Category Archives: sex ed books

Becklard’s Physiology; or, the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part Two

Chapter One is a brief introduction, and one that we have heard before. Self-pollution is bad, mmkay? Lots of turrible things happen when you play with yourself. Hot flashes, acne, blindness . . . you know the drill. Let’s move on to new territory.

Chapter Two. Must Man be born of Woman? You’d be surprised! Becklard talks about some theories and ideas that others have had upon this. However, he concludes that man is always born of woman. Thanks for clearing that up, doc.

Chapter Three talks about barrenness. He waxes lyrical about the immortality of the soul. He feels that man’s soul must be immortal, or how else to explain man’s horrid goal of living and dying in a world that is, essentially, hostile to him? Anyway, Becklard is convinced that all normal men and women are capable of having children; the exceptions are deformity or injury to the generative parts.

So, why are there so many “unfruitful” marriages? The good doctor gives a few reasons: mutual coldness of the parties, mutual intensity of desire, physical unfitness of the parties for intercourse (anatomically, that is), disgust, shyness, et cetera. Also, and this is rare, but women who are lacking a vaginal canal, or ovaries. These women are monsters, and horrible liars if they know they are unable to have children and still get married. Ouch.

For an example of mutual intensity and coldness, one need only to look at Napoleon and Josephine, who did not have any children together, but once they separated, were able to have fruitful marriages with others. People who have really amorous sex will not have children, for they need to

Differences in anatomical structure should be prevented by foreknowledge prior to marriage. However, Becklard knows that people are too “delicate” to discuss such things, which he finds shameful, as we as a society seem to choose a horse more carefully than a marriage partner!

Sometimes, men become debilitated and need a stimulant, but beware of those that are not nourishing to the system. The good doctor recommends Lucina Cordial, which even HE is unable to tell the contents of, but has seen its effects in action. I am unable to really find anything on it myself, except the bottles look really cool and sell for quite a bit at auction. If Lucina Cordial is not available, Verrey’s Tincture will also serve. I suppose these items were so well known during the time period that the doctor felt it wasn’t necessary to explain. He relates a story of a barren couple who were finally able to conceive after several bottles of the cordial. I found an old advertisement for it in a vintage newspaper, and the stuff certainly wasn’t cheap – 3 dollars for a bottle, or four bottles for ten dollars. Now, the Inflation Calculator only goes back as far as 1913, but for argument’s sake, US $3 in 1913 would be US $70.59 in 2013. With a little imagination, one can see how desperate one would have to be for children to shell out 3 bucks for some nineteenth-century Viagra.

Some more tips from Dr. Becklard regarding “fecundation” – morning nookie is better. Women, if you have “low wombs” and are married to “very masculine” men, be sure that your husbands to not attempt to plant BEYOND the soil. It doesn’t go in your stomach!

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Becklard’s Physiology; or the Quaint Backwardness of 1850s Medicine – Part One

Readers, I have found a veritable treasure trove of old advice books! Husband-to-be has university borrowing privileges and I had the opportunity to go prowl around the library and take out some real gems that shall be featured on here soon.

The first of these lovelies is Beckard’s Physiology; rather, the full title is The Physiologist; or Sexual Physiology Revealed, being Mysteries and Revelations in Matters of great Importance to the Married and Unmarried of both Sexes; – and Useful Hints to Lovers, Husbands, and Wives. A complete Guide to Health, Happiness, and Personal Beauty. – Containing such Information as can be had by those only who have the advantage of a Medical Education.

With Practical Remarks on Manhood, with the causes of its premature decline, and modes of perfect restoration.

Economy and Abuse of the Generative Organs. Effects of excessive Indulgences. Love, Courtship, and Marriage. Its proper Season. Directions for choosing a Partner. Mysteries of Generation. Causes and Cure of Barrenness. Prevention of Offspring. Solitary Practices, with their best mode of Treatment, &c. &c.

