Touching the Female
January 25, 2010 Leave a comment
Courtesy of codex99‘s fantastic post on Maygriere’s Midwifery Illustrated, a medical guide on obstetrics, I give you this:
This lithograph, from the sixth edition of Maygrier’s Midwifery Illustrated, shows the accoucheur determining the state of pregnancy by what we would now call digital examination, but what was known then by the suitably understated term “touching the female.” Maygrier’s work, published in the early days of obstetrics when male physicians were vying with female midwives over (at least the institutional) the control of childbirth, illustrates the problematic situation early obstetricians were faced with. The idea was that the male physician could put his fingers wherever he wanted, but common decency in post-Empire France (or mid 19th-century America, for that matter) prevented him from actually looking.
The whole book is available on Google Books here.