PRIVATE Sex Advice to Women By R. B. Armitage, M. D.
Sex Advice to Women
In this book the writer thereof seeks to convey to women—particularly to young wives and women expecting to be married—certain important facts of knowledge, certain necessary information, which all such women should possess, but which few are given the opportunity to acquire.
It would seem to require no argument to convince a rational individual that before a woman is capable of intelligent motherhood she should be made acquainted with the physiological processes which are involved in the sexual functions leading to the state of motherhood; but we are confronted by the fact that few young women are given such instruction.
It is a strange thing that while even the ordinary school child is made acquainted with the physiological processes concerned with the processes of digestion, respiration, circulation, elimination, etc., and while such education is highly commended, yet at the same time not only are the young of both sexes reared as if there was no such thing as sexual functions in existence, but even full-grown adults are left to pick up their instruction on sexual subjects from chance sources—often polluted sources.
Even those about to enter into the important offices of matrimony and parenthood are permitted to assume those duties and responsibilities without intelligent and scientific information or knowledge being given them. What would we think of expecting a woman to cook, without previous experience and without even the most elementary instruction on the subject? What would we think of expecting any person to undertake any important task or duty without experience or instruction regarding the same? And yet we seem content to allow young women to enter into the important relationship of marriage, and to undertake the important office of motherhood, often in absolute ignorance of the physiological processes involved, and the physical laws governing the same.
All this absurd practice and custom results simply from the antiquated notion that it is “not nice” to speak or think of the subject of the sex functions. The subject has been considered “taboo” by our particular section of the human race since the Middle Ages, because the ascetic ideals of that dark period of human history brought forward a totally false and unnatural conception of sex as fundamentally impure. If the results were not so deplorable and often tragic, this condition of affairs would be a fit subject for laughter and scornful ridicule. But, alas! on the part of the thoughtful observer of this state of things there is rather great wonder and amazement accompanied by the feeling of deep sorrow.
It cannot be honestly denied that in our present age, and period of modern civilization, and particularly among the Anglo-Saxon branch of the race, the question of the sex functions is associated with impurity, at least so far as the popular mind is concerned. In previous civilizations the subject was accorded its proper place, and was discussed sanely and thoughtfully, without any sense of shame or impurity. The Middle Age ideals of celibacy and asceticism brought about the public conception of the human body as a thing impure—something to be modified, tortured, subdued and reviled; and a corresponding conception of sex as a vile, impure thing above which the pure in heart rose entirely and completely, and which those of a lesser spiritual ideal were permitted to indulge with a due sense of their degradation and weakness. It was considered a most worthy thing to lead an ascetic life with its accompaniment of disdain and punishment of the body. It was considered most pious and spiritual to forego the ordinary human relations of sex, marriage and parenthood. From these distorted conceptions naturally evolved the idea that sex, and all connected with it, was a subject unclean and impure in itself, and to be avoided in thought, conversation and writing. Not only the ordinary sex relations of human life were placed under this taboo, but also the phenomena of birth and parenthood. Not only did these incidents of life grow to be considered impure, but they became that which to many was still worse, that is to say, they became to be regarded as “not respectable.”
Ignorance regarding the plain elementary facts of sexual physiology is undoubtedly the cause not only of much immorality among young people of both sexes, but also of many unhappy and inharmonious marriages. The intelligent portion of our race is now beginning to realize very keenly the fact that the first requisite of sane marital relations and intelligent parenthood is a practical and clear knowledge of the physiology of sex; education concerning the sexual organism, its laws, its functions, its normal and healthy conditions, its anatomy, its physiology and hygiene.
The average physician of experience in general or special practice can tell tales of almost incredible ignorance on the part of young women who have recently entered into the relationship of marriage. In some cases the ignorance is more than a mere absence of knowledge—it consists too often of false-knowledge, untruthful ideas concerning matters of the most serious import. It is sad enough to think how such persons may work results harmful to themselves, but it is even sadder still to realize that these same ignorant young women must eventually gain their real knowledge through sad experience—experience paid for not only by themselves but also by their children. It is a hard saying, but a true one, that the knowledge of many young wives and mothers is to be gained by experience paid for by their (as yet) unborn children.
The writer of the present work is one of the rapidly growing number of thinking persons who believe that the time has come to educate the race concerning the importance of sane instruction concerning the functions of sex. He, and those who think as he does, believe that the time has come to “Turn on the Light!” They believe that the importance of the subject will be realized by all intelligent persons, once that their attention is directed to the subject, and once they have considered it apart from the old prejudices and distorted customs. When public opinion on this subject is reformed, then will the taboo fall away from the body of truth; then will the subject take its place among the “respectable” topics which may be considered, discussed, and taught, without loss of caste or prestige.
In a few decades, perhaps even much sooner, it will be regarded as quite reprehensible to permit young persons to enter into the relationship of marriage without a sane, practical knowledge of their own reproductive organism and the functions thereof, and of their physiological duties to themselves, to their companions in marriage, and to their children born or to be born. We may even see the practical application of the somewhat startling prophecy of Newell Dwight Hillis, D. D., who said: “The State that makes a man study two years before a license as druggist is given; that makes a young lawyer or doctor study three years before being permitted to practice; ought to ask the young man or young woman to pass an equally rigid examination before license is given to found an American home, and set up an American family.”
While the information above alluded to should be given alike to the young husband and the young wife, it cannot be doubted that the latter is the one of the pair who is most in need of this kind of instruction. While both the young man and the young woman require this instruction, the need is the greater in the case of the young woman, by the very nature of the case. The sex functions and processes play a much more important part in the life of the woman than in that of the man, the protests of some of the modern feminists to the contrary notwithstanding. The careful student of the sex life of men and women frankly confesses that in both the physical and the psychical realm the sex offices make a greater demand upon the time and attention of the woman than of the man.
The love-life of the woman is far fuller and more absorbing than is that of the man. Unhappiness concerning her love-life renders the remainder of the life of the average woman of comparatively little account; while, with a happy love-life she will put up cheerfully with the absence of many other things which are usually regarded as necessities for happiness. As a writer has said: “Essentially, a woman is made for love—not exclusively, but essentially; and a woman who has had no love in her life has been a failure.”
The same rule operates on the physical plane. As the same writer has said: “Physically, the woman is also much more cognizant of her sex and much more hampered by the manifestation of her sex nature than man is.” The manifestation of the incidents of menstruation is a constant reminder to the woman that she is a creature of sex. The phenomenon of pregnancy is, likewise, something from which the man is free. And, finally, the menopause, or “change of life,” with its incidents greatly influencing the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the woman, is Nature’s final word to the woman that she is the active pole of sex-life. As the above-quoted writer has said: “Altogether it cannot be denied that woman is much more a slave of her sex-nature than man is of his. Nature has handicapped woman much more heavily than she has man.”
And so, in this book, the young woman—the young wife—is directly addressed, her companion and mate being referred to only indirectly.