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Learn More. Simply put, eugenics was the science of improving human breeding based upon theories of heredity. It was a novel way of applying science to the regulation of sexual reproduction in the lateth and 20th centuries.
Eugenicists proposed that this new science, based on Lamarckian or Mendelian theories of heredity, could be used to improve the quality of humans. Early scholars claimed that the eugenic movement ended in the s and s once the general public became aware of past Nazi abuses of eugenics and as advances in genetic science debunked the science of eugenics. More recently, by demonstrating that eugenic ideas and language were shared by a wide variety of social groups and were put into practice in a variety of ways well into the s and s, historians have broadened the scope of what we can label eugenic endeavors; reinterpreted the seeming inconsistencies in eugenicists' long-term careers; and described the persistence of eugenic efforts well.
Instead of advocating for political or institutional measures to facilitate eugenic improvements, these postwar era eugenicists targeted laypeople and promoted normative and unequal gender roles within marriage as a means to maintain stable, reproductive family relations. They believed that children raised in stable, two-parent homes were less likely to become juvenile delinquents and adult criminals, and that monogamy and matrimony were indicative of moral advancement in a democratic nation.
After more than four centuries of Spanish colonization, Cubans had fought for and all but won independence in only to have the U. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, top elected Cuban officials were backed by the U. S, and Cubans enacted U. In addition to political interference, strategic investment in Cuban economy by private U. For all purposes, byindependence from Spain had quickly evolved into a neo-colonial Girls seeking sex mesa Climax with the U. The new government, headed by either the strong influence or by elected leadership of Batista, made various legal and social reforms throughout the s and early s, and it appeared that great strides were being made towards the construction of a sincere democracy.
I explore these physicians' efforts to take up the slack of what they perceived to be a government ill-equipped and unmotivated to efficiently address what was widely touted to be Cuba's divorce problem. These medical professionals focused on divorce, connecting it directly to issues of female frigidity and marital sexual felicity. They argued that sexually compatible couples would be less inclined towards divorce and thus, the institution of the family and the Cuban Girls seeking sex mesa Climax would be saved from its purported spiraling downfall.
Medical professionals were sure that their own scientific work, not the passage of inefficient and misguided laws, would stem the rising tide of divorce. Arce, and thirty-eight physicians-in-training studying at the University of Havana in the late s and early s illuminate the construction of scientific expertise about the widely debated national issue of divorce. While the eugenicist and sexologist saturated the Cuban public with their opinions via mass media publications and radio broadcasts, the medical students wrote for a more particular and perhaps exacting audience: their professors.
Although their audiences were drastically different, their conclusions were strikingly similar: female sexuality was the key to stemming divorce in Cuba. These medical professionals' diminishing interest in and reduced dependence upon the State to promote their agendas and new interest in the layperson as a vehicle for eugenics is evidence of the persistence of the eugenics movement in postwar Cuba and the evolution of its meaning through the mid-twentieth century. An understanding of broader concerns in Cuban society during this period helps to situate these medical professionals' preoccupation with the gender, family, and sexuality.
Lawmakers revamped the nation's legal structures by revising the civil and penal codes and writing and enacting an entirely new Cuban constitution. While much of the reform movement was aimed at reorganizing existing political structures and creating new democratic ones, it was also intended to redress social inequalities regarding race, gender, sexual honor that had been written into law while under Spanish rule and that had remained unchanged despite independence from Spain. During this period, legislators inserted new clauses in the constitution and revised the civil and penal codes in order to reform the regulation of marriage, divorce, sexual propriety, and sexual honor.
Historian K. Lynn Stoner compelling casts these social reforms as the legislation of morality.
Professionals went to great effort to publicize their concerns in popular magazines and newspapers. Much of the public alarm about family and women's rejection of their traditional role of mother and wife was a reaction the extension of legal rights for women and women's increased participation in public life, i.
Throughout the s and s, feminists were active public advocates for women's and children's rights and for more equitable gender relations in the domestic and labor arenas. Laws that upheld unequal treatment based upon gender were challenged Girls seeking sex mesa Climax removed, as laws ensuring more equitable gender relations such as women's right to vote were enacted.
Of course women had always worked, especially in the informal sectors, but changes in the types of women who worked and the types of work they engaged in i. The dramatic changes in legal structures and in daily life during this period aled to many Cubans a disruption of the patriarchal norm. Legal and professional life reoriented in an effort to make sense of these changes and address some of what were made out to be problems that afflicted Cuban society.
For many, the institution of the family was a barometer of the state of the nation, and the rapid deterioration of democratic governance in the latter half of the Second Cuban Republic legitimated medical professionals' intense focus on marital sexuality as means to discourage divorce during this time. Cuban eugenicists were, of course, deeply influenced by the social changes occurring at this time in Cuba in particular, as well as by the larger shifts and changes in the eugenics movement in general.
The majority of the Girls seeking sex mesa Climax on Latin American eugenics to date emphasizes Latin Americans' overall rejection of racist eugenics and highlights Latin Americans' focus on gender, motherhood, and pronatalism during the first wave of the eugenic movement, However, Stepan depicts Cuban eugenics as an atypical Latin American case, situating Cuban eugenics, in the s in particular, closer to Mendelian and harsh eugenics that characterizes much of eugenics in the U. In contrast to most manifestations of Latin American eugenics, Stepan believes that Cuba's geographical proximity to the U.
