OK, excuse the title of this. Spent ages trying to combine the words Vaginismus and History and this is the best I could do.
SO! A history lesson this morning. Yesterday, I found myself deep in the heart of the internet. You know those days? You google 'how to change a tire' and suddenly find yourself reading about the world's most poisonous eel or whatever. Thanks Wikipedia, for wasting 6 hours of my life but also for enlightening me.
Anyway, yesterday, I can't remember my original google search but I found myself watching a little film about Queen Elizabeth the first of England. Now, my British history is really, really bad but I do know a little bit about Elizabeth. She was the one who ordered Mary Queen of Scots to have her head chopped off, and as a Scot myself, I studied that particular story to death in school. Elizabeth was clearly the villain. That is what I knew of her. She was a total cow. Oh, and I also knew that she allegedly died a virgin. Elizabeth the first is affectionately remembered as 'The Virgin Queen'.
Now, there's lot's of discussion and rumour about whether she was or was not a virgin, and if so why she had remained unmarried and child-free (Sound familiar ladies?? Poor Elizabeth! Leave her alone!) After reading about it for a little while and getting mighty suspicious, I googled 'Queen Elizabeth 1 vaginismus'. And, lo and behold, I found an article which said this:
Elizabeth may have also had a devastating secret, suggesting that she had less choice in the matter. The playwright Ben Jonson talked about the queen having “a membrane on her which made her incapable of man.” This could mean she had an abnormally thick hymen, or that she was debilitated by vaginismus, which makes the vaginal muscles tight, rendering the sufferer unable to have normal sex.
The full article is here by the way, in case you like Royal mysteries: http://listverse.com/2015/06/22/10-mysteries-and-secrets-surrounding-british-royalty/
Now, I haven't dug around enough to know how the playwright Ben Johnson ACTUALLY knew this, but it does sound a little bit familiar to me... My vaginismus radar is glowing...
And poor Elizabeth was a prime candidate for vaginismus. Her father was everyone's favourite chauvinist Henry V111, the guy who married six different women and beheaded the ones who couldn't provide him with sons. Her mother died when she was two years old, and she she spent her life observing her father mistreating his consequent wives. She was not provided with a healthy view of women, relationships and sex.
Could Queen Elizabeth 1 be our vaginismus poster girl?
Obviously we'll never know. But it is interesting. And interesting to think how many other women throughout history have suffered a condition in silence. I often look at famous people and wonder... Could she have it? Would a 'celebrity' ever speak out about having this condition?
We can speculate, and wonder, and dream of a day when we don't have to speculate and wonder. But. for now, let's raise a goblet of ale to Elizabeth, our potential vaginismus sister, and our Virgin Queen.
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