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ANAHITA  July 1997

ANAHITA July 1997

Subject:

intersex tribades? (was: references)

From:

Diane Arnson Svarlien <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 9 Jul 1997 11:57:52 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (70 lines)

I would like to pick this thread back up, and connect it with something
that occurred to me sometime back in May, when within a few days of each
other I read a BMCR review discussing "tribades", and a Newsweek article on
intersexuals, people born with ambivalent genitals. I must beg everyone's
indulgence, because I have no knowledge or expertise on either of these
subjects, beyond reading these 2 things! Maybe those on the list who know
more can contribute. (I think the book under review in BMCR was B. J.
Brooten, Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female
Homoeroticism (Chicago 1996), which I just found in the Diotima sexuality
bibliography; if not, it had a title similar to "Love Between Women." I
can't access BMCR from here, unfortunately.)

"Tribades" were women whose sexual proclivities (penetrating women) and
sometimes anatomy ("fantastically enlarged clitorides") were like those of
males. As I recall, the BMCR reviewer completely dismissed the possibility
that such women ever existed (cf. the response copied below, that the story
in Pliny must be "metaphorical and rhetorical :)"), and felt that the
interesting question was how such a "construction" could have arisen. But
doesn't the existence of intersexuals (and cf. the comments below on
cryptandridsim) suggest that maybe the accounts of "tribades" were based at
least partly on reality? Again, I admit that I have no first-hand
familiarity with the literature on tribades, and appeal to those who do. I
hope that if this thread continues it will be illuminating (and not
inflammatory).

yours, Diane

> Pliny even claims to have
>> seen the transformation of someone into a man in Africa, on
>> the man's wedding day.
>>
>> Surely this must be metaphorical and rhetorical? :)
>
>Actually, in the area of Africa where Pliny is supposed to have visited the
>birth defect cryptandridsim is more common  than elsewhere -- babies appear
>to be female and are well within the normal as far as outside plumbing
>goes, but around puberty the clitoris enlarges and the testicles drop.  You
>can tell between babies who are girls and who are cryptandric male babies
>if you have two related ones side by side but the differences are very
>slight indeed.
>
>Given that most crypts studied are attracted towards men, African girls
>married at puberty, and the husband is likely to have been the one to first
>see his wife's genitals, it's very likely that Pliny is reporting
>accurately.
>
>Just a little bit of medical trivia . . .
>
>JulieB
>

________________________________________
Diane Arnson Svarlien
[log in to unmask]
________________________________________

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