History of Sex Research

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Greeks to 1900

*Early knowledge gained from watching animals

*400 B.C. Aristotle, "History of Animals, Parts of Animals, and Generation of Animals,"

-foundation of western sexology

-developed classification system: reproduction by sexual, asexual, and spontaneous generation

*During this period, believed male contributed the seed, the woman brought to fruition.

*Plato - wandering uterus causes hysteria in women

*1600: Vesalius

-discounted wandering uterus theory

-female anatomy still misunderstood

*1653 William Harvey: discovered importance of female egg to reproduction by studying animals

*1678 Anton van Leeuwenhoek

-used early microscope to identify sperm as "seed"

-compared healthy/unhealthy men

-sperm survived longer in warm environment

-coined term: "spermatozoa"

-reasserted idea of male supremacy in reproduction

*1873 Eduard van Beneden: fertilization the result of two half sets of chromosomes joining to form full set

*354-430 St. Augustine - ideal Christian life one of celibacy

*1668-1738 Dutch, Hermann Boehaave, "Institutiones Medicae" -

"rash expenditure of semen brought on a lassitude, a feebleness, a weakening of motion, fits, wasting, dryness, fevers, aching of the cerebral membranes, obscuring of the senses, and above all the eyes, a decay of the spinal chord, a fatuity, and other like evils."

*all non-procreative sex "dangerous" - fornication better than masturbation

*Doctors expected to give medical advice about sexuality

-infertility not understood

-sexual activity potentially dangerous

*Protestants & Puritans: sex within marriage a source of pleasure

*One physician published case history:

-"the husband had the fatal habit of applying the tongue and lips to his wife's genitals to provoke in her venereal orgasm."

-believed woman's life may be in danger

-husband may develop cancer of the tongue

*Women must be careful not to enjoy sex

-women expected to be maternal, not sexual

-diseased women had "excessive animal passion"

*Elizabeth Osgood Goodrich Willard

-coined term "sexology"

-"humankind must stop the waste of energy...