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Girls Gone Green!
Remember that Victorian illness “hysteria” and how it could only be cured by the vibrator-wielding skills of a trained Victorian medical professional? I mean, I guess I can sort of see what they were getting at since the curative powers of orgasms have been well-documented by science. What I don’t understand about that extinct diagnosis is why they thought it was caused by a “wandering womb," implying that all it needed was an orgasm to be put in its place. Just think, an orgasm a day could keep the doctor and the blues away! (So long as she didn’t do it herself, that is.)
According to the Victorians, orgasms not only kept the blues away, but they also kept the greens away. Women with green-tinged skin and a fiesty attitude were actually in dire need of relieving themselves of the excess “female sperm” building up inside of them. The Victorians thought that overwhelmed "blue" ovaries caused green skin in women. The blockage caused fatigue, a lack of menstruation, increased appetite, indigestion, headaches, and all of the other symptoms that are caused by hypochromic anemia. Oh, and let’s of course not forget insanity, the very same thing that the medical world said comorbidly occurred with regular menstruation as well.
The Victorian definition of female “insanity” included being disagreeable, outspoken, rude, alcoholic, senile, highly emotional, or any other behavior that deviated from how they thought women “should” act. Even today, a lot of mental illness is culturally defined in this manner. When a woman “went green,” medical professionals claimed that it was caused by celibacy that would normally be relieved by a lawfully wedded husband. Thus, the treatment options were marriage, prescribed masturbation, pelvic massages, or clitoral surgery that the family kept under wraps to protect the young woman’s reputation and chances of getting married.
Things that modern people consider to be universal parts of wellness such as a healthy diet and exercise (or any intense physical exertion) were considered “masculine” traits. Fulfilling the traditional breadwinning role, men usually got the best and most of all the food, which meant that they usually got more iron. As women fulfilled the caretaker role, being cooked up in the house with (sometimes sick) children made them more susceptible to germs. At that time, the “miasma theory” prevailed, supporting the belief that fowl smells and “noxious odors” were the cause of illness that was actually attributed to microbes that couldn’t be perceived by the human eye. It wasn’t until around 1890 when the germ theory became accepted as the most legitimate and well-evidenced explanation.
I must admit, my darling Fledglings, that after a few weeks of researching this vintage illness, I still don’t have a full understanding of it. Since medical professionals claimed that “green sickness” only struck virgin women (usually of the middle or upper classes), I can’t help but wonder how many lower-class, iron-impoverished people turned green and if they were ever noticed. Did green men need a husband, too? Definitely not, considering that homosexual relationships between men were considered blasphemous while the general public didn’t believe in lesbianism. Lesbian couples were thought of as platonic companions who made the decision to cohabitate, mostly to compensate for not being married. There were the two legendary Green Children of Woolpit from long ago, a boy and girl with green complexions who randomly arrived in Woolpit, located in Suffolk, England. Many people at the time believed that they were fairies that came from an underground realm where everything was green and the sky remained in a state of constant twilight.
What would be traced to a vitamin deficiency today was connected to a sexual disorder years ago. As a modern woman, the only thing that I can imagine is that those women were turning green with envy because they weren't getting laid. I'm still amused at the thought of a prescription with "vibrator" scribbled in illegible doctor handwriting.
#VictorianCulture #RetroSex #GreenSickness #Sexism #Homosexuality #Marriage #Myths #Green #England #DidYouKnow
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