Chapter 6: Sex Glands, Hormones, and Gender Chemistry
1. De Kruif 1945, pp. 225—26. De Kruif received his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan in 1916. Until the early 1920s he taught and practiced science in a university setting. His first book, Our Medicine Men, apparently got him fired from the Rockefeller Institute and he thereafter devoted himself to science writing. He provided Sinclair Lewis with the background for Lewis’s classic Arrowsmith (192 5). (See Kunitz and Haycraft 1942 for further biographical detail.) In a sense he contributed to the writing of this book, since his Microbe Hunters (1926) was among the many books my parents kept in our household as part of an ultimately successful plan to encourage both my brother and me to become scientists ourselves.
2. Quoted in Fausto-Sterling 1992b, pp. iio—ii.
3. See Wilson i966.
4. Oudshoorn i994, p. 9. Progesterone has been added to the estrogen pill to prevent possible increases in uterine cancer caused by estrogen alone.
5. De Kruif i945, pp. 86—87. Frank Lillie stated the same case in more sober fashion when he referred to testosterone as ‘‘the specific internal secretion of the testis’’ and estrogen as the ‘‘specific internal secretion of the cortex of the ovary.’’ He added: ‘‘As there are two sets of sex characters, so there are two sex hormones, the male hormone controlling the ‘dependent’ male characters, and the female determining the ‘dependent’ female characters’’
(Lillie I939, pp. Q ii).
6. Cowley i996,p. 68.
7. Angier i994, p. Ci3. See also Star-Telegram i999; France i999.
8. Sharpe i997; Hess et al. i997.
9. Angier i997a.
10. For a beautifully detailed history of reproductive science in the twentieth century, see Clarke i998.
ii. Again, I use the idea that most scientific choices are underdetermined— that is, the actual data do not completely mandate a particular choice between competing theories, thus enabling the sociocultural valence of a particular theory to contribute to its attractiveness. See, for example, Potter i989.
i2. I am indebted to Adele Clarke for pointing me to the sociological literature on social worlds. Sociologists use a ‘‘social worlds view’’ as a method of analyzing work organization, but here and in the following chapter I look instead at the implications for the production of scientific knowledge of studying the intersection of different social worlds. See Strauss 1978; Gerson 1983; Clarke 1990a; and Garrety 1997. Gerson defines social worlds as ‘‘activities carried out in common with respect to a particular subject or area of concern’’ (p. 339).
13. For more on castrati, see Heriot 1973. The eerie, tremulous voice of the last castrato known to have sung at the Vatican may be heard on the CD ‘‘Alessandro Moreschi: The Last Castrato, Complete Vatican Recordings’’ (Pavilion Records LTD, Pearl Opal CD 9823). Moreschi died in 1922. The original recordings are at the Yale University Collection of Historical Sound Recording.
14. Ehrenreich and English 1973; Dally 1991. From 1872 to 1906, 130,000 women had their ovaries removed. Among the crusaders who finally ended the practice of ovary removal was America’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell.
13. De Kruif 1943, pp. 33, 34. See also Berthold’s original publication (Berthold 1849).
16. Corner 1963.
17. Borell i976,p. 319.
18. Borell 1983.
19. Even in 1923, in their publication of what came to be seen as the definitive demonstration of a hormone produced by the ovarian follicles, Edgar Allen and Edward A. Doisey expressed skepticism: ‘‘There appears to be no conclusive evidence of either a definite localization of the hypothetic hormone or of the specific effect claimed for the commercial ovarian extracts in wide clinical use. The recent reviews of Frank and of Novak maybe cited to illustrate the well founded skepticism concerning the activity of commercial preparations’’ (Allen and Doisey i9 2 3,pp. 819—20).
Practicing gynecologists continued to push the point. Two Viennese practitioners, for example, reported that implanted ovaries could prevent the degeneration of the uterus, which otherwise followed removal of the female gonads.
20. The reevaluation resulted from new experimental approaches and the success of thyroid and adrenal extracts for treatment of certain forms of disease.
21. Quoted in Borell 1983 ,p. ii. By 1907, Schafer had also come around. In an address to the Pharmaceutical Society of Edinburgh he argued that ‘‘It mightbe. . . supposed that this arrested development of. . . accessory organs [i. e., degeneration of the uterus] is the result of the cutting off of nervous influences, which are carried by the testicular and ovarian nerves.’’ But, he went on, ‘‘the only rational explanation. . . is contained in the assumption that the grafted organ produces… an internal secretion, which by virtue of the hormones it contains . . . can materially influence the development and structure of distant parts.’’ Quoted in Borell 1985, pp. 13—14. See also Bor – ell 1978.
