1892: Dr Morris: “Nature is trying to abolish the clitoris”

Robert T. Morris was an American physician of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Morris had a busy practice on Madison Avenue and was considered an expert on sexual, reproductive and gynaecological matters.

Like many doctors of his era, Morris was an advocate of clitoridectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the clitoris as a treatment for masturbation, hysteria and female depression. He considered the clitoris a redundant organ that caused more trouble than its worth:

“The clitoris is a little electric button which [when pressed] rings up the whole nervous system… a very common factor in invalidism in young women.”

Morris also made the extraordinary claim that the clitoris was dying out, at least in white women. While still pronounced in primates and African-American females, “in about 80 per cent of all Aryan American women” the organ was concealed by genital folds; as a consequence it was undeveloped and too easily aroused or irritated. From this Morris concluded that:

“Nature is trying to abolish the clitoris as civilisation advances. The degenerative process… is characteristic of the civilised type of homo sapiens.”

Source: Dr Robert T Morris, writing in Transactions of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, vol. 5, 1892. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.