My nerdy day

While reading Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers I developed a fascination for old sexology and sexual inverts. Today I had a day off and I spent it in the library looking for old sexology books. I read a very entertaining book called Studies in the Psychology of Sex by Havelock Ellis from 1919. It comes in several volumes and volume II is entirely about sexual inversion (homosexuality).

Book_Sexual Inversion

This wasn’t a reprint, it was actually from 1919, and the pages were very fragile and crumbling as I read it. It was from a special storage area where you have to ask the librarian to see it. I felt like Hermione going to the Restricted section of the library. Yes, that was a Harry Potter reference. I can’t sign this book out so I sat and read it for several hours. My idea of a good time is spending the day in the library reading about ancient homophobia! 😀 I am such a nerd.

I had so much fun with this book I can’t even tell you. Okay, but I’m going to tell you. The funniest thing in this book was the entire page written about how homosexuals like the colour green. Apparently, it is common knowledge that all normal people like the colours red or blue. The colour green is for sexual perverts only! Also, did you know that gay men can’t whistle? I swear, that’s what it said. I was laughing to myself out loud in the library.

There are tons and tons and tons of theories about how people are homosexual and all of them are absurd. At this time it was all Freudian stuff like, if certain things happened in your childhood development that would turn you gay. I was shaking my head about all the time and energy people spent trying to figure out what makes people gay. Who cares? We are, and that’s that. It’s not a problem, so it doesn’t need a solution.

There were several case histories of lesbians, and some of them were several pages long and these women were pretty badass. I really loved the stories of women who dressed as men and took female lovers and when their female lovers got married to men, they killed their husbands. I wonder if that’s why lesbians used to have a reputation for being violent and unstable—because we were probably invisible until we killed someone’s husband in a fit of jealous rage, and only then were we noticed by the establishment.

One of the causes of homosexuality is purported to be occupations where women are stuck together for long periods of time without any men around. There was a story in the book about a garment factory where girls worked in intense summer heat and would take off their clothes because it was so hot. Then there was an afternoon nap time and they all slept together on the sofa, nude, and ended up “masturbating themselves.” The language is so dramatic and over-the-top and detailed that I realized— this is actually erotica. This guy who wrote this book was totally having a wank over these garment factory girls and their supposed naked afternoon orgies (which I suspect never actually happened.)

The main reason I was reading this book was because I wanted to look for early claims of “man trapped in a woman’s body.” In fact, I did find that, which I will talk about in a later post, and I also found a reference to what is apparently the first instance of the term “sexual inversion” being used in English and it was in a book on Greek ethics. I found that book too, and I scanned through it but there was no actual definition of sexual inversion, just a lot of discussion of ancient Greeks and their homosexuality. I found a gem of a paragraph though in the tiny little section on female homosexuality.

Some dude from the 19th century was whining about the horrors that would occur if we allowed homosexuality to happen. He wrote the following warning:

“If you concede homosexual love to males, you must in justice grant the same to females; you will have to sanction carnal intercourse between them; monstrous instruments of lust will have to be permitted, in order that their sexual congress may be carried out; that obscene vocable, tribad, which so rarely offends our ears—I blush to utter it—will become rampant, and Philaenis will spread androgynous orgies throughout our harems.”

The book does refer to another book where one can read about the “monstrous instruments of lust” in detail, (sorry, no quote—I didn’t read that one!) and it also explains that Philaenis is the author of an obscene book and also a designation for a lesbian lover, or “tribad.” I don’t even know how people come up with this over-the-top, dramatic stuff. It really is a figment of their imaginations. I’m not nearly as interesting as they think I am. Generally, what I do every day is get up, take a shower, go to work, come home, eat dinner, do some regular stuff like blogging or visiting friends, and go to bed. I can’t say I’ve ever participated in an “androgynous orgy” with “monstrous instruments of lust,” and I don’t think it would have ever occurred to me to do so.

I carefully photocopied about 30 pages from the section on female inverts and I’m going to go through it again and decide what to write about here. I think I’ll type out some of the case stories of lesbians, they’re really interesting. And of course, the “man trapped in a woman’s body” stuff. People have been saying that for over 100 years now!

Okay, I’m off to a harem to have an androgynous orgy! *cough* Okay, fine, I’m getting pizza and going to a friend’s place to watch TV.


48 thoughts on “My nerdy day

  1. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 Oh man! Were they crazy!

    “Tribad”? “Monstrous instruments of lust”? Trident dildo. It’s obvious. They’re totally referring to that notorious missing masturbatory artifact: the trident dildo. See “tri” is for 3.😉 You may be thinking having three, as it were, prongs on one shaft would be ineffective and horrible. And you would be right. That’s why it died out.😁

    OK none of that’s true, they were just bat shit crazy.

    I am so envious purplesage. What a fantastic experience! Very nearly time travel. So this is Havelok Ellis. Holy crumbs, he’s held out as being some great revolutionary in the acceptance of sex. 0-o Can’t wait to hear more. Are you going to do Magnus Hirschfeld next?😯 I read that Hirschfeld made up the phrase ‘woman trapped in a man’s body’. And that he was referring to gay men, including himself.

    PS after seeing the email for this post with the picture of the old book, I went to do the dishes. While doing the dishes I made up this whole cool time travel imaginary movie. When I have time I’ll put it in an interesting, non-rambling form and post it.

    Liked by 2 people

        • Yeah I know. I was feigning sympathy for Magnus is if all the crazy olden days sexologists are in competition with each other.

