The Art of Love, W.F. Robie, M.D., Eugenics Publishing Company, Inc. 1921.
The first sign that The Art of Love Might Actually contain a few words of sense is the announcement at the very beginning that the book is "Privately Printed. For distribution only to members of the recognized professions," followed by the statement at page 10 that "The sale of this book is limited strictly to members of the recognized professions." The warnings are somewhat false however. No matter how much the professionals of the time may have needed it, this book, at least the first part of it, is clearly intended as a "how-to" manual, with a healthy dose of how not to thrown in for good measure. It is, in fact, direct advice about sex to those who most need it, as evidenced by the advice found at 103-104 that bathing can improve ones sex life. Nor is it likely that the average professional in the field would need the description of the vagina and its purpose.
The remarkable part, considering the time, is that the book manages to convey quite a bit of good advice. He recommends that people educate themselves about sex, not only by reading him, but also such books as the Kama Sutra. p 19. And he states that "A knowledge of the art of love is necessary to insure that men and women of good minds and high aims keep moral and happy, monogamous and healthy." p283. He also recommends that couples experiment with sex and sexual positions, that they feel free to display and touch one another bodies, and that "any other position which is mutually pleasing is just as correct." Pages 55-56, 101, 294.
Even more remarkably, he consistently defends and recommends masturbation for those whose circumstances deprive them of an appropriate sex partner, pages 70, 130-134, 323 finding it preferable to promiscuous sex, page 229, and stating that it is a perversion only when it supplants the "normal" act, page 323.
He also has some sound views on contraception, noting that those who adopt the rhythm method exclusively are likely to find themselves, after how ever many children in the same number of years, looking for more effective measures. Page 123.
And he is a fan of the female orgasm, supporting her complete satisfaction, 83, and prolongation of the sex act, 182. And taking Karezza to task for the view that women do not need orgasms and that orgasm is not natural and "cultivates the merely sexual at the expense of the affectional, the romantic, the spiritual." 156-157.
But no one can be right all the time, especially when writing about sex in 1921. Some of his oddities are simply quaint, such as his statement that "Woman should take her cue from man, when she finds out what her husband's real sex nature is. She should endeavour not to tax him too severely, either by repression or by overexercise. I put this obligation on the woman, since it is too obvious to discuss and too well-known to be denied that a woman is not harmed by intercourse of any frequency, but is almost invariably benefitted if it is moderately frequent, provided she desires it and derives complete satisfaction every time." 83.
Other views are a little more difficult to take. Like many authors of the time, he views the decision not to marry or not to have children as bordering on treason. He says that "Childless couples (when fertile and sound) are a menace to civilization; and their early supreme selfishness acts to destroy the ends they had had anticipated, and they finally become dissatisfied and anti-social. p. 124. And "We must not disregard entirely the single men, for while we regard with aversion these unmarried men, so preeminently possessed of porcine proclivities that they will not marry for the welfare and happiness of some woman and for the welfare of society, neglecting their own greatest assetfor happiness, health and development by this denial, but who pillage the dearest of all human possessions by patronizing the institution of prostitution or by seeking clandestine illicity relations, who eke out a vicarious community life as social onlookers and non-contributors, who parasitically suck the paps whose milk belongs to others by 'sponging' intermittently on the homes of their married friends, seeking in this shameful or shameless way the feminine society and intimacy that every real man must have... " p. 128. Not to mention his statement that "Selfish, extravagant, profligate, non-marrying men must be made to understand that it is a disgraceful indictment against them for our lovable and virtuous and unequaled American womanhood to be threatened with Amazonian bands or Lesbian plague-spots." 330.
And, of course, there is the fact that he considers women unfit to vote or, apparently to participate in public life. This disability is, in his view, anatomically, phiologically and biologically based. 341. In fact, he appears to actually believe that men, as a class, are more evolved than women. 343. Women who are capable of exercising the right to vote and of acting independently are written off as inconsiderate of those women for whom freedom would be a curse. 341-342.
He rejects 'free-love' on similar grounds of female incompetence, stating that "all forms of free-love association are utterly opposed to all permanent individual happiness and to any real racial progress." 337 In short, the only appropriate relationship is a monogamous union between a man and a woman with the man in charge. And setting the pace. Fortunately he would at least allow the rest of us to masturbate.
His conclusions, summarized at 344, are that "chastity" should be compelled until a reasonable age for marriage, economic conditions should be such as to allow both sexes to marry at a reasonable age, both parties to a marriage should have knowledge of the art of love, the "unfit" should be sterilized and allowed to marry among themselves afterwards, that it should be made it a disgrace for a healthy married pair to not have children, and all should be taught that sublimation is okay but so is masturbation.