire was taken as a given. The pill manufacturers followed urologists who constructed and diagnosed erectile dysfunction according to a normative hydraulic model. Narrowing the definition of male arousal, they implied that sex necessarily meant penetration. It followed that the harder the pe- nis the better the sex and doctors set about measuring the “quality” of the erection. But here again, urologists and pharmaceutical companies did not invent these ideas. Men already used machine metaphors for the penis— hard-on, tool, pecker—making clear that they still bought into the myth of men always having to manifest control and hardness. Viagra was esteemed because it allowed performance, not necessarily pleasure. Indeed phrases such as “blow jobs” or “hand jobs” suggested that some men regarded sex as work or perhaps part of a commercial exchange.38

Feminists complained that urologists were only interested in genital in- tercourse and that they ignored the relational and cultural aspects of sexu- ality. Should one be disappointed that they were so mesmerized by the erec- tion? Perhaps one should. Therapists pointed out that in fact an erection did not always indicate desire; men had them when asleep, when on bouncy buses, when frightened. Yet a flaccid penis could give pleasure and result in orgasm. Moreover lovemaking was changing in the late twentieth century. Nongenital pleasures—particularly those of oral sex—were increasing in popularity. The new focus on safe sex was also helping to shift attention away from penetration, which was not as linked to heterosexuality as it once was. One can argue that if erectile dysfunctions were a problem so too was the doctors’ fixation on the erection, effectively reinforcing the old notion that men’s sexual problems were always physical and the woman’s always psychological.39

A second finding drawn from the discussions of Viagra is that many men appeared to feel under increased pressure to prove themselves. The tensions appeared to be mainly due to men attempting to sustain outdated ideals of masculinity that stressed power and control, when the social world in which they lived had dramatically changed. Viagra was seen by men, claim some researchers, as a “masculinity pill” that would fix the broken male ma- chine.40 Of course for centuries, every quack seller of restoratives had made more or less the same claim. Similarly, masculinity had been declared in crisis in almost every decade of the twentieth century. That said, it is true that in the 1990s men faced new challenges.

Given that a portion of Viagra advertisements were from the start di- rected at African-American consumers made it clear that the pharmaceuti- cal corporations recognized that the pressure to perform was not restricted to whites. In the 1970s the fact that some non-Caucasians sought medical help for erectile dysfunctions had surprised doctors. They unconsciously accepted the racialization of masculine sexuality and its clichéd terms of the greater sexual potency and larger penis size of black men. Impotence was understood culturally as a white man’s problem. By the 1990s such crude stereotyping was to a degree attenuated, but this evolution in turn posed challenges. How did blacks and Latinos, whom the culture had for centuries oversexualized, deal with the possibility of being “under- sexualized?” That they had good reasons for being even more preoccupied than whites in restoring their potency was argued by Dr. Terry Mason, an African-American urologist: “To the extent that the Black man is so deci- mated in every other area of society, it’s devastating for him to come home and not be able to sexually satisfy his mate.” Other doctors pointed out that the situation was exacerbated inasmuch as black men—who might have in- ternalized the notion that one had to be a stud to be a “real man”—were in fact more susceptible than whites to diabetes and the cardiovascular prob- lems that could lead to loss of erections.

In the 1990s a feminist joke asked “Why do women fake orgasm?” and an- swered “Because men fake foreplay.” In the masculinist version the question was “Why do women fake orgasm?” and the answer, “Because they think men care.” Just as men had sex to pleasure themselves first and foremost, they had erections for the same reasons. Men candidly concede that there was a good deal of truth in such assertions, whereas the pharmaceutical corporations refused to acknowledge the narcissistic—some would say masturbatory— nature of their products.

With the medicalization of sexuality and the popularization by the urologists of a mechanistic notion of impo- tence, sexually inactive older men began to be described as suffering from a dysfunction. Doctors who failed to ask their male patients about their sexual health were chided. Researchers reported that men in their forties had erection problems associated with drinking, diabetes, and hyperten- sion. The Massachusetts Male Health Study asserted that 52 percent of men between forty and seventy had some degree of impotence. But was this a medical problem? Given that declines in the flow of blood and in the veloc- ity of the nerves due to aging were “the most predictive factor” of erectile difficulties the more obvious conclusion would be that a natural slacken- ing of sexual vigor was to be expected. Certainly most older couples took that view, responding to a man’s loss of erection by adopting various coping strategies including new positions. And some, of course, welcomed the end of their sex life.46

The pharmaceutical companies in contrast played up the notion that erectile dysfunctions were not natural, but problems that could be cured by a pill. Some older men’s impotence did have an organic basis. As the number of prostate operations—rendered safer by newer techniques— increased from the 1980s onward, so did the number of men who experienced resulting erectile problems. Pfizer shrewdly selected Bob Dole, a prostate cancer survivor as its first spokesperson. In reality, Viagra had a low suc- cess rate with this sort of patient and the corporations really had their eyes on the affluent market made up of the growing number of healthy if aging baby boomers. It was estimated that by 2030 one in four Americans would be over sixty-five. The turn of the century has as a result witnessed an un- precedented commercial targeting of the “sex ageless consumer.” Whereas it was once said that a healthy life would prolong one’s sex life, the pharma- ceutical corporations turned the formula around to argue that an active sex life improved one’s health. The popular media contributed to this pressure on the aging by hailing personalities like Tony Randall and Saul Bellow who proved themselves by remaining sexually active late in life. Though the no- tion of men in their seventies siring “Viagra babies” led to a certain amount of disquiet, Western culture continued to find acceptable old men bedding young women, but not the opposite. What did cause concern was a rise in HIV among seniors, which investigators attributed to Viagra inasmuch as it allowed to become sexually active a generation that had not been educated about sexually transmitted diseases.

The notion that a person who was not ill should nevertheless take a medication, a bizarre notion for most of the twentieth century, did not seem so by 1998. As the importance of sexuality was inflated so too were the insecurities of many men and women. Men taking Viagra could be compared to the women who had silicone breast implants. Both were doing something “unnatural” to meet an internalized ideal. Both represented in their own way medicine’s abilities to manipulate the body and industry’s interest in commercializing sex. The irony is that the new drugs, in focusing more attention on the erection, have put it more at risk. Men, who might like to be freed of the responsibility of taking the initiative in sexual matters are, because of the advertisements for such drugs, made more rather than less responsible. Pills that promise to free men can in practice constrain them. It is not that an anti-impotence drug like Viagra is in itself a bad thing. Nor were most of the charms, aphrodisiacs, and herbal remedies consumed in ages past for similar purposes. The overevaluating of the erection and the fixation on penetration as the essential sign of man- liness have had a long history. The new pharmaceuticals have extended it. Any account of evolving notions of sex and gender relationships that did not acknowledge the tenacity of such obsessions would be incomplete. Given the voracious pharmaceutical corporations’ pursuit of profits, it is in their best interests to induce sexual anxieties in as many consumers as possible. And because sexual dysfunctions are spoken of more openly today it is probable that the specter of impotence haunts more men than it ever has before. It is not yet history." [Impotence, A Cultural History]
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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:31 pm

Greco-Roman view of Impotence.


Angus McLaren wrote:
"Ovid’s Amores and Petronius’s Satyrica provide the two most famous literary accounts of the ancients’ view of impotence. In Amores 3.7 the Latin poet amusingly describes his inexplicable inability to perform with a woman he has long lusted after.

"Yes, she was beautiful and well turned out,
The girl that I’d so often dreamed about,
Yet I lay with her limp as if I loved not,
A shameful burden on the bed that moved not.
Though both of us were sure of our intent,
Yet could I not cast anchor where I meant."

Following this disastrous encounter the narrator is enraged to find his re- fractory member suddenly full of vigor.

"But notwithstanding, like one dead it lay,
Drooping more than a rose picked yesterday.
Now, when he should not be, he’s bolt upright,
And craves his task and seeks to have his fight.
Lie down in shame and see you stir no more!
You’ve caught me with your promises before.
You’ve tricked me, got me captured weaponless,
And I’ve endured great shame and sore distress."

Some sense of the importance of cultural framing is given by a reading of Petronius’s Satyrica. His hero Encolpius tries to bed Circe, but at the crucial moment he too goes limp.

Three times I whip the dreadful weapon out,
And three times softer than a Brussels sprout
I quail, in those dire straits my manhood blunted,
No longer up to what just now I wanted.

Again, this sounds very familiar to the modern ear. The cultural resonance of impotence is only made clear when Petronius goes on to deal with the pos- sible causes, cures, and import of the problem. Encolpius is humiliated not simply because he is unready for sex, but because he appears less able than a cinaedus, a passive homosexual whose status is lower than his. Encolpius’s lack of erection is thus shameful inasmuch as it signals a loss of both mas- culine and social status. And why does he suffer such a fate? Is it because of his boyfriend whom Circe says he should drop? Is it due to an unhealthy regimen that he seeks to ameliorate by continence, diet, and a restriction on wine? Might he be bewitched? An elderly crone helps him counter the evil eye. In chapter 138 when he is finally cured, it is by a sadistic old priestess who buggers him with a leather dildo smeared with oil, pepper, and nettle seeds.

In providing a comic account of impotence, Petronius is not attempting to document all the ways in which his contemporaries viewed the problem. Nevertheless a reading of his masterpiece reminds us that to appreciate ear- lier societies’ understandings of the workings of the body we have to make a conscious effort to avoid assuming that they shared our views and values. Certain acts employed by the Greeks and Romans no doubt either curbed or encouraged potency, but what mattered was not so much the act as the social construction of meanings given to it and the individual responses to such meanings.

To be a man in the ancient world a vigorous character was essential. The Romans were positively fixated with an ideal of the self-controlled, aggres- sive, virile male. They had an extravagant concern for winning recognition through public achievement. According to what has been called the Medi- terranean notion of manliness, men had to appear strong and active. A man manifested proper male behavior by expressions of his righteous anger, powerful desires, and personal autonomy. Even humor was seasoned with a strong element of sexual aggression, as opponents in law and politics were commonly abused as soft or effeminate. Hence the poet Catullus threatened to rape or bugger his critics.

The ancients admitted as much in stressing the importance of performance. One might be born male, but to prove one’s manhood one needed to walk and talk in a certain way. Rhetorical skills, for example, played a key role in establishing gen- der identity. Gender was in effect learnt. “Masculinity in the ancient world was an achieved state,” one scholar has noted, “radically underdetermined by anatomical sex.” 5 There were few hard rules.6 Though gender norms ex- isted, deviations were accepted. Male reputation and honor were not pre- determined; men learned how to manipulate community expectations and the norms of masculinity to their own advantage.

Notions of assertive male behavior were projected onto the genitals. Thus Plato personified the penis as “disobedient and self-willed, like a creature that is deaf to reason, and it attempts to dominate all because of its frenzied lusts.” Indeed the assertion that masculinity was for the ancients not simply determined by anatomy sounds counterintuitive, given their acceptance of public male nudity, the attention paid to male genitalia, and the displays of the phallus. Greek nurses molded the baby’s body, even using swaddling to shape the scrotum and stretching to elongate the foreskin. To judge by illustrations and statuary, the ideal penis was small, thin, and had a pointed foreskin. The Greeks believed a dainty penis was not only more attractive but more serviceable in reproduction, since its semen, not having to travel as far, would suffer less heat loss. They represented Satyrs with huge pe- nises as sign of their ugliness. The Romans, however, preferred big penises, or at least that was the case of the emperors when choosing their favorites.

In the ancient world the erect penis was a symbol of maturity and power. The Romans celebrated a boy’s first ejaculation. Representations of the penis were found everywhere. Artificial penises were used on the comic stage of Athens until the fourth century BC. A phallic stele of Hermes stood at the doorway of every Greek house and during ritual processions the men carried an enormous phallus through the community. In Roman gardens, instead of a scarecrow, a representation of the god Priapus, complete with erect penis, threatened intruders with rape.

The ancients moreover employed an elaborate vocabulary to describe the male genitals. “People will laugh aloud at you,” warned an early Greek epigram, “if you venture to sail unequipped, a rower who has lost his oar.” In common parlance the erect penis was described as one’s equipment, tool, spear, ram, goad, or drill. In its flaccid state it might be called a snake or rope. A woman accordingly cursed her younger rival “may you find a snake in your bed.” The Romans believed the sparrow to be lecherous, so in Latin “sparrow” was a synonym for penis. In Catullus 2 and 3 the narrator talks about his girlfriend’s sparrow being dead, that is, himself as impotent. In literature the phallus was frequently personified, especially the impotent prick as in Ovid’s Amores 3.7.

The flaccid penis represented failure since for the virile in the ancient world sex could only mean penetration. A man had either to penetrate or be penetrated. Martial (Epigram 3.73) for example accused Gallus of not be- ing able to stand and thereby implied that he was a fellator. The real man was an “impenetrable penetrator.”

Male character assassination fed on such innuendos that one was “soft.” In the musings of philosophers such as Seneca as well as in popular lampoons, graffiti, and satires appeared the same expressions of distaste for effeminacy.

The genitals represented the man. Potency represented power, hence the number of literary references to the penis as a weapon. Loss of potency meant loss of manhood and defeat. Catullus in one poem refers to a groom whose “short sword hung like a strip of limp beet / between his legs, never / cocked navelwards.” In Petronius’s Satyrica the narrator lamented, “I was a ready soldier, but I had no weapons.” The poet Martial wielded the inabil- ity to have an erection as amongst the most wounding of charges to hurl at his opponents. He derided one victim (Epigram 11.46): “You no longer rise, Mevius, except in your sleep, and your penis begins to piss onto the middle of your feet; your shriveled cock is stirred by your weary fingers and, thus solicited, does not lift its useless head.” In stating that cunts and asses could no longer serve Mevius, Martial implied that mouths were his last resort. And indeed Martial made just such a charge (Epigram 11.25) against Linus. “That over-active cock, well known to girls not a few, has ceased to stand for Linus. Tongue, look out!” Finally Martial asserted (Epigram 11.61) that Nanneius was so weak that even his tongue was impotent.

Aristotle regarded late marriage as healthy because, “to abstain from early marriage conduces to self-control; for women who have sexual in- tercourse too soon are apt to be wanton, and a man’s body also is stunted if he exercises the reproductive faculty before the semen is full grown.” He believed semen and the menses started and stopped at the same ages, but men only became fertile at twenty-one. He contradicted himself later, acknowledging men could be still be potent in old age. An older husband presumably could more easily control a young wife, but Aristotle voiced the fear that she might prove sexually demanding. To dissuade men from entering into marriages in which there would be too great an age disparity, Plutarch claimed the Athenian law allowed the wife a legal right to demand her husband be physically capable of fulfilling his conjugal duties at least three times a month.
As long as a man was dominant, the ancients were not so much interested in whom he had sex with or how, but with the dynamics of desire.

Women were told that to be healthy they needed sex—even if they did not find it pleasurable. In men lust was taken as a given. For Plato desire emerged in the seed itself. In Greek medical thinking heat was necessary for life; cold brought death. Only men were hot enough to produce semen. For Diogenes the Cynic air was the life principle and male semen the “foam” of the blood; the mother simply reared in the womb the offspring produced by the father. Similarly the Hippocratic text “On Generation” held that semen was transported from brain to loins, thus a cut above the ear could render one sterile. Since it looked like spinal fluid the seed was thought to come from the head and the essence of life from the knee. Given the Hippocratic idea that sperm came from the marrow of the spine, hunchbacks with their exaggerated backbones were thought especially lecherous.

For Aristotle semen was a residue concocted from the blood; further concoction occurred in coition, which explained the child’s resemblance to the parent. He argued that the presence of pneuma (air) in the semen turned it white and also expanded the penis. Holding one’s breath supposedly helped to release sperm. Though Aristotle located semen in the scrotum, he saw no need for the testicles except as weights to keep the vesicles extended. While Herophilus investigated the vas deferens, the seminal vesicles, and prostate gland, he too retained the notion that blood turned into semen. Rufus of Ephesus was the first to assert that semen was formed in the testicles.

The Hippocratic authors argued that women, like men, produced seed or semen though of a weaker nature. Aristotle argued in a circular fashion that because women lacked heat they could not produce semen and their failure to produce semen proved they lacked heat. Moreover since they could not emit semen it followed that, unlike men who had to reach orgasm if conception were to take place, women’s pleasure was not required.

Indeed Aristotle held that a woman’s colder physiology was most influenced by the moon: “the menstrual discharge in the natural course tends to take place when the moon is waning . . . that time of the month is cooler and more fluid.” Women—being weak, cold, and passive—could be likened to eunuchs or young boys. The female was incomplete at the bio- logical level and accordingly could not resist the male who would make her complete.

Discussions of reproduction were colored by this general assumption of female inferiority. In Aeschylus’s Eumenides woman was presented as little more than a nest for the growing conceptus: “She who is called the mother is not her offspring’s Parent, but nurse to the newly sown embryo. The male—who mounts—begets. The female, a stranger, guards a strang- er’s child if no god bring it harm.” Anaxagoras claimed that males provided the seed and females only the “ground” in which embryos were reared. Ar- istotle noted, “Anaxagoras and some other philosophers hold that sex is al- ready determined in the sperm. They say that while the father provides the seed, the mother only provides a place for the fetus to develop; that male offspring come from the right testis and female from the left; and that fur- thermore, male offspring develop in the right side of the womb, females in the left.” Similarly Plato argued, “for the woman in her conception and gen- eration is but the imitation of the earth and not the earth of the woman.” Aristotle likened the male element operating on inactive female matter to a carpenter working on wood or to rennet changing milk into cheese.23 If the seed succeeded in impressing form on matter a male was produced; if it failed a female resulted.

