‘Women are defective by nature.’ Those are the words of Aristotle (384-322 BC) in his work Generatione Animalum. The Greek philosopher considered women to be like men, but with the genital organs within their bodies. However, females were inferior to males because they are unable to produce semen.
Back in those ancient times, Aristotle thought that men were able to heat up the food they ate and change it into semen. Women weren’t. A lack of vital heat prevented them from being male (and was also the reason why they weren’t that intelligent). However, the women still had to get rid of their food and that’s why they menstruated every month; the blood was some kind of residue. Menstruation, which was seen as a difficult time when ‘a lesser sort of female semen’ was produced, was a clear sign of female inferiority.
Aristotle also had some strange ideas about reproduction. He thought that a child was produced only from the man’s seed; the woman’s body was merely a vessel which allowed it to grow. Therefore male semen had the power to generate, whereas women were considered a deviation from the ideal male model. Since they couldn’t produce real semen, they were as useless as infertile males.
His explanation: ‘Just as it sometimes happens that deformed offspring are produced by deformed parents, and sometimes not, so the offspring produced by a female are sometimes female, but sometimes not, but male. The reason is that the female is as it were a deformed male.’
Bleeding out the moisture: Hippocrates