22. See Noble 1977; Sengoopta 1992, 1996, and 1998; Porter and Hall 1993; Cott i987.
23. On Europe, see Chauncey 1983, 1989, and 1994; D’Emilio and Freedman 1988; Sengoopta 1992. For an excellent Web site with information on the history of sexology, see http://www. rki. de/GESUND/ARCHIV/TES- THOM2.HTM, which is part of the Web site of the Robert Koch Institute in Germany.
For a discussion of the crisis and its relationship to American biology, see Pauly 1988 ,p. 126. For additional discussion of the construction of ideologies of masculinity in this period, see Halberstam 1998. See also Dubbert 1980.
24. Pauly 1987; Lunbeck 1994; Benson et al. 1991; Rainger et al. 1988; Noble 1977; Fitzpatrick 1990. For information on the origins of Rockefeller and Carnegie philanthropy, see chapter i of Corner 1964.
23. Sengoopta 1996, p. 466. For an account of the German women’s movement in this period see Thonnessen 1969. The crisis in masculinity was international. See Chauncey i989,p. 103.
26. Sengoopta 1996; Gilman 1994.
27. Sengoopta 1998.
28. On England, see Porter and Hall 1993. On the United States, see D’Emilio and Freedman 1988 and Chauncey 1989.
29. Nineteenth-century embryologists believed that, although they started from a common point, male embryos were more complex and better developed, while female differentiation was ‘‘only of a trivial kind.’’ Oscar Hertwig, quoted in Sengoopta 1992 ,p. 261.
30. Sengoopta 1992, 1996. See also Anderson 1996.
31. Carpenter 1909, pp. 16—17. The reproductive biologist Walter Heape suggested in 1913 that Carpenter’s worst fears of antagonism between the sexes had, in fact, been realized. Weininger published an algebraic formula to explain sexual attractions. He was not a fan of feminism and believed women to be by nature inferior to men. Carpenter was on the other side of the political fence, and he and his supporters derided the formulaic nature of Weininger’s work. Nevertheless, their biological theories were not so different. See Porter and Hall 1993.
33. Weir 1893, pp. 820, 823. Note that Weir’s biological theory differs from Weininger’s, but his metaphysics of gender is the same.
Other biologists, psychologists, and physicians also used the accusation of lesbianism to attack feminism. Dr. John Meagher, for example, wrote ‘‘the driving force in many agitators and militant women who are always after their rights, is often an unsatisfied sex impulse, with a homosexual aim. Married women with a completely satisfied libido rarely take an active interest in militant movements.’’ Quoted in Cott i987,p. 159.
34. In a Catch-22, pointing to talented women did not help anyone arguing that women and men have the same capabilities, since the counterargument would be that it was the male elements in their bodies that generated the talent.
35. For more on female masculinity in this period see, Halberstam 1998.
36. Marshall i9io, p. i. For more on Marshall and the significance of his text, see Borell 1985 and Clarke 1998.
37. As late as 1907, a great deal of scientific debate existed about just what the ovaries did. Did they affect the uterus? Were they responsible for menstrual cycles? Did they work via nervous connections? See Marshall’s experiments and literature review in Marshall and Jolly 1907.
38. Geddes and Thomson 1895, pp. 270—71. Geddes and Thomson also influenced sexual politics in America. One early sociologist based his Ph. D. thesis on their theories of metabolic differences between the sexes (Thomas 1907); Jane Addams turned their ideas to feminist use by insisting that modern civilization needed feminine skills with which nature had endowed women. For a discussion of the American scene, see Rosenberg 1982, pp. 36—43.
Marshall also turned to the latest hot science, citing, for example, the up and coming Thomas Hunt Morgan as an important source, thus showing that while he relied on those who had gone before, he was also forward-looking. Morgan founded the modern field of Mendelian genetics. He was among a small group of scientists who put American science on a modern footing. See Maienschein 1991.
39. Marshafl I9I0s pp. 655, 657.
40. Heape 1913. For more on Heape’s role from a sociological point of view, see Clarke i998.
41. Between 1905 and 1915, in U. S. cities large and small, more than 100,000 female garment workers went on strike. ‘‘Wage-earning women— most of them Jewish and Catholic immigrants—filled the streets of cities on picket lines, packed union halls, and marched in parades, asking for economic justice. . . for an end to deadly sweatshop conditions. . . and some hours of leisure’’ (Cott i987,p. 23). The famous cry of the women strikers ‘‘Give Us Bread, ButGiveUs Roses’’ was revived and honored by feminists in the i970s. The implication was that for women the issue was not merely economic; it was about their social and sexual status as well.
