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Jane Ussher receives funding from the Australian Research Council for research on sexuality. Is she a nymphomaniac?
Filmmaker Lars von Trier is reigniting debate on the subject with his controversial new film, Nymphomaniac. The story of a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who recounts her erotic experiences, the film consists of four hours of explicit sex.
Publicity posters depict the naked A-list cast in orgasmic release, ensuring controversy prior to its Christmas Day release in Copenhagen. Descriptions of nymphomania first appeared in the s. The male version of the diagnosis, satyriasis, was rarely applied; it was hard to imagine men wanting too much sex. But the powerful sexuality of the nymphomaniac posed a threat to civilisation. Woe unto the man who falls into the meshes of such an insatiable Messalina, whose sexual appetite is never appeased.
The treatments for nymphomania were severe. Removal of the clitoris and ovaries, leeching of the vagina, cold baths, and enforced bed rest were commonly prescribed. InDr Theophilus Parvin recommended regular exercise and a vegetarian diet, combined with vaginal application nymphomaniac chat cocaine.
Mrs B avoided incarceration by giving up sex, brandy, novel reading, and meat. Her treatment also included nightly enemas and vaginal swabbing with borax — a substance we now use to clear drains. The sexual revolution had normalised behaviours once considered deviant, and women were no longer expected to be chaste.
Such women would have been perfect wives in the eyes of 19th century physicians. For those with excessive or uncontrolled desires and behaviour, the diagnosis of hypersexuality — sexual compulsion or addiction — is now applied. More common in men than women, this nymphomaniac chat a hotly contested category open to subjective interpretation. Who decides how much sex is too much? And how do we determine when a person is out of control?
As with nymphomania, is sex addiction simply a label for sexual behaviour society finds unacceptable?
Or one for men who get caught out? The use of this diagnosis by doctors defending Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinksy investigation is a case in point. One North American woman did so to defend herself against an accusation of prostitution. She told the court that she had sex with scores of men because she had worn her husband out. She had to satisfy her insatiable sexual appetite elsewhere.
Lawyers have also employed nymphomania as a defence against charges of rape or incest. Complainants are accused of imagining sexual assaults, or inciting the sexual act with their lewd desires. Sexual violence is exonerated as a result. Ultimately, nymphomania, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. A woman will only be described as wanting sex too much if her partner cannot satisfy her. Be Curious — Leeds, Leeds. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom.
Jane UssherWestern Sydney University. This controversy is bad for women. Film Female sexuality Sexual arousal.Nymphomaniac chat
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