1222 – Women on Mount Athos by Joe Lockard


Holy Misogyny, article by Joe Lockard 24 may 2011:

“One of the more astonishing moments among autobiographies I have read appears in Maryse Choisy’s Un Mois Chez les Hommes (1929). In preparation for a visit to Mount Athos, the long peninsula in northern Greece that constitutes a monastic republic where by religious edict women have been forbidden to visit for over a thousand years, Choisy relates how she decided to have an elective bilateral radical mastectomy. She called it the ‘Amazonian’ surgical procedure and undertook it with her boyfriend’s agreement. It worked: she was able to pose as a male servant, smuggle herself over the isthmus border beyond which women are prohibited, and spend a month wandering between the peninsula’s twenty monasteries.

Choisy, briefly a patient of Sigmund Freud, had a personality that swung between enthusiastic extremes. Her immediately previous book, Un Mois Chez les Filles (1928), had been a participatory journalism study of a Marseilles brothel. She went from sexual dissipation to self-mutilation and chastity in the space of two closely-spaced books. Much of the remainder of her career was taken up with an intellectual effort to synthesize psychoanalysis with Christianity, an issue of concern especially to conservative Catholics in Europe. That’s why Choisy’s work remains one of the curious corners of French psychoanalytic history.”

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hv, 24/5

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