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

Chapter Four. Everyone should have children, but even this doctor recognizes the fact that sometimes, the time is not ripe for children – due to economy, or injury or disease, and so on. He knows that some will take umbrage with his tips to prevent pregnancy, but he avers that it is better to teach prevention than wind up with cases of infanticide.

Here are some ways to prevent pregnancy, as thought of in the nineteenth century:

– brisk exercise, such as horseback riding

– bathing in salt water after intercourse

– use of a sponge (which is once again on the market)

– an “oiled-silk covering,” presumably an early version of a condom

– eating spicy food

– warm water douches

– seeds of the Chaste Tree (which was thought to inhibit libido)

– a “supine” vagina, as without contractions, there can be no pregnancy. Women can’t become pregnant from rape, sayeth Becklard.

    “Thus, unless the female vagina [as opposed to the male vagina?] is in a busy, active state, there is but little apprehension of offspring. Let me add, that this supineness, even in the most healthy females, is a sure attendant of disgust or abhorrence; therefore, I have no faith in the stories of women, who are said to have borne children as the consequence of rape or violation. Indeed, the thing is impossible unless the parties are agreed, for the muscular effort, to the action of which the uterus responds, is voluntary on the part of the female, and is only called in play in moments of enjoyment.”

    A few sentences prior to this, however, he admits that the process of impregnation is “still a mystery.” Now we know where the “body has a way of shutting that thing down” bullshit has its origins. Sigh.

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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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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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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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It came from the 1960s! (Life Cycle Library, Part Six)

Chapter 21 – Parents Watch the Clock. For the clock spider?

As has been said over and over, EveryTeen, you’re growing up and taking on responsibilities; you might even be starting to earn your own money – as a pimp, perhaps. Your parents see these changes in you, and recognize the fact that you are no longer a child. However, they still want to protect you from injury, both physical and emotional. They want to steer you away from dumb decisions that could spoil your future, or cause you to drop out. Which would spoil your future. Which is redundant.

So, what sorts of things are your parents concerned about? It’s a big, bad world out there, and the further you venture out from home base, EveryTeen, the more influence others have on you. Your parents worry about automobile safety, whether it’s you or someone else behind the wheel. Many teens get involved in accidents, whether or not there is alcohol involved. (According to this book, in 1968, 4.4 million persons under 20 years of age were involved in accidents. Think of it; this is long before texting and even CD players)! So, they will definitely warn you against participation in Lifestyles of the Drunk and Reckless. Continue reading

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It came from the 1960s! (Life Cycle Library, Part Five)

Chapter 20 – Necking, Petting, and Sexual Feelings. In other words, the chapter EveryTeen automatically skipped to, I’m sure.

What is happening to my body? What are these “wonderful thrills and chills?” Why, those are from your genitals – they’re alive!

Boys, you will begin to sprout hair in places where none grew before. And your feelings towards girls will do a 180° turn. Just thinking about ’em is gonna make ya hard, so focus on coursework in class, lest your fantasies cause you to do a walk of shame to the blackboard.

Now, girls, you get different and exciting changes, too. Instead of growing up, you will grow out. Welcome to the Boob Brigade – get thee to Macy’s for a bra-fitting (ask for Winifred; her hands were dunked in a vat of liver-spots, it’s true, but she’s very gentle and accurate with her tape measure). As if breasts weren’t bad enough, you also get to bleed. That’s right, BLEED, for several days a month, every month, for the next forty or so years! Disturbing? Why, yes!

We’ve discussed the social aspects of dating in previous chapters. The emotional aspects have a tendency to creep up on you, EveryTeen – that “sweet, soft glow.” Is this love? That you’re feeling? Is this THE love that you’ve been searching for? Probably not (so you’re dreaming), as one doesn’t fall in adult-style love at your age; those feelings take time to develop (and some people never make it there). Continue reading

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It came from the 1960s! (Life Cycle Library, Part Four)

Chapter 19 – Dating for Boys. Just like there isn’t one for girls, there is no “right” age for boys to begin dating. Some start at age 13, usually about the time they begin jackin’ it. Others don’t begin to show an interest in girls until later; these are called nerds.

At some point, a boy suddenly sees a girl from class and thinks that he would like to walk her home (to his house, for sex). So, how does a boy go about asking for a date?

It’s normal to be nervous, BoyTeen; it might take some time to be courageous enough to ask a girl out. Most will think of so many reasons not to take initiative. She probably won’t say yes, or she is interested in someone else. And perhaps these things are true, young man; perhaps you are dull, boring, or a pervert. However, you cannot win if you do not play. So do eet, ask her, you fool!