Gotta love those long, ridiculous titles. The original publication date appears to be 1844, at least in the United States, with a reprint edition by Bela Marsh in 1859. The edition I hold in my hands is a facsimile edition of this work, as well as another entitled Marriage Physiologically Discussed, by Jean DuBois, under the heading Sex for the Common Man, which was part of a series of nineteenth-century marriage manuals published by Arno Press in 1974.

Eugene Becklard is a mystery in himself. Not much appears to be known about him, except what he says about himself in the text. The translator of his work, one M. Sherman Wharton, is also a cipher. In his “Translator’s Note,” Dr. Wharton tells us that Dr. Becklard is “one of the most distinguished physicians in France.” Okay, well, great. So, how come he has been lost to history? This writer wonders if, perhaps, “Becklard” and “Wharton” are, in fact, the same person, and that whoever this man was, it was an attempt to lend credence to his work. Which was successful, I suppose, as this book went into several editions!

In the Preface, Dr. Becklard tells his readers that he has over thirty years of experience in the medical field, and has worked in the maternity hospital, as well, which gives him a superior kind of knowledge over others who have not. Unlike Dr. Dewees’ book, which I have yet to finish, this book was written for the layperson, and Dr. Becklard encourages all adults to read it, as well as children at least ten years of age, because keeping our children ignorant just leads to more problems.

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The Sensuous Woman, a wonderfully dated manual

I struck paydirt again. Months ago, whilst browsing through another book sale room at the library, I found The Sensuous Woman, by “J.” “The number-one bestseller” is emblazoned on the cover. Back cover describes a “secret, step-by-step program that allows every woman to free her body . . . and realize her tremendous feminine capacity for giving and receiving pleasure.” Publication date? 1969. I pretty much dumped out the contents of my purse for fifty cents to purchase this novelty, nestled innocuously in a basket of other less-exciting books (except for one, but we’ll get to it at a later date).

So, who was “J?” Apparently, her real name is Joan Theresa Garrity, and she worked in publishing. She also struggled with bipolar disorder. Not much seems to be known about her, really.

Our author tells us that, even though she’s not considered by conventional standards, and she never dresses provocatively, she still gets lots of men. Basically, this book is a how-to manual for women to embrace their inner sexiness and become what she calls the “sensuous woman.”

Reading this book with a 2012 liberal feminist mindset, some of the statements in this book seem well-known today; some are wildly dated and sexist; and a few are cringe-worthy, knowing what we know about diseases.
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Women and their crazy diseases, part four

Chapter 5 – Of the History of Menstruation. This affliction only concerns the human female. And, perhaps, monkeys. Other mammals have some sort of effluence that emanates from their genitalia, but that’s not really menses. Some doctors of the time were under the impression that the menstrual discharge was not a “normal” function of the body; rather, it merely appeared one day as people now eat too much and garner too much blood inside them. So, according to those crazies, this is why men had some unexplained hemorrhages and women menstruate. Some doctor by the name of Roussel claims that Brazilian women don’t get periods. Dr. Dewees thinks he’s wrong, so perhaps he has some sense. However, he quotes another doctor who says that other mammals do experience a form of menstrual discharge, and Dewees thinks he puts too much into this hypothesis, and goes to great lengths to supposedly prove him wrong.

Some women begin very early. The doctor tells us of several girls between the ages of twelve and thirteen who have lukorrheic discharge for a few instances before the menses begin in earnest, along with the standard backaches and whatnot that all of us women still suffer from today. In all of these early instances, he claims the girls had diseases of the spine, and wonders via text what the relation there might be. He also cites several instances where he claims to observe women who have ceased menstruating, yet bore children at advanced ages, such as 61. Obviously, such women were not quite completely menopausal, but that was probably something that doctors at this time did not fully understand. A few paragraphs down, Dr. Dewees pretty much admits that, while they know that the cessation occurs, they don’t understand what causes it.

