Frigidity at the Fin de Siècle in France: a Slippery and Capacious Concept

University of Texas Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of the History of Sexuality, 2010, 19 (2), pp. 243 - 261
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To take feminine sexual frigidity as an object of study across the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries is not just a historically demanding task but a conceptually challenging endeavor. The terms froideur (coldness) and frigidité (frigidity) in French literary texts, medical treatises, and psychoanalytic writing were, by contrast with the imagined sexual organs of the female subjects identified in these terms, remarkably slippery. This article will not attempt to trace that long history in detail but will take cognizance of it while examining one of its key moments. Our focus here will be on the construction of feminine frigidity in French texts at the turn of the twentieth century as exemplified by the work of the popular medical writer Jean Fauconney (also known as Caufeynon or Dr. Jaf).
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