The Romans relied heavily on Greek medicine for their understanding of reproduction—indeed the leading physicians of the empire were Greek— but the Romans tended to take a more pessimistic view of health. They were clearly preoccupied with corporal fragility and exhibited an intense interest in diet and regimen. For Galen sexual intercourse was necessary for health. “It is evident,” he concluded, “that a chaste person does not indulge in sex- ual intercourse for pleasure, but with the intention to relieve this urge, as if this were not associated with pleasure.” Galen, like the Hippocratic writers, believed women produced seed and their hysteria resulted from a surplus. Men suffered even more from retaining semen. Masturbation might have been recommended as a therapy. The ancients said little about the topic, but the act certainly posed no ethical problem. Galen repeated the famous story of Diogenes the Cynic bringing himself off, not for pleasure but to avoid bodily disturbances.

The barren wife certainly risked being divorced. But what if the man failed to complete the sexual act? As Plutarch made clear, sterility and impotence were often confused. “Diocles holds that sterility in men ariseth from some of these causes,—either that they cannot at all ejaculate any sperm, or if they do, it is less than nature doth require, or else there is no generative faculty in the sperm, or the genital members are flagging; or from the obliquity of the yard.” 25 The fact that the ancient texts contain extended discussions of how such situations might have arisen and how they could be remedied is the most striking indication of the anxieties provoked by fears of impotence.

The ancients recognize a wide range of causes of male failures. The Greeks believed that a male child would be made impotent if placed on tomb. Firmicus Maternus cited the influence of the planets as a cause. Others at- tributed men’s failures to the work of the gods. In the Odyssey (10.299–301) Hermes warns Odysseus of Circe’s magical power to render him impotent. The Odyssey also made reference to Melampus, the first mortal to under- stand the language of animals. Phylacus offered to free him and to give him his cattle if Melampus would cure his son, Iphiclus, of impotence. Melampus discovered the antidote to Iphiclus’s impotence from two vultures. Dionysus purportedly punished the Athenians with impotence for dishonoring his cult. But the vengeful might also appeal to the gods. An enemy could make a man impotent by inscribing on obsidian the figure of a castrated man and have the victim touch it. For a similar purpose some resorted to casting spells on wax effigies.

A man could always attribute his failure to such witchcraft. More com- monly the woman would be blamed for the sort of inexplicable inability to perform that in modern times would be called his psychic impotence. Martial (Epigram 1.146) castigated a partner for simply shattering the aura of romance.

Hedyle, when you say, “I’m rushed. Do it if you’re going to,”
My weakened equipment droops right away and stops.
So tell me to hold on; I’ll go faster if I’m held back.
Hedyle, if you are in a hurry, tell me not to hurry.

Horace portrayed the man who defensively attributed his failures to the woman who was too ugly or too fat but had the temerity of accusing her exhausted victim of being a “sluggardly bull.” The historian Herodotus more sympathetically described the plight of Amasis, king of Egypt, who was only impotent with Ladice. Ovid and Strato in poems noted above commented on the frustrations of the man who mysteriously found himself unable to perform with his beloved. Martial (Epigram 3.70) presented a man who now desired the same woman whom he had spurned when she was his wife. “Is it that when secure you lack appetite?” The Stoics attributed steril- ity to temperament, noting that one could be barren with one partner but fruitful with another.

Commentators also listed a number of organic causes of sexual dysfunc- tions. Hippocrates (On Airs) referred to the Scythians’ impotence being due to their horse riding. Aristotle wrote that men who put on flesh “emit less seed and have less desire for sexual indulgence.” “Fat people too, both men

and women, appear to be less fertile than those that are not fat, because the residue when concocted in well-nourished bodies becomes fat; for fat too is a healthy residue caused by good feeding.”

To be potent a man had to be healthy. It was commonly believed that wine was an aphrodisiac, though in excess it led to sleep. According to Ar- istotle, “the man must not be drunk, nor should he drink white wine, but strong unmixed wine, eat very strong food, not take a hot bath, be strong, in good health, abstain from unhealthful foods.” Commentators warned that cooling foods could abate lust. Plutarch asserted that wine was cool and countered the need for heat. The ancients claimed that a variety of cooling vegetables could serve both as contraceptives and as anaphrodisiacs. Pliny the Elder noted that Homer called the willow “fruit losing” because it lost its seeds quickly; for that reason, continued Pliny, “it is well known that wil- low seed taken as a drug produces barrenness in a woman.” Bryony mixed with ox urine caused impotence. Soranus described the cooling effects of wine, rue, wallflower seed, myrtle, myrrh, and white pepper. Dioscorides listed nine plants endowed with contraceptive properties and the water lily that caused impotence. Aelian claimed that usually lustful male animals could be rendered coy by the use of a certain herb.30 Ovid (Amores 3.7) re- ferred to chilling anaphrodisiacs such as hemlock that prevented erections.

She round my neck her ivory arms did throw,
Her arms far whiter than the Scythian snow,
And eagerly she kissed me with her tongue,
And under mine her wanton thigh she flung.
Yes, and she soothed me up, and called me sire.
And used all speech that might provoke and stir.
Yet like as if cold hemlock I had drunk,
It humbled me, hung down the head, and sunk.

In literature there were many references to men’s fears of women tamper- ing with their food. Doctors believed the man had to be inflamed in order to be potent. It followed that narcotics that calmed and soothed his spirits could in effect unman him. Wives who sought to keep the affection of their husbands, women attempting to bind a lover to them, and enemies seek- ing to lull an opponent into complacency would, it was reported, use spells and narcotics to lessen a man’s anger and thus his potency. Plutarch warned women against using love potions and magic on their spouses. He claimed Antony failed as general since he was always thinking of Cleopatra, as if bewitched by a spell or certain drugs.

Commentators attributed most common forms of impotence to the bodily failures associated with either old age or youth. The elderly, and those on dry and cool diets were thought to bear sex least well. The ancients took it as a given that old men would become impotent. According to Aristotle emitting seed helped the young but hurt the old. He asserted that the age of procreation for men ended at seventy and for women at fifty. The semen of the elderly was less concocted. The Greek poet Antiphanes drew the moral that one had to enjoy life when young. “Thenceforward is the heavy winter of old age; you shall not make love, not even for a thousand drachmas, such is the impotence that awaits you.” 33

The Greeks and Romans cruelly joked about the incapacities of the el- derly. Juvenal (Satire 10.204–209) coolly captured the sexual frustrations that often accompanied aging.

For intercourse is already long distant in memory;
Or should you try, your tool lies small and vessel-swollen.
And although it be stroked all through the night,
It will lie unresponsive.
So can this old age of debilitated loins hope for anything?
And isn’t desire without ability,
Which actually impairs passion, truly suspect?

Satiric writers’ references to the limp members of old duped, ugly, impotent men are, according to one historian, “of course in the grand tradition of comic scurrility and appear often.” Aristophanes’ lost play Amphiareus con- cerned an old man with a young wife seeking vigor either through lentils or erotic incantations. Lucilius ridiculed weak old men. Martial (Epigram 11.81) compared the geriatric to the eunuch: “Lack of strength makes the one, length of years the other useless for the job; so each labours in fruitless desire.” The sixth-century writer Maximianus Etruscus (Maximian) in Elegies of Old Age produced the most extended tragic/comic account of old age in which the hero finds himself unable to perform with a Greek beauty.

I wish’t, I ask’t, and gain’d the Beautious She;
But, oh! What Witchcraft did Enervate me!
Lifeless I on that mass of Beauty lay,
Nor the due debts of Sacred Love could pay.

All vigorous warmth my languid Limbs forsook,
And left me cold, like an old sapless Oak.
My chief, yet basest Nerve, did then prove lank,
And, like a Coward, from the Battle shrank;

Shrivell’d, and dry, like a dead wither’d flow’r.
Depriv’d, and void of all vivisick pow’r.
No fertile Moisture, no prolifick Juice,
Could the enfeebled Instrument produce;

No unctious Substance, no kind Balm emit;
Balm, nourishing as Milk, as Honey sweet.
At last cry’d out the Disappointed Fair,
Thy dull unactive weight I cannot bear;
Thy heavy Limbs press me with joyless pain,
And all thy faint Endeavours are in vain.

. . . such was my first sad Night,
That I could neither give nor take Delight.

But a base conscious shame possest each sence,
Nor left me pow’r to make the least defence,
Dash’d with the Guilt of my own Impotence.
. . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
For what, alas, can those Defects supply,
Which weaken’d Nature do’s to Age deny?
But then I blush’t, and stupify’d became,
Much more debilitated by my Shame.

Such wistful portrayals countered the philosophers’ argument that man was not to fear old age, but welcome it for freeing him from fleshly pre- occupations.37

Doctors in turn warned young men that they could become old before their time if they over indulged. As lassitude followed emission of semen, sexual excesses were believed to result in impotence.

The Hippocratic writings asserted that the wasting disease of tabes was due to unrestrained lust: “This consumption originates in the spinal marrow. It chiefly attacks newlywed husbands and lechers. . . . If you ask such a patient, he will tell you that he has a sensation like ants crawling from the head down his spine, and copious seminal discharge with urination and defectation. There is also infertility; and in his dreams, whether sleeping with his mate or without her, he is plagued by love’s mockery.” According to Galen semen was the finest blood, which in being injected with the breath or pneuma essential to life, became white and frothy. Excesses led to loss of vital spirit. Epicurus said all coitus was dangerous. Rufus came close to agreeing and pointed out that the accompanying loss of heat suffered by men—but not women—resulted in indigestion, memory loss, spitting of blood, and fading of sight and hearing. Soranus agreed that excessive coition was dangerous. Caelius Aurelianus, who translated and abridged Soranus, claimed that venery contributed to pleurisy, apoplexy, madness, paralysis, nephritis, and hemorrhaging. He went on to assert, in attacking Asclepia- des’ argument that coitus could cure epilepsy, that coition was itself “minor epilepsy.” “For it causes a motion of the parts like that in epilepsy; various parts are subjected to spasms, and at the same time there occur panting, sweating, rolling of the eyes and flushing of the face. And the completion of coitus brings with it a feeling of malaise along with pallor, weakness, or dejection.” Coition, he concluded, exacerbated mania, “for it not only de- prives the body of strength but also agitates the soul.”

A long line of thinkers portrayed sex with women as dangerous. According to the Hippocratic corpus women were dried out by too little sex; men were dried out by too much. Women relied on intercourse with men for their health. Men could thus be exhausted, but women were inexhaustible, hav- ing no self-control. Some seasons posed special dangers. “In general the sexual appetites of animals are keenest in spring-time”; asserted Aristotle, “the time of pairing, however, is not the same for all, but is adapted so as to ensure the rearing of the young at a convenient season.” In the heat of summer men were soon exhausted; women’s appetites remained unsatiated. According to Hesiod women were then “at their most wanton, while men are completely enfeebled.” The woman could render a man impotent and he would soon find himself in “raw old age.” She “withers him up and brings old age on youth too soon.” Even the god Priapus complained:

"The sexed-up neighborhood womenfolk,
Hornier than sparrows in Spring,
Endlessly wear me out."

Men had to protect themselves from demanding women whom Aristotle likened to mares in heat. “Coition,” warned Democritus, “is a slight attack of apolexy. For man gushes forth from man and is separated by being torn apart with a kind of blow.” Semen, according to the pessimistic Pythagori- ans, was a “clot of brain containing hot vapor within it” and consequently every sexual pleasure was harmful. Plato, Aristotle, and the Hippocratic corpus similarly stressed the need for sexual moderation. In On the Nature of Things Lucretius portrayed sex as a trap for men: “Add that they waste their strength, they strain, they die; add that the will of a woman rules their life.” 41 In such texts, men were endangered by intercourse; women, however, were prescribed it. Hippocratic medicine thus validated male domination in its assertion that women’s health depended on the sexual services of their partners.

Ancient men’s fear of women—capped by the nightmarish belief that in losing bodily heat and vigor one could for all intents and purposes become a woman—explains the seriousness with which they regarded displays of virility. There was accordingly no shortage of advice for the man concerned about his flagging sexual abilities. The sheer volume of material devoted to the discussions of how impotence could be cured dramatically demon- strates how preoccupying the Greeks and Romans found the issue. The an- cients produced sex manuals providing suggestions of positions and tech- niques. These texts, resolutely phallic and heterosexual, though no doubt penned by men, were usually attributed to prostitutes, thus sustaining the myth that aside from the odd impotent emperor, real men did not need in- structions. In fact from the scraps that survive (and Ovid’s parodies) these cookbook-like manuals appear to have listed positions and stressed the ac- tive male, passive female scenario.

To judge by the literature, men’s most common response to fears of impo- tency was to consume an inciting herb or beverage. We know that aphrodisi- acs were commonly used. There are records of court cases in which women, accused of poisoning their lovers, claimed to have only given them love po- tions. According to Suetonius, Caligula’s wife gave him such a concoction. Plutarch called on men to avoid the use of aphrodisiacs.

Anything that looked like a penis or that warmed the body as did arousal was thought to work. According to the Hippocratic texts legumes, cereals, and nuts, contained air and heat, and so raised the passions. Oils, liquids, and foods were similarly ingested. In particular, as male anger and sexual- ity were linked, so it was thought that irritants raised a man’s ardor. Accordingly the Greeks used nettles, peppers, and erection-producing drugs like cantharides (crushed blister beetles). Theophrastus listed many such cures in his Historia plantarum. Dioscorides, in the De materia medica added to the earlier herbal information of Theophrastus, discussed love-making, and listed a number of aphrodisiacs, prescribing them according to theo- ries of similarity or contrariety. Paulus Aegineta recommended mollusks, pot herbs, rocket, turnip, pulses, peas and beans, and for the impotent narcissus root, seed of nettle, anise, pepper, satyricon and saffron, chick peas, pine nuts, honey, and wine.

The most extensive catalog of stimulants was provided by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History. The leek, he asserts, “is an aphrodisiac” (20.47). The turpentine tree or terebinth “is a gentle aperient and an aphrodisiac (24.28)” Garlic “is believed to act as an aphrodisiac, when pounded with fresh co- riander and taken in neat wine” (20.57). The water of boiled wild aspara- gus serves the same purpose (20.110). “The Cyprian reed, called donax . . . taken in wine is an aphrodisiac” (24.87). The leaves of clematis “eaten with vinegar . . . act as an aphrodisiac” (24.140). “Sexual desire is excited by the upper part of the xiphium root given in wine as a draught; also by the plant called cremnos agrios and by ormenos agrios crushed with pearl barley” (26.94). “Democritus thinks that as a food radishes are aphrodisiac; for this reason, perhaps, some have maintained that they are injurious to the voice” (20.28). “Orpheus said that there is in staphylinus a love-philtre, perhaps because it is a proved fact that when eaten it is an aphrodisiac; for which reason some have declared that by it conception is aided” (20.32). Pliny cites Hesiod and Alcaeus on the use of golden thistle (22.87). “They have writ- ten that when it is in blossom the song of the cricket is shrillest, women are the most amorous and men most backward in sexual unions, as though

it were through Nature’s providence that this stimulant is at its best when badly needed.” That is, in the heat of summer. He says of chervil, “Its special merit is that it gives strength to a body exhausted by sexual indulgence, and revives sexual virility when flagging through old age” (22.80). Dioscorides had asserted that rocket “eaten raw in great quantitie doth provoke Venery” (2 : 170),47 Pliny recommends it as well: “It is believed that desire for mating is also stimulated by articles of diet, for instance rocket in the case of a man and onions in the case of cattle” (10.182). Elsewhere he writes of rocket, “Its properties are quite different from those of lettuce, and it acts as an aphro- disiac” (19.154).

Many such herbal cures were attributed to their visual and magical associations, following the so-called doctrine of the signatures. Vegetables and plants that were penis-shaped were esteemed. Orchid-like plants with two testicle-like tubers were similarly thought useful for genital problems and as aphrodisiacs.48 In addition bulbs like onions and garlic produced gas that was thought to be needed for erection. Accordingly Martial advised: “If en- vious age relax the nuptial knot / Thy food be scallions, and thy feast shal- lot.” Dioscorides recommends a number of bulbs. Orchis, in goat’s milk “to provoke venery” (19.154); Saturion, a type of orchid, “use it, if he will lie with a woman. For they say that this also doth stirr up courage in ye conjunc- tion” (3.143); Saturion Eruthronion “ is storied that the root being taken into ye hand doth provoke to Venerie, but much more, being drank with wine” (3.144); Orminon Emeron (Salvia Horminum) is also “thought being drank with wine to provoke conjunction” (3.145); and Gladiolus communis: “They say also that the upper root being drank with wine doth provoke venery, but that ye undermost doth make them lustless” (4.20).

Pliny agrees. “But very high on the list of wonders is the plant orchis. . . . The root has two tubers, like testicles, so that the larger, or, as some put it, the thinner, taken in water, excites desire” (26.94). “Megarian bulbs [a type of onion?] are a strong aphrodisiac” (20.105). Asphodel, another bulbous plant, was used against poisons. “It is also been held that it is an aphrodisiac if, with wine and honey, it is used as an ointment or taken as a medicine” (22.71). Cynosorchis has, notes Pliny, two roots. “If men eat the larger of these roots, male children are said to be conceived, but female if the smaller is eaten by women. In Thessaly men take in goat’s milk the softer roots as an aphrodisiac, but the harder as an antaphrodisiac. The one part neutralizes the other” (27.65). Pliny claims that Sea-holly does more than counteract poisons. “Marvellous is the characteristic reported of it, that its root grows into the likeness of the organs of one sex or the other; it is rarely so found, but should the male form come into the possession of men, they become lovable in the eyes of women” (22.20). “Satyrion is a sexual stimulant.” One has “a double root shaped like human testicles, which swells and subsides in alternate years . . . [which] taken in the milk of a farm-yard sheep, causes erections; taken in water, however, it makes them subside” (26.96).