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Women and their crazy diseases, part three

Chapter 3 – The vagina can become diseased, as well. A very short chapter wherein he describes a woman who was basically born with a cul-de-sac down in the valley. She didn’t appear to have a uterus upon examination; well, then, how is that a disease of the vagina? Moving on

Chapter 4 – Leukorrhea, which is basically a white, milky-like discharge from the vagina. I never knew it had a technical term. He has all these theories about the different types, and how they affect certain types of women. Shut up, dude, it’s normal unless it smells or is a different color. They thought that women of idle dispositions, or who drink thin “unnourishing” drinks like tea or coffee, or those who indulge too much in warm baths or the use of foot stoves, were most susceptible to leukorrhea. They had no idea where it came from. They stuck sponges in women’s girly bits to attempt to shed some light on its origins.

So, what cure does the good doctor advise? Wash the pudenda, eat a milk and vegetable diet, and indulge in some bloodletting – you know, the usual. This is to reduce the pulse, and when that has been done to satisfaction, then tincture of cantharides (Spanish fly) until the patient experiences strangury, which is the painful, frequent voiding of the bladder to little effect (essentially, straining to only pee a few drops, at best). Usually, Dr. Dewees would make a patient undergo two rounds of this, and then the leukorrhea would disappear. Gee, I wonder why! If the strangury was very bad, the doctor advises flax-seed tea, or barley water, or gum Arabic, or LAUDANUM, and bed rest. I presume these were all orally taken, as the next direction advises an enema of CAMPHOR, LAUDANUM, and starch.

This treatment was usually followed by an astringent injection, usually of zinc acetate (what we normally see today in anti-itch creams). However, one should wash out the vagina with SOAP and water thoroughly prior to this. Soap? Soap?! No wonder these women had problems!

And then, on top of this, they advised no meat, as it was considered a “weak” ailment, and therefore, foods normally doled out to invalids were administered. The more I read these old books, the more thankful I am to live in modern times . . .

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Women and their crazy diseases, part two

Chapter 2 – The female organs leave us ripe for various and sundry complaints. He’s especially concerned with married and pregnant women, because these disorders trend to crop up in them more often. I think he’s not concerned with young unmarried women because they don’t yet serve a purpose. Their lady parts have not yet been manhandled.

Any inflammation of these parts can lead to suppuration, or pus. Sometimes, the labia can become gangrenous. I researched this, and whilst it occurs in many books of this time period, it is actually pretty rare in this day and age, which leads me to believe they were referring to something else. Like genital herpes.

A little bit of swelling sometimes occurs, and when it is itchy, is scratched, which leads to further irritation. The doctor claims that this tends to be more prevalent in those who do not bathe or wash during their menstrual cycle. He advises to wash the parts daily with warm water, especially after the flow is ceased, or if there is unusual discharge, or fluor ablus – white vaginal discharge, essentially. This is where I decide not to read any of this book whilst eating.
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It came from the 1960s! (Life Cycle Library, Part Seven)

Chapter 22 – How Do You Know When It’s Love? I can’t tell you, but it lasts forever. There will come a point, EveryTeen, where you will want to know the answer to this question. You’ve experienced “love” before, but it’s very different when it’s the real thing.

One’s ability to love goes through developmental stages, just as your body does, both physically as well as mentally. No one becomes feet taller overnight, unless you have one of those rapid-growth diseases. Everyone else proceeds at their own pace, and as you grow into your body, so, too, will you “grow into” love.

There are many different types of love. Love of your self (no, not like THAT, you perverts; okay, maybe a little bit), love for your parents, and love for your friends. Someday, you will move beyond these and know the mature love shared by a man and a woman (as no other options are available), and prepare yourself for marriage. As that is the only way to espouse mature love, apparently.

As an infant, you were completely concerned with yourself, you selfish twit. You were absorbed in discovering your fingers and toes and giggling. You peen held a certain fascination that would resurface years later (or perhaps never quite went away). Your family was very focused on taking care of you. This is self-love. You might know some people that are still this way – chronic masturbators. Continue reading

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