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Monday, 14 February 2011

No Sex Please, We're Victorian, Or: The Dubious Work of Ruth Smythers

Today being Valentines Day, I was lucky enough to receive, prior to setting out for work, a small selection of gifts from Miss Amateur Casual, one of them being a rather humerous book entitled ‘Sex Tips for Husbands and Wives from 1894’ written by a Reverend’s wife named Ruth Smythers.

It was published in Spiritual Guidance Press, in New York, and then reprinted by The Madison Institute Newsletter later the same year, The Madison Institute being an enterprise ‘…to examine and discuss the problems of our time, with a view toward extending democratic principles and promoting social and economic justice…’

The pamphlet suggests the methods a newly married woman should employ to rebuff her perverted, sex-hungry new husband. It reads almost like an article in Punch, and, indeed many people believe it is just a joke. This theory is backed up by the fact that there are no records of a Reverend Smythers, or his wife, Ruth, nor the church to which they were attached, the Arcadian Methodist Church.

Some people believe it may have even been written in the 1960’s during the sexual revolution in America.
Whatever its origins, it is certainly a funny little piece of literature, and reads with what might be called typical Victorian prudery.

As its Valentines Day, I have decided to reproduce it here for your light-hearted merriment, and whether it is Victorian or not, it is a delightful pastiche of the upper class prudery of the age:


INSTRUCTION AND ADVICE
FOR THE
YOUNG BRIDE

on the
Conduct and Procedure of the
Intimate and Personal Relationships
of the Marriage State
for the
Greater Spiritual Sanctity of this
Blessed Sacrament and the Glory of God
by
Ruth Smythers
beloved wife of
The Reverend L.D. Smythers
Pastor of the Arcadian Methodist
Church of the Eastern Regional Conference
Published in the year
of our Lord 1894
To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life. On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must pay the piper, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.


At this point, dear reader, let me concede one shocking truth. Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.


On the other hand, the bride's terror need not be extreme. While sex is at best revolting and at worse rather painful, it has to be endured, and has been by women since the beginning of time, and is compensated for by the monogamous home and by the children produced through it.
It is useless, in most cases, for the bride to prevail upon the groom to forego the sexual initiation. While the ideal husband would be one who would approach his bride only at her request and only for the purpose of begetting offspring, such nobility and unselfishness cannot be expected from the average man.


Most men, if not denied, would demand sex almost every day. The wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly during the first months of marriage. As time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency.
Feigned illness, sleepiness, and headaches are among the wife's best friends in this matter. Arguments, nagging, scolding, and bickering also prove very effective, if used in the late evening about an hour before the husband would normally commence his seduction.
Clever wives are ever on the alert for new and better methods of denying and discouraging the amorous overtures of the husband. A good wife should expect to have reduced sexual contacts to once a week by the end of the first year of marriage and to once a month by the end of the fifth year of marriage.


By their tenth anniversary many wives have managed to complete their child bearing and have achieved the ultimate goal of terminating all sexual contacts with the husband. By this time she can depend upon his love for the children and social pressures to hold the husband in the home.
Just as she should be ever alert to keep the quantity of sex as low as possible, the wise bride will pay equal attention to limiting the kind and degree of sexual contacts. Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices. These practices include among others performing the normal act in abnormal positions; mouthing the female body; and offering their own vile bodies to be mouthed in turn.


Nudity, talking about sex, reading stories about sex, viewing photographs and drawings depicting or suggesting sex are the obnoxious habits the male is likely to acquire if permitted.
A wise bride will make it the goal never to allow her husband to see her unclothed body, and never allow him to display his unclothed body to her. Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practiced only in total darkness. Many women have found it useful to have thick cotton nightgowns for themselves and pajamas for their husbands. These should be donned in separate rooms. They need not be removed during the sex act. Thus, a minimum of flesh is exposed.


Once the bride has donned her gown and turned off all the lights, she should lie quietly upon the bed and await her groom. When he comes groping into the room she should make no sound to guide him in her direction, lest he take this as a sign of encouragement. She should let him grope in the dark. There is always the hope that he will stumble and incur some slight injury which she can use as an excuse to deny him sexual access.
When he finds her, the wife should lie as still as possible. Bodily motion on her part could be interpreted as sexual excitement by the optimistic husband.


If he attempts to kiss her on the lips she should turn her head slightly so that the kiss falls harmlessly on her cheek instead. If he attempts to kiss her hand, she should make a fist. If he lifts her gown and attempts to kiss her anyplace else she should quickly pull the gown back in place, spring from the bed, and announce that nature calls her to the toilet. This will generally dampen his desire to kiss in the forbidden territory.
If the husband attempts to seduce her with lascivious talk, the wise wife will suddenly remember some trivial non-sexual question to ask him. Once he answers she should keep the conversation going, no matter how frivolous it may seem at the time.


Eventually, the husband will learn that if he insists on having sexual contact, he must get on with it without amorous embellishment. The wise wife will allow him to pull the gown up no farther than the waist, and only permit him to open the front of his pajamas to thus make connection.
She will be absolutely silent or babble about her housework while his huffing and puffing away. Above all, she will lie perfectly still and never under any circumstances grunt or groan while the act is in progress. As soon as the husband has completed the act, the wise wife will start nagging him about various minor tasks she wishes him to perform on the morrow. Many men obtain a major portion of their sexual satisfaction from the peaceful exhaustion immediately after the act is over. Thus the wife must insure that there is no peace in this period for him to enjoy. Otherwise, he might be encouraged to soon try for more.


One heartening factor for which the wife can be grateful is the fact that the husband's home, school, church, and social environment have been working together all through his life to instill in him a deep sense of guilt in regards to his sexual feelings, so that he comes to the marriage couch apologetically and filled with shame, already half cowed and subdued. The wise wife seizes upon this advantage and relentlessly pursues her goal first to limit, later to annihilate completely her husband's desire for sexual expression.

3 comments:

  1. Hilarious! I'm leaning towards pastiche simply because it says much more than you'd expect. However, still a fantastic read on Valentine's Day!

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  2. It certainly is a little 'detailed' - especially for a Reverend's wife of the 1890's.

    If it was written in the Victorian period I wouldn't be surprised if it was as some Punch-esque joke that the public took seriously, meaning it passed through time being taken for something it wasn't.

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