Some proceeded to seek cures through the use of animal parts associated with potency. Snakes (since they were popularly believed to rejuvenate themselves), and the genitalia of roosters and goats were consumed. On the forehead of a newborn foal was found a growth called the hippomanes, which, reported Aristotle, was a powerful aphrodisiac.
The penis was often likened to the lizard, which leads Pliny to note the powers of a large one known as the skink (28.120): “Its muzzle and feet, taken in white wine, are aphrodisiac, especially with the addition of satyrion and rocket seed. . . . One-drachma lozenge of the compound should be taken in drink.” Pliny then proceeds to provide a survey of other popular beliefs in how one might tap into the potency of the animal world.

Aphrodisiacs are: an application of wildboar’s gall, pig’s marrow swallowed, or an application of ass’s suet mixed with a gander’s grease; also the fluid that Virgil too describes as coming from a mare after copulation, the testi- cles of a horse, dried so that they may be powdered into drink, the right testis of an ass taken in wine, or a portion of it worn as an amulet on a bracelet; or the foam of an ass after copulation, collected in a red cloth and enclosed, as Osthanes tells us, in silver. Salpe prescribes an ass’s genital organ to be plunged seven times into hot oil, and the relevant parts to be rubbed there- with, Dalion the ash from it to be taken in drink, or the urine of a bull after copulation to be drunk, or the mud itself made by it applied to the pubic parts. (Natual History 28.261–62)

As Pliny noted not all cures were taken orally. The Greeks attempted to in- crease potency with various salves, plasters, and creams. A number of mag- ical recipes listed lotions to rub on the penis “for an erection,” “to play with a woman,” and in order “to have fun with a woman.” The Egyptian magical papyri also listed incantations, potions, and salves including one of carrot juice for premature ejaculation.

Impotence was, of course, often believed to be caused by witchcraft. Ovid spoke of the nefarious effects of black magic carried out by effigies, poisoned drinks, and incantations.

What, am I poisoned by some witch’s charms?
Do spells and drugs do me, poor soul, such harms?
Did she my image in red wax procure,
And with her needles’ points my liver skewer?
Charms transform wheat to weeds, and make it die,
Charms make the running streams and fountains dry.
Through charms oaks acorns shed, from vines grapes fall,
And fruits from trees when there’s no wind at all.
Why might not then my sinews be enchanted,
And I grow faint as with some spirit haunted?

In response, urine could be used medicinally (28.64), suggested Pliny, espe- cially “that of eunuchs to counteract the sorcery that prevents fertility.” He also recommends Southernwood a powerful, warming plant, useful to fight off chills. “They say that a spray of it, laid under the pillow, acts an aphrodi- siac, and that the plant is a most effective countercheck of all magic potions given to produce sexual impotence” (20.162). To protect himself against im- potence a man might wear a stone talisman or amulet. It was claimed that the “right molar of a small crocodile worn as amulet guarantees erection in men.” In Rome males wore as protection against the evil eye a replica of the penis, called the fascinum from the word to “bewitch.” And finally one could make an appeal to the gods. “While you’re alive I’m hopeful rustic guard / Come. Bless me, stiff Priapus: make me hard.”


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Having said that, it has to be acknowledged that the ancients knew quite well that restoratives did not always have the desired effect. Martial (Epigram 3.75) laughed at one man’s futile expenditures in medicines.

"Scallions, lustful rockets nought prevail,
And heightening meats in operation fail;
Thy wealth begins the pure cheeks to defile,
So venery provoked lives but a while;
Who can admire enough, the wonder’s such
That thy not standing stands thee in so much?"

When commenting on cures of which he was dubious Pliny often signaled his skepticism by the phrase “they say” or by attributing his account to another chronicler.

Men refused to see themselves as passive beings and sought to have some control over their fates. Whatever the effectiveness of the various therapies, their use demonstrates the serious intent with which the ancients sought to control biology.

In the ancient world the attention paid to potency stemmed from the enormous importance of every free man marrying and having children. For the Greeks and Romans a male heir was essential. In Greece only a man could be the owner or kyrios of his lands, children and spouse. In the Roman Em- pire bachelors were penalized and large families rewarded. Martial asserted that if one was a real man one would have heirs, and joked about Almo who was impotent yet complained his wife produced no children (Epigram 9.66, 10.91). What if a man could not sire children? One might presume that the impotent man would been disbarred from both marriage and fatherhood, but in the ancient world, social status trumped biology. What counted in being a man was, as one scholar has noted, “the male’s gender role—his legal capacity both to marry a wife and to adopt. Anyone who had a penis, even if not in full working order, or who used to have one, was classified as a man, and therefore, once recognized as legally adult, had the legal capacity of a man.”  In Rome a male was someone with a penis; only they had heirs. Girls were automatically of age at twelve; boys only when inspected and shown capable of procreation, but if impotent, at fourteen.

Marriage confirmed status and status was dictated by elite males. Women over fifty could not marry. Slaves, forbidden to marry, were permitted unions but no inheritance rights and their owner could break up their families. For free Romans premarital sex was unimportant and not an impediment to mar- riage, though consanguinity and class barriers were

In Rome, a marriage did not have to be consummated—it was a simple contract. In the first and second centuries sexual potency was “not a legal prerequisite for lawful marriage” as it would be for Christians. Ulpian stated that the castratus could not leave a will, that is, he could not marry and name heirs. There was no problem if a man only suffered from temporary impotence. Even the physical deficien- cies of the spado (a natural eunuch who could not reproduce) were not a bar to marriage, though insanity was. Consent was always the key issue. The an- cients’ concern was not with the sex act per se, which usually posed no ethi- cal issue, but with whatever might possibly jeopardize the social hierarchy and family property. The same deference shown the concerns of elite males explained the workings of divorce. A Roman man could repudiate his spouse with no cause given. Only with Constantine were causes needed; only with Justinian was male impotence noted.

Since the purpose of marriage was to have children—indeed under the Julian Laws childlessness was penalized in inheritances—what point was there in the impotent marrying? Some men would, of course, insist that the barren marriage was the wife’s responsibility. Seneca the Elder noted such arguments. The married man lacking children could become the butt of humor because they, as Juvenal notes (9.85), are “proofs of your manhood.” But such failures could be overcome by partner swapping. Plutarch noted that in Greece impotence led to wife lending or husband doubling (Lycurgus. 15.4–7). Spouses were shared to beget children, for example, an “elderly man with a young wife” might choose a noble young man for her. On an informal level complacent husbands allowed others to do their work for them. Juve- nal has a character protest: “had I not been a loyal and devoted client, your wife would still be a virgin?” (9.71–72).56

Adoption provided another solution. Even if one were a spado, one could adopt. So too could the unmarried. Indeed the Augustan legislation that re- quired one to be a “father” to fill certain posts sometimes necessitated such a strategy. The Augustan marriage laws gave some flexibility, a man could be paterfamilias even without natural children. In Rome since males alone could be effective heirs, a man with only daughters might adopt a young man for this purpose. The new heir in turn would be obliged to marry one of the daughters.

Seneca expressed the view that conceiving a child was the least part of fatherhood: “The generation of me was the least part of the benefit: for, to live is common with the brutes; but, to live well is the main business.” In the Greek comedies it was suggested that barren, wealthy wives passed off foundlings as their own. On children depended the conservation of the household, the maintenance of the estate, the carry- ing on of the family name, the forging of family alliances, the provision for the elderly in old age, and the performing of funeral rites after their passing. By not relying solely on biological fatherhood to sustain the family, the Greeks and Romans skirted what could have been the most disruptive effects of male sexual dysfunctions.

How are we to understand the ancients’ discussion of impotence? It obviously reveals contradictions in their notions of masculinity. On the one hand it asserted that to be considered a real man one had to be potent; on the other hand it acknowledged that sexual failures were not an uncommon occurrence.

The desires of ancient men, though they often sound similar to ours, are not what we usually associate with manliness. A man could be alarmed that neither women nor boys stirred his passions. If a lack of an erection shamed him, the feeling would not be sparked by his sense of having failed to pleasure a female partner. To have such a sense of guilt was to be effemi- nate. Normative male desire, the ancients believed, was fueled by aggression and anger; female desire by passivity. Penetration was likened to a beating, representing the domination of one partner and the submission of the other. Men were explicitly taught to use sex not for intimacy but control. They used herbs, potions, and magic to inflame their passions. And even if these failed, they could, because of the powers they enjoyed as free males, marry and be- come, through adoption, fathers. In the Greco-Roman world masculinity was not a biological given, but a status that could be either constructed and defended or attacked and lost. The discussions of impotence reminds us that in the ancient Mediterranean societies all the many ways in which sexual failures were treated—be it by poets or by physicians—reflected not the weaknesses, but the power and prerogatives of the male elite." [Impotence: A Cultural History]

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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:35 pm

Christian view of Impotence.


Angus McLaren wrote:
"Christians had to know whether or not a marriage had been sexually consummated. But, pon- dered celibate church doctors, what was consummation? Was it simple pen- etration? Or did it require emission? Might it even necessitate the wife’s orgasm? Michel Foucault tartly observed that the pagans were too reserved to leave such a full and intrusive discussion of conjugal rights, methods, and duties. Why then did the church ultimately so immerse itself in the messy discussion of impotence? Why did churchmen, at first embarrassed by the issue of male potency, eventually come police it?

Some historians have suggested that a cultural shift occurred in the late Roman world, when sexuality became a topic of discussion in poetry and advice literature, as well as a privileged source of pleasure. Whereas once the intimate lives of the members of the social elite were dictated almost solely by the demands of clan, property, and honor, they were increasingly displaced by concerns for privacy and sexual preferences.4 The rise of Christianity represented another aspect of this turning inward, shifting attention from the public to the private. The difference was that the early Christians mirrored the Stoics’ distrust of fleshly appetites; indeed many regarded sex as inherently sinful. Unlike the Romans they could neither laud potency nor regard impotency as a joke.

Already the Stoics had put in place a “puritanical” creed and the metaphysics of the Neoplatonists and mystery cults had popularized an otherworldliness. The passions were suspect; sexuality was regarded as necessarily pitted against reason. Many of the attacks on the old style of life launched by the Stoics were simply continued by Christians converts.

They carried over the Jewish abhorrence of sexual perversions and prided themselves on “avoiding porneia,” which, as cataloged in the first-century Syrian Christian teachings called Didache or Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, included abortion, infanti- cide, magic, and same-sex acts. The Book of Barnabas, in drawing on Hellenic natural history, likened the adulterer to the hyena, which changed sex each

year; the fellator to the weasel, which conceived through the mouth; and the corrupter of children to the hare, which “increases unduly its discharge each year, and thus has as many holes as it is years old.” Adultery was particularly associated with the philtres or love potions that the ancients em- ployed to increase lust.

For the Greeks and Romans desire was not often discussed as a prob- lem, though performance was. In Christian Europe desire increasingly was viewed as a danger—something to be restrained. Church fathers declared themselves shocked by the attempts made by some to actually inflame male arousal. They opposed wine for causing sexual excitement. John Chrysostom condemned couples’ recourse to libations, incantations, and love-potions. Clement of Alexandria attacked pictorial pagan lewdness intended to raise desires. Christians particularly abhorred the means employed by the Greeks and Romans to spur on procreation. Clement of Alexandria denigrated wom- en’s use of charms. Caesarius attacked the Gallo-Romans for their employing an “impious drug” to cure barrenness. “Therefore,” he wrote, “those to whom God is unwilling to grant children should not try to have them by means of herbs or magic signs or evil charms.”  

What had been primarily proprietary concerns were made ethical issues. The an- cients sought to police sexuality for the conservative purpose of subjecting every individual to a family patriarch; the Church sought to police sexual- ity for the radical purpose of freeing Christians from the entangling world of secular ambitions and family squabbles. The asceticism of many of the early Christians was due to their apocalyptic expectations. Their contempt for intercourse was not so much due to a hostility to sex per se, as it has been argued, but to the perceived need to prepare for the next world.

Christianity was better equipped to defend a fresh form of masculinity focused on the image of the “Soldier of Christ.” The virginity of women was exalted by zealots like Jerome who praised those who had not “soiled” their garments. And by the fifth cen- tury it was not just female virginity that Christians treasured. Church fathers argued that renunciation of sex was a sign of superior manliness. Such preachers, though they attacked the sexual exploitation of women, were intent on shoring up male authority and excluding women from the public realm. A man had to demonstrate self-control if he was to control others. Reminding their flocks that Roman athletes wore clamps to prevent erection and ejaculation, priests called on men to likewise become athletes for Christ.

A concern for a victory over the powers of the flesh preceded Christian- ity and should not be confused with it; the pagans’ goal was hygiene, not holiness. The Greeks were not interested in the who or how of sex but with the ability to demonstrate a mastery of one’s own desire. Christians made sexuality the symbol of the difference between themselves and pagans; it was the key indicator of individual morality. The married and the celibate, the rich and the poor all were subject to a new moral common denomina- tor: the importance of controlling sexual urges. An enormous ethical bur- den was now borne by acts heretofore considered hardly more significant than eating or drinking. Though pagans had not been unthinking hedo- nists, the idea of viewing mundane sexual practices as the privileged in- dicators of one’s spiritual condition had previously been unthinkable. The Christians made a nuance the basis for a fundamental cultural cleavage.10 They advanced the modern view of sex as the essence of one’s being.

The eunuch was the most striking symbol of the campaign to subdue the male body. Pre-Christian groups throughout Asia Minor and Egypt had performed cultic castration. Pythagorus’s assertion that sex was injurious to men due to the accompanying loss of energy was a common belief among Greeks. Stoics similarly expressed a desire for sexual self-control. Christians—like Jews—opposed mutilation but they lauded celibacy. Jesus noted that some eunuchs were born, others made by men, and finally “there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heav- en’s sake” (Matt. 19 : 12). Eastern Christians were sharply ambivalent in their views on eunuchs. In the Byzantine Empire castration was condemned but eunuchs were imported. The sort of abstinence eunuchs owed to their mu- tilation, Christians sought to obtain through faith. Origen envied men who by nature were cool and could easily control their passions. Though he ar- gued that eunuchs simply provided a metaphor for such self-control he was suspected of having castrated himself. Other early Christians certainly did. One could go no further in repudiating concerns for potency.

Jews re- garded impotence as a curse. In the book of Genesis, God was portrayed as imposing it on Abimelech for taking Abraham’s wife Sarah. He informed Abimelech that “therefore suffered I thee not to touch her” (20:6). After Abimelech released Sarah, “God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare” (20 : 17).

Jews viewed virginity negatively and took the notion of the marital debt as a given. Most rabbis called for the separation of the barren. The purpose of marriage was procreation and therefore a man had the right to divorce his wife if she proved infertile. Divorce and polygamy (allowed until me- dieval times) were used to assist in the duty to “be fruitful and multiply.” Some scholars stated that at minimum two sons were needed. Procreation was monotonously reported in the long genealogical passages of the Old Testament. Celibacy was frowned on and masturbation condemned. Some rabbis thought that self-abuse—like wet dreams—was a result of men not marrying. The Talmud even has a passage in which rabbis’ members are compared.

For St. Augustine the “disease of lust” was a result of the fall. Did Adam have erections? Augustine argued that in Eden the body must have obeyed the rational will. Sex, like urination, would have taken place rationally. Af- ter man disobeyed God, his body disobeyed him and he found himself in bondage to sexual desires. For Augustine the genitals were the “shameful parts” that had to be covered “because they excite themselves just as they like, in opposition to the mind which is their master, as if they were their own masters.”

The first erection was the result of eating the forbidden fruit. The penis was often in a rebellious state, hence Adam was ashamed. Sex was not in itself bad but, according to Augustine, the “autonomy of the penis” was. The libido was uncontrolled. “At times the urge intrudes uninvited; at other times, it deserts the panting lover, and, although desire blazes in the mind, the body is frigid. In this strange way, desire refuses service, not only to the will to procreate, but also to the desire for wanton- ness; and though for the most part, it solidly opposes the mind’s command, at other times it is divided against itself, and, having aroused the mind, it fails to arouse the body.” Augustine guiltily described himself as “seduced” by his own sexual feelings. In Greco-Roman culture the erect phallus had been a sign of power. For Augustine the erection was both the sign of man’s fallen state and the means of transmitting original sin. Thus, far from being worried about impotence, early churchmen feared excessive marital intercourse; it was considered beyond the need to repro- duce, overly passionate, or took place in an unnatural fashion. The Christian suspicion of sex cast a long shadow over marriage. It was regarded by some as a sort of slavery, entail- ing as it did a loss of liberty. All St. Paul could say was that it was better to marry than to burn.

Christians could not alto- gether ignore the subject of impotence, the problem posed “when desire refused service.” Their German converts regarded sexual consummation as making a marriage, a view that ultimately overrode the traditional Roman stress on consent. And once it was accepted that a marriage was created by the act of sexual consummation, the argument could be made that if the man were impotent the marriage was either invalid or should be annulled.

Un- der the Christian emperors the first attempts were made to restrict divorce. Wife beating was no longer accepted as a cause and divorce by mutual con- sent was ended except in cases where a man wished to enter a monastery. Adultery was the main justification of a husband seeking to divorce. A wife could also be cast aside for aborting, wantonness, or attempted bigamy. The Romans ignored the issue of impotence until Justinian in AD 528 allowed a divorce if a marriage was not consummated after two years. He thereafter restricted divorce. In 556 divorce by mutual consent was ended.  

In the Middle Ages positive discussions of sexuality were crowded out by references to sin, lust, and lechery. Marriage was described in the Hali Meidenhad as “that beastly copulation, that shameless coition, that foulness of stinking ordure and uncomely deed.” The Penitentials assumed that all sex was polluting. Given that churchmen viewed almost all sexual desires as unnatural, they regarded heterosexuality almost as bad as same-sex acts.
Did impotence invalidate a marriage? Anglo Saxons scholars said it did.

