Universiteit Maastricht

The ideal woman

T/m 29 februari 2020


In the Netherlands, October 2019 is History Month. The leading theme is ‘She / He: how are gender differences historically shaped?’. In this context a new exhibition is organised in the main administrative building: ‘The ideal woman’. On masculinity and feminity, marital need and marital happiness – Erotic advice from the Jesuit collection of Theodoor van de Velde at the beginning of the 20th century. The gynecolist Van de Velde (1873-1937) was taboo-breaking in his time. He dared to write on female sexuality. In ‘The Ideal Woman’ (1933), he explicitly focused on ‘the woman’. This book – with no fewer than 480 film images and 54 fill-page illustrations – was a kind of guide full of gymnastic exercises to improve sex efficiency. The aim was to ‘fully develop the sexual abilities of women’, so that women as self-aware individuals could enjoy sex much more actively (and please her husband).

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