October 14, 2005

Things to do in Cleveland: see vintage birth control devices

Photo: vintage contraceptive sponges Oh, I go through such phases with this blog. Even after publishing 500+ pages on the finer details of my vagina, I have trouble figuring out what kind of vaginal news is worth reading every day. Who needs to read about vaginas every day? I myself, devoted disciple of vaginal scholarship, have no desire to keep up with the day to day developments in tampon politics or whatever.

Sometimes I think that a narrow topic fosters creativity, and sometimes I just burn out on it. I suppose that is a type of balance.

So today, some simple entertainment: a fun article featuring some of the weirder specimens from the history of contraception.

Percy Skuy, the former president of Ortho-Macneill, started collecting weird and historical contraceptives in the early 1960s when he was just starting out at the company. He's amassed more than 700 items, and the collection is now housed at the Dittrick Medical History Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

I like to collect possible tourist destinations for future travels. I guess I'm covered if I find myself in Ohio! I could really go for a museum of ingenious/ridiculous birth control. The requisite coverage of crocodile dung pessaries and lead-based smoothies would surely make the various cruelties and tragedies of contraceptive history a lot more fun to learn about.

I might need to order the museum's IUD poster— the devices look like pasta shapes when so many are collected together.

I've reviewed a couple of books on the subject, for interested parties who aren't Cleveland-bound. A Curious History is funnier but less coherent than Eve's Herbs. Skin Flutes and Velvet Gloves is funnier and more coherent than both, but covers more than just contraception.

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