Men and women will have to live a more correct, pure, abstemious, and holy life, before they can attain to a standard of health and strength that will enable them to marry cousins with impunity.
That, being the most epically, awesomely weird sentence I have ever read, came from this bizarre little gem from 1869: books.google.com/books?id=_pBa…
"The Science of New Life". Dun Dunnnnn!
It opens with the mind blowing assertion that girls are taught to do anything it takes to get married, and suffer the consequences later; and that men are taught to regard women as lesser beings and do whatever they want to them.
How much has this changed, really? Girls are still steered towards that diamond ring in the sky, and boys are still steered towards being the superior of the sexes.
The writer thoroughly scolds society for punishing and shunning the 'fallen girl' while lauding the 'wild young man'. He points out that women have a bad habit of slut shaming, but doesn't let men off the hook for that either.
The sad sad state of sexual knowledge is lamented. How can a couple truly be happy if they don't know how to make each other happy in bed? Why must vital knowledge be withheld when the divorce rate was so high?
The divorce rate was so high because so many people, wanting so much to get the forbidden fruit finally, or because they feared being an old maid, or because they needed a housekeeper, married without really knowing their mate.
1869 - sounds just like 2013. 1953. 1987. Time marches on and we're still miring on with love, sex, and marriage; gender and gender roles.
The sexual politics of the time, however, are more harsh than most people would accept these days. The author points this out, that the laws of the time reduced women to chattel, slaves, and worse. She had no other recourse but divorce or death to escape a brutish husband. Why would she marry such a brute? We're back to the Marry At All Costs upbringing.
Women had undeniable rights, the author insists. The right to be educated and treated fairly, to vote, to be able to work at whatever profession she was suited for, to decide when she would have children, and most importantly, that she belonged to herself.
Heavy stuff for a nation that just got off a war that freed a lot of people from slavery. Women weren't slaves, they were wives. Wives had to be wives, take care of their men and all. If they got beaten, it was because they were bad wives.
The author even makes the amazing observation that a woman didn't actually need to be married.
Gender roles were taken to task. Kids should be raised just alike. Even dressed alike. Mainly because a man and woman who marry should be both educated alike with the same interests and such, but also because (at the time of the writing) there was a shortage of marriageable men. Not every woman was going to get her man, she should have a good and inspiring line of work. I mean, beyond being able to keep house. Because she should know that, too.
Not only that, but a man's work was not demeaning or immoral to a woman, not if she was properly dressed for the job, properly trained for the job, and what was the difference between working in a machine shop and peeling potatoes, anyhow?
Perhaps most shocking, the writer insists that women should know how their bodies worked, how their husband's body worked and … should never have sex unless she was frisky and wanting some action. He almost even describes how to insert tab B into slot A. WHEW!
It was a moral sin, he declared, that society does not openly engage in conversations about sex. People should all be aware of the no-no and how it works, maybe even swap handy hints and tips.
But, Deanna, you ask. What about the deliciously crazy quote you posted? This book sounds like it was written by a true progressive!
Well. I'm beginning to think that the reason that women's rights were so long in coming - though they had been proposed from the beginning of the the US (at least in the US, other countries may have been batting them around longer or shorter)- is because of books like this.
All of that good sense and good heart - and it's dunked into the thick, gooey, molasses of What The Fuck. This is a theme repeated over and over in books like this: morally upstanding and Christian Values and Modest books about Marriage, which actually do have good and positive messages - which are lost in the madness.
Also, these books were often authored by proponents of the 'Second Great Awakening' Christian religions: Restoration Movement, Seventh Day Adventist, Christian Scientist, and such. Most were vegetarian, or close; most tried to tie in scientific principals (with more or less - usually less) success.
They were appealing to the people fed up with the posturing and hypocrisy of the mainstream churches, to the new intellectuals who were following closely the scientific advancements and findings of the time, and promising not a 'return' to decency and purity and all that - but a road towards those things.
Although they try to conceal their particular affiliation, usually calling themselves simply 'Christian', the more you read, the more clear their particular religion is. That right there would keep it from becoming a mainstream book. Add into it that it does contain actual sexual knowledge and that the subject of women's rights was a radical thing as well, and most of these books were destined to sit in reading rooms and rarely see the light of day.
But they were a stepping stone.
This particular author gives actually very good advice for dating with a view towards marriage: get to know suitable mates, really know them, without the bane of romance over your head, as friends and learn how you truly work together… And then comes the crazy: Now exchange with your potential partner a phrenology chart. Compare them side by side. Over lunch or something. If that matches, proceed to the romance, you've earned it. If not, shake hands and thank each other for their time, yes, you'll still be friends.