Afraid of licensing promiscuity, Gratian’s Decretum (1140) held that impotence could justify a marriage annulment, but the man could not subsequently remarry. Most clerics advised caution. Rolandus asserted that if one spouse was unable to have sex, the other did not have the right to seek it elsewhere. Yet if sorcery was recognized as the cause of impotence remarriage was allowed.

Thomas Aquinas continued the line that procreation was the primary end and avoidance of fornication the secondary end of marriage. He argued that an inability to consummate a marriage rendered it void.

Moreover, Aquinas held that sterility was not a sufficient cause of nullity. Marriage only required a satiative copula. That is, the male simply had to be able to penetrate the vagina, neither emission nor ejaculation had to occur. Female impotence was assumed to be less a problem; in some cases a surgeon might remove the hymen.

The impotent should not marry because they could not pay the conju- gal debt, yet Aquinas saw no reason to oppose the marriages of the elderly who were past child-bearing age. Was this a contradiction? For Aquinas the act of penetration rather than the possibility of conception was vital. Amazingly enough, Huguccio asserted that the church recognized that the elderly could have sex “by nature, by artifice or with the help of medica- tion,” stratagems he denied young couples.

Here it should be noted that Thomas Aquinas, like Huguccio, argued that impotence might not prevent a true marriage—as long as the couple decided in advance not to consummate it. The church long defended the concept of such “spiritual marriages.” Virgin wives were lauded in the thir- teenth century, and their mates portrayed as being compensated with mystical rapture. In hagiographies, female saints were often described as torn between God and husband. In the early 1400s Margery Kempe appealed to Christ to stop her husband from having sex with her during Holy Week and as a result he was made impotent.

Carolyn Bynum has argued that Christianity helped blur gender boundaries. The church praised holy women for their masculine qualities. Contrariwise some male saints were lauded for demonstrating feminine virtues. Christ himself was represented at times as a lactating female. Yet Christ was also represented as having a pe- nis. Indeed some painters showed it erect. Feminist scholars have asserted such representations should be interpreted as signifying Christ’s human- ity rather than his sexuality. For Christians, bodily sensations were not the problem. The question was whether their source was demonic or godly. Yet the number of medieval castration stories suggests that the church regarded the genitals as an impediment.

The penis remained a perennial source of crude humor. Medieval badges worn to ward off the evil eye depicted copulating couples, erect penises (sometimes dressed as pilgrims), penis animals, winged penises, and vul- vae carried by penises. In Anglo-Saxon riddles attempts were made to

embarrass others into naming the shameful member by asking what was “stiff, strong” (a key), a “boneless wonder” (bread dough), and “rooted I stand on a high bed” (an onion). Shakespeare exploited similar double entendres. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Ford declares himself afraid of being cuckolded and bewitched. He refers to having “lost my edifice by mistak- ing the place where I erected it” (2.2.194–217). Falstaff—whose very name suggested either the fallusstaf or flaccid member—asserts if it is heard he dressed as a woman he will be “crestfall’n as a dried pear” (4.5.93–99).

Churchmen told those worried by the specter of impotence that it could have “natural” or “accidental” causes. In the Middle Ages classical treatises on reproduction that provided information on the former subject began to resurface in Europe. In The Merchant’s Tale Chaucer presented “oold Januarie” who wedded “freshe May” taking aphrodisiacs.
“He drynketh ypocras, clarree, and vernage / Of spices hoote, t’encressen his corage” (563–64). Chaucer drew his information on such drugs from the work of Constantinus Africa- nus, a writer he condemned as lewd. In the eleventh century Constantinus Africanus’s De Coitu introduced Europe to the Arab translations of Greek medicine. Though his Latin translations were fairly discrete he conveyed the Greco-Roman argument that sexual activity was both a symptom of health and cure for illnesses. Because anatomy had not progressed in the past thousand years, he repeated the Greek notion that erection was due to warm air or spirits. Drawing on Hippocrates, Galen, and Dioscorides, he listed the aphrodisiacs of the ancient world and a number of cures for impotence. He described the windy, warm, and wet foods like pepper, pine nuts, egg yolks, and ginger that provoked desire and gave recipes for oils and ointments that would prolong it. One prescribed the brains of male sparrows mixed with filberts and billy goat grease.

The Christian world thus rediscovered the classical humoral theories of medicine in which impotence was attributed to an imbalance, the man be- ing too cool or too dry, and regurgitated such remedies. Information on promoting conception was popularized in such tracts as De secretis mulierum, attributed to Albertus Magnus. This text followed an Aristotlian line that matter sought form; therefore women sought men. Intercourse had a thera- peutic purpose. Indeed Albertus Magnus defended masturbation as a way of getting rid of excess seed. In De Animalibus he provided exotic remedies for impotence: “If a wolf ’s penis is roasted in an oven, cut into small pieces, and a small portion of this is chewed, the consumer will experience an immediate yen for sexual intercourse” (22.117). Since sparrows were given to frenetic copulation it followed that: “sparrow meat being hot and dry en- kindles sexual desire and also induces constipation” (23.136). He described the starfish as a violent aphrodisiac that could lead to the ejaculating of blood but could be cured by cooling plants such as lettuce (24.55).

Handbooks also recognized the role imagination could play in stimulat- ing desire. John of Freiberg cited Albertus Magnus’s advice that if a man had problems in consummating his marriage, his wife should provocatively at- tire herself. A Spanish writer suggested a sort of “conditioning” for shy men by advising them to “imagine the act of coitus until the organs of sexual ap- petite begin to obey.” John of Gaddesden and Michael Savonarola in the fifteenth century likewise recognized how erotic stories could help prepare a man for coitus. Once the body responded, the blood in the liver evaporated, and the resulting hot air spread to the heart and lower organs, so stiffening the penis.

Such classic accounts of the workings of the male anatomy continued to be published right through the sixteenth century.  

Therapeutic “white magic” was not condemned by the church. The first church involvements in marriage—the blessing of bed, and so on—were in fact forms of exorcism. Pilgrimages and prayers, made to seek cures for barrenness, were common. The church even turned a blind eye to attempts made by magic to determine sex and promote fecundity.

The tying of knots was believed an especially effective way in which sympathetic magic could cause the impotency of one’s enemies. Joannes Andrea and Nicholas de’Tudeschi expressed the common fear that discarded con- cubines and prostitutes could thus revenge themselves. Such knot tying— lace tying or “nouer l’aiguillette”— was noted by Bacon and Montaigne. The French jurist Jean Bodin in 1580 argued that causing impotence by black magic was a “detestable” crime that merited a “painful death.”

Italian folk tales dating from the Middle Ages describe a woman’s rival using witchcraft to bind her man making him wretched and impotent. While muttering a spell she would employ a padlock.

"Now here I close the lock,
Yet ’tis not a lock which I close;
I shut the body and soul of this ungrateful lord,
Who would not meet my love."

To lift an evil spell the church suggested a variety of means, from employing the sacraments to finding the witch and either killing her or forcing her to end her enchantment. The famous Martin Guerre (b. 1525) married at fourteen, but for eight to nine years due to “malefice” could not carnally co-habit with his wife. The common belief in southern France was that impotence due to magic could end with time, with the use of a countercharm or, especially in Gascony, by a recantation by the person who cast the charm. In Martin’s case the spell was lifted after he followed the advice of saying four masses and eating some hosts and cakes ( fouaffes).

Greek and Roman writers often joked about impotence because they were usually describing a man’s embarrassment when involved in an extramarital or adulterous relationship. Christians primarily discussed impotence in the context of marriage and consequently it was no laughing matter." [Imptence: A Cultural History]

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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:14 pm

Angus McLaren wrote:
"In The Oeconomy of Love (1737), a poetic treatment of sex, John Armstrong warned against excesses and hectored the old man using flagellation to “rouse the Venus loitering in his Veins.”

Sexual slanders provided the raw material for much crude humor. Roch- ester lampooned Charles II’s difficulties in performing for his mistress.

This you’d believe, had I but time to tell ye
The pain it costs to poor, laborious Nelly,
Whilst she employs hands, fingers, mouth, and thighs, Ere she can raise the member she enjoys.

The Romans joked about limp swords and bent spears; the early moderns about faulty guns and inkless pens. In a 1674 tract against coffee purport- edly written by women, the authors asserted that they once prided them- selves on “the brisk Activity of our men, who in former Ages were justly esteemed the Ablest Performers in Chistendome; But to our unspeakable grief, we find of late a very sensible Decay of that Old English Vigour; our Gallants being every way so Frenchified, that they are become meer Cock-Sparrows.” Drinking coffee, the authors argued, had emasculated them and now like poor troops, “their Ammunition is wanting; peradventure they Present, but cannot Fire, or at least do but flash in the pan, instead of doing execution.” Aristotle’s Last Legacy likewise referred to a “vanquished Bridegroom” on his wedding night, “for he must be vanquished that has in the Encounter lost his Artillery.”

In Joe Miller’s Jests (1739) appeared a story about a gentlewoman who accused her husband of a “defect,” but was too ashamed to describe clearly the problem. The judge therefore gave her pen and ink so she could discreetly put down her complaint on paper. Without dipping the pen she began to write. When the clerk protested, “Madam, there is no ink in the pen,” she replied, “Truly Sir, that’s just the case and I need not explain myself further.”

Elite authors made similar jibes. Pope and Swift compared bad writers to impotent lovers who lacked character and will. Jokes about impotence and short noses running in the family entered the world of the novel in Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy (1759–67).  

Early modern Europeans coined a variety of terms to describe the sexually incompetent male, including malkin, pillock, fumbler, fribble, bungler, bobtail, domine-do-little, weak-doing man, Goodman Do-Little, and John Cannot. “Fumbler” was perhaps the most common appellation for the inca- pable male. One of Samuel Pepys’s chapbooks was entitled “Fumblers-Hall, kept and holden in Feeble-Court, at the sign of the Labour-in-vain, in Doe- little-lane.” It presented trials in which wives testified against their hus- bands, one asserting that her man has only “a Fiddle-string that will make no musick to a Womans Instrument.” Pepys himself, never having sired a child, was called a fumbler by his drinking friends. “Old fumblers” were treated at length in Edward Ward’s Nuptial Dialogues and Debates (1710). In one poem, a wife intent on producing an heir berates her spouse, “an old fumbling Libertine”: “I was a maid, when to your Bed I came / And may, for ought I know, be still the same.”  

In France similar jokes abounded of “un Jean qui ne peut.” In a 1733 poem coauthored with Lord Hervey, Lady Mary Wortley Montague—an equally outspoken female writer—attacked Pope as a hunchbacked impotent toad, and in “The Deans Provocation” (1734) castigated Swift as an impotent fumbler.

The sting of these insults was based on the expectations that the man was supposed to have sexual power, that is, be on top. If he was not, the tables could be easily turned. A ballad like “The Cruell Shrow: or The Patient Mans Woe” reminded men that women always wanted to wear the britches. They also were sexually demanding. The popular literature was peopled with the “sexually predatory, lewdly dominating woman,” and the eager bride who, once she experienced sex, was insatiable. The pornographic pamphlets that played up such notions of untrammeled female desire obviously indulged male fantasists while rationalizing any guilt the weaker man might feel. For example, in Now or Never: Or, a New Parliament of Women (1656) women were presented as setting up new rules in which aphrodisiacs and “ ‘sperm- makers’ were to be fed to ‘men of abilities.’ ”

According to common medical beliefs, the docility of women resulted from their sexual satisfaction. But this theory had its inherent tensions. Women, though passive, were said to be naturally lascivious, and if sexually frustrated could fall ill of the greensickness. The theory more threateningly raised the specter of the insatiable female, and the awkward question of whether even the modest woman whose husband failed to satisfy her had a right to rebel. Rebellion might consist of making demands, of attempting a role reversal. Rebellion could even go so far as adultery. Young women married to old men, or “brisk widows” already accustomed to the pleasures of the marriage bed were thought to be especially demanding. On meeting an impotent man a widow’s response, according to Daniel Defoe, was “I love the virtue but hate the infirmity.”  

The idea of a man unable to satisfy his exigent spouse was clearly pre- occupying. It led to an outpouring of songs and ballads that played up no- tions of the “fumbler,” the husband being tested and failing the demands of his insatiable wife. So in “The Forc’d Marriage; or, Unfortunate Celia” the woman sings:

When my fumbler’s in bed,
& has laid down his head,
He lies with closed eyes,
just [as] though he was dead.

Similarly in “Tom Farthing; or, The Married Woman’s Complaint,” the new bride laments:

Tom Farthing, Tom Farthing, thou mak’st me mad, Tom Farthing! ’Twas not for this I did thee wed, nor brought thee to my marriage-bed,

But ’twas to loose my maiden-head, of which I’m wondrous weary;
Could’st thou once but do [what’s meet], and show thy self to be no cheat,

My heart with joy would beat, And ’twould make me wondrous merry. But by thy side, thou idle drone! I lie like one that lies alone;

And remedy I can get none, which makes me wondrous sorry, sorry.

Such songs pointed out that a great age disparity could likely lead to heartache. In “A Young Woman’s Complaint; or, A Caveat to all Maids to have a Care how they be Married to Old Men,” the fifteen-year-old girl who has married a seventy-two-year-old man warns her sisters to avoid her unhappy fate.

In bed as I lye, he groaneth, he cryeth;
Like one that is dying in sorrow he lyeth:
Instead of Love’s blisses, he scratches and grumbles, And all night long he tosses and tumbles.
And [I] lying and dying, and telling the clock,
Weeping and wailing, expecting a knock,
And wiping away the tears as they ran:
What shall a young woman do with an Old Man?

Elderly husbands were fair game in plays, songs and lampoons. An old man in Jack of Dover (1604) gives his wife fancy stockings: “Because I can’t please her above the knee, I must needes please her below the knee.”  

In reviewing the errors of marriage, Aristotle’s Master-Piece noted a great gap in age would inevitably lead to the cuckolding of doting old husbands.

And the woman singing “The Scolding Wives Vindication, or, An Answer to the Cuckold’s Complaint” likewise asserted that her husband’s passivity gave her the right to stray.

He’s lain like a Log of Wood, In Bed, for a year or two,
And wont afford me any good, he nothing at all would do.

I am in my blooming Prime, dear Neighbours I tell you true,
I am lost to my Teeming Time, yet nothing at all he’ll do.

He lyes like a lump of Clay, such Husbands there is but few,
’Twould make a Woman run astray, When nothing at all he’ll do.

There were men, the ballads claimed, who tolerated being cuckolded. As one writer put it, “Some men love to open their Oysters themselves; others care not for that drudgery. . . . Some men lye fumbling five or six years to- gether, and loose all their labour.”44 So in “The Old Man’s Complaint; or, the Unequal-Matcht Couple” the man confesses:

My Wife is a neat young woman, and I am an aged man;
I cannot tell how to please her [though] do I the best I can:
For ever she cryes, ‘O turn, turn, and I will turn to thee’;
She looks for the thing that I[can]not [learn], for the cramp lies in my knee.

What had I for to wooe her? I being old and tough;
All that I can [fetch] unto her, she thinks it not half enough. For ever, etc.

In short, such a “wittol” or complacent husband would not mind being cuckolded if his wife did it discreetly.  

As suggested in the Scottish ballad The Fumbler’s Rant (1808), some men, as a sign of bravado, embraced the role of fumbler.

Come Carls a’ of Fumbler’s Ha’,
and I will tell you o’ our fate,
Since we ha’e married wives that’s braw, and canna please them when ’tis late.

A pint we’ll tak, out hearts to chear; what fauts we ha’e, our wives can tell; Gar bring us in baith ale and beer, the auldest bairn we hae’s oursell.

Christ’ning o’ weans we are rid off, the parish Priest ’tis he can tell,
We aw him nought but a gray groat, the off ’ring for the house we dwell.

The Cases of Impotency as Debated in England, a best seller that included additional scandals in each subsequent edition. In the early eighteenth-century, divorce court proceedings became a popular genre exploited by such unsavory characters.

And last, but not least, such trial accounts inevitably gave rise to bawdy humor and subjected powerful men to public ridicule. Curll took advantage of the editing of these reports to add his own salacious comments on such questions as why some men’s “pizzle” never stood whereas others suffered from premature ejaculation.

There are many Men whose Penis very readily rises, nay, lifts its self up in a most proud and ostentatious Manner; but then it’s [sic] Fury is soon spent; like a Fire made of Straw, the Moment it approaches its Mistress’s Door, it basely falls down at the very Threshold, and piteously vomits out its frothy Soul. . . . For tho’ he appears to be a Man, he is not presently to be concluded such, because there are some whose Ensigne of Manhood is a mere Cheat, gives mighty Hopes, but performs nothing.

Most importantly, almost all the published accounts of impotence were written by men for men. Jokes about sexual humiliations played a vital part in a common male culture of the seventeenth century that only became more stratified in the eighteenth century. Laughter was used by some men to police the sexuality of other men. Men did not so much fear demanding women as they did the sneers and sniggering of their fellows. A man’s honor was most attacked when his enemies mocked his competence as a spouse. In being dunned by a woman, he put the reputation of all men at stake and it was therefore essential that he be portrayed as a fool.

By denigrating the masculinity of others, one could laud one’s own po- tency. Laughing at the weakling provided a cathartic release for other men who might harbor a fear of inadequacy. “The passion of laughter,” Thomas Hobbes noted, “is nothing else but a sudden conception of some eminence in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others.” A century later Joseph Addison agreed: “Everyone diverts himself with some Person or other that is below him in Point of Understanding, and triumphs in the superiority of his Genius, whilst he has such objects of Derision before his Eyes.” The sexually deficient male provided a negative model against which normative males were judged.

