Over the years normal female sexuality has walked through fields of thorns and excruciating pains inflicted by culture and ignorance. Elite medical professionals and psychiatrists were the vanguards of bestial cruelty. It was a wide spread medical contempt for very normal female sexuality which was also in public life and literary works.
In the nineteenth century it was believed that female masturbation and nymphomania (“intense sexual desire”) were serious abnormality that could progress to masturbatory melancholia (“extreme depression characterized by tearful sadness and irrational fears”), paralysis, blindness and even death. It was psychiatrists and gynaecologists that led the way formulating ludicrous theories and designing cruel remedies. Charles Brown-Séquard a popular endocrinologist (1817-1894) and Isaac Baker Brown (1811-1873) a gynaecologist advocated a surgical operation called clitoridectomy, cutting off the female’s clitoris, as a cure for the “disorder”. Unfortunately, this operation was respected and widely used in many parts of Europe. Isaac Baker Brown became very popular as a foremost clitoridectomy surgeon.
Among his indications for the use of clitoridectomy, Isaac Baker Brown also included epilepsy, catalepsy (“a trancelike state with loss of voluntary motion and failure to react to stimuli”), painful menstruation, heavy menstruation, depression, insanity hysteria and dementia (“mental deterioration of organic or functional origin”). Long after his death in 1873 clitoridectomy continued and took a more frightening dimension. In 1882 Zambaco of Paris, a popular physician, used cautery without anaesthesia to burn out the clitoris of two little girls, 10 and 6 years old, caught masturbating. He used red hot iron from the coals repeatedly on clitoris and once on the buttocks as a punishment. Clitoridectomy may have ceased to be popular in modern medical practice but female circumcision or female genital mutilation presently going on in Africa and other parts of the world is Clitoridectomy with substitute names.
It was a wide spread condemnation of normal female sexuality not only in medical profession but out there among the people and other professions, literary works, on theatres and pulpits. In the nineteenth century, hardly a novel or opera would end without the death of the female who played the part of sex misdemeanour. “In Medieval times people feared three things: the devil; Jews; and women. Female sexuality was a particular source of anxiety for men, an anxiety that continued until the beginning of the twentieth century” says John Studd.
Shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century female sexuality began to foresee better times. People were more enlightened and began to view things in better perspective, including female sexuality. The trauma of the immediate and remote past had resulted in drastic down turn in female sexual desire or libido and inadequate sexual response. This was identified as real disorder, unlike the pseudo disorder of Isaac Brown and Charles Brown-Séquard of the nineteenth century. Loss of libido and inadequate sexual response were identified as Female Sexual Disorder (FSD) or Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), disorders that need be treated either by competent sex councillors or with hormones in the form of estrogens and testosterone. Today there are various brands of sex pills and creams to boost or repair the loss of libido and low sexual response in women.
Not only this. Not long ago sex topics were taboo, not to be discussed in private or in public. Women had to silently stand by their men that were suffering erectile dysfunction that could not be discussed anywhere until the blue pills arrived. Today sex topics are discussed on radio and television or in public gatherings. Women are now free to express sexually how they feel. And in case of any problem, there is safe and civilised help anywhere any time.