Phrenology zoned! The worst.
But the crazy does not end there. Oh no. No, this is a rich, thick stew of Crazy, with many subtle nuances and flavors.
We continue to the Marrying of Our Attractive Cousins: No. You may not. Because you are bred badly. If you were well bred, which you aren't, you and your cousins could make an amazingly beautiful cousin dynasty. Be content in knowing there will be a time when we are all so perfectly bred that we shall someday be able to marry our cousins with impunity and join in that special magic that only cousin marriage can bring.
Then it swan dives into masterful what the fuckery. Despite giving actually very accurate information on the genitals and their functions, the process of pregnancy, and childbirth, it quickly departs from anything remotely resembling accuracy. Granted, this was 1869, and things like Phrenology were considered legitimate science - but it's still hilarious as hell.
By studiously mounting up on your wife from the right, and holding UP your right testicle while pushing DOWN your left, and leaning to the left to keep pressure on the right, you will allow the Right Ball to do the spewing, and Right Balls make boys. And though it was 'hardly necessary' to describe making girls, the writer did so. Really proving he was out to bat for women's rights.
If anyone tries this position… no, wait I don't actually want to know.
After the huffa-huffas have produced the desired results … a baby… NO MORE SEX. None. Nope. Sex is supposed to be delightful and done during the daylight, preferably nooners, between loving husband and wife … but only to make babies. You needed to save all of your magic sperm and women juice to make you strong.
The rolling ball of crazy kept on rolling… Before you set up that magical afternoon delight, you and your mate were to decide upon what sort of genius your baby to be would be. Engineer? You must both study upon it, talk about it, work with it. Then, find a photo or picture or bust of a particularly beautiful engineer and stare at it as much as possible. Both of you. Now frolic to the bedchamber, say a prayer to really get that groovin' mood on, and make you a baby!
Now it's all on the Mom. She must think happy thoughts or be wished out to the cornfield. Again, there's actually very solid common sense stuff in there, but it's so mashed up with nuts, how could it be taken seriously?
Though back in the day, it was a common belief that if Mom experienced anything unpleasant while pregnant, it could affect her unborn child, however, I've read many reports by medical doctors from the time who disputed that, except to agree a preggers mom should be kept happy.
The writer assures us that the baby so made will be a genius in the field you chose for them. They will also resemble whoever you and your mate stared at so long.
Genetics was kind of something for plants back then.
Now, if you screwed up the Make A Boy instructions from earlier (shame on you for getting that excited!), all was not lost. You just continued to raise your daughter exactly as you intended to raise a son. It was your duty, after all, you're the ones who impressed science on her so hard.
Interestingly, women's work IS demeaning to men, and any man doing woman's work ought to be ashamed of himself for being effeminate and taking a job away from a woman. So when impressing your child-to-be with a "genius", make sure you don't pick something sissy, in case you can't get that left nut up high enough.
It is also a product of its time, there are some very chilling reminders that this was written in 1869. "Age can no more marry youth than white can marry black" is right there alongside words about how women should be able to ask a man to marry her as easily as he asks her.
If you thought abortion was a modern day problem that arose during the 1960s and carried on with Roe vs Wade … you're in for a shock. Abortion was probably a bigger institution then than it is now. I don't have numbers to compare, but I'd venture there were far more abortions performed then than now simply because there was very little in the manner of birth control.
Of course, the mandatory horror stories of the dangers of masturbation. I found it interesting that the writer recognizes that girls do it too! I know you all do it. Sinners.
This book is peculiarly absent of tales of redemption from despotic lives. Basically, if you're a sinner, you're a sinner. Deal with it. Oh, and don't marry anyone and pass on the Sinner-isms. If you've married wrongly, get a divorce, quickly. But never marry again. You'll just pick the same sort of loser. Widowed? Oh, no, not unless you can easily tell that the deceased mate died of some honorable not being fucked to death cause.
You can be fucked to death, you remember that. Vampire men and women will drain you of your precious magic sperms or woman juice.
Usually, books like these include ways to return to the path of righteousness and become virtuous men and women and raise virtuous babies, but this one seems to be a seminal for the eugenics movement. If you aren't perfect in mind, body, and soul, that's okay - it was your parents fault - and if you are trying to reform from what they did to you, you must not reproduce. It's good that you're reforming, and we want that, but you are forever tainted. We will always know you are tainted because you're out of the gene pool, but we'll give you a hearty thumbs up for trying.
Once all of the bad people are out of the gene pool… bring on the sexy, sexy cousins.