Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain

Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain

by Robert Darby
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226136450

ISBN-13: 9780226136455

Pub. Date: 07/16/2005

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

"In the eighteenth century, the Western world viewed circumcision as an embarrassing disfigurement peculiar to Jews. A century later, British doctors urged parents to circumcise their sons as a routine precaution against every imaginable sexual dysfunction, from syphilis and phimosis to masturbation and bed-wetting. Thirty years later the procedure again came under…  See more details below

Overview

"In the eighteenth century, the Western world viewed circumcision as an embarrassing disfigurement peculiar to Jews. A century later, British doctors urged parents to circumcise their sons as a routine precaution against every imaginable sexual dysfunction, from syphilis and phimosis to masturbation and bed-wetting. Thirty years later the procedure again came under hostile scrutiny, culminating in its disappearance during the 1960s." Why Britain adopted a practice it had traditionally abhorred and then abandoned it after only two generations is the subject of A Surgical Temptation. Robert Darby reveals that circumcision has always been related to the question of how to control male sexuality. This study explores the process by which the male genitals, and the foreskin especially, were pathologized, while offering glimpses into the lives of such figures as James Boswell, John Maynard Keynes, and W. H. Auden. Examining the development of knowledge about genital anatomy, concepts of health, sexual morality, the rise of the medical profession, and the nature of disease, Darby shows how these factors transformed attitudes toward the male body and its management and played a vital role in the emergence of modern medicine.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226136455
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
07/16/2005
Edition description:
1
Pages:
374
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

1Introduction : the willful organ meets fantasy surgery3
2The best of your property : what a boy once knew about sex22
3Pathologizing male sexuality : the masturbation phobia and the invention of spermatorrhea44
4The shadow of Parson Malthus : sexual morals from the Georgians to the Edwardians73
5The priests of the body : doctors and disease in an antisensual age94
6A source of serious mischief : William Acton and the case against the foreskin118
7A compromising and unpublishable mutilation : clitoridectomy and circumcision in the 1860s142
8One of the most grievous diseases of humanity : spermatorrhea in British medical practice167
9The besetting trial of our boys : finding a cure for masturbation189
10This unyielding tube of flesh : the rise and fall of congenital phimosis215
11Prevention is better than cure : sanitizing the modern body236
12The purity movement and the social evil : circumcision as a preventive of syphilis260
13The stigmata of a gentleman : circumcision and British society285
14Conclusion : the end of the culture of abstinence311

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