Gentle sir, there’s a simple cure:
On our final day of Quack Week, we have Isaac Baker Brown, Victorian gynecologist and the worst.
Isaac Baker Brown was born in 1811 in Essex, to a farmer and a schoolmaster’s daughter. After an apprenticeship with a surgeon, he skipped off to study at a London hospital and specialized in lady complaints and midwifery. After marrying the year before, he hung up his shingle in 1834.
What Baker Brown is especially known for is his love of the clitoridectomy. The problem with women with clitorises, he found, was that sometimes they masturbated. Masturbation, as we all well know, is the cause of all sorts of horrific medical maladies. Epilepsy? Yep. Catalepsy? You know it. Infertility? Obviously. Idiocy? Gal will be reading that Bible straight through after an appointment with Dr Baker Brown. And if you’ve ever said to the world, “Bitches be crazy,” rest assured, masturbation was the cause. You know what? Best murder that little man in the boat.
That’s why in 1858, he opened up the London Surgical Home for Women to focus on clitoridectomies and other lady procedures. He wrote books about it where he claimed a success rate of 70%, so you know he was legit.
However, Victorian-era doctors may have been ignorant, but they weren’t idiots. Some objected to the clitoridectomies, thinking it would be the equivalent of removing a man’s penis. Others were skeptical that a surgery could fix ‘nervous’ diseases. Still others raised an eyebrow over the sheer number of afflictions Baker Brown claimed the clitoridectomy could cure.
Even further scrutiny came from the Lunacy Commission on account of the fact his establishment wasn’t licensed to perform medical procedures for mental illnesses. Baker Brown denied that he had, even though that was a huge part of his claims of the incredible powers of the clitoridectomy.
The Obstetrical Society of London particularly objected to the fact that Baker Brown would frequently perform the operation without the consent of either the patient or her family. HE claimed they begged him to do it in secret, but they weren’t buying it. They kicked him out of their ranks in 1867 and trod his reputation into the mud. He promptly became an invalid and died in 1873.
(Did he consider undergoing a simple castration procedure to get back into fighting trim?)