Woman: Her Sex and Love Life, William J. Robinson, Eugenics Publishing Company (1936) Original (1917)..

This book is designed as a book about sex for women and girls. I find it somewhat hard to imagine parents of the time finding it suitable for any woman under 30, or maybe 50, or maybe never. But then, since the author at least once uses the term "adult girl," it isn't really clear where he is aiming either. He seems to have a rather contradictory agenda, as he seeks to scare girls and women half to death about normal everyday activities, yet encourages them in behavior, and in accepting behavior, that doesn't really match the mores of the times (or probably these).

In a part of the scare campaign, he states that masturbation is bad "because it is apt to injure the health and future development of the girl. The more frequently it is practiced, the more injurious it is. It is more injurious than when practiced by boys, because the effects are usually more permanent. Girls who indulge in the habit of masturbation to excess not only weaken themselves, become anemic and get a dingy, pimply complexion, but they lose their desire for normal sexual relations when they grow up and are unable to derive any pleasure from the sexual act when they get married." p 135. As a result, while he wisely counsels against becoming hysterical when a child is discovered masturbating, and against denouncing the child as evil, he nevertheless says that the child should be told that "it is doing something that may injure it greatly, that may interfere with its future mental and physical health and development." p. 138 see also p. 302 ("Cases that have been addicted to excessive masturbation are very apt to develop not only frigidity, but complete aversion to the sexual act, and inability to experience any pleasure or orgasm.") He even counsels against "mental masturbation" which he says is extremely injurious and exhausting and is very likely to lead to neurasthenia and a nervous breakdown." p. 142.

He would also have women be completely paranoid about germs, especially those that might cause venereal disease. He would have women douche once a day during their period, as well as before and after sex. PP. 80 and 178. One of the chemicals he recommends mixing in for the latter is Lysol. p. 178. He would also have them avoid ever using public toilets. Id. And for the coup de grace of unreasoning paranoia, he says "I have now under treatment a girl of nineteen who contracted syphilis on her summer vacation from having kissed a man once. Avoid promiscuous kissing! It is a bad practice for more than one reason." p.180.

And he would have women with their periods in bed or lounging on sofas, not stressing themselves with baths of more disturbing temperatures than lukewarm. p. 80-81.

As an educator, he has some good ideas, some questionable information, and some assertions that are positively offensive.

On the bright side, he states that "No girl, and no man for that matter, should enter the bonds of matrimony without learning the latest means of preventing conception, of regulating the number of offspring." p 244. And he goes on to say "In fact, I consider this the most important item in a woman's sex education, and if she has learned nothing else, she should learn this. For this information is absolutely necessary to her future health and happiness." p. 277.

He also states that a woman should "not nurse the medieval idea that because you are not a virgin in the physical sense, you are 'ruined,' 'no good' and an outcast. You are nothing of the kind. If through some cause or another you are no longer in possession of an intact hymen, it is your affair or misfortune and nobody else's. Do not on that account cast your eyes dowm and avoid meeting people. Carry your head high, do not fear to meet people, and treat with contempt the jeers of the stupid and ignorant. A person's entire character does not depend upon the presence or absence of the hymen, and one misstep should not ruin a person's whole life. p. 272. Of course, it is not so clear how that goes along with the statement that "Respectable girls and women do not indulge in illicit relations the same as respectable men and boys do, and their danger of contracting a venereal disease is insignificant as compared with men's liability. p 158.

And he says that "here is as good a place as any to refer to the notion so assiduously inculcated in the minds of young women, that a persistent refusal of man's demands is a sure way of keeping a man's affections; that as soon as man has satisfied his desires he has no further use for the girl. The may be the case with the lowest dregs -- morally -- of the male sex; it is the opposite of true of the male sex as a whole. And I believe that Marcel Prevost was the first one to point it out (in his Le Jardin Secret). Nothing will hold a man's affections so surely as normal sex relations." p. 321.

Sometimes he tends to the obvious, as in " It must be stated, however, that to some husbands relations with frigid and non-participating wives are extremely distasteful." p 234. Or "I am speaking now of love, and not of 'being in love.' Being in love, as pointed out in another place, is a distinctly pathological phenomenon, akin to insanity." p 323.

On the more questionable side is the information that females discharge mucus, an "emission or pollution," when they have erotic dreams, pp 58-59, and that "In the male sex, pollutions play an important role ... because the semen is a vital fluid, and if it is lost too frequently the system is put under a heavy drain. In boys or men the pollution or night losses may occur several times a week or even every night, or several times a night. When they occur with such frequency, the man may become a wreck. Not so with women. First, pollutions or night dreams in women are much more rare than they are in men; and second, as just mentioned, the fluid secreted by women during intercourse or during an erotic dream is not of a vital character, as the semen is in man; it is mucus, and the secretion of a mucous fluid, even if somewhat excessive, does not constitute a drain on the system. For this reason women can stand frequently repeated sex relations and emissions or pollutions much better than men." p.59.

