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ImpotenceA Cultural History$
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Angus McLaren

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226500768

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500935.001.0001

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Marketing Manly Vigor

Marketing Manly Vigor

Victorian Medicine Versus Quackery

(p.126) [6] Marketing Manly Vigor
University of Chicago Press

In the very decades when surgeons working on male sexual dysfunctions failed to establish a specialty, their colleagues who dealt with female reproductive complaints were successful in winning public recognition. In 1885 the British Gynecological Society was founded. Why did one specialty emerge but not another? If gynecology basked in the importance Western societies attributed to motherhood, urology was tainted by its association with venereal disease and impotence. Doctors who discussed such issues were acutely aware of their apparent unseemliness. Moreover, the terrain was already occupied by quacks, who attributed impotence to masturbation, spermatorrhoea, sexual excesses, and venereal diseases. The premise that sexual excesses could eventually result in impotence led physicians to show a new concern for the role played by youthful indiscretions, in particular masturbation. In practical terms doctors tending to male sexual problems accomplished relatively little in the course of the nineteenth century. Some progress was made in problematizing masculinity, but few therapeutic advances were made.

Keywords:   sexual dysfunctions, impotence, venereal diseases, doctors, quacks, masturbation, spermatorrhoea, sexual excesses, sexual problems, masculinity

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