‘A beauty treatment that leaves us glowing’?
Female masturbation and its consequences
in The secret vice
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This chapter begins to take a broader look at the way the symptoms of masturbation can be seen to map over those of other conditions. The chapter commences with a detailed consideration of Victorian medical writing on female masturbation. Although twentieth-century authors and sexologists such as Betty Dodson and Nancy Friday promote masturbation as a positive sexual activity for women, the message was very different a century before. Works aimed at women can also be seen to play on the fears of the heterosexual female who desires marriage and children. Masturbation in women was not only frequently associated with nymphomania and prostitution but was also said to impair or destroy a woman's childbearing capabilities. A close reading of popular medical texts for female readers further discloses an equation between the practice of masturbation and the loss of virginity.

The secret vice

Masturbation in Victorian fiction and medical culture


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