Nineteenth Century popular belief–wholly supported by Medical Doctors’ and scientists’ claims–genuinely believed that educating females in the same manner as males invited an entire host of disastrous results. Those terrifying results included everything from destruction to the woman’s reproductive system, mental breaks (yes, insanity!), and a long list of physical diseases. Because the vast majority believed these consequences to be true, women weren’t allowed to seek education in a male-dominated classroom. The battle over co-education continued long after the late 19th Century for these reasons. Not only was the woman’s mind and body at terrible risk, should she be educated like a male, but everyone knew a female mind couldn’t take in significant learning.
It’s no surprise in today’s environment that women (and men) can choose any color hair they desire, piercings and tattoos at will, and permanent makeup (tattooed eyeliner and lip-liner). I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn today’s plastic surgeons offer dimple surgery to create the desirable feature Mother Nature forgot to grant. What shocked me was the inventive Victorian who figured out how to artificially bring about dimples.
The Doctor Wore Petticoats speaks of 12 different physicians (two of them dentists), their stories, their reasons for pursuing a career in medicine, the school(s) attended, tales of their families (and marriages, many of which failed), and the communities they served. At a time in history when men and women alike adamantly opposed female doctors, the forces against these pioneers were tremendous. Each chapter’s biography illustrates characteristics of perseverance, determination, confidence, and a lifelong dream of making a difference. 5 stars!
I’ve shared many quotes (with sources) from the Victorian Era shedding light on the attitudes and expectations of men (and women) regarding females most suited (or not) to the institution of marriage.