42. Ida Wells Barnett’s anti-lynching campaign ran from i9i8 to i9 27. See Sterling i979.
43. My local favorite is that in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1910 Jewish immigrant housewives ‘‘declared war against the kosher butchers.’’ Quoted in Cott i987,p. 31.
44. Cott I987, p. 32.
43. Even sending them to jail did no good. From prison they staged hunger strikes, which brought on the specter of forced feeding. This only further insulted Victorian mores, which put a premium on treating women like ladies, something hard to square with stuffing a feeding tube down an unwilling throat.
46. Heape 1913 ,p. i. Heape originally trained as an embryologist. Hence the ideas of nineteenth-century embryology—that female development was less significant or difficult than male development— would have been familiar to him. He was also on the cusp of the new endocrinology, and thus did not incorporate it fully into his theories of gender. See Marshall 1929.
47. Heape i9i4,p. 210.
48. Heape borrows from Geddes and Thomson here: ‘‘The Male and the Female individual may be compared in various ways with the spermatozoa and ovum. The Male is active and roaming, he hunts for his partner and is an expender of energy; the Female is passive, sedentary, one who waits for her partner and is a conserver of energy’’ (Heape i9i3,p. 49).
49. Heape i9i4, p. ioi, io2. (This passage continues with a diatribe about why women should not try to overdevelop their masculine parts. It contains the usual: too much education, independence, public visibility, will lead to sterility, insanity, etc.)
30. Bell i9i6,p. 4; emphasis in the original.
31. See Dreger i998,pp. i38—66.
32. Bell writes: ‘‘The mental condition of a woman is dependent on her metabolism; and the metabolism itself is under the influence of the internal secretions’’ (Bell i9i6,p. ii8). Other quotes in paragraph from pp. i2o, i28, i29. Bell traces scientific views of woman as being driven by her uterus (van Helmont: Propter solum uterum mulier est quod est), to her ovaries (Virchow: Propter ovarium solum mulier est quod est), and finally to Bell’s new modification (Propter secretiones internas totas mulier est quod est) (p. i29). See also Porter and Hall i993.
33. For a summary of transplantation experiments done from the late i8oos until i907, see Marshall and Jolly i907.
34. Allen i973; Maienschein i99i; Sengoopta i998.
33. Hall i976; Sengoopta i998. Steinach also provoked considerable controversy with his Steinach Operation: in reality, nothing more than a vasectomy, which he claimed could rejuvenate aging men. It was an enormously popular operation, undergone by Sigmund Freud, W. B. Yeats, and many others. The historian Chandak Sengoopta describes the history of this moment: ‘‘The history of research on aging and its prevention, therefore, is not simply a story of quackery. Nor, of course, does it fit the stereotype of science as a purely rational activity. It is more realistic (and rewarding) to view it as a very human phenomenon, in which the fear of old age and death interacted with the modernist faith in science to open a strange but not necessarily irrational field of research’’ (Sengoopta i993,p. 63). See also Kammerer 1923.
36. For a list of his bibliography with titles and summaries in English, see Steinach 1940. This list may also be found on the World Wide Web: http:// www. rki. de/GESUND/ARCHIV/TESTHOM2 .HTM.
37. He repeated this phrase in many of his publications. But an early example of its use may be found in Steinach 1910, p. 366.
38. Steinach 1913a, p. 311. (‘‘Bekampfung der antagonistischen Wirkung der Sexualhormone” and ‘‘schroffe Antagonismus’)
39. Steinach 1912, 1913a.
60. Perhaps he found differences in guinea pigs because their organs were more developed at the time ofimplantation, and thus he could measure ovary – induced shrinkage. Nevertheless, at the time, ovarian effects differed in rats and guinea pigs. What requires explanation is why Steinach went for an overarching theory of hormone antagonism based on data that were still fuzzy. (Today, hormone researchers are aware that the timing of sexual development is very different in rats and guinea pigs, and could easily explain the differences in Steinach’s results.)
61. The Danish scientist Knut Sand explained his own similar results as ‘‘a kind of immunity of the normal organism from the heterological gland.” ‘‘These phenomena do not, I think, point so much to a real antagonism’’ (Sand 1919 ,p. 263). He offered a more detailed account of how this immunity might work. Steinach disputed Sand and, later, so did Moore. In an autobiography, written at the end of his life, Steinach cited Sand more favorably, but totally snubbed Moore.
