Laura J. Mcgough’S Gender, Sexuality, And Syphilis In Early

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Laura J. McGough’s Gender, Sexuality, and Syphilis in Early Modern Venice opens immediately in the dawn of the 16th century, when France invaded Italy. This invasion brought diseases previously foreign to the area that immediately became linked to the French and the destruction of Italian institutions. McGough quickly defines the illness she will examine, which is not necessarily Syphilis as indicated in title. The disease is a more broadly encompassing ‘French disease’ and while frequently considered to be, it is too broad to claim that all cases were syphilis. This book endeavours to describe the social and cultural history of the French disease, and its’ endemic history. Inability to look at the entire situation means the French disease …show more content…

The focus remained on metertice and their role, as unmarried women were most heavily stigmatized for their relationships. This brings McGough to her second study in Chapter 2, looking at how gender affected perception and response to the French disease. (For men, some considered the French disease as a symbol of sexual success, however for the most part society accused diseased men as being undisciplined, unable to resist the temptation of the female body. It was widely understood that women were the cause and carriers of the disease, and able to inflict it upon men. The diseased women were portrayed as promiscuous, and usually beautiful according to folk myths that the disease arrived in the form of a beautiful prostitute, who slept with hundreds of French soldiers. In Chapter 3 stigma is further imposed, as the French disease becomes seemingly more treatable. This thrust the burden of stigma upon ‘incurable’ patients and McGough looks at several case studies to prove this. Incurable women were assumed to be continuing in sexual relations, and not serious about reform. Men occasionally looked for witchcraft as being the cause of incurable disease, or were blamed for continued sexuality and lack of discipline. This lead to differences in aid displayed in Chapter 4. Women were institutionalized to protect virginity or encourage repentance, while men had much more opportunities for medical care. Women’s institutions such as the

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