Okay, I was sitting here, minding my own business and reading an article about Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the Presidency in 2016 and becoming America's first woman President. Then the writer of the article threw me for a loop....and out of the loop!
The female writer began talking about how far women have come in the last century, having achieved the right to vote, equality in the workplace, a solid shot for a woman President and "escape from the female hysteria" of the 19th century.
"Female Hysteria"....what the hell is that said I. So it's off to Wiki for me. I look up female hysteria in the 19th century, and damned if I wasn't flustered to learn "female hysteria" was a widely diagnosed condition for women in the 19th century. In fact, fully 25% of women were seemingly suffering from this dreaded condition! And the symptoms were pretty damned non-specific!
It seems that if women in those days were unusually outspoken, if they chose not to sublimate themselves to the control of men, if they exhibited a bit of crankiness right around the time they were having their period, or if they tended to show any irritability at all, women were shuffled off to the doctors office for treatment of the dreaded "female hysteria!".
The treatment? It seems a male doctor would lay her down on an examination table, crank her legs up, lift her many hoop skirts and then manually massage the female genitalia until she achieved orgasm!
Are you kidding me? I was somehow under the impression that female orgasm was frowned upon back then? I thought most folks frowned on that sort of thing, since the female's proper role was to simply receive semen and bear children! Apparently not so!
Again, 25% of 19th century women were being sent to the doctors for an orgasm to settle them down? Shocked I say!
And apparently, shortly after this "medical fingering" became all the rage, business jumped in and began marketing the first female vibrator in 1870, citing the convenience of curing "female hysteria" in the convenience of the home!
And damned if Wiki didn't provide another link that led me to a report on female prostitution in that same era. That article seemed to indicate that women of the 19th century had quite a lot more freedom than one might have thought. It seems the most prosperous business person in most cities were whore house madams. It seems the profit margins were quite impressive, affording whore house madams to buy the protection of law enforcement and hire competent doctors to care for the ladies. In fact, the article cites whore house doctors as the first instance of employee provided medical care!
Still another article said female prostitution was fairly widespread (excuse the pun) and that many seamstress shops doubled as houses of prostitution where you could get your zipper fixed and ...well you get my meaning.
Whew! Here I was, just innocently reading a political article about Hillary's chances to win the Presidency and the next thing I know I'm learning about the history of the vibrator, seamstresses who could keep you in stitches, and "female hysteria".
Folks, I can't make this stuff up! What a marvelous road we travel when we seek to learn!