62 . ‘‘I asked myself the question whether and within which borders this harsh antagonism of sex hormones could be influenced, e. g., could be weakened, and in my experiments I started from the assumptions that there should be a substantial difference if a gonad is transplanted into an animal which is also affected by its normal puberty glands, thus having its homologous hormones flow through it, or if the masculine and feminine gonads are put together in a previously neutered organism and from there, under equal and indeed equally unfavorable conditions of function and existence forced to battle it out. The results of the experiments to be described confirm the correctness of this assumption.’’ [Steinach 1913 ,p. 311; my translation]
63. IbidM p. 32o.
64 . Ibid., p. 322 .
63. Steinach 1940, p. 84.
66. At the time, nobody knew whether the gonads produced only one or several substances. Or that gonadal secretions were controlled, in turn, by the activity of the hypophysis (the neurosecretory portion of the pituitary). Indeed, the results were confusing, and Steinach never explained why sex antagonism seemed to disappear under these circumstances.
67. Steinach (1913b) also elaborates on the importance of this work for theories of human sexuality. He engages in dialogue with theorists of human sexuality such as Albert Moll, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Sigmund Freud, Iwan Bloch, and Magnus Hirschfeld. His suggestion that homosexuality can be attributed to secretions of female cells in the testes led to human transplants, mentioned earlier in this chapter.
68. Quoted in Herrn i993,p. 43.
69. The German sexologist and pioneer for homosexual rights, Magnus Hirschfeld, took to Steinach’s ideas like a duck to water. Hirschfeld had already placed the biological responsibility for homosexuality at the doorstep of hormones that he named andrin and gynacin. He wanted to confirm Steinach’s ideas by examining testicular tissue from homosexual men, but it was Steinach with Lichtenstern who performed the ultimate experiment (Herrn 1993, p. 43).
The donors in these experiments were ‘‘normal’’ men with undescended testes that required removal (Sengoopta 1998).
70. Herrn 1993. Additional material on Steinach may be found in Steinach 1940; Benjamin 1943; Schutte and Herman 1973; Schmidt 1984; and Sengoopta 1992, 1993, 1996, and 1998.
71. An editorial in The Lancet, for example, described Steinach’s experiments and wrote: ‘‘Around these findings the theory has been constructed that the products of internal testicular and ovarian secretion—that is, the specific reproductive hormones of the two sexes—are sharply antagonistic to one another. The conclusions want more evidence to back them’’ (anonymous 1917).
72. Lillie became an important member of a new generation of American-trained biologists devoted to the experimental life. He received his Ph. D. at the University of Chicago under the tutelage of C. O. Whitman, who founded the Zoology Department there. By the time he began his freemartin work, Lillie had become chairman of the same department, as well as a key figure at the Wood’s Hole Marine labs, through which many of the key players in embryology and genetics passed in this period.
Although from a modest middle-class home himself, Lillie had married Frances Crane, sister of Chicago plumbing magnate Charles R. Crane. The Lillies’ great wealth not only put Lillie in the social circles of the ruling elite—including the Rockefellers, who funded the vast majority of his life’s work—but it enabled him to use his own private (by marriage) fortune to build new laboratory space (the Whitman lab) at the University of Chicago. He chaired the Zoology Department there from 1910 to 1931, when he became Dean of Biological Sciences before retiring in 1936. As head of the Marine Biological Institute at Wood’s Hole, he also obtained donations from his brother-in-law to build additional laboratory space (Crane Laboratory).
73. See Oudshoorn 1994 and Clarke 1998 for discussions of the importance of access to research materials in the history of sex hormone research. Kohler (1994), for example, shows how the very nature of genetic knowledge was shaped by scientists’ interaction with the fruit fly, as they trained it from a somewhat unruly wild fly to become a domestic collaborator in the laboratory.
74. See Clarke 1991 andMitman 1992 for a discussion of Lillie’s freemar – tin work. See also Lillie 1916, 1917.
73. Lillie 1917, p. 413. See also Hall 1976.
76. Lillie i9i7,p. 404.
77. Ibid., p. 413. In this classic paper, Lillie republished (with citation) the previously published data of his student, Ms. C. J. Davies. The genesis of freemartins continued to be debated for decades, and is still unresolved. Although most of Lillie’s conclusions still offer a ‘‘best fit,’’ there is no perfect fit (Price 1972).
