I went to a flea market today and saw this book and had to get it. It was written by Dr. J. Rutgers, published in 1940, and it's called How to Attain and Practice an Ideal Sex Life: Ideal sex and love relations for every married man and woman. I picked it up expecting a lot of hogwash about the biological determination of gender roles along with stereotypes about how men and women perceive and enjoy sex. Current Mood:
So I read the precluding pages to the book and find out that Dr. Rutgers was one of the leading pioneers in contraception and family planning. Additionally, he was the first to require a personal examination of all of his female patients before recommending a contraceptive method. And he set up safe abortion clinics all over parts of Europe. This is information presented not through a contemporary, more accepting lense, but through statements made by the doctor's peers in the field at the time of the book's release. Even still, the author was obviously well-respected and considered an expert on the reproductive system by his contemporaries.
So far, there seems to be a good deal of misinformation in this book, yes. But the source of this misinformation seems to be the crude experiments performed in this area at the time, not the conclusions drawn from them. In fact, even though most of the experiments are obviously biased, many of Dr. Rutger's conclusions are consistent with modern-day notions of hormones, sex organs, and their influences on the body during puberty and the embryonic stage.
Dr. J. Rutgers writes of an experiment where the physical genitals of rats were removed and replaced with those of the opposite sex. The study's published results report that the male rats who were implanted with female sex organs acted more 'effeminate' in their sexual play (i.e. they liked to take it up the butt), with the opposite being true of the female rats (they liked to fuck the other rats). The doctor then goes on to discuss another study where a homosexual man asked his doctor to remove his testicles and replace them with those from a heterosexual. This was reported as having been successful and the homosexual man entered into a "happy, though sterile, marriage."
And now the point of this post:
Concerning these pieces of research, Rutgers writes: "Even should this type of operation prove successful, the majority of homosexual individuals will probably hesitate to have it performed on them. They are not unhappy on account of their peculiarity, but rather on account of our prejudices. It is we who are diseased and in need of cure. We must accept the fact that Nature has not endowed all people with the same sexual desires. Even the separation of the sexes is not absolute."
I had to read the paragraph about three times to validate that this was, in fact, a statement boldly made in defense of homosexuality. How shocking this must have been to many of his readers, who were intended to be both doctors (well-known to be biased against the LGBT community - any minority culture, actually) and the informed general public! And still this smart man knew that the kinds of experiments he was reviewing had a great power for social control and oppressive discourse, so he stood up for the rights of those who might easily become lab monkeys in the medical/scientific community's search for sexual clarity and stated that this type of research is not only unsubstantiated, but most importantly, unnecessary. Of course, the medical/scientific community and the Committee for the Study of Sexual Variants did go on to practically torture those perceived as homosexual in search of clear definitions for sex and gender, and there are still plenty of people today who would be happy to bludgeon the doctor to death for his comments, but that doesn't matter. The fact that a reputable man was daring enough to publish such a statement in the year 1940 fills me with extreme happiness, and most of all it makes me look to the future of this struggle with great hope. I truly hope that there are people in this world who are just as visionary and independently-thinking as Dr. Rutgers was 65 years ago, and I hope that they too do not allow themselves to be silenced.