By Geertje Mak

An adolescent woman is mocked whilst she takes a tub along with her friends, simply because her genitals seem like these of a boy. a pair visits a physician asking to ‘create extra space’ within the girl for sex. a physician unearths testicular tissue in a girl with appendicitis, and makes a decision to maintain his findings quiet. those are only some of the 300 ecu case histories of individuals whose intercourse used to be doubted in the course of the lengthy 19th century that Geertje Mak attracts upon in her outstanding new book.How did humans take care of such occasions? How did they choose to which intercourse someone may still belong? This groundbreaking research of medical case histories exhibits how intercourse replaced from an outward visual appeal inscribed in a social physique to anything to be stumbled on deep inside of physique and self. a desirable, effortless to persist with, but refined argument addressing significant problems with the heritage of physique, intercourse, and self, this quantity will healthy complex undergraduate classes, whereas difficult specialists.

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Extra resources for Doubting Sex: Inscriptions, Bodies and Selves in Nineteenth-Century Hermaphrodite Case Histories

Example text

Body reveals that at his birth, his father and the midwife were inclined to think he was a girl, whereas his mother thought he was a boy. A doctor was consulted, who declared the child to be a girl on account of its outward appearance. 13 Malformation could therefore be experienced as a disgrace which needed to be hidden at any price. If, later on, it became apparent that an error might have been made, the family’s reputation sometimes weighed more than the duty duly to represent a body, as the case of Hanna O.

45 Elisabetha Holzheidt, of the third story in the introduction to this chapter, stayed married until the end and was only physically examined after her death. Apparently, her husband did not care so much about his reputation, at least not when he was drunk, for he himself joked about her in the pub. According to the village rumours, the marriage was barely consummated and the husband found sexual satisfaction elsewhere. Why then did he not seek annulment? The answer seems obvious: Elisabetha Holzheidt was the only daughter of a rich farmer.

And Elisabetha Holzheid to be ambiguous. And yet, they had to reach the ages of 49, 72 and 77 respectively before their sex was physically checked by a doctor. In the case of Finon, there was doubt from birth, which was the reason the crown prosecutor asked for a medical examination at the age of one. indd 21 11/15/11 4:45 PM 22 doubting sex that followed, when Finon exhibited profound sexual ambiguity. If the rationale of sex as a representation of physical sex is indeed primordial, how should we understand the fact that in these cases, for such lengths of time, nobody – not the hermaphrodites, nor their (marriage) partners, nor their fellow villagers, nor the religious, legal or medical authorities – took action in order to get the hermaphrodite’s physical sex thoroughly examined and to decide to which sex they effectively belonged?

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