museums and collections, pregnancy, womb

Stone Babies: The Lithopedion of Sens

When Colombe Chatry, a tailor’s wife, died in May 1582 at the age of 68, at her husband’s request her body was opened up to discover what had happened to a pregnancy she had started 28 years earlier, which had never come to anything but had left her with years of abdominal pain and loss… Continue reading Stone Babies: The Lithopedion of Sens

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, 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)