          Then veered onto the highly memorable tangent of his participating in this process, do you know the story? they implanted ovaries into this guy’s abdomen. This is The Danish Girl. So of course he, Lili, died. 😣


        • Yeah, I’d heard of it. It’s in Wikipedia, wherein the authors carefully inform one that the surgery failed because of the lack of anti-rejection meds, as evidence by the myriad successful ovary implants into men and/or intersex people since the invention of such…oh….wait….

          Liked by 2 people

        • Okay, this is very recent, the first uterus transplant has failed (female-to-female) due to yeast infection of the transplanted tissue. The immunosuppressive therapy required to prevent rejection allowed the naturally-occurring yeast to ‘over-grow’ and kill the transplanted tissue.

          Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent so that a woman could carry a baby–this is so selfish and wasteful. I can’t help but think about all the babies and children already in this world could have been fed and clothed with that money.

          Liked by 3 people

        • It’s barbaric and insane. Fed on the surgeons egotism, according to a commentor on LGB Voice.

          I’m sticking with my mad optimism. It’s going to be closed down. Once people realize that there’s no way to diagnose it. That there’s an obvious differential diagnosis it could be instead of transgender: any of the various body rejecting mental illnesses. They’ll go back to the 70s way where a psychiatrist had to approve you and the psychiatrist will be required to try treatments for body rejecting conditions like anorexia and body dysmorphia, before they’re allowed to approve you. For several years.

          And then it will just be shut down later on when it stops being new. And of course the DAY a well-designed long-term study drops showing that transitioning doesn’t actually protect against suicidalness, it will be obvious that this is a terrible treatment. And the whole distraction of ones position on trans being a litmus test of one’s progressive political legitimacy will end. The argument will move to the issue of treatment efficacy. And then it’s over.😁 It’s night time, let’s just assume that’s all true, and get a good nights sleep.😉🛌

          Liked by 2 people

        • It would be nice if we could get the word “gender” out of it, so we wouldn’t always have to be dealing with people disagreeing on what that means, and I agree that it would be much better to see it as body hatred. But then we’d have to think about all those women who want silicone implants in their breasts and identical noses, and labial trims (shudder) and think of the poor plastic surgeons.

          Nice talking with you, night.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. “I was shaking my head about all the time and energy people spent trying to figure out what makes people gay. Who cares? We are, and that’s that. It’s not a problem, so it doesn’t need a solution.”

    Yes, but … what if there was a way to turn straight women into lesbians? That would help lots of women to finally find love. There aren’t enough non-misogynist men for all women, and this problem is unlikely to be solved within the lifespan of women who are alive now, so …

    However, I am not sure if I want patriarchal researchers to find out what makes people gay. They would use it the wrong way around.

    “If you concede homosexual love to males, you must in justice grant the same to females”

    … and that is why he doesn’t want to, I am rather sure. Not because of the lesbian sex (he relaly likes the lesbian sex, doesn’t he?), but because women would then be more independent from men. Not as vulnerable to reproductive coercion.
    And of course, he cannot allow THAT to happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Now that I’ve cleaned the spewed coffee off of my screen–

    I loved this.

    Parts I loved most:

    First, the idea that if men were ‘allowed’ to be homosexual, women would have to be given that right as well–I think this is the only time I’ve ever seen even remote consideration in giving women any equality of any kind whatsoever (but thank god it was regarding homosexuality), so that was relatively progressive thinking, but then it all went to hell when the author referred to ‘our harems.’

    “Monstrous instruments of lust,” especially those that may require a kick-start (though this was before the gas-powered combustible engine, perhaps it would be powered by steam), would certainly put the penises of mortal men to shame, because, ya know, size is everything, and the ranks of lesbian women would become legion…

    I am not really partial to the color green, unless it’s ‘hunter’ green, but does the ‘darkness’ of that color speak to the depth of my homosexuality–because that would make sense, in a way…

    Tribadism is what is commonly referred to as ‘scissoring’ today…and it is still nearly impossible to do. I believe this is another fiction brought to light by the male species, who, for some reason, cannot ‘figure out’ how two women have sex with each other, except by the way a child would wedge two Barbie dolls together, given that ‘how’ is a frequently-asked question of lesbians.

    And my personal favorite, the badass lesbian women who killed their lovers’ husbands…I can see it playing out in my mind:

    Badass Lesbian leaning on the door frame of her lover’s bedroom: “Say h’lo, my dear, to your second husband.”

    BAL’s Lover: “What? Second husband? What happened to my first?”

    Badass Lesbian: “Nothing you can prove.”

    So, ‘Sage, thanks for this…I appreciate your service (“We do the reading, so you don’t have to.”). I’m really looking forward to the case histories…


    Liked by 1 person

  4. This early sexology stuff is so my jam. I just find it fascinating for its pseudoscientific bogusness. For Ellis, I’ve only read what I could find online, but I’m going to see if my university library has this book, too. And of course I look forward to more of what you write on the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Someday gender/queer theory will seem as absurd as this. We hope.

    The “harem” thing hasn’t changed much. It’s amazing how many men still say things like “We men in the west treat OUR women very well” when talking about rapey Muslim men and how spoiled we are and how great we have it over it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was looking at my chalk pastels this evening, as I wanted to order some art supplies for the retrograde, and it struck me that it would be nice if somebody sold sets with a lot more greens in them, as I have enough left of the other shades of colors. I always thought my favorite color was blue. It appears this was in error.

    Liked by 2 people

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