By Geertje Mak
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Extra info for Doubting Sex: Inscriptions, Bodies and Selves in Nineteenth-Century Hermaphrodite Case Histories
He very much doubted whether his own marriage was valid and whether having sex did not violate Christian morality. His attempts at abstinence seem to have originated in this fear rather than in his sexual dissatisfaction. Therefore, in the first instance he did not seek advice from doctors, but from priests. For him, and for many others, a doubtful sex in the first place caused moral doubts. There is evidence that other hermaphrodites or people closely involved with them also primarily sought out clerical officials.
However, we may doubt whether his sex life was unsatisfactory to him. After all, he kept having sex with his wife for years, thus infringing the first parson’s order to abstain from sex with his wife. But he was clearly afraid to live in sin and finally left her. He then started to seek advice from several other clerical authorities. indd 35 11/15/11 4:45 PM 36 doubting sex perhaps, hope that some priest would permit him to have sex with his wife? Or did he wait until somebody told him how he could annul his marriage?
Perhaps most of the problems concerning doubtful sex were solved through the daily surveillance of bodies, which left no trace in the historical records. I will certainly not exclude that possibility, and some cases do indeed show that the disclosure of a doubtful sex to a medical doctor was instigated by physical contact between siblings, cousins or friends as was the case with Hanna O. However, in many cases ultimately disclosed by a doctor, the hermaphrodite in question seemed to have been let be until that very moment.
Doubting Sex: Inscriptions, Bodies and Selves in Nineteenth-Century Hermaphrodite Case Histories by Geertje Mak