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Hermaphrodites and the medical invention of sex

Medical History
Cambridge University Press
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Book Reviews extent this may be attributable to the very different situation in Scandinavia: Ottesen- Jensen ("Ottar" to her friends and colleagues) was operating in smaller and far more socially homogenous countries than the UK or the USA, lacking in particular the powerful Roman Catholic lobby against which both Stopes and Sanger had to struggle. There is also, of course, a belief that the Nordic countries were far more sexually enlightened far earlier than the countries to the south, an image which this account does not entirely bear out. Leftists and female reform groups may have been discussing sexual issues with a freedom seldom found in comparable Britain or American circles, none the less Ottesen-Jensen discovered that openly advocating ideas which were part of the sexology of the time caused her to be spat on while riding the streetcar in Bergen. The Lutheran State Church and dissenting Protestant sects opposed birth control while pronatalist conservatives argued that a populous nation was a strong nation. In her work as a radical joumalist and peripatetic lecturer Ottesen-Jensen uncovered a massive amount of sexual ignorance and suffering in supposedly enlightened Scandinavia. Linder's book has retrieved an enormous amount of information, so much so that at times the reader is in danger of being bogged down in minutiae, and some passages read as if too literally translated from a Scandinavian original. The chapters on the internal machinations of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, while illuminating the rather different ideas about the role it should play among the European stalwarts of the birth control movement and those of the USA, perhaps do not entirely succeed in blending organizational and personal history. In spite of the amount of detail, there are a number of gaps. Much of Ottesen-Jensen's personal life remains shrouded in mystery. Her autobiography, written when she was nearly eighty, evaded such painful topics as the tragic history of her sister Magnhild, whose be

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