As Stepan and Bronfman both demonstrate, some Cuban eugenicists were indeed motivated by racism and racist ideology. Thinking about eugenics and race is Cuba is particularly intriguing and important for many reasons, including the pluri-racial makeup of the population; its history of independence in which anticolonial and antiracism movements were inextricably intertwined; and the valorization and integration of Afrocubanism into nationalist culture in the ss.
This may be because the primary sources I used were for the most part published works distributed widely throughout Cuba and transcripts of radio broadcasts in which the medical professionals were unlikely or unable to express racist views openly even if they did indeed have them. It proved to be difficult to identify racism in my investigations of these documents.
There are of course many reasons to be attuned to the silencing of race within eugenic discourse, but for the purposes of this study I leave explorations of race and eugenics during this period to future research. Finally, by focusing on a specific group of physicians, this essay does not describe the efforts of social scientists who were influenced by the eugenics movement and who theorized prolifically about the connections between race and sexuality during the period under study. These social scientists' work included descriptions of the links between delinquency, sexual promiscuity, and race in people of color.
Taking a cue from the concerns of scholars of the U. Cuban eugenics should not be labeled as essentially racist; instead, if we broaden our understanding of eugenics, it is clear that, as in the U. In this essay, I detail more of the actors involved in promoting and practicing Cuban eugenics, specifically afterand I investigate the particular ways that different eugenic ideologies and practices affected Cuban society. In the s, s, and s, medical professionals embarked on an intense campaign to educate Cuban laypeople about human sexuality during this period using the mass media to publish in periodicals and newspapers, and to host seminars, conferences, film screenings, and broadcast radio shows.
Chelala and Arce's shared an overarching goal to promote widespread sexual education throughout Cuba. I also examine the work of various physicians-in-training, medical students enrolled in the School of Medicine of the University of Havana in the late s and early s, who wrote theses on eugenic topics to fulfill the requirements of their academic programs.
Beginning in the early s, Chelala began to cultivate relationships with numerous international figures active in the eugenics movement, corresponding with figures such as Margaret Sanger, head of the American Birth Control League; Paul Popenoe, U.
Saavedra, head of the Mexican Eugenics Society. He sustained many of these connections and relationships for decades. Chelala's tireless activism made him a well-recognized public figure in Cuba. As an obstetrician and gynecologist, Chelala served in public Maternal and Infant Centers in Havana, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Havana, and ran a private practice. He began to direct his work towards Cuban laypeople in the late s. Chelala also communicated with the public by writing advice columns in magazines and by reading aloud and answering letters from his readers on his radio shows.
Additionally, Chelala often wrote back to people who wrote to him and saved copies of his Girls seeking sex mesa Climax. Physician Angel C. Arce called himself a sexologist not a eugenicist. The most important venue for Arce's outreach efforts, however, was his Institute of Sexology in Havana. Another function of the Institute of Sexology was to hold educational lectures that were open to the public for a small fee. During his lectures, Arce showed films that he had obtained from the American Social Hygiene Association.
Arce also offered three months-long sex-education courses that met on Saturdays and Sundays, presumably so that working Cubans could attend. Arce advertised that in these courses he would explain sexuality using various educational methods: not only film screenings, but also visits to hospitals, insane asylums, leprosy sanitariums, beaches, gardens, etc. While the third group of medical professionals under scrutiny in this study did not seek a broad audience for their work, the theses about sexuality and marital felicity that these medical students wrote to fulfill a formal requirement for their training at the University of Havana provide a unique perspective on eugenics during this period.
Public alarm about the rise in divorce in Cuba and the increasing public acceptance of the scientific study of human sexuality set the scene for at least thirty-eight medical students in the School of Medicine at the University of Havana to write their doctoral theses on topics such as female frigidity and male impotence. In their theses, students reported with meticulous detail the physiological processes of males and females engaged in heterosexual sexual activity. It appears that the students did not conduct clinical trials or gather empirical data; instead, their theses were based on information culled from secondary sources.
From the citations in their bibliographies, most of these students' knowledge about the physiological Girls seeking sex mesa Climax anatomical aspect of human sexuality came from European and U. Costler and A. Willy, Havelock Ellis, A. Gregorio Delgado, Kinsey's work did not seem to have much impact on Cuban scholars at the time because it was not well-received by Catholic leaders.
Although it appears that many of the students plagiarized one another's work or secondary sources, their theses are nonetheless important components in the history of Cuban eugenics. The thirty-eight theses reviewed are just a few of over two thousand-six hundred theses written in Havana in These thirty-eight theses fulfilled a briefly implemented requirement for graduation from the University of Havana Medical School, a requirement that was terminated in Second, the very existence of these theses indicates that some Cubans considered it appropriate for medical students to study topics such as female frigidity as a cause of divorce.
Third, the different sources that these young Cuban physicians chose to use or to disregard tells something about which sexologists and eugenicists influenced Cuban medical professionals, as well as suggests the parameters of the Cuban eugenic movement as a part of a larger global phenomena. Most importantly, these texts often contained introductions in which the students relayed their personal convictions and rationales concerning the importance of these topics.Girls seeking sex mesa Climax
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Sex and the Ordinary Cuban: Cuban Physicians, Eugenics, and Marital Sexuality in the s and s