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April 10, 2007

Apparently The Fifties Were Just Like People Say

While it's been zipping around online for years, I've only now learned about a book from the fifties called On Becoming a Woman. It's full of important information on this delicate subject, such as:

The practice of masturbation lowers a young woman's regard for her reproductive organs.

That is so, so true.

The author, Harold Shryock, M.A, M.D., is also full of intriguing anecdotes like this:

My wife and I were once guests in a girls' dormitory. The dean in charge of this dormitory told us it had been rumored among her girls that two of their group had developed this homosexual type of attraction for each other. As a result of the rumor, practically all the girls were panic-stricken. Whether the rumor about the two girls was true, I do not know. But the panic resulting from the rumor was very real, and it required considerable tact by the one in charge of the dormitory to convince the group of girls that no tragedy was about to occur.

It's this kind of thing that makes you understand how Vietnam happened.

A FAQ for the book is here.


Posted at April 10, 2007 06:17 PM | TrackBack

What kind of thing makes you understand how Iraq happened?

Posted by: David Brent at April 10, 2007 07:22 PM

Speaking for myself, the kind of thing that makes me understand why Iraq happened is called corporatism, Reagan, Bush, Gingrich, Limbaugh, O'Hannity, Savage, Rove, and yea, even al. (Not being of as ordered a mind as the author of Numbers, I am restricting myself to ones I can actually claim life experience of.)

But, as for Dr. Shryock, words fail. At least my own personal tormenters/indoctinators in the 50's and 60's were only Southern Baptist and Methodist.

Lord love a duck! The worst part, in my opinion, is that we still have too many of Dr. Shryock's doctrinal heirs mucking up the world.


Posted by: Deborah at April 10, 2007 08:31 PM

"[T]he routine duties that accompany homemaking will fill your time so that you will hardly have an opportunity to realize that your cherished day-dreams have come true." Damn, that's harshing my buzz.

Posted by: buermann at April 10, 2007 08:35 PM

Sorry, but I too don't see the connection between female masturbation and Vietnam. But I might just be being obtuse.

And the '50s were benign, but hardly worth repeating.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEBâ„¢ at April 10, 2007 08:53 PM

The '50s were far from benign if you happened to be black.

Posted by: Swedish Chef at April 10, 2007 09:37 PM

Hey Spiiderweb, I think the connection Jonathan is making is the one between views that were reactionary and ignorant, even for their time, and a willingness to be led into a war that had already proven unwinnable.

Posted by: Scruggs at April 10, 2007 10:17 PM

I think masturbation was winnable, but I get your point.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEBâ„¢ at April 10, 2007 10:42 PM

pickup line of century: "hey baby, do i irritate you?"

Posted by: hibiscus at April 10, 2007 11:38 PM

Spiiderweb, the tragedy is that it was winnable, if only the people had kept the will to see it through to the end.

Posted by: Scruggs at April 11, 2007 12:23 AM

Reading along it occurs to me how extremely liberal that document it is. It's basically first generation sex-ed. What was happening before somebody got the brilliant idea to write a misogynist instruction manual? I have no idea, maybe something better. The clitoridectomy business didn't get going here until the late 19th century and didn't stop until the 1950s, if that's any indication.

But with progress like that you can better understand how the Spanish-American war happened.

Posted by: buermann at April 11, 2007 12:38 AM

Regarding Iraq and Vietnam: Vietnam was a much more incremental committment, to the point that often those in power didn't know exactly how they had got where they were. That's why the Pentagon papers were commissioned. In that situation, most in power short-sightedly saw escalation as the only way out.

Iraq, by contrast was a very clear decision to go to war or not. There was misleading on the why, but not so much on the how war would unfold (at the outset anyway). What exactly America would do in Vietnam was never as clear. Its involvement there spanned two decades without much clear purpose.

Posted by: graeme at April 11, 2007 12:11 PM

Well I don't get this connection between Viet Nam and masturbation, but if we don't stop touching Iraq we'll go blind (and broke, and get dumber and dumber and dumber and dumber...kinda like the people who think that the nine years in Viet Nam, and half a million US troops that were committed there, and the dropping of more weight in bombs than in all of World War II, became a loss because of a loss of "will").

Posted by: DBK at April 11, 2007 02:46 PM

Well, DBK, there's one connection. The people who advocate the "loss of will" thing about Vietnam are masturbating.

Posted by: Kip W at April 11, 2007 03:08 PM

and irritable

Posted by: hibiscus at April 11, 2007 08:38 PM

The thing about VIET NAM (besides being 3 wars back)IS that we learned nothing then and we will learn even less about it now. (example Iraq)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at April 12, 2007 02:58 AM