Sometime in the early 1700s the enlightened began to voice the opinion that even the secular minded had to regard such crude accounts of man’s failings as of interest to only the vulgar. The new view was that if impotence had to be discussed, it should be subjected to rational analysis rather than to religious dictates or bawdy popular beliefs…
it ceased to be regarded as a laughing matter." [Impotence]

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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:14 pm

Angus McLaren wrote:
"Roy Porter provided the most concise account in arguing that the panic “arose partly at least because it was feared that masturbation would jeopardise other cherished ideals of the Enlightenment,” such as childhood innocence. Concern for the health of young men rose as they were increasingly shut up in schools. A bourgeois culture that lauded privacy and self-gratification almost immediately feared the perverse directions in which such freedoms might be pushed. Medi- cal texts had always warned about sexual excesses yet still held that health could be jeopardized if seed were not expended. Such views were increas- ingly elbowed aside by a stress on the far greater danger of semen losses.

Worried doctors and unscrupulous quacks agreed that the most feared symptom of masturbation was impotence, representing as it did softness and lack of manhood. “The frightful consequences of self-pollution” ac- cording to Onania were legend.

Orgasm exhausted the body; the young could recuperate quickly but the weak could not. Studding his book with religious injunctions, Jean-Philippe Dutoit- Mambrini lamented that masturbation—“the vice of colleges”—was a sort of libertinage that was reaching epidemic proportions. Worse than normal sex, it destroyed the procreative powers. The man who arrived at his marriage half-dead tempted his wife to go elsewhere as both were deprived of the legitimate pleasures of matrimony.

The most influential of the attacks on masturbation was made by the famous Swiss doctor, S. A. D. Tissot in L’Onanisme: dissertation physique et morale (1760; translated into English in 1766). He stressed the psychological as well as physical afflictions resulting from the loss of animal spirits and genital liquor.

An important shift occurred in the early eighteenth century with the appearance of authors who, taking advan- tage of an extensive print culture of handbills, pamphlets, books, newspa- pers, and magazines all carrying advertisements for quack remedies, raised fears of a range of sexual complaints such as syphilis, masturbation, and impotence. In response, these enterprising men offered for sale their cur- ing pills and potions. Medical historians once labeled such practitioners quacks to set them apart from regular doctors. Given that the remedies they offered were no more effective than those of their counterparts, the distinc- tion is not all that helpful. Claiming in 1722 that simple cold bathing could cure “the effeminacy of the virile sex,” John Floyer castigated both quacks and intemperate doctors for their exaggerated claims.

The fact that the sperm could be observed and the human egg was yet to be discovered also played some role in legitimating notions of the active male and the passive female.

Underlying the demand that women show a greater modesty appeared to be the concern that men were not simple animals who could perform at will. Doctors, in providing men with a conception of the body composed of nerves and fibers, assured them that health was best served by controlling rather than indulging the passions. This bourgeois ideal of rationality and self-control was always coded as male.

The term “masculinity” entered the English language in 1748, implying a new self-consciousness of what it meant to be a man. In private many men no doubt believed that their manliness was best demonstrated by their sexual abilities.

But in public the refined eighteenth-century individual sought to demonstrate a character marked by sentiment and virtue. In its moralism and greater concern for privacy and discretion, the bourgeoisie set itself apart in particular from effete aristocrats.

The old-fashioned rake had not regarded his sexual exploitation of men as undermining his masculinity. Lord Rochester famously prided himself on ten thousand penetrations and lamented the decline of his penis, which once “Stiffly resolv’d, twould carelessly invade, / Woman or Man, nor ought its fury staid.” Increasingly, however, the man attracted to members of the same sex was labeled effeminate, a “mollie.” The poet Andrew Marvell, who remained a bachelor, was slandered by one rival as impotent and a sodomite and by another as a “gelding.” Yet in the eighteenth century men who pur- sued other men were generally presumed to have an excess rather than a lack of desire and were rarely accused of being impotent. The Earl of Leicester (later the third Marquess Townshend) was left by his wife in 1808 pur- portedly because of his impotence—but the Morning Herald libeled him for his affairs with young men.

Satirists spent more time castigating fops than in attacking mollies. An age that sought to make men more refined and sensitive was at the same time worried that they might become less virile. Tissot, for example, asserted that excessive study could destroy a man’s sexual abilities.

Washington could never accept the barren marriage as his fault and in old age mused about marrying “some girl” to produce an heir. Nevertheless Washington’s sexual shortcomings never elicited the sort of slanders the Bourbons endured. Indeed, in a draft of his first inaugural (which was never given) he actu- ally used his lack of heirs as a reason why he should be entrusted with the presidency. “It will be recollected that the Divine Providence hath not seen fit, that my blood should be transmitted or my name perpetuated by the endearing, though sometimes seducing channel of immediate offspring. I have no child for whom I could wish to make a provision—no family to build in greatness upon my country’s ruins.”48 He succeeded in portraying childlessness as a strength rather than a weakness. Whereas Louis XVI’s sexual failings resulted in his enemies labeling him a contemptible cuckold, Washington’s were used by his friends as yet another reason to hail him as the “Father of the Country.”  

Quacks sought to alarm men with claims that sexual dysfunctions were evidence of youthful indulgences.
The distaste with which the late eighteenth-century middle class regarded the discussion of impotence was to be only magni- fied with the coming of the Victorians.

In the working class, charges of impotence were flung as sexual insults as in the case of a man who screamed at his neighbor “I have bull’d thy wife. . . . Yes, damn thee I’ve fucked her scores of times, and she’s fetched me to fuck her when thy pillock wouldn’t stand.”16 The slandering of a man by claiming he was impotent was a common strategy of defamation in England. Until the elimination of the ecclesiastical courts in 1855 such insults were officially reported.

The provocative figure of the sexually demanding woman appeared in off- color songs. The Ri-tum Ti-Tum Songster (1837) contained a number of smutty tunes including “The Blue Bells of Ireland,” which concerned a woman want- ing beet root, “nine inches & no more.” Many of the other songs were about women’s desire for a penis as in “The New Rolling Pin,” while “He’ll No More Grind Again” portrayed the fate of the man who was past it. The same pub- lisher brought out in 1865 The Rambler’s Flash Songster with suggestive ditties about the butcher’s cock, Rory’s shillelagh, and so on. In such pieces as “The Female Tobacconist; or, You Will Come for Some Shagg,” the women were always presented as eager.

As in seventeenth-century ballads, in the music hall songs women were often presented as sexually active, singing about men failing to satisfy their desires and using the possibility of cuckoldry (with a lodger or cousin) to deflate and debunk authority. Across the channel, saucy French songs also revealed a world of male sociability and bawdy humor. Their stock fig- ures included masturbating priests, licentious nuns, and incompetent men seeking any form of arousal. Clear concerns for impotence were reflected in the songs’ exaggerated machismo. Such proverbs as “One cock satisfies ten chickens, but ten men don’t satisfy one woman” revealed that in the French countryside, women’s desires were still recognized.

The overly demanding woman not only harmed her husband, she failed to be fertile. Sexual excesses caused sterility, thus the newly married were, said many doctors, necessarily barren. Debay asserted that sterile women, known by their long clitoris and large pupils, seemed to devour men with their eyes and invite them to “erotic combats.” The numerous late nine- teenth-century horror stories of Stoker, Kipling, and Haggard which pre- sented women as vampires—the mouth replacing the genitals—clearly tapped into these fears of men being drained of their vital fluids.

One is reminded that John Ruskin, Lewis Carroll, and J. M. Barrie represented the sort of Victori- ans who had a marked penchant for prepubescent girls but were frightened by grown women. Sensitive men, stated Frederick Hollick, were rendered impotent because they were too idealistic: “They are ignorant of the real physical and moral nature of the being they take to their bosoms, and have formed a picture of her in the imagination very different from the reality, so that when the truth is known their feelings undergo a complete revul- sion. This ignorance sometimes extends to the most ordinary functional phenomena of the female system, and the first knowledge even of that has, to my own knowledge, produced a very disagreeable and lasting effect.” The privacy that the Victorians so treasured made it quite likely that the sexual ignorance of both middle-class men and women was greater in the 1800s than it had been in the 1700s.

The Italian physician Paolo Mantegazza conceded that hypochondriacs were put off by smells. According to Thomas Laycock, the “abhorrence of sexual union” was the result of sexual excesses, felt especially by the man and less often by the woman. Such revulsion frequently led to the breakup of older marriages.

Doctors went further. Taylor noted one could be put off by the woman’s discharges or a “flabby vulva, or a very large vagina.” A French physician warned women that with age came the man’s disgust for fat, fetid genitals: “Now, women whose body demands so much attention for cleanliness, must ceaselessly sustain a rose-like freshness with which to decorate the portal of the temple of pleasure.” A colleague seconded this demand for feminine hygiene, asserting that marriages could be blighted by “woman’s bed-bugginess.”

Indulging in the crudest misogyny, Shufeldt claimed that middle-class men would be rendered impotent by the sort of woman whom working men might accept.

A woman may be as pubescent as a Macaque ape, or forever giving way to her auto-erotic desires, or her vaginal secretions might be as acid as aquare- gia, or she might when passionately excited have the odor of a long defunct equus, or she might be as passionless as a sack of sand, or she might be as debauched and foul-mouthed as the most abandoned grisette in Paris, and it would be all one to any representative of the last-named class. Not so, how- ever, with the more sensitive and refined among us, for in them any one of these peculiarities, even in their milder manifestations, becomes intoler- able, and when confronted upon the nuptial bed with his life-chosen part- ner in whom any one or several of them may be discovered to be present, an instantaneous revolution of the emotion first takes place, and is promptly followed by a revolt of the powers of virility.

Few nineteenth-century doctors were as misogynistic as Shufeldt. He claimed that often women had acidic secretions (usually due to prolonged masturbation) that caused men’s impotency. If these men were middle aged, their impotency could become permanent. “Divorce frequently follows such mismatings, and then comes the breaking up of the home, the persecution of the man, and the acceptance of perjured testimony on the part of the ignorant courts to ‘settle the case.’” Shufeldt lamented that lawyers were generally unaware of the difference between sterility and impotency and of “the extent to which autoeroticism is practiced by old maids, much less do they know anything of its consequences.”  

In hindsight, the inability of some men to perform sexually with women might be read as an indication of male homosexuality. Such linkages were not explicitly made until the late nineteenth century. The discussion of im- potence nevertheless played a key role in sorting out men into different sexual camps. Doctors began to attribute similar features to both the homo- sexual and the impotent. They noted some men were so effeminate that their impotence was impossible to cure. James Richard Smyth, gave an account of such a type in 1841.

The body is generally delicate, rounded, and rather feminine in form; the muscles and cellular structure are soft, weak, and lax, and the gait in consequence wants the firmness and elasticity which are the accompaniments of strength and vigour. The hair is soft and fine, and deficient on the face and pubes; the voice is weak, sharp and shrill; the eyes are dull, watery, of a light colour, and devoid of fire and animation; the manners are capricious and boyish; the circulation is weak and languid, and the secretions scanty and imperfect; the testicles are small and soft, and sometimes retracted towards the abdominal ring, showing a disposition to return to their primitive foetal position in the abdomen, and the scrotum pendulous.

The apparent entanglement of impotence and same-sex desires drew the attention of late nineteenth-century psychiatrists. Alfred Binet coined the term “fetish” to describe the fact that in an age of enfeeblement, some individuals needed special types of excitation if they were to be able to perform sexually. A sort of “psychic impotence” was reflected in such indi- viduals’ obsession with a particular article of clothing or style of shoe they found arousing. Hammond reported a number of patients who required a certain type of woman or fetish to be fully potent. Some trifle could like- wise instantly render such men impotent. Binet regarded inversion as a form of fetishism, which resulted from the imprinting of an early sexual experience. In his eyes fetishists and homosexuals were not truly impotent since they did have orgasms, albeit from abnormal acts.
If more men had trouble in dealing with women’s sexual demands, argued late nineteenth-century commentators, it was because many had already been exhausted by the stresses of modern life. Doctors had long labeled as hysterics women who were incapacitated by their nervous preoccupations. In the late nineteenth century, men who suffered from psychological and physical breakdowns were said to be suffering from neurasthenia. George M. Beard, an American doctor, first began speaking on the nervousness brought on by the demands of the urban world in the late 1860s. Neurasthe- nia was a vague malady with range of symptoms, the most important being a loss of nervous energy accompanied by somatic consequences.

Scathing denunciations of bourgeois marriage were followed by artists’ exploration of a new range of sexual types—the lesbian, the androgyne, the invert. It has been noted that in England as in France a number of homo- sexual writers peopled their tales with heroes who, if they were not literally impotent, were haunted by a lack of fulfillment.
number of decadents went on from flaunting their indifference toward women to portraying them as a frightening lower species. Edmond de Goncourt confided to his journal in 1883 that he had dreamt of a dancer who “took steps that showed her private parts armed with the most terrible jaws one could imagine, opening and closing, exposing a set of teeth.”

Many worried that World War I had created a generation of shell- shocked and physically incapacitated males whose fate was uncertain. Obviously the war focused an unprecedented amount of attention on the sexually disabled. Nevertheless the conflict exacerbated rather than created a preoccupation with Western men’s declining virility." [Impotence]

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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:31 am

McLaren wrote:
"Freud attributed impotence to deeper seated causes, that is unresolved Oedipal urges. Why did the organs refuse to per- form despite desire and ability and only with certain persons? Such problems, Freud insisted, were not just accidents, but due to the patient’s inces- tuous fixation on his mother and associated memories of childhood sexual activity. Psychical impotence prevented men from having sex with anyone who conjured up images of affectionate family members. A woman who elic- ited their “high psychical estimation” could not be a sensual object. “Where they love they do not desire and where they desire they cannot love.”  To be free and happy a man had to understand and deal with his repressed desires. “Normal termination” of a male’s sexual development began with giving up such thoughts and an acceptance of new objects of desire—eligible sex partners, new objects of desire, in which were combined affectionate and sensual currents.

Human sex glands were soon being harvested. In 1913 Victor Lespinasse, a Northwestern University professor of genitourinary surgery, reported that he had planted slices of human testicle into the muscle of a man who had lost his testicles. Four days after the operation, Lespinasse claimed, the patient had strong erections and insisted on leaving hospital in order to gratify his desires.

L. L. Stanley, resident physician of the California state prison in San Quentin, reported in 1922 that he had first implanted testicles from executed convicts and then moved on to inject into his subjects via a dental syringe solutions of goat, ram, boar, and deer testicles. Altogether he made 1000 injections into 656 men. Though he argued that more work had to be done to rescue the field from quacks, Stanley’s own experiments smacked of the sensational. While stressing that his injections increased overall energy levels and so countered the effects of general asthenia such as acne, asthma, and senility, he also noted that they led, in some though not all cases, to improved erections. What he failed to explain was what interest a prison doctor would have in curing his inmates of sexual lassitude and impotence.

Such reports certainly won public attention. By 1923 an American sex re- former could claim, “We are justified in saying that testicle implantation is a useful procedure, giving, in most cases, good results in senility and in impotence, by increasing the general well-being and the libido.”

Stanley had been inspired by work of Serge Voronoff, an eminent Russian-born medical scientist working at the Collège de France. Voronoff began his career experimenting with skin and bone grafts. Led on by the notion that the aging process could be reversed by transplanting the testes of young animals into the old, Voronoff in 1919 scandalized many by transplanting the testes of chimpanzees into men. He asserted that “marked psychical and sexual excitation” typically resulted, followed by a resurgence of memory, energy and “genital functions.”

Thousands of such expensive operations were carried out on wealthy men including Maurice Maeterlinck, the Belgian poet and Nobel laureate. Though Voronoff and his patients were convinced that his procedure worked, by the 1930s the scientific consensus was that the body would reject transplanted glands and only quacks could continue to advocate such procedures.

Since testosterone could be administered by pills and injections there was no longer any need for the discredited gland transplants and vasoligations. Moreover testosterone, though apparently effective in some cases of the male climacteric, proved to be of no use for impotence: it actually caused azoospermia (the decline in sperm production), and could exacerbate prostate cancer. With the synthetic production of hormones one had what one historian has called a case of “drugs looking for diseases.” Pharmaceutical companies had products to sell and now had to convince doctors and patients that they needed them.

Its window display cards promised “The Fire of Life Replenished” and asked “Do You Wish to Renew Your Youth?” Once testosterone propionate was synthesized in the late 1930s, commercial firms were claiming it should be used in cases of eunuchism, hypogonadism, impotence, and prostatic hypertrophy.

By the 1920s, “the gynecological clinic functioned as a powerful institutional context that provided an available and established clientele with a broad range of diseases that could be treated with hormones.” Thanks to estrogen, endocrinology and gynecology “practically merged” in the 1930s. Hormones began to be offered for late puberty, menstrual problems, and even the “unhappiness” occasioned by menopause. Doctors com- plained that in contrast, doing endocrine research on male sexuality was far more difficult. Changes in the testes that required medical observation were so infrequent that clinical observations were rare.

The writers of the early twentieth-century sex and marriage manuals played up the man’s role as lover and spouse and downplayed fatherhood. Similarly, the rejuvenators explicitly favored the recreational over the reproductive side of sex. Stein- ach’s interest was in the virility rather than the fertility of his subjects. Indeed in cases of vasoligations where both of the vas deferns were cut, in- creased potency was bought at the price of reproduction. That such trade- offs were taken for granted revealed the extent to which Western twentieth- century culture accepted the shift in male priorities. Hormones were thus a cause and effect of a reconfiguration of both masculinity and impotence. Whereas once it was the possession of a penis or the production of sperm or the fathering of children that made one a man, now it was having the right hormones.

Much of the explanation for the rejuvenation craze also stemmed from the twentieth-century attack on aging. One doctor tellingly noted that men were willing to accept that not all stomachs were the same but believed sexual performances should be. “If a man’s natural capacity for sexual congress is only once a month,” he protested, “it is hopeless to try and tune him up to three times a night.” In the modern world sexual potency was taken as a key indicator of male well-being. This desire to be “normal” (which in fact was to approach the ideal) justified increased interventions in the body. Men of the 1920s were exhorted by the media to embrace a new model of mascu- linity represented by tanned, athletic youths. Like women, men were now supposed to have sex appeal. At the same time it was still believed that the business life of the man was as important to him as the woman’s sex life was to her. Given the social and political disruptions of the post–World War I years it is no surprise that some men sought out new means of reju- venation. They found themselves under pressure to keep up with modern women and to counter the challenge of younger business rivals.

