Lately I've been digging deeper into health looking beyond just diet, and instead embracing the importance of all aspects of our lifestyle. The PrimalLately I've been digging deeper into health looking beyond just diet, and instead embracing the importance of all aspects of our lifestyle. The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness by Mark Sisson is the best guide I've found so far to get started on this. While there's still plenty of things to dig further into, it's an excellent primer on a wealth of topics, such as:
Nature + Wilderness
I'm talking about a life of physical challenge but ample leisure. I'm talking about living by the natural ebb and flow of light and darkness, season to season. I'm talking about living in smaller groups. I'm talking about play and creativity and getting dirt under our fingernails - a life of the raw senses and an overlapping of the self and the natural environment.
Not all of the suggestions might work right now, but there are plenty that help you bring these aspects into your life in little bits and pieces and I love knowing what I can work towards going forward.
I've noticed for a while that taking plenty of time for sleep, spending time in nature and generally slowing down is incredibly important for both my mental and physical health and well-being. The Primal Connection has helped me look at more ways to get these things into my day-to-day life, as well as pointing out other important areas such as playing with dirt - and playing in general. I highly recommend it!
How do you make sure to make time for sleep, play, nature in your life? Have you noticed these things making a difference?
As always I invite you to find me and connect with me on Goodreads.
Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourselfby Lissa Rankin, M.D., is a difficult one for me. On one hand I am a skeptic at heart aMind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D., is a difficult one for me. On one hand I am a skeptic at heart and I tend to question most things in life – whether that be religion, work, lifestyle and health. As an example I am gluten free, even though I am not (to my knowledge) Celiac. And you know, gluten free is all a fad… Although my decision came after reading about an Italian study that showed 75% of women with Endometriosis do better on a gluten free diet, you could easily - from a skeptical perspective - pick it apart: It wasn't a double-blind study, there was no control that people really stayed gluten free, etc. But I decided that it was a good enough reason for me to give gluten free a proper chance. After I reached my initial goal of 3 months I already felt much better, and since then I have halved my consumption of pain killers. Which is anecdotal evidence, and therefore counts for practically nothing in most skeptical communities.
Furthermore, I know that I do much better when I follow a primal/paleo diet and cut out all grains, legumes, processed/refined sugar and most dairy. I always stay gluten free, but I can tell you when I eat processed food (including processed gluten free foods) and particularly anything rich in sugar, my body reacts. Strongly. Again, this is anecdotal evidence and even though I could link you to hundreds and probably thousands of blog posts from people who are paleo/primal and where these lifestyle changes have improved their health and wellness, it is still “just” anecdotal evidence. Or worse, “all in our head”, a statement which I am particularly sensitive to as I have had several doctors tell me that my period pains were “all in my head” and that I just needed to get over myself. This happened for years until I finally saw an OB/GYN specialized in Endometriosis who straight away recognized my symptoms and had me booked in for a laparoscopy (the only way to diagnose Endometriosis). Turns out, it was not all in my head.
With that being said, I do think our head and our mind can play a massive role on our health, wellness and recovery. We know that our mind can play a huge effect on our body, so that we might get better when given a sugar pill as long as we believe it is the real medicine, aka the placebo effect. Similarly we might experience side effects from medicine – even if we have received no real medicine – this is also known as the nocebo effect. It is a fine line though, I don’t believe in “the law of attraction” – that it is out “fault” if we become ill, but I do think our mind can play a huge role in our getting better. What I don’t understand is how often the conventional medical community will completely disregard the placebo effect as a useful tool in helping people to heal. At the end of the day, if I halved my pain from going gluten free I don’t really care if it’s the placebo effect – I care about how I feel and my health.
While I did not agree with everything that Lissa writes in Mind Over Medicine, I thought it was very thought-provoking and a great read to start thinking about these issues. I really loved her own journey from a more “standard” medical approach, to beginning to look at the role that our mind plays in our health. Her dedication to her dad (who was also a very skeptical doctor) was very heart-warming:
I hugged Mom and mused about what my father would think about this book if he had read it. The whole time I researched it, his voice was the voice in the back of my head, questioning me, prodding me, pushing me to go deeper, serving as the ultimate skeptic I was trying to win over.
