Do Women Need to Become “Hot” to Conceive?
by James Tabor
This fascinating article in yesterday’s New York Times, “The Medieval Roots of Todd Aiken’s Theories,” by Jennifer Tucker, associated professor of History and Science at Wesleyan University is not to be missed.
As it turns out the latest views of Todd Aiken, and many others who apparently agree with him, that women who are “truly” raped do not get pregnant, are quite at home in the Ancient and Medieval world:
In the Aristotelian world, hot was better than cold. Men, who had the heat to make seed, were superior to women, who lacked such heat. Girls purportedly came from weak seed, boys from strong seed. If sexual intercourse resulted in female orgasm, her seed became hotter and more refined, therefore conception took place.
Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century nun and notable mystic expanded on this Aristotelian idea, arguing that women who became pregnant could not have been raped:
When a woman is making love with a man, a sense of heat in her brain, which brings with it sensual delight, communicates the taste of that delight during the act and summons forth the emission of the man’s seed.
“By the 13th century, in legal terms, women who were raped and became pregnant were presumed not to have been raped,” says Prof. Tucker.