Of course, the need to demonstrate sexual vitality was not accepted by all. Most men no doubt continued to accept old age gracefully. They admit- ted that because they were aging their potency might decline, and spurned the new idea that it was their declining potency that made them old. Tradi- tionally doctors had repeated the adage that moderation in all things was the best way to prolong life. “A certain abundance in the power of generation is favorable to longevity,” asserted Christopher William Hufeland, but ex- cesses and masturbation led to a drying out of the body. The argument that the old should direct their limited energies to living rather than to sex still made sense to some. “Many aging men,” reported Norman Haire, “are glad to be rid of what has been at times a disturbing element in their life, glad to have reached an age at which they are no longer troubled by the lusts of the flesh, and yet are loath to lose their physical and mental efficiency.”  

There were also doctors who expressed an unease with male patients who did not have erections yet still sought sexual release. “It often occurs that old men, no longer capable of performing the sexual act, will persist in coming to the physician for treatment, for the reason that they experi- ence a sensation of sexual pleasure in having their prostate massaged. Especially is this true when the massage is continued to the point of forcing out the secretions (milking the prostate). Many of these old men secure all their sexual pleasure through these treatments.”

Was aging “natural?” In 1903 Elie Metchnikoff coined the term “gerontol- ogy,” thereby launching the notion of aging as a medical problem that could be tinkered with. In arguing that many men were old before they needed to be, Steinach and Voronoff clearly represented a similar mindset. In the 1920s doctors increasingly referred to the “male climacteric,” which they likened to the female menopause. A man’s critical age had more diffuse symptoms than the woman’s and occurred later; many doctors placed it in the man’s fifties. One writer asserted that it could occur any time. Early starters ended early; sexual excesses led to senility. He warned that false hopes should not be raised in men over fifty; most could not be rejuvenated. Yet he went on to say that family life would be improved and marriages strengthened were a cure for such men’s impotence found.

Those investigating the aging process naturally interested themselves in the notion that the retention of sexual vigor could delay senescence. Hav- ing made his reputation with his classic study of adolescence, G. Stanley Hall produced a work on aging in which he provided a short overview of rejuvenation theory. “Sex glands,” he wrote, “stimulate not merely amour- ousness but all kinds of cerebral and muscular energy, pouring into the blood a species of vital fluid, and give a sense of vigor and well-being and plenitude of life, which later vanish when their source begins to run dry in age.”  Concluding that the only hope for postponement of death lay in the glands, Clarke noted that the leading thinkers of the age—like Steinach and Freud—agreed on the centrality of sex in the life of man.

The rise of the “midlife decline novels” such as those of Mann, Fitzger- ald, and Hemingway in the 1920s and 1930s was one symptom of the cul- tural preoccupation with the aging male.
If the rejuvenators reflected their culture’s concern for aging, they were even more marked by early twentieth-century preoccupations with improving the race. They spoke about returning potency, not to all men, but to otherwise “fit” men. In doing so they were echoing the widespread eugenic belief that reproduction was too important to be simply left to na- ture. Such sentiments were ultimately taken to their logical extremes by the Nazis. Though attempts to cure impotence might appear to be worlds apart from campaigns to eliminate social inferiors, the two undertakings did share some common obsessions.

Malthus’s faith in nature restricting popula- tion growth had proven wrong: “The problem before the modern economist is not how to place a check on population generally, but rather how to se- cure that future generations shall be sufficiently recruited from that sec- tion of the population which is industrially capable, while at the same time to prevent indiscriminate propagation.” Such musings led Aldous Hux- ley to sketch out a vision in Brave New World of a future in which test tube babies would play a role in the engineering of different biological classes.

The rejuvenators’ attempts to cure impotency can be fruitfully viewed as a form of “positive” eugenics. They unabashedly argued that their efforts were aimed at restoring the vigor and potency of fit, white business men and professionals. Benjamin, for example, wished that all the world’s “aging intellectual, political and industrial leaders would be ‘Steinached.’ ” In Ger- many, Kammerer seemed to suggest that the operation would ultimately open a “path to the Superman.” The rejuvenators also supported “nega- tive” eugenic policies aimed at limiting the fertility of the “unfit.” Their prejudices were made clear enough. L. L. Stanley subjected to experimentation San Quentin inmates and Peter Schmidt operated on Chinese prison- ers in Shanghai. G. Frank Lydston, a racist whose works including Sexual Crimes Among the Southern Negroes (c. 1893) and That Bogey Man the Jew (1921), expressed particular interest in Stanley’s harvesting of the testicles of an executed Afro-American inmate because it demonstrated the possibility of “cross-racial” implantation.43

Seizing on the idea of using hormones to discipline the heretofore in- corrigible, eugenists hailed the emergence of endocrinology. “The internal secretions . . . control human nature, and whoever controls them controls human nature.” Charles Davenport argued at the Second International Congress of Eugenics that criminals had inherited bad glands, and therefore they were not to be hated, but treated.

In 1921 the Pennsylvania Medical Society was told that truancy, dishonesty, and criminal tendencies were due to diet and thyroid problems. Pupils in the Chicago subnormal classes, the press reported, were to be fed a sheep gland diet. The Board of Education doctor expected to thereby put “new brains into the heads of subnormal children.” The next year similar experiments were tried on prison inmates. The mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers spoofed such undertakings when one of her characters claims unscientific attempts to deal with young crimi- nals had failed: “Flogging and bread-and-water, you know, and Holy Com- munion, when what they really needed was a little bit of rabbit-gland or something to make them just good as gold.” Now it was possible “to make everybody good by glands.”

A number of the medical scientists interested in rejuvenation techniques saw gland trans- plants and hormonal injections as “curing” rather than punishing their pa- tients. Hence the limerick:

Ah, Vienna, the fortress of Freud!
Whose surgeons are always employed;
Where boys with soft hands,
Are provided with glands,
And two-fisted girls are de-boyed.

Alarmed by what he believed was a surge in the number of homosexuals, Lydston recommended testicular grafts as a cure. “Defective and aberrant psychic or physical sex development and differentiation—inversions and perversions—are definite indications for sex gland implantation.” In 1923 Corners suggested that transplants be carried out to deal with “inborn sex inversion,” followed up by psychoanalysis to remove psychological com- plexes. Voronoff claimed he had successes in four of the seven cases in which gland transplants were employed to remedy sexual inversion. Stein- ach asserted that homosexuality was due to a hormonal deficiency.  

Magnus Hirschfeld, Europe’s leading campaigner for the rights of ho- mosexuals, supported such experiments. Since he previously claimed that true males and females were only ideals and the vast majority of individuals found themselves somewhere on the continuum in between, his new stance appeared somewhat contradictory. He took this position because those hos- tile to homosexuals commonly argued that they simply had made the choice of being perverts. Hirschfeld countered that scientists had established that homosexuality had a physiological basis, it was neither a vice nor a disease but a “developmental error.” He asserted that the interstitial cells of homo- sexuals were distinctly different from those of heterosexuals and elaborated a theory that their testicular secretions led to development of a more “femi- nine” type of brain. He naturally took great interest in Steinach’s work. So, on the one hand Hirschfeld used hypnotism to heighten the desire of het- erosexual men suffering from impotence, and on the other he sent a hand- ful of patients who wanted to overcome their bisexuality or homosexuality to surgeons like Richard Mühsam. The failure in one case he attributed to the fact that though the patient received a “normal” testicle it had to share a scrotum with its homosexual counterpart. Arguing that homosexuals had no choice in deciding their sexual orientation made tactical sense for a man seeking an end to the law that declared them criminals, but in going on to argue that homosexuals were physically different from normal males, Hirschfeld implied that they were in some way sick and so could possibly be cured. Walker more cautiously noted in 1930 that some doctors thought homosexuality was “the result of disturbances of the endocrine function of the sex gland, or some other organ of internal secretion,” yet he maintained that “the surgical treatment of homosexuality cannot be considered a practical measure until much more is known, not only of the cause of homo- sexuality but also of tissue grafting in general.” Nevertheless decades later Paul Niehans continued to give cellular injections to counter “homosexual and lesbian tendencies.”

Although only a few gland grafts were carried out on homosexuals in the interwar period, they provided a dangerous precedent for the Nazis who set out to eliminate homosexuality by the most barbaric of means. An example of this genealogy was represented by Knud Sand, a Danish pro- fessor of forensic medicine, who like Steinach began by experimenting on animals to demonstrate how hormones influenced sexual development, and proceeded to support the notion of curing homosexuality by testicular transplants. He played an influential role in the passage of the 1929 Danish law that allowed for the castration of sex offenders and the sterilization of the feeble-minded. During the World War II his colleague Carl Vaernet experimented on homosexuals rounded up by the SS.

Rejuvenation, eugenics, and endocrinology were each in their own ways symptoms of the twentieth-century desire to improve the body. Though their adherents might not all have believed that human behavior could be standardized, they were convinced that sexual behavior could be measured against scientifically established norms. In the postwar years, Alfred Kinsey set out to demolish just such theories and in doing so provided yet another reappraisal of impotence’s cultural significance." [Impotence]

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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:35 am

McLaren wrote:
"Under the caption “The Impotence Boom (Has it hit you yet?),” Esquire carried on its October 1972 cover a photo of an apparently nude Burt Reynolds casting a worried look at his loins. Philip Nobile’s inside story played off claims by alarmists such as Dr. George L. Ginsberg that in recent years there had been a marked rise in impotence, against the reassurances of Dr. Albert Ellis that only reports of such dysfunctions had risen. The general tenor of the story was that worrisome changes explained why impotence was now a topic that novelists, magazine writers, and moviemakers avidly exploited. Men were on the defensive. Nobile titled his story “What Is the New Impotence, and Who’s Got It?” The “old impotence” was attributed to tired, older men bored with their middle-aged partners; the “new impotence” was experienced by younger men increasingly daunted by the demands of sexually liberated women. Nobile cited a Harvard undergrad who stated that in dating the question now was not “Will she or won’t she?” but “Could he or couldn’t he.”

Once males began their sex lives they never stopped. Countering the old notion of a “seminal economy” that held that one had a limited reserve of sexual energy that should not be squandered, Kinsey declared that sexual activity was a sign of health.

Though he said relatively little about impotence, Kinsey’s key argument that abstinence impaired performance—“use it or lose it”—was later on taken up by a host of popularizers. There was no need to worry about excesses.

Kinsey concluded impotence was actually quite rare and doctors specializing in the subject had inflated its importance. Kinsey found erectile impotence in less than 1 percent of men under age thirty-five; one-quarter were impotent at seventy, and over one-half by seventy-five. Yet even in old age impotence was often attribut- able more to psychological than physiological causes.

Kinsey’s 1953 report Sexual Behavior in the Human Female created an- other sensation. Perhaps the most important finding of this study, based on nearly 8,000 subjects, was Kinsey’s rediscovery of the importance of the clitoris for female pleasure. He was consequently led on to defend clitoral stimulation against the psychoanalysts who insisted that women needed training in “vaginal response.” Yet in marital intercourse, the wife’s desires seemed to be of secondary importance to Kinsey. Since three-quarter of the males he interviewed took two minutes to climax, he assumed that their haste could not be deemed “abnormal.” He noted that chimps only took ten to twenty seconds. In any event, many women never climaxed during intercourse and it was therefore all the more unreasonable to expect men to prolong it. Indeed Kinsey believed that doctors had been mistaken in la- beling premature ejaculation a type of impotence. “It would be difficult to find another situation in which an individual who was quick and intense in his responses was labeled anything but superior, and that in most instances is exactly what the rapidly ejaculating male is, however inconvenient and unfortunate his qualities may be from the standpoint of the wife in the relationship.” Kinsey suggested couples work out their “sexual adjustments in marriage” and he included chapters dealing with the physiological, psychological and hormonal factors in sexual response and orgasm. He was not terribly interested in therapies. Priding himself on simply cataloging what men did, he was disdainful of the psychoanalysts and marriage counselors who tried to cure or change them.

Kinsey’s findings should have dampened down fears of loss of male viril- ity yet, each subsequent decade saw some publication gloomily allege that a surge in male impotence was occurring.

The treatments available in the late 1960s still included local measures (including circumcision, Lowsley’s operation, urethral diathermy, and employment of splints); hormonal therapies (the use of testosterone derivatives, thyroid compounds, and the Steinach operation); chemotherapeutic therapies (including doses of yohimbine, strychnine, apomorphine, amphetamine); and finally the psychological therapies (psychotherapy, counseling, hypnosis and relaxation, and behavior therapy).

If in theory there were numerous medical treatments available, in practice few doctors knew much about them.

Drawing heavily on Freud, Philip Wylie in Generation of Vipers (1955) attacked what he termed “momism.” Legions of de- structive, idle, middle-aged women, he asserted, had destroyed their sons, leaving them “limp and querulous.” Psychiatrist Edward A. Strecker held such “apron-stringing” moms responsible for the hundreds of thousands of men rejected or discharged by the army. Establishing “momarchies” by usurping the rightful role of the father in the family, such “moms in pants” doomed their boys to immaturity if not homosexuality.

For the psychoanalyst a potency disturbance could not be understood without understanding the underlying neurosis. In a typically elaborate ex- ample of such psychoanalytic sleuthing Bergler traced back a young man’s marital impotence to his having seen the film The Human Beast, a dramatiza- tion of Emile Zola’s novel.

In it [the film] the protagonist shrinks from having intercourse because he fears that in his sexual frenzy he might strangle the heroine. The young man could not forget that central scene, applied the situation to himself and feared that he, too, would commit such a crime. He became completely impotent, and felt close to a “nervous breakdown.” . . . His fear pertained to castration threats, meted out by the father in his fantasy, and Father is undoubtedly an external person. In short, he played the role of the aggressive transgressor of educational commands, who is threatened by an outside danger of retali- ation. In his enforced “abstinence” (after a few fiascoes, he did not touch his wife), he secondarily avoided the “bad boy” situation. More, he preventively executed the sentence of castration upon himself, since an unusable organ is unconsciously synonymous with a castrated organ. This, in turn, imme- diately brought him into the orbit of “negative Oedipus” which in itself was but a duplication on a “higher” developmental level of the passivity he had experienced on the pre-Oedipal level.

Such inventive reasoning was all the more impressive given that psycho- analysts noted that neurotics, presenting other problems as a façade, rarely mentioned sexual difficulties in their first therapy sessions. But Freudians could detect impotence—even if the patient could not—because they saw it manifested in a variety of behaviors. Bergler argued that neurotics felt that every sex act was a test of their potency. “The wolf is (contradictory as it may sound) an impotent man who conceals that bitter fact from himself and others by constantly exchanging women. Were he to stay for any length of time with one woman, he, the great seducer, would be proven impo- tent. In an unconscious preventive action, therefore, he does not allow the situation to arise.” Bergler repeated the argument in Counterfeit-Sex (1958). Psychoanalytic-psychiatric studies revealed that “nine-tenths of all infidel- ity in women is based on frigidity, and nine-tenths of the ‘running from one woman to another’ in men is reducible to open or hidden impotence.” Bergler likewise pronounced that promiscuous women were actually frigid. Many mistresses were lesbians who really wanted a wife. “Paradoxical as it may sound, Lesbians are not woman-lovers but woman-haters and, in the deepest layer, gluttons for punishment administered by a woman. All Les- bian relationships, therefore, are suffused with hatred and suffering.” Such outbursts explain why Kinsey regarded Freud’s followers as simply carrying on the moralizing tradition of priests and philosophers.

In looking for the cause of impotence, Freudians placed much of the guilt first on the man’s mother and secondly on his wife. In a study of un- consummated marriages, the English psychoanalyst Michael Balint stated that treating frigid women often cured men’s impotence. Balint noted how powerful such women often were. Those who sought artificial insemination were actually demonstrating a desire to have their own penis and thus to devalue men. Most of the women in the study suffered from tightness, or vaginismus, and had unconsciously chosen timid husbands. These women, according to Balint, had to learn to be passive and less independent. Sim- ply instructing the woman to permit her husband to be more manly often solved the problem. “There is no question that if the woman allows her husband to be aggressive, and even enjoys it, it might give more to him than any psychiatric treatment. We agree that to treat impotent men is a very long and difficult task, whereas here in a few weeks we can make them potent by treating their wives—heaven knows how.” In fact he did know how—by restoring the appropriate gender roles.

Bergler also accused the frigid wife of claiming her husband was impotent as an alibi for her own shortcomings.

If many Freudians instructed women on the importance of being dutiful wives, they also warned men that any lack of interest in the opposite sex could be taken as a sign of latent homosexuality. Charles W. Socarides pro- vided a classic Freudian explanation of how impotence and homosexuality were linked.

One’s happy experiences at the breast exert a favorable influence in promoting genitality. Only when there is undue oral stimulation and frustration does the organism undergo an intense fixation to the oral phase and produce an undue degree of fear because of the rejection of its oral hunger. The ob- ject relationship of the genital phase becomes filled with a pattern acquired at the oral zone including the unconscious fantasies and feelings of desire and fear. In many men this may be interpreted as a fear of being devoured by the vagina. This is probably the most important factor responsible for psychosexual impotence in men.

According to Bergler homosexuals were, unconsciously, “simply frightened fugitives from women, fleeing in their panic to ‘another continent.’ ” Their mother had been too strong and their father too weak.

Those who embraced the notion of the “flight to homosexuality” held that since virility in the modern world increasingly had to be proven by woman’s sexual response, weak men retreated into less demanding same- sex relationships. Socarides coined the term “variational homosexuality” to refer to those who because of their impotence or near-impotence, sought out homosexual experiences.

