Top 10 Misconceptions About Female Body
If there’s one thing in the entire universe that is equally loved and misunderstood by men, it’s the female body. Throughout history women have had to contend with ridiculous wrong assumptions about their bodies due to sexism, religious fanaticism, or just plain old ignorance—and some of these bizarre beliefs about the anatomy of the fairer sex persist today.
10. Regarding Menstruation
One belief about menstruation was that its main purpose was to keep a woman healthy by expelling the surplus or rotten blood from her body. Proponents of this belief argued that the blood was poisonous and could contaminate food or objects with which it came into contact. It was also a widely held view that a man should never impregnate a menstruating woman—the resulting offspring would be grotesquely deformed by the blood.
At the other end of the spectrum, Galen—one of the most prominent ancient physicians—spread the idea that blood from menstruation nourished the fetus inside the womb and was converted into breast milk after the child was born. Others believed that menstrual blood was imbued with healing properties. Practitioners of ancient Chinese medicine, viewed amenorrhea—the lack of menstruation—as a dangerous sickness, and concocted several “cures” for it.
9. Virgins Could Help Restore Youth
Shunamitism—the practice of an older man sleeping with a young, virgin girl without any sexual contact—took its name from the biblical story of King David. Worried for his health in his old age, his attendants found a beautiful virgin named Abishag of Shunam, who slept with him in his bed. While with no established medical rationale—although it has been speculated that it could raise testosterone levels in old men—shunamitism has been practiced in varying degrees by a variety of different cultures. A fourth-century doctor prescribed it for an upset stomach, while in 18th-century England it was believed that a virgin’s breath had health-giving properties. Across the Channel in the same period, the practice turned a profit for French entrepreneurs. One hostess named Madame Janus owned a house with fifty virgins who catered to rich old men, again without any sexual contact.
8. 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!
7. 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.
6. Breasts Functions As Armour
In a letter he wrote to the French King in the 14th century, Royal Physician Henri De Mondeville gave three reasons for the specific placement of the breasts. First, the breasts were located on the chest so they could be more easily viewed by men. Next, the breasts had a mutually beneficial relationship with the heart—they strengthened and kept each other warm. Finally, the doctor claimed that breasts, particularly large ones, kept the chest warm and served as a weight that helped to maintain a woman’s abdominal strength.
In 1840, English physician Astley Cooper claimed that large breasts greatly benefited women from the lower rungs of society—they enabled them “to bear the very severe blows which they often received in their drunken pugilistic contests.”
5. Aristotle’s Absurd Ideas
Being one of the greatest philosophers of all time apparently did not prevent Aristotle from making a whole list of mistakes about the female body. He believed that women were deformed men, with their genitals inside their bodies due to a lack of the “heat” needed to form a “perfect male body.” He also speculated that this disability prevented women from making semen and therefore they were passive recipients in the child-making process. Other gaffes included Aristotle’s declaration that women had fewer teeth and skull sutures than men, and his failure to distinguish the vagina from the urethra.
4. Educated Women Have Weak Womb
In 1873 Edward Clarke, a doctor and former professor at Harvard Medical School, published his reasons why women shouldn’t be educated in his bookSex In Education; Or, A Fair Chance For The Girls. He asserted that since women were predestined to be propagators of the human race, education was of secondary importance. He pointed out that their brains were inferior to men’s and thus weren’t meant to handle higher levels of education. He also warned that those women who persisted in learning risked damaging their reproductive organs, especially if they were menstruating. For a time Clarke’s theory became a hot topic for debate and was frequently used as a bible by activists against women’s education. Eventually the theory faded away as more women flocked to colleges and universities and proved themselves as good as—or better than—their male peers.
3. 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.
2. 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.
1. Maternal Impressions
Although it has been discussed in a previous list, the idea of maternal impression is too outlandish not to include here. Maternal impression was the notion that a mother’s imagination, triggered by internal or external stimuli, could mentally influence the growth and development of her unborn child. The exact origins of this belief are hard to trace, although it had been alleged that Hippocrates and most of the ancient Greeks were believers. The Romans also adhered to this concept and reasoned that a child’s birthmark was the result of its mother’s emotional and mental trauma.