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Citizen BacchaeWomen's Ritual Practice in Ancient Greece$
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Barbara Goff and Terence Taylor

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520239982

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520239982.001.0001

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Ritual Management of Desire

Ritual Management of Desire

The Reproduction of Sexuality

Chapter:
(p.77) Two Ritual Management of Desire
Source:
Citizen Bacchae
Author(s):

Barbara Goff

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520239982.003.0003

According to Greek medical writers' notion of female identity, women are figured predominantly as containers, and the sign of excess that governs their sexuality is shifted to the physiological plane, where femaleness is perceived as a problem in the management of liquids such as blood, milk, and semen. Women's contentment in sexual intercourse is acknowledged but is carefully delineated as dependent on men, to be harnessed and disciplined in the interests of healthy conception and pregnancy. The Greek woman was constantly subjected to bodily practices over which she exercised limited physical or social control given the cultural impossibility of reaching adulthood without experience of marriage and repeated pregnancies. On the other hand, the ritual sphere of Greeks does not simply reflect the construction of gender that is undertaken in other spheres, but actively participates in it.

Keywords:   physiological plane, containers, conception, pregnancy, adulthood

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