Some therapists held that impotence led to homosexuality, others postulated that the homosexual was impotent. “Homosexuality is a form of impotency, although at times it may not evidence itself anatomically or completely,” asserted John Cavanagh. He went on to state that as a psychiatrist he had to “insist that the homosexual is psychologically impotent in heterosexual relations.” There was a positive aversion to the act itself. Furthermore, “the homosexual lacks the capacity for that unselfish love which is necessary for marriage.” While asserting that there was no nec- essary relationship between impotence and sexual deviation, psychiatrist George Henry described a case in which homosexuality and impotence were closely linked. “Egbert’s latent homosexuality was associated with impotence. He was troubled by panicky feelings about losing his health and his mind, by impulses to punch pregnant women in the stomach, and by obsessive thoughts such as: ‘I’m not of any value; nobody wants me. I’m a failure.’ ” Even progressives in favor of decriminalization of homosexuality like Eustace Chesser asserted that homosexuality was related to self-love, failure of sublimation, and arrested development. The liberal English sex expert Joan Malleson described homosexuals as neurotics who like bi- sexuals needed psychotherapy to draw them to “normal paths.” Like Bergler, such experts tended to regard homosexuality as a “curable disease.” The transition from homosexuality to a “sustained premarital relation- ship” with a woman would, however, noted Lawrence Hatterer, be marked by sexual complications.

“Premature ejaculation, transient impotence, low frequency of intercourse, and an inability to abandon himself or to achieve mutual orgasm are just a few possible difficulties that may arise at this time in the patient’s new sexual adaptation.”

Doctors “rediscovered” the problem of homosexuality in the postwar years. In 1952 the American Psychiatric Association developed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-1) that declared homosexuality a sociopathic personality disorder. Fears of homosexuality also underlay the postwar panic over sexual psychopaths. Between 1947 and 1955 twenty- one American states passed laws targeting deviants, the purported purpose being to better protect women and children. In the 1960s doctors continued to suggest that impotent inverts were prone to commit sex crimes. “Many sexual offenses occur because the individual is seeking the stimulus neces- sary to overcome his impotence. The individual who has lost his potency frequently becomes obsessed with the idea that if he could receive a certain type of stimulus he could then perform a sex act quite satisfactorily. He may have enjoyed such stimulation or (more likely) has enjoyed it in fantasy. This stimulus may vary from some simple form of stimulation such as pornographic pictures at one end of the scale to sadistic murder at the other.” Patricia Sexton stated that the typical murderer was a “nice guy” like Sirhan or Oswald (the killers of the Kennedys) who were quiet “feminized males” whose normal impulses were so warped they had to prove their virility by killing. Such accounts of “sick” perverts deflected attention from the fact that the vast majority of assaults on women and children were carried out by heterosexual male friends or family members. In the decades in which men were egged on to be more virile and manly, few arguments were more unsettling than the suggestion that impotence could lead to homosexual- ity, which in turn could lead to sadistic sex crimes.

Marie Stopes had led the campaign in the interwar years for the eroticization of marriage by portraying unhappy marriages as resulting from clumsy husbands and sexually restrained wives. Marriage counselors sim- ilarly hoped that by improving sex, it would be restricted to the marriage bed. Women had to find marital sex pleasurable, and Emily Mudd accordingly provided advice on how the husband should “court” his wife. To counter husbands from straying, wives were enjoined to make themselves more responsive and attractive. Reports on marriages in the years following World War II suggested little had changed.  

Few men knew much about the importance of clitoral stimulation. In 1950 a doctor who noted that potency was usually defined as the ability to initiate, sustain, and conclude sexual intercourse “to the satisfaction of the male” went on to state that “if we include the words ‘and the female,’ some 50 percent of potent males might be classified as impotent.” Professionals thus came round to the notion that in cases of impotence, there were not one but two sufferers. Who complained of im- potence? Doctors reported that wives were more likely than their husbands to talk of the latter’s lack of interest in sex. When Hannah and Abraham Stone published an article on female frigidity they were surprised to receive letters from women insisting it was their husbands who had deficiencies.

Others were more intrusive. Edwin W. Hirsch asserted that civilization, prudery, bad education, and fears of masturbation produced sexual cripples. Psychic impotence could be cured only by force of will. “Nature does not re- ward cowards and mental slackers.” Some still clung to the discredited no- tion of a spermatic economy. Premarital experiments often led to poor mar- riages, asserted one expert, but the healthy man could go on into his sixties if he had “exercised his sexual powers in a legitimate way.” The promiscu- ous would have their just desserts. “The man who has had many mistresses and has lived in a way that was sexually exciting to the extreme, is going to find that he is not sufficiently stimulated by the same woman, his wife, day after day, and he therefore tends to become impotent at a much earlier age than if he had been more saving of his sexual powers.” The more current writers followed Kinsey’s line that those who were sexually active soonest lasted longest.

More common was the assertion that because now marriage was supposed to assure the sexual happiness of both partners, males felt under increased pressure.

Potency was in effect a “fear of fear” problem. Men simply had to be- come more skilled lovers. More conservative commentators flat out advised men to ignore the wife’s reaction. J. F. Tuthill, who worked for the London and Birmingham Marriage Guidance Councils, claimed that trying to pro- long the sex act simply increased a husband’s anxiety. In the first half of the twentieth century, some sex experts had set the simultaneous orgasm as the goal toward which every couple had to strive. From the 1950s on those writ- ing about marriage increasingly warned that such efforts should not be ex- aggerated, that most women preferred “romance,” and that over strenuous attempts could have the unanticipated effect of incapacitating the male.

Such cautions were to be expected given that the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s was widely perceived as increasing the pressure on men to per- form. As measured in rates of pre- and extramarital sex, women changed more than men in this decade. Studies appeared showing that young women were making unprecedented sexual demands. Wives changed as well. Robert Bell advanced figures showing that two-thirds of wives in the 1920s wanted less sex, whereas only one-sixth in 1940 and one-thirteenth in 1964. Numer- ous reports were published of men being disconcerted by female overtures. Pressure built as it became more common for women to have had premarital sexual experiences. Women had always been blamed for intimidating men, but in the 1960s a particular type of woman—the feminist—was singled out for attack. In a 1964 article denouncing sexologists, the psychoanalyst Leslie H. Farber asserted that when the woman did not know about the orgasm she did not miss it; it was not “isolated from the totality of her pleasures.” Now experts had “enshrined” the orgasm as her right. By the 1970s a conserva- tive doctor like B. Lyman Stewart, was asserting the “passive male” was ren- dered impotent by a “paternalistic or socialistic form of government” and by the fear of the sorts of aggressive women who supported the Women’s Liberation Movement. He pointed to the fact that younger men and non- Caucasians were now showing up in doctors’ offices as a sure indicator of a rise in male difficulties. Since more aggressive women had appeared, Stewart saw as the only answer the need for even more powerful men. Others argued that the increased popularity of oral sex was an indi- cator of men worrying about their ability to penetrate.

That symbol of 1960s sexual modernity—the contraceptive pill—played a central role in the emergence of the “new impotence.” From the nineteenth century onward it had been reported that the need to employ contraceptives sapped the ardor of some men. In the 1950s and 1960s birth control contin- ued to be cited as a cause of impotence due to men’s dislike of the condom and the anxieties associated with coitus interruptus. The fact that the main methods of contraception were the man’s responsibility compounded the problem. Finding that many men claimed they could not perform if forced to wear a condom, the birth control advocate Margaret Sanger saw the need to distance sex from contraception. Her goading of medical scientists and philanthropists finally resulted in the appearance of the birth control pill in 1960. With the coming of the oral contraceptive the sex act was finally divorced from both reproduction and the messy methods to avoid it. Most men were delighted that the pill relieved them of the responsibility for contraception and made women more sexually available. Yet, some were not sure. David Reisman worried that the pill allowed women to become “critical consumers of male performance.” There were even men who lamented the fact that with the pill they were ignorant of a woman’s intent. Given the chances of getting pregnant in a pre-pill age, a woman would have con- sented to sex only if she were serious about the relationship. Now she was free—like a man—to shop around. Almost immediately the cry was raised that easier contraception caused even more impotence. Dr. Herbert A. Otto claimed that “the pill and the IUD contribute to a male perception of women as sexually demanding and possibly insatiable, since the fear of pregnancy which has acted as a deterrent to her sexual appetites has been removed.” In reality, the evidence suggests that the separation of intercourse and protec- tion by oral contraceptive largely allowed gender norms to go unchanged. The very fact that women took the pill well before having sex meant that they could continue to play the passive role.

It was hardly a coincidence that in the 1970s reports of a “new impo- tence” followed not only the widespread use of the pill and the emergence of second-wave feminism, but the discovery of the multiorgasmic female. The latter phenomenon was widely publicized by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, the most important of the sex therapists who in the 1960s presented themselves as replacing marriage counselors and psychoana- lysts as the best qualified experts on sexual dysfunctions.

Whereas marriage counseling had been all about communication and emotional adjustment, sex therapy was mainly about technique. It presented itself as more scientific, basing its recommendations upon the actual obser- vation and measurement of sex acts. When Masters and Johnson’s research was initially reported, the public felt an unease upon hearing that sex was be- ing subjected to laboratory experimentation and—with miniature cameras inside plastic penises—observation. They skillfully defused such worries by presenting themselves as white coated medical scientists rather than as sex radicals. In referring to “erectile dysfunction” and “female sexual arousal dis- order” rather than to “impotence” or “frigidity” they distanced themselves from the Freudians. More importantly, they presented themselves as a ther- apy team dealing with the “marriage problems” of both husband and wife, justifying their intrusiveness as serving the higher goal of marital harmony. They did not set out to cure individuals; the “marital unit” was the “the pa- tient” and the interaction of the couple accordingly crucial.

While Kinsey had argued that sexual performance varied according to social class, Masters and Johnson began with the basic premise that sexual intercourse was simply a physiological process.

In asserting that the clitoris was a woman’s main source of pleasure and that her sexual capacities ex- ceeded those of the man, Masters and Johnson made their name, yet they simply demonstrated much that was already known. Their declarations both increased men’s sexual concerns and offered reassurances. Some men were no doubt daunted by the therapists’ claims of having discovered the multi- orgasmic woman. It was also humbling for some to hear that women could have more orgasms without men than with them.

Masters and Johnson dealt with both nonorgasmic women and impotent men. Their simple message was that, armed with new, scientific knowledge, overcoming marital problems was relatively easy. All that was required was a two week training session costing $2,500. They found that over the long term, negative thinking—depression, anger, fear, and boredom—were the main causes of the male’s sexual decline. Like Kinsey they reported the key factor was “consistency of active sexual expression” from middle age on. Nevertheless they claimed that those over fifty could still be “trained” out of “secondarily acquired impotence.” A man’s virility could be “reconstituted” or “restimulated.” In the short term, monotony, preoccupation with one’s job, fatigue, overindulgence in food or drink, and physical infirmities, all played roles, but they singled out the heavy burden of male responsibility in intercourse as the leading cause of the performance anxieties that led to erectile dysfunctions.

Masters and Johnson provided intrusive coaching aimed at behavior modification. They shifted the focus from Kinsey’s concern for the quantity of sex to the quality of the orgasm. By teaching techniques of orgasmotherapy, starting with an education in masturbation, they claimed it was possible to ignore cultural conditioning and circumvent the psychoanalytic preoccupation with the psyche that might demand years of treatment. They reassured their patients that penis size was not important. Men needed only to relax, knowing that sexual intercourse was simply “a natural physical function.”  

Helen Singer Kaplan agreed that it was “surprisingly easy” to cure the 50 percent of the male population that experienced occasional impotence or what she preferred to call erectile dysfunction. Since anxiety was the key problem, she enjoined men to abandon an “over concern for partner” and “be selfish.” Such therapists called on the woman either to avoid touching the man’s genitals altogether or to provocatively fondle him in the back seats of cars, at films, concerts and plays, or under a blanket at the beach. A whiff of the 1960s was carried in the suggestion made in an English text that music—“Indian evening ragas, African drumming, reg- gae, madrigals”—could distract and so ease a man’s anxieties.35

One came away from a reading of the works of such therapists with the sense that intercourse was now regarded as a highly organized event for which one had to train and carefully prepare. The popular sex manuals that followed in the 1970s set out problems and provided strategies, scripts, exercises, and illustrations. Calling for programmed spontaneity, they promised that the goal of the orgasm could be achieved if sexuality was approached in a conscious, calculated, technical fashion. Masters and Johnson did note the risk of making sex work, yet fell back on the use of economic and indus- trial metaphors, referring, for example, to a man who “simply cannot ‘get the job done.’” They instructed the man both to relax and to get on with his “job” of pleasuring his partner. Given that the sex therapists popular- ized the notion that women could have multiple orgasms, the task appeared all the more daunting.

Such insights were diminished, however, by those who presented the body as being little more than an assemblage of buttons that had to be pushed to produce an orgasm. Thus Hirsch attacked the “anticli- torine propaganda” of the psychoanalysts and instructed the husband to vigorously attack the “torpid” or “frozen” clitoris no matter what the wife said. Reclaiming the clitoris, like the increased public acceptance of oral sex, should presumably have made penetrative sex less important. The ther- apists and writers of sex manuals continued to assume, however, that pen- etration was the ultimate goal. They did not disabuse men of their preoccu- pation with genital sex. On the one hand it was in the professional interests of sex therapists to exaggerate the rates of impotence and their significance. Indeed some writers asserted that male sexual dysfunctions were the cause of a range of social problems including alcoholism, divorce, drug use, sui- cide, and homosexuality.37 On the other hand it was also in their interest to reassure the anxious that if the right lessons were followed, cures were assured.

Though the sex therapists’ manuals daringly discussed a range of once tabooed sexual practices, a dreary faith in behaviorialism pervaded much of their work. They set out to condition men to respond appropriately to women. In the most extreme cases, some went so far as to advocate the use of punishments. “The technique employed to reduce the patient’s aversion to the female genitals,” reported Helen Kaplan, “was a modification of the ‘stop-shock’ technique described by Feldman and MacCulloch, which is reported to be highly and rapidly effective in reversing the sexual orientation of secondary homosexuals. Briefly, the technique consists of pairing pic- tures of the female genitals with relief from an electric shock.” It would be hard to imagine a more striking example of compulsory heterosexuality. A similar sense of desperation was evident in therapists’ injunctions that penetration, no matter how achieved, was good. An American doctor gave instructions on the ways in which to “shoehorn” a limp penis into a moist vagina.

The feminist researcher Shere Hite accepted that due to such pressures, over 10 percent of men regularly had potency problems, but she went on to point out that their concerns for their erection stemmed more from their competition with other men than in the desire to pleasure women.

The 1960s also witnessed a resurgence in the old preoccupation that white males had with the threat of black sexuality. A number of black writ- ers produce classic accounts of the function served by such panics. In The Fire Next Time (1962) James Baldwin argued that white men believed their masculinity depended on denying it to others, but that due to their insecu- rities they projected their own fears and longings on to blacks. The psychia- trist Frantz Fanon reported that in their racial fantasies some of his patients saw the black man as simply a penis. Such delusions helped explain why lynchings had been so frequently accompanied by castrations. Pointing out that particularly in America white men were “torn by repressed dreams of sexual virility” and “fantasies of masculine inadequacy,” the psychologist

Calvin C. Hernton agreed that whites had constructed out of their own guilt an image of the black macho male. But if such writers had as one of their goals the dampening down of white sexual anxieties, Eldrige Cleaver took the opposite tack in Soul on Ice (1968). Playing on the worse fears of white males, he boasted that freedom for a black man was symbolized by having a white woman. Indeed white men were so enervated, claimed Cleaver, that they even paid to have their wives provided with “black rod.”

Books appeared with titles like The Male Dilemma: How to Survive the Sexual Revolution. Similarly headlined articles appeared in the new pornographic magazines such as Penthouse and Mayfair, which never tired of attacking feminists for emasculating men. In academia anthropologist Lionel Tiger in his classic Men in Groups (1969) claimed that if men could not get away from women they lost their maleness.

Choosing to title his book Sexual Suicide (1973), George Gilder made it even clearer as to what he thought of a world in which women were more sexually aggressive. To end biological differences would be suicide. If men were not in control they could not perform. “Fear of impotence,” he stressed, “is a paramount fact of male sexuality.” Feminists failed to see “that for men the desire for sex is not simply a quest for pleasure. It is an indispensable test of iden- tity.” If the culture did not reaffirm men then they had all the more need for sex. They needed to be aggressive to be secure. “The man who is expected to have a rigid penis at all times,” protested the Australian feminist Germaine Greer, “is not any freer than the woman whose vagina is supposed to explode with the first thrust of such a penis.” Gilder responded: “Aggres- siveness on the part of the woman can jeopardize the whole process if it destroys the man’s rhythm of control and enhances his insecurities. If the conditions are right, he may succeed anyway. But the likelihood of impo- tence is increased. The key contingent variable in sex is the male erection, and it emerges from an internal psychochemistry of trust and confidence that is usually undermined by female activity. Germaine Greer’s attempt to suggest that greater female aggressiveness will overcome male impotence reveals the complete failure to understand males that is omnipresent in her book.”

Such issues were pursued by novelists who from 1960 on increasingly included in their cast of characters a man who was sexually intimidated. “The point of suspense in the modern novel is no longer focused on whether she will or she won’t,” a British marriage expert noted, “but on whether he can or he can’t.”42 This was an exaggeration, but the impotence theme did receive unprecedented literary attention. And whereas male writers in the past had monopolized the discussion, now liberated female authors joined in. Disappointment in male sexual abilities were most famously and explic- itly expressed by the narrator in Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (1973).

I kept sucking away, but as soon as he got hard, he’d get soft again. . . . “I can fuck with the best of them when I feel like it,” he said defiantly.

