Punch,  58 (1870), 113.

Asclepius His Daughters

Celsus Excelsior


Letter, Spoof


Gender, Medical Practitioners, Government

    The writer informs Mr Punch of a recent meeting at London in which Dr Drysdale spoke on 'Medicine as a Profession for Women' and urged ladies to petition the government to introduce a bill to allow women to gain a license to practice medicine. Notes Emily Faithfull's argument that there should not be any opposition to this move as it would allow women to 'return to a work which was essentially womanly', and Elizabeth Garrett's warning that women must 'become proficient in the healing art' and 'devote many years to perseverance and study' before they can enter the medical profession. Points out that the need for 'perseverance and study' will prevent most women from entering the medical profession and thus preclude any need for opposition to the movement. However, the author argues that women should be encouraged to enter 'every secular profession' for which they may be qualified, including law, the army and chimney sweeping. Insists that 'Women are no more unfitted to practise medicine than they are to practise music. True we have no female Handels, Mozarts, and Beethovens. Neither are we likely to have a female Harvey, Hunter, or Abernethy. Women do not originate things. But it is quite possible we may have a female Sydenham, Halford, or even a female Cooper'. Believes medical science might help 'leaven' women and thus end advertisements for corsets, 'low dresses in high life and high latitudes', death from bronchitis and consumption, and 'domestic quackery'. Points out that while the medical profession would be a 'resource' for a 'clever girl' who wishes to 'live single' and to have a 'soul' and 'body' of her own, it would not debar her from matrimony. On the contrary, such a woman would be attractive to a medical man, and to a non-medical man who wants advice about his illnesses.

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