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Kaupstaðarsótt og freyjufár: Orðræða um kynheilbriðgi og kynsjúkdóma í Reykjavík 1886-1940

Höfundur:
Birtist í
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Ártal:
2018
Bls:
bls. 83-116
DOI:
Undir lok nítjándu aldar vöknuðu miklar áhyggjur og umræða um flutning kvenna frá sveitum til kaupstaða og allra helst til Reykjavíkur. Var þetta kallað „kaupstaðasótt“. Umræðan snerist ekki síst um kynferðislega hegðun þessara kaupstaðakvenna sem var talin einkennast af almennu lauslæti og jafnvel vændi með erlendum mönnum. Þetta var talið ýta undir kynsjúkdómasmit og vera þar með ógn við heilbrigði þjóðarinnar. Læknar blönduðu sér í málið með fordæmandi orðræðu sem beindist ekki síst að þessum konum. Í þessari grein er fjallað um orðræðu lækna, skólapilta og götublaða um kynheilbrigði í Reykjavík frá því seint á nítjándu öld fram að hernámi og hún sett í samhengi við rannsóknir á sögu kynverundar á Vesturlöndum á þessu tímabili.
The Town Disease and The Madness of Freyja: The discourse of sexual health and venereal disease in Reykjavik 1886–1940 In the final years of the 19th century, Icelandic women started migrating in large numbers from the countryside to the coastal towns, especially Reykjavik. This migration was sometimes called the ‘Town Disease’ in the press. This article argues that this ‘disease’ was essentially conceived of as sexual in nature. It was feared that the towns, Reykjavik most of all, were hotbeds of venereal disease, as places of contact and contagion between Iceland and the outside world, between the purity of the agricultural iceland of the past and the corruption of its increasingly urbanised present. The article analyses the discourse of the ‘Town Disease’ found in three kinds of sources, which together give an unusual insight into icelanders’ thoughts and ideologies on sex and sexuality. These are written from the late 19th century to the 1930s. They are the annals of the students of the reykjavik Latin school, handwritten, unofficial and semi-secret accounts of school life; the public and semi-public writing of icelandic doctors; and the pages of the new yellow press which came into being in reykjavik in the 1930s. In these sources, we can see how the fear of venereal disease, especially syphilis, was connected to the growth of reykjavik and the sexual conduct of its women. Venereal disease was seen as a foreign influence, brought to Iceland mostly by foreign, sometimes by Icelandic, sailors. These functioned as the carriers of the disease and corruption of the large mainland city to Reykjavik, Iceland's closest equivalent to such a place. Icelandic women who were infected with venereal diseases were suspected of prostitution with foreigners and loose morals. During the 1920s and the 1930s, action was taken against the spread of these diseases with laws passed in Parliament and prophylactic measures taken by the Directorate of health. In the streets, Icelandic Nazis attacked a Reykjavik café, claiming it to be the centre of the epidemic. This mode of discourse presages the one later used, after the British occupation in 1940, to condemn, attack and control icelandic women who were thought to sleep with British soldiers. In this manner, the ‘Town Disease’ can be seen as part of the formation of icelandic national identity and an important topic in Iceland's history of sexuality.