Bad History, doctors, drugs, love, sex

Cleopatra and the vibrator powered by bees

One of the most far-fetched myths about ancient sexuality, repeated online but also in print, is that Cleopatra invented the vibrator. Some sites date this event to ‘circa 54 BC’ while others go for 45 BC: there’s nothing like a date to make a story look more convincing. Now, there’s obviously one little problem here:… Continue reading Cleopatra and the vibrator powered by bees

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alternative medicine, Bad History, doctors, Hippocrates, remedies, sex, womb

I can forgive Gwyneth for the jade eggs and mugwort, but not for this rubbish about Hippocrates…

Like many people, I find the claims of Gwyneth Paltrow's 'modern lifestyle brand' Goop pretty irritating. I was sufficiently cross about the claims for the benefits of vagina steaming that I wrote something for The Conversation about it. And I loved Dr Jen Gunter's blog post about jade eggs and in particular the way Gunter gently… Continue reading I can forgive Gwyneth for the jade eggs and mugwort, but not for this rubbish about Hippocrates…

Bad History, doctors, drugs, Hippocrates, menstruation, pregnancy, sex, womb

IUD or not IUD? Did the Hippocratics invent the first intrauterine device?

"Around 400 B.C., writers from the Hippocrates school discussed a contraceptive similar to the intrauterine device (IUD) of today. This particular apparatus was a hollow tube filled with mutton-fat..." Really??

dissection, doctors, sex, womb

Imaginary body parts

    I'm fascinated by imaginary body parts: things which people used to believe existed, but which we no longer accept. I've recently read Naomi Alderman's novel The Power, which is based on the notion of a new part, the 'skein', developing in women and allowing them to zap men. Back in 2012, the Queen’s… Continue reading Imaginary body parts

Bad History, diseases, remedies, sex, virginity, vulva

Making a disease from a remedy: Trotula and vaginismus

  Here’s a particularly fine case of Bad History, showing that while it’s bad enough to modify an ancient text to make it into a precursor of a modern condition, it’s even worse to misread a remedy as a symptom in order to make a historical text do what you want it to do! Trotula… Continue reading Making a disease from a remedy: Trotula and vaginismus