Now, boys, asking a girl out face-to-face might be too nerve-wracking, and you might prefer the telephone. No matter which way you choose, be sure to give the girl a week’s notice. “Girls don’t like being called at 7:30 to do something at 8:00 that evening,” not because spontaneity is a bad thing, but because it takes those bitches forever to pick outfits to wear and do their hair.

Good job, she said yes! So, where are you gonna go, boy? Continue reading

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It came from the 1960s! (Life Cycle Library, Part Three)

Chapter 18 – Dating for Girls. There is no “right” age to begin the dating game, EveryGirlTeen. Some girls mature socially earlier than others, just like others mature physically before others (and by this, just so we’re clear, they mean “boobs).”

Some girls begin dating in grade school. And some may not start dating “until the sophomore year” and sometimes even later, but we don’t like to talk about them. *cough* spinster equivalent *cough*

A good timeline to follow is: group dates, which lead to double dates, which lead to a single couple going out on their own. “Double” your fun with a double-date, which is usually suggested by the boy, because he’s attempting to increase his chances that one of you are “easy.” If you are double-dating, the four of you need to discuss the plans to avoid misunderstandings, such as where you are meeting, what time, and whether clothing is optional. After enough of these group and double-dates, you’ll be comfortable enough to go out with one boy by himself. You’ll have acquired enough social skills, as well as perfected your best fellatio techniques.

What makes a great date? By which is meant, what makes you “dateable?” Really attractive girls are going to be asked out more, it’s true, but boys look at other things, too. (You mean, post high-school, right)? Enthusiasm is more important than looks. Act like a girl, not a tomboy. Be friendly but not “pushy.” (But, where is the line drawn)? Have a good sense of humor, especially when things are not going as planned. And be neat in your appearance! So, take your glasses off and squint, four-eyes. And smooth down your mohawk before you go out. Continue reading

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It came from the 1960s! (Life Cycle Library, Part Two)

Chapter 17 – How to Keep a Conversation Going. Conversation is an “adventure,” a “passport” to making new friends. I think they’re overdoing it a little bit, don’t you? The ability to converse with all types of people can be learned. They liken it to a recipe; just like making a cake, there are several ingredients. “Three of the most important are simple courtesy, honesty, and oddly enough, listening.” What about the eggs?

Courtesy is letting everyone have her say, and express her ideas. It’s only fair, as they just might be right! This facet of conversation is especially important when dealing with your parents, EveryTeen. Hear them out; don’t be disagreeable or fight back. They are absolutely right in barring you from dating that black boy down the hill. I don’t care how nice you say he is, no daughter of MINE . . .

Learn to listen. Know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. And be honest, lest the “conversational cake” fall flat. (They are way too invested with this food metaphor). The best way to make friends, of course, is to be too honest. Be forthright about your institutionalized brother, even if there is no rhyme or reason to bringing it up in the course of conversation. And, if you cause the person you’re talking to to back away, well, you didn’t want to be friends with them anyway, amIright?

It’s simple to “bake a conversation cake” (ugh, enough.is.ENOUGH.with the fucking cake), but occasionally we have instances where we become tongue-tied, “when it seems that only possible thing to do is to stare out the window or up at the sky.” Are those my only options? Continue reading

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It came from the 1960s! (Life Cycle Library, Part One)

Our next selection comes from the 20th century, but it might as well be from a different era entirely.

The Life Cycle Library for Young People was a 4-part, hardbound series detailing the cycle from birth to death marriage and family. The book sale room at my local library had the whole series, culled from some kind patron’s musty attic, but book 3 (on adolescence) was the only one worth spending my hard-earned dollar on.

Enough preamble. Let’s get started, shall we?

This volume (and probably the entire series) was published in 1969, by an outfit known as The Parent and Child Institute. On the cusp of the 70s and yet, has a 50s feel . . . getting ahead of myself.

A Note to Readers. The Editors want to let you know that the story that follows is “one of the most fascinating” in the life of a human. At this point in medical history, “doctors are trying to unravel the enormous mystery of how a baby comes to be.” Wait, they still don’t know about sex? Exhume Sylvanus Stall and Dr. Wood-Allen! But not together, as then you’re going to get stories about apple-dumplings being given to Jesus and children of the corn.

This book purports to tell its young readers about what to expect at this particular stage in their lives, as well as what will follow. Then, they have written a “special note to girl readers,” where they apologize for using “he” as the standard pronoun. In their view, to use “it” would have been “inhuman,” and writing “he or she” for everything would be “tiresome.” How about alternating chapters, hmm? To add insult to my personal injury, they do the written equivalent of a hand-pat with this: “we want our girl readers to know that we value them, too; that we are not showing favoritism to boys.” Oh, but in a way, you are, so be quiet, mostly female board, I’m ashamed of you! This is in the very heart of second-wave feminism, too, by the way, which makes it even more embarrassing.

Chapter 16 – You and Your Family. Continue reading

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