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Prescription for Heterosexuality

Sexual Citizenship in the Cold War Era

Carolyn Herbst Lewis

Publication Year: 2010

In this work, Lewis examines the roles physicians played in defining and reinforcing heterosexuality in the Cold War era. Situating her study within the contexts of changes in the American medical profession, gender roles, sexual norms, and federal politics, she argues that many doctors monitored patients' sexual morality with the belief that a satisfying sexual relationship with very specific attributes and boundaries was the foundation of a successful marriage, crucial to the American family, and a basic building block of a safe nation. Doctors rationalized their prescriptive treatment within beliefs of the time linking homosexuality to subversive behaviors of Communism. She examines how they discussed healthy American sexuality in professional literature, identified sexual deficiencies, and proposed to prevent them, and she analyzes professional debates over issues such as premarital pelvic exams, treating male impotence, and counseling on orgasms. In this study, Lewis pushes historians to think more broadly about the social, political, and medical constructions of heterosexuality.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

When a decade passes between the time a project is first imagined and its completion, the author unavoidably owes thanks to a great many people. For their encouragement and guidance at various stages of research and writing, I am incredibly grateful to the following individuals...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-12

The January 17, 1966, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (jama) included a “Special Communication” from psychiatrist William F. Sheeley, the former head of the American Psychiatric Association’s General Practitioner Education Program, a committee devoted to preparing physicians to deal with the psychological problems of their...

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CHAPTER 1. American Physicians and Sexual Defense

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pp. 13-36

“Civil defense in this country becomes a very serious problem and responsibility of the doctor of medicine,” wrote physician Lawrence Drolett in the Journal of the Michigan State Medical Society in 1955. “It is our duty as physicians to be prepared to render a heroic service to the people...

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CHAPTER 2. Femininity, Frigidity, and Female Heterosexual Health

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pp. 37-70

June Cleaver has become the cultural icon of 1950s American womanhood. The fictitious wife and mother on the television program Leave It to Beaver , she was the model of the white, middle-class, suburban homemaker in the mid-twentieth- century United States...

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CHAPTER 3. Masculinity, Sexual Function, and Male Heterosexual Health

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pp. 71-94

Kent isn’t one bit like the average man,” reported Jan, a frustrated wife featured in the May 1963 issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal. “He’s cold — sexually cold, I mean.” In other ways, Jan conceded, Kent lived up to her expectations of an attentive spouse...

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CHAPTER 4. The Premarital Pelvic Examination

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pp. 95-112

In 1956 Henry B. Sa≠ord, the regular medical advice columnist for the Ladies’ Home Journal, related the story of a couple who came to his practice three months after their marriage, desperate for his help. After first talking with the husband and wife individually...

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CHAPTER 5. Artificial Insemination and the American Man

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pp. 113-144

In December 1953 Science Digest featured an article by popular science writer Watson Davis titled “10,000 Test-Tube Babies.” As the title indicates, Davis estimated that in the preceding fifteen years, approximately 10,000 American children had been conceived through the process of artificial insemination with donor semen...

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EPILOGUE

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pp. 145-152

In December 1965 Max Levin wrote a special article for the New England Journal of Medicine titled “The Physician and the Sexual Revolution.” A professor of neurology at New York Medical College, Levin’s stated intent was “to consider, from the standpoint...

Notes

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pp. 153-184

Bibliography

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pp. 185-220

Index

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pp. 221-228


E-ISBN-13: 9781469606385
E-ISBN-10: 1469606380
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807834251
Print-ISBN-10: 0807834254

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Sex -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Heterosexuality -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Married people -- Sexual behavior -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Citizenship -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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