I also really appreciated her focus on providing references for her statements:
Throughout this book, I make every effort to back up what might seem like far-out statements with scientific references. Because I know that what I’m about to teach you will raise eyebrows, I’ve written this book just for the people who are skeptical, as I was. I’ve laid out the book to walk you through my argument as if a jury of my physician peers were judging me.
Lissa starts of by talking about the different thoughts around how placebo works; 1) they think they will get better, 2) classical conditioning, 3) emotional support, 4) other treatment and 5) disease resolves itself. She goes on to talk about how negative thinking has been shown to have an effect on our body and how our thoughts can actually change the way our DNA expresses itself.
Lipton says, “When we shift the mind’s interpretation of illness from fear and danger to positive belief, the brain responds biochemically, the blood changes the body’s cell culture, and the cells change on a biological level.”
When our beliefs are hopeful and optimistic, the mind releases chemicals that put the body in a state of physiological rest, controlled primarily by the parasympathetic nervous system, and in this state of rest, the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms are free to get to work fixing what’s broken in the body.
Talking about the use of alternative treatments (this is where I get very skeptical, to be honest):
Instead of dismissing such treatments, I’d like to make the argument that perhaps nontraditional healing modalities work not so much because of the modality being practiced as because of the potent combination of positive belief in the healing method, the nurturing care offered by the practitioner, and the relaxation responses these treatments induce. Perhaps these modalities are, in fact, highly effective— but not via the means we might expect.
In conventional medical wisdom, we call anything that doesn’t outperform placebo “quackery.” But haven’t we lost sight of the real goal? I suggest we reconsider our evaluation standards regarding the efficacy of medical treatments. If the patient is getting better, does it really matter whether the treatment is better than placebo? Is resolution of symptoms and cure of disease not the ultimate goal? Does it really matter how we achieve such a goal?
One thing that turns out to be very important is whether or not we FEEL in control of our health and our lives:
Psychological states can directly affect the outcome of remission from some diseases, at least those that are immune-mediated, as many cancers are. This may explain why optimists are healthier than pessimists. Because of their healthier explanatory styles in the face of negative life events , optimists are more likely to learn healthy adaptations in response to life’s shocks, making them immune to states of helplessness. Pessimists, on the other hand, feel like life’s shocks are inescapable, and like the listless, helpless rats, they get depressed and their immune systems weaken . Over the course of a lifetime, fewer episodes of learned helplessness may keep the immune system stronger, reduce stress responses and their negative health outcomes, and reduce the likelihood of disease.
Radical self-care also involves things like setting boundaries, living in alignment with your truth, surrounding yourself with love and a sense of connection, and spending time doing what you love. You need radical self-care, not just in your health habits, but in the rest of your life.
Merely knowing what needs to change isn’t enough. The hardest part of the process is mustering up the guts to actually do what you know you need to do.
[caption id="attachment_1628" align="aligncenter" width="294"] Whole Health Cairn[/caption]
Lissa goes on to talk about the importance of happiness, how we can deal with our own negative thoughts and beliefs. She also goes into great detail about the importance of balance in our lives, what she calls the ‘whole health cairn’ – if one of the stones/parts in our lives isn’t balanced, our physical health is often the first to go. Lissa ends by giving us suggestions on how we can write our own individual prescription to help us create more balance and vitality in our life. ...more
Excellent overview of a neck training program that can help you deal with sitting all day. I had my own physiotherapist look it over as well, and he rExcellent overview of a neck training program that can help you deal with sitting all day. I had my own physiotherapist look it over as well, and he recommended I use it daily. ...more
Lean In for Graduates(the updated and expanded version of Lean In) by Sheryl Sandberg is a very thought-provoking read. While I might not agree with eLean In for Graduates (the updated and expanded version of Lean In) by Sheryl Sandberg is a very thought-provoking read. While I might not agree with everything in it, it left me with a lot of things to think about.
