‘Making women satisfied with their husbands’: Gender and (an)aphrodisiacs in medieval Scandinavia

Ailie Westbrook (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Remedies for women’s great lewdness can be found throughout Danish leechbooks. These can range from herbs, which are said to decrease women’s libido, to cures that make sure that women are satisfied with (just) their husbands. This paper explores how magical and medicinal methods of managing sexuality were divided by gender. The preoccupation with decreasing women’s lust is mirrored by the desire to increase men’s. Herbs aimed at increasing men’s lust and fixing the ‘infirmities’ of their ‘virile member’ are scattered throughout. This contrasts with magical aphrodisiacs, which are often aimed at women, and anaphrodisiacs, which are aimed at men.

Part of 05-10 Health, Magic, and Gendered Power in pre-Modern Scandinavia and Russia, Friday, November 03, 10:30 am–12:30 pm