NL 2004/07

Käthe Kollwitz (1867 – 1945) on the front page of a 1913 leaflet 'Love – without unwanted children!', Bidet, 'fling sperm out of the vagina' (Friedrich Eduard Bilz, 1900)





Dear friends of the Museum of Contraception and Abortion,


Many artists have dealt with ‘abortion’ and many more will do so. A prominent example from our collection is a charcoal drawing by German painter Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945). This drawing is on the front page of a 1913 leaflet Love – without unwanted children! Which was used to market The means for preventing unwanted conception and pregnancy.

Käthe Kollwitz was born into a family with many children. Her marriage to poor people’s physician Karl Kollwitz brought her into close contact with the misery and poverty of Berlin workers between WW1 and WW2.

In 1924 she designed a poster Down with the abortion clauses, in opposition to article 218 of Germany’s criminal code (Reichsstrafgesetzbuch) of 1.1.1872. “A pregnant woman aborting her fruit or killing it in her own body will be prosecuted with up to 5 years in jail.” At the congress of the Association of German Physicians in 1928 it was estimated that approximately 80,000 abortions occur annually. As a consequence of these unsafe abortions 10,000 women were dying and about 50,000 women suffered serious damage to their health.


###

Do you have a bidet in your bathroom? The true purpose of the bidet is documented only as a joke: “An American tourist discovers a bidet in her Paris hotel bathroom. She asks the maid: “Oh, how lovely – is this to wash the babies in?" – The French hotel employee answers smilingly: "No, Madame - this is to wash the babies out!"

Bidets (seat-basins) were already known in antique times; Greek marriage contracts stipulate that they had to be available for vaginal rinsing before and after coitus. Modern development started early in the 18th century, but was held back for quite a while in America and England for moral reasons. As recently as 1900 New York’s posh Ritz Hotel had to destroy its bidets immediately after installation because of pressure from guardians of morality.

In older times, vaginal rinsing had to be done using an irrigator called a ‘mother’s syringe’. After the introduction of piped water at the beginning of 20th century, the first bidets offering a spray of water for vaginal rinsing (called an Unterdusche) were manufactured. The pill and other safe contraception methods introduced in the sixties, finally put an end to this ineffective may of “emergency contraception” and sales of bidets decreased significantly, especially those with ’Unterduschen‘.

Even in catalogues of sanitary products the true purpose of bidets was hidden though very rarely you can guess it from a product’s name, for example Protektor.

If you are able to donate an old bidet to the museum please contact us! mailto:info@muvs.org


###


”To fling sperm out of the vagina is common in Hungary and Austria. Straightening up immediately after intercourse the woman spreads her legs and through wiggling movements of her body tries to throw male sperm out with a forceful flip.“

This interesting method of contraception was recounted by Saxonian health reformer and promoter of natural medicine Friedrich Eduard Bilz (1842-1922) in his book The new naturopathic treatment - a textbook and reference book of natural treatment and healthcare (Das neue Naturheilverfahren – Lehr- und Nachschlagebuch der naturgemäßen Heilweise und Gesundheitspflege) from around 1900.


Even Berlin’s ’Father of Sexology‘ Iwan Bloch (1872-1922) had heard about this technique, but in his book Sexual life of our time in relation to modern culture (Das Sexualleben unserer Zeit in seinen Beziehungen zur modernen Kultur) he placed its origin somewhere else: „In Italy and New-Guinea some women post coitus remove the sperm from their vagina using the action of their muscles together with powerful body movements.“

Unnecessary to say that living in Vienna, we never heard about this method.


###


With a number of interesting new objects having already been donated, we are still happy to receive any objects for the planned Museum for Contraception and Abortion, such as films, posters, leaflets, books, documents, statistics, devices and instruments for contraception, for pregnancy-testing and for abortion - from past and present times, from locally and elsewhere.

You can also support us by sponsoring the purchase of objects which otherwise we would not be able to finance.


#####