He also says that the menstruating women in Cappadocia were perambulated about the fields to preserve the vegetation from worms and caterpillars. According to Flemming, menstrual blood was believed to be so powerful that the mere touch of a menstruating woman would render vines and all kinds of fruit-trees sterile.
Among a very large section of the women of the middle and lower classes of England and other countries it is firmly believed that the touch of a menstruating woman will contaminate; only a few years since, in the course of a correspondence on this subject in the British Medical Journal , even medical men were found to state from personal observation that they had no doubt whatever on this point.
Another correspondent writes to me: "The prohibition that a menstruating woman must not touch meat that is intended for keeping appears to be common all over the country; at least I have met with it as a confirmed and active custom in widely separated parts of England.... It is in regard to the salting of meat for bacon that the prohibition is most usual, because that is the commonest process; but it exists in regard to any meat food that is required to be kept."
The mother added that at the time when the incident with the brother happened, the patient was menstruating and that this ceased at once. At home she sat about inactive and did not seem even to worry. Whenever any one asked her about her brother she replied that he was dead. For two weeks before admission she said she was rich, that she owned all the property around.
Such is the custom requiring all boys and uninitiated young men to sleep at some distance from the huts of the adults, and to remove altogether away in the morning as soon as daylight dawns, and the natives begin to move about. This is to prevent their seeing the women, some of whom may be menstruating; and if looked upon by the young males, it is supposed that dire results will follow.
Woodruff describes a child who began to menstruate at two years of age and continued regularly thereafter. At the age of six years she was still menstruating, and exhibited beginning signs of puberty. She was 118 cm. tall, her breasts were developed, and she had hair on the mons veneris.
Believing menstruation to be the natural means of exit of the feminine bodily impurities, the ancients always thought a menstruating woman was to be shunned; her very presence was deleterious to the whole animal economy, as, for instance, among the older writers we find that Pliny remarks: "On the approach of a woman in this state, must will become sour, seeds which are touched by her become sterile, grass withers away, garden plants are parched up, and the fruit will fall from the tree beneath which she sits."
Thus, one doctor, who expressed surprise that any doubt could be thrown on the point, wrote, after quoting cases of spoiled hams, etc., presumed to be due to this cause, which had come under his own personal observation: 'For two thousand years the Italians have had this idea of menstruating women. We English hold to it, the Americans have it, also the Australians.
This is to prevent their seeing the women, some of whom may be menstruating; and if looked upon by the young males, it is supposed that dire results will follow."
A feebly menstruating woman with flat breasts and coarse skin cannot be expected to have strong reproductive instincts, since she is largely masculine in type..." The glandular and quantitative explanation of sex, instead of being abstruse and complicated, brings the subject in line with the known facts about inheritance generally.