Lean In has been criticised for being very middle class-centric - and it is. Some women aren't interested in leaning in, other are more than busy making enough money to make ends meet. Sandberg herself addresses some of these criticisms in her introduction to Lean In for Graduates:
This book makes the case for leaning in, for being ambitious in any pursuit. And while I believe that increasing the number of women in positions of power is a necessary element of true equality, I do not believe that there is one definition of success or happiness. Not all women want careers. Not all women want children. Not all women want both. I would never advocate that we should all have the same objectives. Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire. Some of the most important contributions to our world are made by caring for one person at a time. We each have to chart our own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values, and dreams. I am also acutely aware that the vast majority of women are struggling to make ends meet and take care of their families. Parts of this book will be most relevant to women fortunate enough to have choices about how much and when and where to work; other parts apply to situations that women face in every workplace, within every community, and in every home. If we can succeed in adding more female voices at the highest levels, we will expand opportunities and extend fairer treatment to all. ... I know some believe that by focusing on what women can change themselves—pressing them to lean in— it seems like I am letting our institutions off the hook. Or even worse, they accuse me of blaming the victim. Far from blaming the victim, I believe that female leaders are key to the solution. Some critics will also point out that it is much easier for me to lean in, since my financial resources allow me to afford any help I need. My intention is to offer advice that would have been useful to me long before I had heard of Google or Facebook and that will resonate with women in a broad range of circumstances.
While there are definitely other issues that we as feminists, and as people in general, need to address, but in my opinion that doesn't make the topics discussed here less relevant.
Because it is relevant that the way men and women are treated within the professional world is often very different. Sandberg's cover the differences (backed up by studies), and talks about different ways to manage your career:
As you start your career, you should be aware that men are often promoted based on potential, while women are promoted on past performance. You should also be aware that when men are successful, they are often better liked by both men and women, but when women are successful, they are liked less. I have asked audiences around the world to raise their hands if they’ve been told they were too aggressive at work. Time and again, a small fraction of men raise their hands, while a great majority of women shoot a hand into the air … and sometimes two. You should also be aware of the internal barriers that we often impose on ourselves. Too many women sit on the side of the room when they should be sitting at the table. Too many women lower their voices when they should be speaking up. This is not our fault. We internalize messages that say it’s wrong for us to be outspoken, aggressive, and as powerful as— or even more powerful than— men. In response, we alter our actions.
Professional ambition is expected of men but is optional— or worse, sometimes even a negative— for women. “She is very ambitious” is not a compliment in our culture. Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost.
Even worse, the messages sent to girls can move beyond encouraging superficial traits and veer into explicitly discouraging leadership. When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy. Boys are seldom called bossy because a boy taking the role of a boss does not surprise or offend. As someone who was called this for much of my childhood, I know that it is not a compliment.
From a very early age, boys are encouraged to take charge and offer their opinions. Teachers interact more with boys, call on them more frequently, and ask them more questions. Boys are also more likely to call out answers, and when they do, teachers usually listen to them. When girls call out, teachers often scold them for breaking the rules and remind them to raise their hands if they want to speak.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Peggy McIntosh from the Wellesley Centers for Women, gave a talk called “Feeling Like a Fraud.” She explained that many people, but especially women, feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made. Despite being high achievers, even experts in their fields, women can’t seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they are found out for who they really are— impostors with limited skills or abilities. ... For women , feeling like a fraud is a symptom of a greater problem. We consistently underestimate ourselves. Multiple studies in multiple industries show that women often judge their own performance as worse than it actually is, while men judge their own performance as better than it actually is.
This experiment supports what research has already clearly shown: success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less. This truth is both shocking and unsurprising: shocking because no one would ever admit to stereotyping on the basis of gender and unsurprising because clearly we do.
All through my life, culturally reinforced signals cautioned me against being branded as too smart or too successful. It starts young. As a girl, you know that being smart is good in lots of ways, but it doesn’t make you particularly popular or attractive to boys.
