beards, gender, midwives, womb

Agnodice: down and dirty?

The gestation of a book is an odd thing... So there I was watching a superb drag burlesque act, The Down and Dirty Show, featuring The Gentleman King and Foxy Tann, the scheduled entertainment at the 2011 Berkshire Conference for Women Historians. And the sky opened. Sometimes moments of insight come when you least expect… Continue reading Agnodice: down and dirty?

beards

Julia Pastrana, ‘bearded lady’

In February 2013 there was a big day for the ‘bearded lady’: Julia Pastrana’s body was repatriated to her native Mexico and buried, her coffin covered with white roses. Julia, ‘the world’s ugliest woman’, suffered from excessive hair growth on her face. She was exhibited at freak shows by her impresario husband in the 1850s and,… Continue reading Julia Pastrana, ‘bearded lady’

beards, menstruation, womb

One-sex and two-sex bodies?

Back in 2013, I published a book about the claim that there was a clear division in the history of Western Europe between two models of the body: ‘one-sex’ and ‘two-sex’. In the first model, men and women were seen as having exactly the same genital bits and pieces, but with men’s on the outside… Continue reading One-sex and two-sex bodies?

pregnancy, womb

What women know about sex (and eggs)

  One of the best-known stories from the ancient Greek medical texts tells of a slave entertainer who became pregnant but didn’t know what to do about it. In one of the versions that survived, from the Hippocratic treatise On Generation/Nature of the Child, she realized she was pregnant and told her owner, who in… Continue reading What women know about sex (and eggs)