Health and Sexuality

Gayle Davis

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546497
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191744006 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Health and Sexuality

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The concept of sexuality is being deployed as a prism through which a rich range of social, cultural, and political issues can be explored. This article considers the ways in which female and male sexualities have been constructed and problematized in modern Western history. The medical role is stressed, bearing in mind the ambivalent historical relationship that has existed between physicians, sexual science, and society. With reference to the ‘double standard’, this article shows how female sexuality has been particularly prone to pathologization and psychiatrization when believed to drift from the marital or reproductive ideal. Social and political concerns surrounding sexually transmitted diseases are discussed as they are seen to both reflect and reinforce society's most fundamental assumptions and fears surrounding sexuality and disease. The questions that this article seeks to answer are arguably of increasing relevance to modern Western society.

Keywords: sexuality; society; political concern; disease; Western society

Article.  9744 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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