What follows are excerpts from my new book The Changing Face of Sex that is based on my experiences as a sex therapist, a sex researcher and professor teaching courses in Understanding Human Sexuality over the last 45 years. The book will be available in mid December.
Chapter Two: The Victorian Anti-sex movement
Physicians providing masturbation to treat hysteria
… masturbation was used as a treatment for the common problem of female hysteria by physicians of the time. What in the world did they think they were doing?
In the last half of the 19th century many women suffered from “female hysteria,” a condition that involved a number of vague, but chronic complaints probably related to the society’s heavy repression of normal sexual desires.
Sleeplessness, nervousness, and irritability were the main symptoms and were found to be successfully treated by the physician massaging the woman’s clitoris. With the massage the woman would have a sudden seizure and sense of relief of the symptoms. Since women were not supposed to have sexual feelings, the doctors did not believe it was an orgasm.
….An interesting aside is that doing the manipulation of the clitoris was often a stressful procedure for the physician and his fingers got tired, thus the invention of the electric vibrator as a labor saving treatment aid. Vibrators became an immediate hit. Their use produced the seizure quickly, and in the early 20th century women found they could treat themselves; ads appeared in the Sears & Roebuck catalogue offering a neat compact vibrator with three applicators that was useful and satisfactory for home service for $5.95.
Chapter Four: The Need for Sex Education
I am not sure which came first—the girl who collapsed in my Individual Differences psychology class as the result of a poorly done abortion or the first client who was having complications due to an abortion. I believe both occurred in 1968.
It didn’t take much questioning to find that many abortions were being done in the late 1960s, that they were illegal and that St. Louis had many what were then called back alley abortionists, despite the fact that some of these practitioners were actually quite well trained and were doing the procedure for humanitarian reasons.
Many of the abortionists were women who were very practiced at their art because so many women were seeking abortions. Some women were doing self-induced home abortions, and as a result there were deaths from infections and hemorrhaging.
With this new influx of clients who were pregnant, the counseling staff was forced to consider how to help girls who came in with unwanted pregnancies. We decided to go over the choices that were possible, which at the time were: have the baby and keep it, have the baby and give it up for adoption, persuade the man to marry her, or get an abortion.
…It was at this point I received a call from the campus lawyer who informed me that I was being an accessory before the fact to what was a crime in Missouri, and that I could be called into court for counseling women to get an abortion…
…When I checked with the head of the Student Health Center as to what they were doing about birth control, I was informed it was not the university’s business to be concerned about such matters and to provide birth control would be inappropriate...
…This is probably the only time in history when the entering freshmen were more sexually active than the graduating seniors. In any case sexual intercourse was being engaged in, and no one on campus seemed to want to deal with either the prequel or the consequences.
Thus came my first stab at sex education—birth control…
…This “bootlegged” sex education program encountered considerable resistance from both campus and community officials. The common wisdom was that such information would only lead to sexual behavior and an increase in the number of pregnancies and abortions.
Chapter 14: Homosexuals and the fight for recognition at UMC
… I learned that homosexuality was both a criminal act and a mental illness. This was 1954 and I heard serious discussions about using brain surgery, castration and electroshock therapy as treatment methods. This convinced me that homosexuality was a very serious mental disorder.
Adding to this was the fact that homosexuality was also a crime, a felony in some states and a misdemeanor in others. I still had not worked with any openly homosexual clients, but did wonder what kind of fiends they must be.
This concern about homosexuality was increased in my second year of doctoral studies at UMC when the word went around that a special agent had been appointed by the state legislature to root out homosexuals from the campus. There was a standing policy that homosexuals were not to be enrolled at the university and that the Health Center and the Counseling Center were to report any such activity and arrange that those students were counseled out of the university.
The state legislature felt that these rules were not being followed and that outside intervention was needed to enforce the rules. John Ford (name changed) was the investigator assigned to the task, and we were informed that he was to receive full cooperation from the university. Given what we now know, he had been placed in charge of getting rid of at least four percent of our students.
…My next experience had to do with the men’s toilet in the library. It was a two-room affair with an entry room and a room with the urinals and stools. A wall with a door appeared in the entry room and one of the mirrors above the sinks changed color. I recognized it as a one-way mirror from my work at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute. I did not recognize it as a way of observing homosexual behavior, never having heard of toilets as a meeting place for homosexuals. A reporter for the local paper broke the mirror with a brick he carried in his briefcase and found a hole in the wall with a chair in the newly created room.
This is where rooting out homosexuality stood when I left the campus for an internship with the Veterans Administration. Little did I know that one day I would be the one assigned to root out homosexuality from the campus.