Elizabeth Blackwell

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Elizabeth Blackwell

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 - 31 May 1910) was a British-born physician, notable as the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as the first woman on the UK Medical Register. She was the first woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

She became famous in the Intactivism movement for this citation which in fact shows her belief (of that time) that masturbation is insane. Instead of preventing it by circumcision she asked for moral and physical education:

A serious warning against the unnatural practice of circumcision must here be given. A book of "Advice to mothers" by a Philadelphia doctor was lately sent to me. This treatise began by informing the mother that her first duty to her infant boy was to cause it to be circumcised! Her fears were worked upon by an elaborate statement but false statement of the evils which would result to the child were this mutilation not performed. I should have considered this mischievous instruction unworthy of serious consideration, did I not observe that it has lately become common among certain short-sighted but reputable physicians to laud this unnatural practice, and endeavour to introduce it into a Christian nation.

Circumcision is based upon the erroneous principle that boys, i.e. one half of the human race, are so badly fashioned by Creative Power that they must be reformed by the surgeon; consequently that every male child must be mutilated by removing the natural covering with which nature has protected one of the most sensitive portions of the human body. The erroneous nature of such a practice is shown by the fact that although this custom (which originated amongst licentious nations in hot climates) has been carried out for many hundreds of generations (by Moslems and Jews), yet nature continues to protect her children by reproducing the valuable protection in man and all the higher animals, regardless of impotent surgical interference.

Appeals to the fears of uninstructed parents on the grounds of cleanliness or of hardening the part are entirely fallacious and unsupported by evidence. It is a physiological fact that the natural lubricating secretion of every healthy part is beneficial, not injurious to the part thus protected, and that no attempt to render a sensitive part insensitive is either practicable or justifiable. The protection which nature affords to these parts is an aid to physical purity by affording necessary protection against constant external contact of a part which necessarily remains keenly sensitive; and bad habits in boys and girls cannot by prevented by surgical operations. Where no malformation exists, bad habits can only be forestalled by healthy moral and physical education.

The plea that this unnatural practice will lessen the risk of infection to the sensualist in promiscuous intercourse is not one that our honourable profession will support. Parents, therefore, should be warned that this ugly mutilation of their children involves serious danger, both to their physical and moral health.
– Elizabeth Blackwell[1]

External links


  1. REFbook Blackwell, Elizabeth (1894): The Human Element in Sex; being a Medical Inquiry into the Relation of Sexual Physiology to Christian Morality. Edition: 2. pp. 35-36. London: J.& A. Churchill.