“We believe not only that women are nurturing, but that they should be nurturing above all else. When a woman does anything that signals she might not be nice first and foremost, it creates a negative impression and makes us uncomfortable.”
For women, taking credit comes at a real social and professional cost. In fact, a woman who explains why she is qualified or mentions previous successes in a job interview can lower her chances of getting hired.
When a man helps a colleague, the recipient feels indebted to him and is highly likely to return the favor. But when a woman helps out, the feeling of indebtedness is weaker. She’s communal, right? She wants to help others. Professor Flynn calls this the “gender discount” problem, and it means that women are paying a professional penalty for their presumed desire to be communal. On the other hand, when a man helps a coworker, it’s considered an imposition and he is compensated with more favorable performance evaluations and rewards like salary increases and bonuses. Even more frustrating, when a woman declines to help a colleague, she often receives less favorable reviews and fewer rewards. But a man who declines to help? He pays no penalty.
An internal report at Hewlett-Packard revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed. Men apply if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements. This difference has a huge ripple effect. Women need to shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that—and I’ll learn by doing it.”
Most people would agree that gender bias exists … in others. We, however, would never be swayed by such superficial and unenlightened opinions. Except we are. Our preconceived notions about masculinity and femininity influence how we interact with and evaluate colleagues in the workplace. A 2012 study found that when evaluating identical CVs for a lab manager position from a male student and a female student, scientists of both sexes gave better marks to the male applicant. Even though the students had the same qualifications and experience, the scientists deemed the female student less competent and offered her a lower starting salary and less mentoring. Other studies of job applicants, candidates for scholarships, and musicians auditioning for orchestras have come to the same conclusion: gender bias influences how we view performance and typically raises our assessment of men while lowering our assessment of women. Even today , gender-blind evaluations still result in better outcomes for women. Unfortunately, most jobs require face-to-face interviews.
When I hear language like that, I bring up the Heidi/ Howard study and how success and likeability are negatively correlated for women. I ask the evaluator to consider the possibility that this successful female may be paying a gender-based penalty. Usually people find the study credible, nodding their heads in agreement, but then bristle at the suggestion that this might be influencing the reaction of their management team. They will further defend their position by arguing that it cannot be gender related because— aha!— both men and women have problems with that particular female executive. But the success and like-ability penalty is imposed by both men and women. Women perpetuate this bias as well. Of course, not every woman deserves to be well liked. Some women are disliked for behaviors that they would do well to change. In a perfect world, they would receive constructive feedback and the opportunity to make those changes. Still, calling attention to this bias forces people to think about whether there is a real problem or a perception problem. The goal is to give women something men tend to receive automatically— the benefit of the doubt.
I greatly recommend Lean In for Graduates - to both men and women. These topics matter to all of us. I sincerely believe that we will all do better, achieve more - in both our professional and personal lives - if we work together on a fair and equal basis....more
Excellent, powerful and thought-provoking. Own It is all about how you own your own power, finding out what is YOUR message to share and having the coExcellent, powerful and thought-provoking. Own It is all about how you own your own power, finding out what is YOUR message to share and having the confidence to share it....more
One of the things I love about Kresser's approach, is that he understands that each of us is unique, and that the Paleo diet is a template that must be fitted to our individual needs and challenges.
I've discovered that Paleo functions best as a general template, not a rigid prescription. Think of it as a starting point, not a destination. Even though we each share so much of the same DNA, we have unique circumstances and needs.
Kresser goes over the scientific background for eating a paleo diet, before diving into how to "reset" your diet and then tailor it to your needs. From macronutrients to micronutrients (what we need, where we can get it and how we can make sure we actually absorb them), He then goes on to address other health issues such as exercise, sleep, stress, social connections, nature and play.
While Your Personal Paleo Code is long enough on it's own, you can find a ton of extra chapters on Kresser's website, covering specific health issues such as anxiety and depression, adrenals, skin issues, stress management, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases etc., as well as references upon references to all of the scientific studies backing up his information.
