Misconceptions about female body dates back as long as one can remember. The curious thing is, some of those absurd myths and misconceptions have managed to seep through history and hovers over our heads even today. Let’s take a quick look into 10 misconceptions about female body:
10. Regarding Menstruation
Historically, menstruation is subjected to debate for either being a sign of great good or of purely evil. Among the several myths related to periods, one common misconception was/is that periods are bad blood, contaminated blood. Based on this notion, women were/are kept away from cooking, religious rituals and other normal everyday works with view of preventing the rotten blood from contaminating everything. Impregnation during the cycle was out of question for it was believed that the child would be born deformed due to the ill effect of the bad blood. Contrary to this, menstruation was also viewed as a nourishing element by the prominent Greek physician named Galen, who said following the child’s birth, period blood was converted into breast milk to feed the child.
9. Clitoris Can Be Used As A Penis
It is well known that ancient Greeks and Romans had many hilariously insane ideas about the human body, one such belief was that the female clitoris can be used as a penis. Yep, you heard it right. Though an old one but usage of this theory has been made during the 19th and 20th century to try to explain lesbianism (or homosexuality as a whole). Its greatest champion was Italian priest Ludovico Sinistrari who accused women of having too much lust and therefore endeavouring to transform themselves into men. Obviously this was a device to make lesbianism seem like a crime of lust. He had also advocated severe punishment to the guilty which could only occur, had the clitoris successfully penetrated the partner’s vagina. Thank god for that!
8. Virgins Could Help Restore Youth
The theory of Shunamitism was put to practise by older men. It claims that sleeping beside virgins (but without any sexual contact) could make men younger. In the past there was a time when doctors prescribed to follow the ritual in case of stomach disorder. In the 18th century virgin breaths were believed to make people healthier. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it can be well understood that while virgins were regarded as a blessing, non-virgins were considered as tainted. In France, virgins were used as a profit making venture and as the rumour goes, there was one successful entrepreneur named Madame Janus who ran a house teeming with 50 virgins trained to cater rich old men who wanted to get younger, without any sexual contact, of course.
7. Breasts Functions As Armour
In the 14th century, Royal Physician Henri De Mondeville wrote in a letter to the French King explaining why women’s breasts are located in that certain place. He gave as many as three reasons –
- So that they can viewed by men without difficulty.
- So that the heart can be well shielded and kept warm.
- He claimed that physicists have declared that a warm chest strengthens women abdomen.
Again, in 1840 an English doctor name Astley Cooper opined that big breast protects women for the lower strata of the society “to bear the very severe blows which they often received in their drunken pugilistic contests.”
6. Ovaries Are Destroyed By Driving
In 2013, a prominent cleric of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan, declared that studies have shown women who dive car end up displacing their pelvises and damage their ovaries risking deformed child births. Even a Twitter hashtag titled ‘#WomensDrivingAffectsOvariesAndPelvises’ was quickly formed by Al-Loheidan’s followers. This controversial comment drew objection from the rest of the world (including his own countrymen). Later a Saudi gynaecologist, Mohammad Baknah challenged Al-Loheidan’s comment and said that the cleric had lied for no such study was conducted. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the only case where a cleric has made an absurd claim. Back in 2010, another cleric had reportedly said that women shouldn’t drive but can trust and endeavour to make their drivers a part of their families by breast feeding them.
5. Aristotle’s Absurd Ideas
Aristotle, unfortunately, in spite of being one of the greatest philosophers of all time was prone to make mistake regarding his ideas about the female body. He failed to distinguish between the vagina and the urethra. Besides he also believed in the ignorant theory that he had come up with – women were actually men having genital pushed inside their body during the process of their making. In other words, women are deformed men. He further thought that were perfect and could therefore produce semen which is why men were active and women passive, in the child-making process. As if these weren’t ridiculous enough, Aristotle declared that women had fewer teeth and even skull sutures than the opposite gender. The greatest of philosophers, used these excuses to justify chauvinism in every aspect of life.
4. Horizontal Vaginas
Among some of the weirdest myths surrounding female genitals is that Asian women (especially Korean, Chinese and Japanese) have horizontal vaginas. In the 19th century, a French naturalist George Cuvier said that Chinese women have their vaginas positioned horizontally. This belief was further spread by the American soldiers during the Korean War and World War II. In spite of the fact that in the 1880s, an author named JW Buel did extensive research on the Chinese women living in Chinatown of San Francisco and said that those women had normal vaginas.
3. Educated Women Have Weak Womb
In the book ‘Sex In Education; Or, A Fair Chance For The Girls (1873)’, Harvard Medical School professor Edward Clarke, explicated the reasons behind his idea that women should not be educated. He rarefied that woman shoulder a responsibility to forward the human race and women were inferior to men (in every aspect), pursuing high education (especially during menstruating) that was beyond their bird brains would end up damaging their brains. For Clarke education was clearly not meant for women and that they should just stick to giving births. Publication of the book led to several debates and people who were against women education, carried the book around like a bible. Eventually, the absurd theories were rejected as more and more women started piling into schools and universities.
2. Maternal Impressions
The notion of maternal impression dates back to the Romans and probably even before that. The idea is that the mother’s imagination can influence the development of the child growing inside her. The Romans believed birthmarks were a result the mother’s traumatic emotions. Around the 18th century, an extraordinary hoax was dong the rounds where a woman named Mary Toft, allegedly gave birth to rabbits because during her pregnancy she constantly dreamed of eating rabbits. But in modern times, this ancient notion has been rejected as false.
1. Rape Survivors Can’t Get Pregnant
The notion can be traced back to Galen, a Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher who said that a woman can’t conceive unless she gets an orgasm. So, assuming that a terrified woman would be incapable of getting orgasm therefore cannot get pregnant. Furthermore, women who got pregnant were viewed as willing participants. Sadly, this ancient belief has seeped through the pages of history and is still prevalent in the modern age.