The following transcript of a speech given at the Ladies’ Botany Society of Philadelphia in 1874 was believed to have been lost until it was discovered last month in the attic of a house scheduled for demolition. It has been reprinted here in full for the first time, courtesy of the Lady Doctors of Pennsylvania Association.
Honored ladies of the symposium, I thank you for your invitation to speak today. I shall begin my address with no further overtures. The male of the species is perhaps more to be pitied than censured, as it is his physical inability to complete a normal, healthy menstrual cycle that is the root cause of so many of his woeful ailments.
As scientists have discovered, it is the unhealthy retention of aged or “angry” blood (generally more than 2 to 3 months old) that leads to so much of the liver agitation and spinal rage that plague our modern society. The average woman, capable of storing and regularly releasing this blood through the act of menstruation, keeps herself in constant and excellent health, and should be commended for so doing [Pause for applause].
The reason that men — poor things — commit so many murders as a sex is likely due to their failure to slough off this overabundance of old blood through the regular act of menstruation (which not only clears the body of bad blood but also the mind of anti-vitamins, as scientists have so recently and effectively demonstrated). The average male body is so overstuffed with a surfeit of old blood that he may swell as much as six feet tall, which is a height both unnecessary and grotesque for human purposes. This male blood, which is generally unable to be regularly flushed out through the womb, must find some sort of outlet, lest it tumefy and cause the man to burst (a not uncommon sight, I am told, in parts of rural Germany), which I believe is what leads to knife fights and stabbings among men. This makeshift replacement for remedy is exceedingly dangerous, but it does perform the necessary –sometimes life-saving — act of bloodletting.
It has been noted anecdotally, though not yet in a laboratory setting, that many of these men display considerably more rational and intelligent brain-power after these impromptu pseudo-menstruations. Many of you, I know, have told me stories of your own husbands behaving nearly as prudently as yourselves for days after cutting themselves accidentally in the kitchen or coming to blows outside of a public house. It remains to be seen, therefore, whether we as a group can seize upon a more regulated and humane system of replicating the effects of menstruation in our poor masculine counterparts. Imagine how improved our society might be if someday we could teach men to menstruate blood from their own wombs! [Pause for laughter.]
[Unintelligible question from an audience member] It does not seem to me to be altogether necessary to obtain the male opinion on the subject. Do we ask the dog if he prefers a place by the fire before offering him one? Is not their improvement a mutual goal of both of the sexes?
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.