Your Personal Paleo Code is an amazing resource, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand how diet and health and wellness all intersect....more
How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk by Bruce Kasanoff is a quick and easy read, but that doesn’t take away from the timeless and inspirational content. Kasanoff's writing style is very clear, precise and easy to understand.
The basic idea is that it is possible, and indeed preferable to promote yourself – but it is possible to do this without being a jerk. The way to do this is to be:
I very much enjoyed How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk and thought it was a great reminder – although for those of us who keep up-to-date on personal development there wasn’t a lot of new ideas (at least not “new-to-me”). Quotes
By first thinking help this person, you will change the way that others perceive you. There is no faster or more effective way to change your interactions and relationships. You will be viewed as a positive, constructive, helpful, and dependable person. People will think you are perceptive, attentive, and understanding. That's why this way of thinking is not altruistic; it is selfish, in the best sense of the word. The single best way to help yourself is to always be looking for ways to help other people. Sure, you'll be making the world a better place, and over the course of your life, you will help many thousands of people. But don't do it because you ought to or because it's the "right" thing to do.
Instead of figuring out what you really want to say, you might tend to cram too much information into one document, whether that happens to be a memo, report, or presentation. There are many ways to phrase this. You could ask someone to identify three things you should consider changing. You could ask them for their three least favorite aspects of the work you did. You might try asking them to identify three things they did not fully understand. The key is to not be too negative in your request. If you say, “Tell me three things you hated,” most people will say, “I didn’t hate anything, it was good.”
Lots of people — myself included — talk a good game about being open-minded. But how many of us are truly open to ideas that challenge our most closely held beliefs? This question is important because the odds are overwhelming that at some point, your career, marriage, or even your life will be wholly undone by your belief in an idea that proved to be wrong.
The best business people are show people, as are the most effective educators and the most compassionate physicians. Whether consciously or not, they operate their professional lives as though they were in show business.
Partner with others, but do so in a thoughtful and cautious manner. Choose partners who have solid reputations, who share key values with you, and with whom you have common goals.
Some interesting thoughts and ideas, but not very well supported. I have absolutely no problem with "bad" language, but I don't like it when authors tSome interesting thoughts and ideas, but not very well supported. I have absolutely no problem with "bad" language, but I don't like it when authors talk down to the reader. While the author makes it clear that he is not a doctor or a scientist, I would have liked to see more scientific backing and explanations for his statements. ...more
The memories of the first decade seemed rather disjointed at first, often jumping from one to another with seemingly no connection between them. Later on, however, it begins to come together and makes sense, as each memory helps throw light on new issues in Scot's life.
Lily Scot has led a fascinating, and at times very difficult life. I loved the way she opened up to the reader and allowed us inside into her life, giving us a chance to understand the things that we have found difficult and hard to accept in our own lives - even as they might have been very different to hers.
However, Sating the Preta is not a how-to-manual on overcoming complex PTSD and emotional abuse. It is the author's story, and while it is inspirational and gives the reader hope, there is little practical advice or guidance (which might also have been misplaced in a memoir). In my opinion this doesn't detract, but is just something for the reader to be aware of....more
A fascinating collection of short essays/articles/blog posts from various people giving many different and intriguing viewpoints on the human resourceA fascinating collection of short essays/articles/blog posts from various people giving many different and intriguing viewpoints on the human resources profession past, present and future. ...more
This interview by David Blum with Barack Obama, President of USA, is not particularly interesting - especially not if you are fairly up-to-date with BThis interview by David Blum with Barack Obama, President of USA, is not particularly interesting - especially not if you are fairly up-to-date with Barack Obama and American politics. It is free however, and a quick read....more
This wasn't really worth the time and money in my opinion - although at least it was short. The vast majority of the information can be in other placeThis wasn't really worth the time and money in my opinion - although at least it was short. The vast majority of the information can be in other places, and are even common in standard sales literature (such as, gasp, *listening* to the customer). Even within the very short (33 pages) book itself information and advice was repeated several times. If you know nothing about introversion and/or nothing about sales it might be worth it, but otherwise I'd skip it and maybe read "To Sell Is Human" by Daniel Pink instead....more
While never crude or unfairly dismissive, Sagan convincingly makes the point of Edmund Way Teale: "It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it." Sagan over and over again shows how dangerous it is to accept pseudoscience and other falsehoods without any scientific, independently verifiable evidence. He tackles such varied topics as UFOs, alien abductions, astrology, witch hunts, faith healings, demons etc., and authoritatively debunks them all.
