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Old, Bad Ideas and SEX!

One of the arguments I often hear from the pro-woo crowd to promote practices such as acupuncture or homeopathy or even keeping prayer in public schools is "people have being been doing it for hundreds of years so it must be right!" This is a fallacy known as the "appeal to tradition/antiquity" which basically says that if it's old, it's gold. Not so. And I intend to prove precisely how much it's not so by highlighting some nonsensical medical practices us silly humans thought were a good idea once upon a time. Any idea can be a bad idea, whether it's a new one or an old one. How long it's been around has no bearing on it's factual or scientific merit. Most of the ideas I'll be writing about failed miserably but some brought us enlightenment in a way that only failure can bring. But the point is that we figured out that the way things were being done was wrong and we changed it. Sadly, some ideas would take much death and time to figure out but science prevailed in the end with a resounding "WTF are you people doing?!" Back in the day people had more of an excuse, there was no internet and isolation in communities was commonplace. But folks today no longer have any reason to fall for ridiculous pseudoscience when information on any topic is right at hand for us to discover the legitimacy (or not) thereof.

So let's start with everyone's favorite topic, SEX! Although when I'm done, you'll be wishing I hadn't.

Goat Balls

So you're having a little trouble in the sack. It's okay, nobody is judging you. Well, maybe one person is, but they aren't going to tell you that. They will just go brush their teeth. It may take awhile. These days you only need to pop a little blue pill and the plumbing is back in business. But back in the early 1900s all you had to do was go see Dr. John R. Brinkley and he'd fix you right up by simply sewing some goat gonads into your scrotum.

After a shady past of disreputable medical schooling, quackery, fraud and bigamy, Dr. Brinkley settled into Milford, Kansas where he opened a clinic in 1918. When a patient with less than optimal functioning man bits asked him for some help, Dr. Brinkley casually mentioned that the problem could be fixed if only the guy had some goat glands stuck in him. The guy naturally thought that this was a capital idea and asked to have the procedure done. Because, you know, who wouldn't want to have a pair of goat testicles attached to their own? Word spread and more patients began lining up for the procedure. After the wife of patient #1 gave birth to a baby boy (bearing zero resemblance to the milkman I assume) the goat ball operation was deemed a rousing success and would result in much publicity and riches for Brinkley. Which was surprising considering patients were routinely dying or getting infections due to his penchant for performing the surgeries drunk and with non sterile equipment.
You're going to do WHAT with my balls?

Since impotence is a fairly niche market, Dr. Brinkley decided to expand his market base and started claiming that a goat nut graft could also cure folks of no less than 27 ailments, ranging from dementia to emphysema to flatulence. Which was a great relief to wives routinely suffering from Dutch Oven Syndrome imposed upon them by their husbands. He hired an advertising agent and through clever PR campaigns, insane claims and even a medical advice call in radio show, he managed to garner a sizable following and many new patients from around the world including some Hollywood stars. Unfortunately for Brinkley, the growing pile of death at his hands caught up with him and after having his medical license revoked and being sued into oblivion, he died flat broke in 1942. 

Hysterical Females

Way back in the sexually repressed Victorian era, woman were routinely diagnosed with hysteria. Which these days would be diagnosed as "being horny". Women back then were discouraged from physical activity and since the men weren't yet getting goat ball grafts, it's likely they were generally lacking in the whoopee department. Stands to reason that all that repression would drive a few women stir crazy. They would go to the doctor with symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, fullness in the lower abdomen, erotic fantasies, paralytic states and fainting. Yup. Really, really horny. In a way that I don't even want to know about, doctors soon discovered that genital massage to the point of ‘hysterical paroxysm’ not surprisingly made the women feel much better. So in other words, they fingered them until they were screaming "OH GOD YES!"
I don't recall that ever being part of my annual check-up
It seems that this treatment became so popular that the poor overworked doctors had to recruit midwives to help them with the backlog. Although the doctors were happy with the steady stream of repeat customers, they were also having to deal with tired fingers and a likely upsurge in cases of tendonitis amongst the medical community. It can, after all, be difficult to sustain the "treatment" long enough to achieve the desired outcome.
There had to be a better way. And that better way was invented in the late 1870s in the form of every girl's best friend, the vibrator. This little device enabled women to treat their hysteria at home whenever they felt symptoms coming on. Very handy to have the excuse of "medically prescribed" bliss in an age where sexuality was still very much frowned upon. Even though hysteria was no longer considered an illness by 1952, the vibrator is still very much alive and well today. 
Although today's versions are less likely to kill you in the shower


Contraception Hell

So you've got your new goat balls, the little woman is free from hysteria and you are bumping uglies on a nightly basis. But since you already have 6 rugrats running around, the last thing you want is to get her knocked up again. No worries, help is at hand! History has it's share of disturbing ideas of contraception that could only have been dreamt up in the nightmares of sadistic men on bad acid trips. To name a few:

Crocodile dung (Ancient Egypt) - Nothing like starting your love making session out with shoving a handful of poop up your partner's lady bits. Since crocodile shit is slightly alkaline, this may have possibly worked. But I doubt it did much for the mood.

Sponge soaked in lemon juice (Medieval Europe) - This sour combination was inserted in the vagina to act as both a physical barrier (pessary) and a spermicide. Plus sides being that it would smell better than crocodile poo and one could also enjoy a refreshing, freshly squeezed lemon beverage afterwards.

Don't breathe (Ancient Greece) - Simply hold your breath during coitus and then sit with your knees bent and sneeze a bunch to get all that nasty semen out of you. This would be the only time in history when women were happy for partners with less than stellar staying power.

Condoms made from tortoise shell or horn (Feudal Japan) - All I can say is that I am very happy that I do not live in Feudal Japan.

Onion juice (Ancient Egypt) - Onion juice would be rubbed onto one's willy before intercourse. Just don't be surprised if your mate is crying the entire time.

Mercury (Ancient China) - Women would drink hot mercury in order to not end up preggers. Of course after dying of mercury poisoning, pregnancy would be the least of their worries.  

Camel mouth froth (Ancient Africa) - Women would drink the froth from a camel's mouth in order to protect them from pregnancy. Aside from always making sure you have a camel handy in case the mood strikes you, ew, gross, gross, gross!
Kissy Kissy!


Apparently I've been quite hysterical since I hit the dirty thirties.

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