By E. Mancini
This quantity is the 1st full-length research on pioneering sexologist and sexual rights activist, Magnus Hirschfeld, that examines his influence at the politics and tradition of overdue nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Germany and the price of his rationalist humanist technique for modern debates on sexual rights.
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Extra info for Magnus Hirschfeld and the Quest for Sexual Freedom: A History of the First International Sexual Freedom Movement
In many of his writings, Hirschfeld warned against the dangers of alcoholism and in certain instances discouraged alcoholics from reproducing because of the damage it caused to sperm cells. It is important to note that the eugenic aspect of this admonishment was devoid of any racial implications. Hirschfeld was far from being in any sort of minority in expressing concerns about alcoholism, given the currency of Lamarckian theories (the notion that acquired traits could be genetically transmitted) and ubiquity of the discourses on social health in Wilhelmine Germany—a period that was marked by deep and sweeping cultural and economic shifts due to the country’s late industrial revolution.
There can be no doubt that the Naturalist critique of alcoholism and its espousal of hereditary theory, articulated through these plays’ powerful portrayals of the ravages of substance abuse, poverty, as well as the social stigma of disease, were seen as relevant and compelling to Hirschfeld’s social causes and scientific theories, which will be discussed in the following section. Further, as someone who strongly supported women’s rights, the reconfigurations of womanhood and the challenges to traditional gender roles found in Naturalist drama must have spoken to Hirschfeld’s heart.
77 While these movements echoed many of Hirschfeld and Forel’s concerns about health and disease, the views upheld by many practitioners of the life reform movement departed from both of these scientists through their reactionary implications. Although the life reform movement promoted an alternative healthy life style that is in many ways akin to contemporary discourse on holistic living, it also frequently positioned itself in opposition to modern civilization, urbanization, industrialization and medical 24 H I R S C H F E L D A N D T H E Q U E S T F O R S E X UA L F R E ED O M science.