In the last part of the books he uncovers how dangerously far Americans have falling behind when it comes to understanding even the most elementary science, and what dangers it could hold for the future, specifically in terms of democracy and liberty.
If nothing else, I highly recommend the chapter The Fine Art of Baloney Detection(the link will take you to a free PDF version). In my opinion this essay should be required reading in all high schools. It powerfully and simply sets forward rules and guidelines to help you keep a skeptical mindset, e.g. by using tools such as looking for independent confirmation of the "facts", encourage debates from all points of view, put little weight on authority arguments, look for more than one explanation, don't become too attached to your own explanation etc.
Sagan has a real gift for explaining difficult and scientific topics in layman terms, so even if you don't have a scientific background it is an easy, enlightening and educational read. Quotes
"Spirit" comes from the Latin word "to breathe". What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word "spiritual" that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. On occasion, I will feel free to use the world. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
"Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing in the absence of evidence, on my say-so."
Humans are the only species that care about virginity - although we are not the only species with a hymen. Even then, virginity cannot be defined and there are no guaranteed way to see if someone is a virgin or not. The only thing that's sure is that we are all different. The question of virginity has been one way to keep women under patriarchal control for centuries, but even then it is only in more recent times that it has become a fetish. In addition it shows how colonialism led to the sexualization of women of colour.
The elusiveness of virginity itself, and the many natural variations of the hymen have led to, and in some places of the world continue to lead to, suffering of young girls and women. Historically and culturally speaking there have been and are places where even the mere accusal of sexual misconduct can cost a woman her life or her future.
Virgin is well-researched, insightful and I greatly recommend it. Quotes
Why, then, we might wonder, is it the particular combination of a penis and a vagina that has for so long been considered the definitive sex act, the act that terminates virginity? There are several reasons. For one, the only form of sexual activity that renders women pregnant is that which involves inserting a penis into a vagina. Second, penis-in-vagina intercourse is the single uniquely heterosexual act of which human beings are capable. The other common sexual permutations of body parts of which humans are capable are essentially gender-neutral. Kisses and caresses know no gender, to say nothing of oral sex. For a penis to be inserted into a vagina, on the other hand, there can be only one man and one woman, and furthermore they must be performing the single specific action that cannot be performed by a man on another man or by a woman on another woman. What this means is that virginity, at least in the classical, canonical form, is exclusively heterosexual.
In the West, virginity no only has a sexual orientation and a gender, it has a color. Christian symbology traditionally uses light and lightness of color to indicate purity and holiness, while darkness and darker colors are associated with sin and corruption. When European white Christians began to colonize parts of the world where people had darker skin, they often took this light-equals-good / dark-equals-bad mentality with them. Because the sexual rules of these darker-skinned people's supposedly "primitive" cultures failed to map neatly onto what European Christians had come to expect as normal, natural, and indeed God-given laws regarding gender, sex, and the organization of families, European whites often assumed that the indigenous people of Africa, the Americas, and elsewhere were simply wicked and lacking any sense of sexual morality. From such encounters, Europeans frequently derived the belief that virginity was an attribute of being civilized, which was to say Christian, European, and white.
Virginity was a commodity with a limited shelf life. Well into the 1830s, even writers like the relatively progressive British freethinker journalist Richard Carlile could say with a straight face that spinsters were "a sort of sub-animal class" and that "It is a fact that can hardly have escaped the notice of anyone that women who have never had sexual commerce begin to droop when about twenty-five years of age... their forms degenerate, their features sink, and the peculiar character of the old maid becomes apparent."