78. Lillie 1917. Lillie writes ‘‘how much of the subsequent events is due to mere absence of the ovarian tissue, and how much to positive action of male sex-hormones is more or less problematical’’ (p. 418).
79. Price 1974, p. 393. Moore would later succeed Lillie as chair of the department at Chicago. For a biographical sketch of Moore, see Price 1974.
80. Moore 1919, p. 141. Moore describes in this passage the problem of variability and group difference discussed in chapter 3. He also cites work published between i909 and i9i3 showing that early spaying of a female causes her to grow larger. Thus ‘‘a spayed female with grafted testis would increase in weight above the normal for females not because of the testis but because of the absence of the ovary’’ (p. i42). We have no way of knowing whether Steinach read these papers to which Moore refers, and if so how he might have integrated them into his own conclusions.
8i. Steinach’s dramatic results on mammary development came from guinea pigs, because male rats do not have primordial teats able to respond to ovary implants. Moore suggests that his differences with Steinach could have resulted from their using different strains of rat. Steinach notes that he bred his guinea pigs ‘‘in such a manner as to produce animals of much the same type’’ (Steinach 1940, p. 62). It seems likely that Steinach also bred his rats to be more uniform. Perhaps he simply did not have as much variability in his colonies as did Moore. Here is another important aspect of the story. If we breed test animals to exaggerate differences we expect, then find the physiological causes of such differences, how much can we extrapolate back to more variable populations? For more on the history of rat colonies, see Clause 1993.
82. Moore 1919, p. 131. In a later paper he reemphasized this point ‘‘I wish again to emphasize the absolute unreliability of closely graded indications of psychical behavior of rats and guinea pigs as an indication of their sexual nature’’ (Moore i9 2o, p. 181).
83. Moore also chased after Steinach’s theories on aging (see note 33). See Price 1974 for a discussion of this work.
84. Moore I922,p. 309.
83. Steinach and Kun 1926 ,p. 817.
86. Moore and Price i93 2,pp. 19, 23.
87. Ibid., p. 19.
8 8. This understanding had been presaged in earlier publications, but it is the i932 paper that provides the detailed experimental support. See Moore i92ia, b,c and Moore and Price 1930. By this time Moore’s work was supported by grants from the Committee on Research in Problems of Sex (discussed later in this chapter and in chapter 7).
89. In this discussion I am following one important tradition of modern science studies by taking the ‘‘loser’’ in a scientific dispute seriously. For more on this approach, see Hess i997,pp. 86—88.
90. Moore wrote: ‘‘Many difficulties are involved in an intelligent anaylsis [sic] of the psychical nature of animals and there is a very great danger of the personal equation influencing an interpretation’’ ( i92i, p. 383).
91. For the moment this is a hypothesis, but further historical work on Moore could provide evidence for or against it. Clarke quotes Moore as writing that ‘‘we are beginning to think that sex is very much less stable than we had previously considered it’’ (Clarke i993, p. 396).
92. According to the historian Chandak Sengoopta, Steinach believed these cells were the source of the male hormone and was attacked for years by influential scientists for this belief (personal communication, i999).
93. When the social co-produces the biological, it is not necessarily to ill effect (although I have spent important years of my life discussing cases for which the effect is horrifying). I consider the argument about sex hormone antagonism productive because it stimulated new experiments and, ultimately, an account of hormone physiology that accommodated more of the experimental results. Nor have I really told the entire story, because I have not offered a detailed social interpretation of Moore and Price. To do so would be beyond the scope of this book.
94. I’m drawing on Jonathan Harwood’s framework of styles of scientific thought, which he applied to German geneticists in this same period. Did Moore and Steinach have different ‘‘thought styles,’’ leading them in different scientific directions and to different modes of experimentation? See Harwood i993.
93. At least one popular science book explicitly discussed Moore’s experiments, including his conclusions that the hormones did not exhibit sex antagonism (Dorsey i923). This book provides an apparently neutral account of human biology, with virtually none of the social hysteria evident in earlier books, such as those by Heape and Bell.
96. Steinach 1940.
97. In Hausman 1995.
98. Benjamin 1945, p. 433. The obituary is more than a little hagio – graphic. Benjamin writes in the final paragraph: ‘‘When Steinach approached the ‘dangerous’ problem of sex physiology, all the sex taboos and prejudices of his day were arrayed against him,’’ just as ‘‘in the times of Copernicus and Galileo, of Darwin, Haeckel and Freud’’ (p. 442).
99. De Kruif i945,p. 116.