“Of course, you can.”

I had been a feminist all my life . . . but the big problem was how to make your feminism jibe with your unappeasable hunger for male bodies. It wasn’t easy. Besides, the older you got, the clearer it became that men were basically terrified of women. Some secretly, some openly. What could be more poignant than a liberated woman eye to eye with a limp prick? . . . No wonder men hated women. No wonder they invented the myth of female inadequacy.
Possibly the most explicit fiction that focused on male sexual dysfunction was Romain Gary’s Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid (1977). The middle-aged Gary, who was married at the time to the young American actress Jean Seberg, presents his male characters wondering if women’s vaginas are getting larger and then realizing that their penises are getting smaller. His men are so given to avoiding vaginal intercourse that one jokes that when asked to show the doctor his sex organ he sticks out his tongue. Men now depend on the kind- ness and pity of women. Believing that death would be preferable to humili- ation, the narrator plans his own murder.46 Gary no doubt intended to use his hero’s impotence as a metaphor for the decline of the capitalist West, but most readers simply saw it as a lament for the loss of male power.
The Men (1950, dir. Fred Zinnemann) pre- sented spinal cord injuries threatening not simply the veteran’s mobility, but more importantly his manhood. “I’m not a man any longer,” laments the character played by Marlon Brando. “I can’t make a woman happy.” His girlfriend’s parents—wanting grandchildren—oppose their marriage. The hero’s economic dependency on the government and his fiancée is presented as less a threat to his masculinity than his sexual incapacity. Though Alfred Kinsey had just publicized the wide range of nonpenetrative sex acts in which Americans engaged, the film discreetly implies that the hero is doomed to a life of sexual frustration.

Alfred Hitchcock exploited popular notions of Freudianism in presenting a series of frigid heroines and impotent males.49 Imaginative film critics have regarded the hero of Rear Window (1954) as what in psychoanalytic terms would be described as a castrated/impotent voyeur. The never-married central character of Vertigo (1958) is similarly unable to master females. In Frenzy (1972) Hitchcock explicitly chronicles the career of a psychopathic murderer who can only overcome his impotence by strangling women.

On March 27, 1998, Viagra became the first oral medication to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat erectile dysfunction.

In the same decade surgeons were implanting prostheses, medical sci- entists stumbled across a number of vasodilating substances that caused an immediate erection when injected into the penis. The first report appeared in a 1982 article in the Lancet written by the Parisian researcher Ronald Virag. He had accidentally injected the muscle relaxant papaverine into a patient’s penis and an erection resulted. Virag and Brindley demonstrated to urologists how an erection could be instantly created.

They were initially very expensive with shots of papaverine costing $1,200 to $2,400 a year.

In 1995 the Upjohn Company received FDA approval for the first injected prescription drug for impotence; alprostadil was sold under the brand name Caverject and cost $20 to $25 a shot. The same year Vivus brought out the MUSE deliv- ery system, which consisted of a tiny plunger that placed a chemical pellet into the urethral opening. The injected drugs almost immediately replaced penile implants, but good information was not available on the successes and failures of either. We do know that only a minority of the men who tried vasodilating substances had the courage to carry on with them. Neverthe- less Business Week reported in 1995 that American men were spending $600 to $700 million annually on attempts to assure their virility. In short, the medicalization and commercialization of male sexuality had occurred be- fore Viagra appeared on the scene.

Viagra immediately became the fastest selling pharmaceutical in history. Pfizer’s stock went up 150 percent in 1998. Its sale of Viagra topped one billion dollars in 1999 and it enjoyed a profit margin of 90 percent. Was Pfizer’s success due, as it claimed, to its reaching a large, preexisting “un- tapped market” or to its creation of a new market? Obviously it was a bit of both.

But perhaps the best indicator of the limited effectiveness of Viagra is that only half of the men who tried it renewed their prescriptions.

Nevertheless Pfizer soon had competitors. The year 2003 saw the arrival of Cialis, made by Eli Lilly and Company and Icos, and Levitra, manufac- tured by Bayer AG and GlaxoSmithKline. Cialis boasted of being effective over a thirty-six hour time period and thus allowing “spontaneity.” Its side effects could include dangerous four-hour long erections. In 2002 Pfizer spent $300 million in advertising, and sales of Viagra increased 13 percent to $1.7 billion. Only an 8 percent growth in the market occurred in 2004, though the big three pharmaceutical corporations devoted $373 million to direct to consumer advertising and a similar amount on marketing to pro- fessionals. In 2005 the number of new prescriptions actually fell.

The pharmaceutical companies were already looking for new markets to exploit. Given that more men complained of premature ejaculation than impotence, a pill for that problem appeared to have enormous potential. In fact some doctors claimed that Viagra indirectly helped since it enabled some men to have a second erection.
Moving on from its success with Viagra, Pfizer has interested itself in the creation of a new category of illness, “female sexual dysfunction.” A dozen other companies are also involved in popularizing the notion that such a medical condition exists. Armed with survey data reporting that a third of women lack desire and a quarter have difficulty achieving orgasm, the pharmaceutical industry is supporting the research of teams of urolo- gists who presume that such unhappiness is due to problems with blood flow. Already testosterone-based pills, blood vessel dilators, and brain stim- ulators are being sold to women panicked by the worry that they are not normal. The companies’ goal is to produce for women a pill whose profits will dwarf those of Viagra.

In the minds of many the 1960s and 1970s were progressive decades that saw the birth of the “sexual revolution,” whereas the 1980s witnessed a backlash. They point to the rise of the Christian Right and its attacks on day care, affirmative action, and sex education, the re- cruitment of feminists into the antipornography crusade, the emergence of the men’s movement, and the growing viciousness of antiabortion zealots that culminated in bombing women’s clinics and killing doctors. Yet the general public’s views were in the same years becoming more liberal. For example, levels of support for abortion and a tolerance of homosexuality generally rose. A more sexually pluralistic age was emerging in which the classic man and woman in the street found themselves discussing, if not approving, everything from test tube babies, transsexuals, “safe sex,” por- nography and “lip stick lesbians.”

A good argument can be made, however, that if it had not been for the political swing to the right, the success of drugs like Viagra would have been attenuated. The affluent 1960s and early 1970s were followed by a down turn in the economy, which resulted in the 1980s in the election of the conserva- tive governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. They explicitly set out to serve the socioeconomic interests of the major corporations by freeing them as much as possible from government regulations while as- sisting their research and marketing strategies. Viagra emerged in a neolib- eral economic climate in which universities and science labs were linked to big business and research was geared to market needs.

Leonore Tiefer has described the FDA approval of Viagra as capping the long campaign of urologists and pharmaceutical corporations to medicalize male sexuality.
The fact that insurers in the United States would reimburse patients for their purchase of Viagra guaranteed its success. America insurance providers quickly offered coverage for the pill after clients threatened law suits. Yet only 15 percent of insurance plans cov- ered the oral contraceptive pill that had been on the market for forty years; companies knew women would pay to avoid unplanned pregnancies. Such egregious disparities led state legislators eventually to push for “contracep- tive equity laws.”

In the last decades of the twentieth century in vitro fertilization, donor insemination, and adop- tion had undercut any remaining reproductive necessity for male potency. Men were egged on to take Viagra, not in order to sire children, but to match a certain standard of masculinity.  Viagra was esteemed because it allowed performance, not necessarily pleasure. Indeed phrases such as “blow jobs” or “hand jobs” suggested that some men regarded sex as work or perhaps part of a commercial exchange.

Therapists pointed out that in fact an erection did not always indicate desire; men had them when asleep, when on bouncy buses, when frightened. Yet a flaccid penis could give pleasure and result in orgasm. Moreover lovemaking was changing in the late twentieth century. Nongenital pleasures—particularly those of oral sex—were increasing in popularity. The new focus on safe sex was also helping to shift attention away from penetration, which was not as linked to heterosexuality as it once was. One can argue that if erectile dysfunctions were a problem so too was the doctors’ fixation on the erection, effectively reinforcing the old notion that men’s sexual problems were always physical and the woman’s always psychological.

Each culture sketched out its own particular collective representation of the “real man” and the sexual norms he was to meet. And as views of masculinity changed so did views of femininity, particularly the notion of the woman being the cause of the man’s discomfiture, by either being too cold or too hot, too demure or too aggressive. Society’s tolerance of women’s sexual passions thus wax and waned.

Why did men have sex—for pleasure or as proof of competence? We found that shifting notions of masculinity reflected changing sexual ideologies and practices. Sexual potency for Christians created a marriage and also threatened it. In the modern world many of the behaviors that in the past were taken as necessary signs of virility—marrying, having many chil- dren (especially sons)—were dispensed with. The twentieth century saw the birth of “recreational sex.” If sex came to have a less practical significance, it had a heightened psychological importance. It now could precede wedlock yet was seen as the basis of the happy marriage. As part and parcel of our consumer culture we believe today that that a good sex life is essential to well-being. Such cultural messages portraying sex as part of a healthy regimen can be pushed so far that they have an oppressive quality." [Impotence]
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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:32 am

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'The Human Beast' is a film cited above [in the book by McLaren] as illustrative of the emasculation anxiety of the times; the Beast always on the verge of breaking out as the borderline of the Human straddling between reasserting the power of masculinity, virility, and on the other, the loss of control and therefore impotence, im-posture [loss of uprightness - 'man' who stood-up as opposed to the sunken beast on its mere fours/force]…

The anxiety between the blurred borders of the blond and the blind beast…
Freud from the pov. of the prey, collapsed the difference between the cultured and the repressed man, equivocating culture as repression; Nietzsche, from the pov. of the predator, broadened the difference between the two.


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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:54 pm

The Death of Shame and Nobility:

Vivek wrote:
Greetings,

Today I’d like to take on a topic that is or at least should be at the top of questing minds.

As men or women, what is it that makes us men or women? For there is no doubt that our first identity in this world is our sexual identity. It’s a Boy! It’s a Girl! Right?

Before name, family, city, nationality, we are first masculine or feminine.

A clear trend to be paid attention to though, is that in this age of labels, this most critical label and all that should go with it, is receding, receding.

Who learns anymore what it really means to be a man or a woman? And who is the teacher for this key piece of knowledge? In the oldest, original and organic sense of the word? Parents? Schools? Peers? Elders? Books? Movies?

Where does a child, born into today’s world, or growing up in it, turn for his or her understanding of their most fundamental beingness, their masculinity or femininity? And where are those all important rites of passage, which since times immemorial, marked the phase changes of boys to men and girls to women? Graduation ceremonies? Please!

And this great death of polarity, what I like to call the bonfire of the identities has been happening over centuries now, generations and generations. How then, the blind lead the blind?

Strong words indeed, but there is a lot more.

In keeping with the Know they “self” theme started earlier and the body’s central-ness to all knowledge worth possessing, if masculinity or femininity are the core definers of the self, then would not or should not their study be the prime, first objective of our education/training/schooling?

Before counting, before mathematics and language, first seed of knowledge is what is going to define me in the world I will inhabit?

Our lives as they play out today have banished this core differentiator and definer into the background, with mother cultures constant chatter of “Equality, you are all equal, men women, girl boy, all equal”! It’s been one of her worst lies and has damned us into this place from where evolution itself is completely hamstrung! The feminine is con-cave and the masculine is con-vex. How can two such polarities be Equal? Like saying negative and positive are equal.

Can that be? Only in the realm of our culture befuddled minds.

Evolution hamstrung? You see, creation happens as a result of polarity. Growth happens as a result of polarity.

Here is the most obvious example of what I am trying to say.

Two women coming together cannot produce a child. There is no organic polarity between them. It takes the coming together of a man and a woman to create.

So, all creativity too is born of polarity. I hope you can see that the point is irrefutable. Regardless of all the aculturation and programming, nothing can take this core, common sense idea away.

So, as men have become less masculine and women have become less feminine, birth rates should drop, right? Lack of polarity leads to lack of productivity.

I suggest a peek at birth rates in countries where the “feminist” movement won it’s biggest victories (Europe, US, Australia) and one stark fact leaps out, stagnant or negative birth-rates.

Meanwhile in cultures, considered more traditional, birth rates have remained more or less constant. Please do the research.

Hmmmmmmmm……… tricky proposition eh? Dangerous almost.

What does this have to do with Shame and Nobility?

In my analysis, these were the two primordial qualities that organically defined the feminine and the masculine, since time immemorial.

You see, ultimately, the core draw, the famous “opposites attract” of mating was for the production of off-spring. Gene-pool propagation. It’s fall to it’s current , ridiculous form is recent and can be completely discounted in the face of a few million years of history. Yet, even in it’s current, completely bastardized form, the core drivers have not changed, as all agony aunts and psychologists will tell you. Unfortunately, we’ve gone from being creation driven to recreation driven. Quite a fall. Of divine proportions, yes?

And till very recent history, the womb of the feminine was something sacred. It was a hidden, hard to access place. It was after all, the place where the magic of creation happened. It was not something to be bandied about, flashed, shown in public. Far from it. The female was sacred for her womb first and was the first and fiercest protector of it.

And yet, paradoxically, this dark yin was also the energy behind all movement. Of course she was, for only from movement (vibration) can you get manifestation, birth.

The bright yang, male on the other hand was inert. All potential.

When we were still creatures of our bodies, the dormant male responded to the vibration of the active yin, gaining “standing” potential, which was then vibrated in the darkness, producing Cold, milky light to meet with Fire-y darkness and enable creation.

Thus the male was noble.

Noble. The word’s oldest definition is inert. A startling parallel, gold, sun, fire. Gold is the prime noble metal. Inert, will not interact with any other metal.

This is the nobility of the masculine that is dead. Far from inert, the modern day man, totally a creature of the mind, is a reactive puppet.

And the organic shame (hidden, deep, buried, to be sought) of the feminine is dead too.

You need not look too far nowadays to see the feminine displayed. Any number of doorways to the heart of the sacred darkness are available on display. The jade gate is wide open (literally and metaphorically). Is it any surprise then that women really don’t feel so feminine anymore?

And the noble male is on fire, told since childhood what it means to be a man (fight, acquire, grasp, win) and so is reacting with anything and everything. Both un-noble and ig-noble come to mind.

And as we have moved farther away from our bodies and live ever more in our minds, these two deaths are ever more pronounced. Why Viagra otherwise? No polarity left, except in some pornography driven recess of our mind.

In this mental age, differences are bad, homogeneity is good.

Mind you, I am speaking in broad strokes (hashed metaphor, but I like it’s sound), but can the death of shame and the death of nobility be denied?

This great melding of the sexes pre-sages the end of humanity as we know it.

Sure, IVF will ensure people will keep having babies, but really, what a tragedy.

The great bonfire of the identities rages before us and my contention is that you do not have to dive in. Finding your core masculine or feminine gives you the such a strong inner standing. The feeling is deeply empowering. Knowing thy “self” in the clear light of your prime quality is a thing of power, of great force.

In a way no shameless or ignoble display, much applauded by present society, can be.

A big topic to try and fit in one post, so I will take this up again, soon. It is of vital importance. The world that is upon us needs some real men and women to rise up. Everyone else is rushing into the bonfire in high-heeled shoes, waxed skins, lipstick…………metro-sexually perfect!

Have the courage to be a man. Be a woman.

Be!

I would not suggest we should purely identify with our gender, even though it is the largest part - those hormones still act upon the framework provided by our ancestry (European, Asian, etc.)
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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:02 am

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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Thu Dec 08, 2016 2:52 pm

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Goes without saying, but are women that gesticulate like this, lesser women?
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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:12 pm

Looks gay.

The gesture reminds me of hiding my face, hiding the emotions.
Maybe it's hiding arousal beneath the supposed appalled/horrified.
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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:25 pm

Aside from physical deficiencies, i also find that most men take on an overly social, chatty proclivity which is very womanly. Many of them enjoy mindless banter and chit chat; they can't shut up. Over-animated and hypersocialized.
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PostSubject: Re: The Modern Emasculation and Feminization Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:46 pm

perpetualburn wrote:
Lyssa wrote:
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Goes without saying, but are women that gesticulate like this, lesser women?


Its lesser if feminity remains the undifferentiated social mirroring of group gestures for masking flight response - trying to laugh without appearing to laugh…, as an avoidance of "What would other people think?" herd-reactivity...

Japanese and Muslim women typically laugh while covering their mouths.
While in the former, it is the expected norm of grace of not losing composure, the giving away of any sign of one's intention, and one quickly wants to hide it, among the latter, its a social understanding to not invite attention of females of a certain age by showing health via open laughter, or open female laughter or 'giggling' perceived as a threat/mockery/derision of male values, is a kind of social grooming by arab patriarchy against laughing openly. Among [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], open mouth smiling is a threatening sign through showing one's devouring teeth, that looks like a smile.
Two different kinds of shame-culture there.

Another natural factor I think is an evolution from not alarming other nearby predators, and 'holding one's breath', and covered-mouth-laughter as slow release of anxiety.


As for covering the cheeks with one's hands, as an expression of gasping, the rapid fall in body temperature in the face of some horror, is signalled quickly to the brain by the closest thermoreceptors - the cheeks flush or pale, and,

"to grab a little extra oxygen. Gasping is part of the flight/fight response in which adrenalin and other hormones are released to prepare the body for action. These dilate pupils, speed up heart rate, breathing and metabolic rate, and supply more fuel to the muscles. All these changes mean using oxygen more quickly, so a good deep gasp might be a useful precaution."

Being a typical "flight" response, it is therefore seen as un-manly, and more womanly.

So many defending it:

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Bringing your hands to cheeks is preparatory and buying time/oxygen for fleeing, deciding on what to do next,, while bringing palm to your forehead in the face of some calamity is like asking the brain to stop thinking, take a step back, and explore a different path. One creates an umbrella of darkness for the eyes to see or focus more clearly, preventing a lapse of heat from the forehead.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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