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"Gushing our Blood": Defloration and menstruation in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

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posted on 06.01.2017 by Sara Read
John Cleland’s 1740s pornographic novel, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure repeatedly depicts and eroticises the act of defloration. As such it is a revealing illustration of what Ivan Bloch termed the ‘defloration mania’ of the eighteenth century. This article maps narrative events on to contemporary medical depictions of first intercourse to show the ways that the theories and ideas presented in medical and pseudo-medical texts transferred into erotic fiction and demonstrates how in some instances the bloody defloration scenes can be read as being sex during menstruation, an act which was culturally forbidden at this time.

History

School

  • The Arts, English and Drama

Department

  • English and Drama

Published in

Journal of Medical Humanities

Citation

READ, S.L., 2017. "Gushing our Blood": Defloration and menstruation in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. Journal of Medical Humanities, 39 (2), pp.165–177.

Publisher

Springer Verlag / © The Author

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/

Acceptance date

10/12/2016

Publication date

2017

Notes

This is an Open Access article published by Springer and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY 4.0), http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

ISSN

1573-3645

Language

en

Licence

Exports