19th century medical views on female sexuality


Gynaecological doctor William Acton's Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs, in Childhood, Youth, Adult Age, and Advanced Life, Considered in the Physiological, Social, and Moral Relations (1865) is mainly concerned with male sexuality. It is largely known, however, for the extract shown here where Acton claims that 'the majority of women (happily for them) are not very much troubled by sexual feeling of any kind'. 

Although Acton's views are not representative of the whole 19th century population, they nevertheless reflect that sex was seen by many - including medical professionals - as something exclusively enjoyed by men while women, in contrast, passively endured it for the purpose of reproduction only.

Full title:
The Functions and Disorders of the Re-productive Organs in Youth, in Adult Age, and in Advanced Life, considered in their Physiological, Social, and Moral Relations; fourth edition
1865, London
William Acton
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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