A few new works on related topics from spring issues that may pique the interest of our readership:
In Signs, a piece by Myrna Perez Sheldon titled Wild at Heart: How Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology Helped Influence the Construction of Heterosexual Masculinity in American Evangelicalism
Its abstract reads:
During the 1990s, American evangelical texts contended that men have a stronger sex drive than women and that this natural sexual aggression makes men better suited to leadership roles in marriage, church, and society. Although this theology, called complementarianism, had earlier roots in conservative Protestantism, the connection that evangelicals made between male sexuality and male leadership was influenced by the scientific fields of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology during the 1980s and 1990s. These fields argue that maleness is a genetic evolutionary strategy characterized by social competition and a strong, even aggressive, sex drive. Evangelicals drew upon this scientific model in their efforts to combat second-wave feminism within their communities and in the broader culture. They turned to biology as a defense against the so-called cultural claims of feminism. Significantly, the model that evangelicals drew on from research in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology helped shape the articulations of “natural” masculine behavior in popular Christian self-help books, dating manuals, and theological texts. This article builds on the body of feminist scholarship that has critiqued the evidence, models, and popular influence of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. But it also urges the importance of analyzing the role of religious practices in the circulation and legitimation of scientific depictions of gender and sexuality.
In Social History of Medicine, by Julie Powell, the article Shock Troupe: Medical Film and the Performance of ‘Shell Shock’ for the British Nation at War
Its abstract reads:
In 1917, physician Arthur F. Hurst began filming the peculiar tics and hysterical gaits of ‘shell-shocked’ soldiers under his care. Editions of Hurst’s films from 1918 and 1940 survive. Cultural products of their time, I argue, the films engaged with contemporary ideas of class, gender and nation. The 1918 version reinforced class-based notions of disease and degeneracy while validating personal and national trauma and bolstering conceptions of masculinity and the nation that were critical to wartime morale and recovery efforts. The 1940 re-edit of the film engaged with the memory of the First World War by constructing a restorative narrative and by erasing the troubled years of gender crisis, ‘shell shock’ culture and class struggle to reassert masculine virtue and martial strength, essential for the prosecution of the Second World War.
Read the full thing here.
And not least, in History of Psychiatry, an article by authors Lois P. Rudnick and Alison Heru titled The ‘secret’ source of ‘female hysteria’: the role that syphilis played in the construction of female sexuality and psychoanalysis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
Here is its abstract
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the unspoken fear of syphilis played a significant role in the development of beliefs about female sexuality. Many women were afraid of sexual relationships with men because they feared contracting syphilis, which was, at that time, untreatable. Women also feared passing this disease on to their children. Women’s sexual aversion, or repression, became a focus for Freud and his colleagues, whose theory of psychosexual development was based on their treatment of women. This article examines the case of Dora, the memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan and other sources to argue that the fear of syphilis was a significant factor in upper- and middle-class women’s avoidance of heterosexual relationships. The fear of syphilis, in turn, became a significant factor in the psychoanalytic construction of female sexuality. The social suppression of the fear of syphilis has had a profound impact on theories of women’s development. The implication for psychiatry is that our models of psychological development occur within a sociocultural milieu and cannot escape suppressed aspects of our culture.