Also questionable are his statements about venereal disease being more common among the "lower strata" of society, where one might "find fifty per cent of infection, with a very large percentage of those uncured. Not because they are of a lower morality than the higher classes, but because the cheap class of prostitutes that they are obliged to patronize are frequently diseased and because they cannot afford expert treatment, or any treatment at all." p 156.

And he has great fears of the female libido. Of the problems of menopausal women still wanting sex, he says "Where the woman's libido is normal or near normal, then naturally it should be normally gratified. But if the libido seems to be abnormally strong and the demands for sexual gratification are too frequent, then the woman should be treated and sexual gratification should not be indulged in, because in such cases, as a rule, sexual gratification only adds fuel to the fire, and the woman's demands may become more and more frequent, more and more insistent. In exceptional cases, it may even reach the intensity of nymphomania. In such cases the aid of a tactful physician is indispensible." p. 133 (One wonders exactly what this tactful physician is to do). It is of dire importance however, as the female libido can kill - "A wife possessed of excessive libido is a terrible calamity for a husband of a normal or moderate sexuality. Many a libidinous wife has driven her husband, especially if she is young and he is old, to a premature grave. ... It would be a good thing if a man could find out the character of his future wife's libido before marriage. Unfortunately, it is impossible. ... But a really excessive libido on the part of either husband or wife should constitute a valid ground for divorce." p 237. It seems more than possible to me that a man should be able to find out the character of his future wife's libido before marriage, but what do I know? But the fact that it cannot perhaps is the reason for his conclusion that "Nymphomaniac women should not be permitted to marry or run around loose, but should be confined to institutions in which they can be subjected to proper treatment." p 238.

He also has some interesting ideas about the differences between the sexes, though he tries his best not to, or to pay lip service to the idea that he does not. Based on the fact that sperm swim while eggs stay relatively still he concludes that biology tells us that "in choosing a mate the man will always be the active factor or pursuer." p 87 Thus he concludes that while it might be nice if it were otherwise, "What was decided among the prehistoric Protozoa cannot be annulled by act of Parliament." p 87. He further states that "feeblemindedness or weak mentality is much more difficult to to detect in a woman than it is in a man. Weakmindedness in a woman often passes for 'cuteness, and as among the conservatives a woman is not expected to be able to discuss current topics, her intellectual caliber is often not discovered by the blinded husband until some weeks after the marriage ceremony." p 219.

But he also has views that I am afraid go beyond "questionable" or "interesting" all the way t offensive. He tells us that "it is practically impossible for a man to commit rape on a normal adult girl or woman if she really offers all the resistance of which she is capable," and "that it has been established that of the many accusations of rape brought before the courts, most are false." p 309. He also tells us that "A homosexual man or woman has no right to marry. The wrong committed by a homosexual marrying is a double one: it is wrong to the partner, wrong to the children. ... Homosexuality is hereditary, and nobody has a right to bring homosexuals into the world, for there is no unhappier being than a homosexual." p 230.

And, he didn't get himself into the Eugenics press for nothing - he says "What should we do when the parents, stupid and ignorant, refuse to stop breeding worthless material? Eugenic agitation, education, will bring about such a strong public opinion that none but idiots, who will be vasectomized or segregated, will date to bring into the world children that are physically and mentally handicapped. p 255. He even goes so far as to recommend against marrying "paupers" lest "some of the ancestral traits ... become manifest in the children." p 242.

So what is his point, besides general education? Generally, no matter how much they say, each of these authors has something that is their real point - the thing that is maybe different than the others and that they push a bit more. For Dr. Robinson, that would appear to be a lack of sexual exclusivity, at least for men.

He starts out with an easy enough point: "I will digress here for a moment to state that the fear that a person has ceased to love us because he loves somebody else is often groundless. It is based upon the erroneous and vicious idea that a man cannot love two women at the same time, or that a woman cannot love two men at the same time. Psychologists, particularly those who have made a special study of sexual psychology, know that this idea is false." 380 And then he gets het up a bit, saying that the other elements that make up jealousy are "fear, vanity, anger, envy and pain. None of them admirable qualities, none of them, with the exception of the first and the last, even deserving our compassion. All of them anti-social and anti-individual qualities. Should not everything be done to eradicate such a rank weed, which draws its sustenance from roots each one of which is dipped in poison?" p 381. But while he tries hard to say that this right to be with others should be for both men and women, he cannot quite bring himself to that point. NOte the differences between the treatment of the two sexes in this quote: "While women are getting in the way "We must teach our woman and men this truth, teach it from puberty on. We must show them that not every woman can necessarily occupy every nook and corner of a man's mind and heart, and that there is nothing humiliating to the woman in such an idea (and vice versa). ... Then we must teach our men that when they marry a woman she does not become their chattel, their piece of property, which nobody may touch, nobody may look at or smile at. A woman may be a very good, faithful wife and still enjoy the companionship of other men, the pressure of another man's hand, or ... even an occasional kiss." p 386. And in this one: "And I will take this opportunity to say that I have the deepest contempt for the wife who, on finding out that her husband has committed a transgression or that he has a love affair, leaves him in a huff, or makes a public scandal, or sues for divorce. Such a wife never loved her husband, and he is well rid of her. And what I said about the wife applies with almost equal force to the husband." p 399.