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Apr 15, 2017

Would You Have Been Good At Being A Woman 100+ Years Ago?

Hope you're not too attached to masturbation. Or sexual desire. Or sex.

So, you're clear(ish) on modern womanhood. But how much do you know about being a girl or woman in the US ~120 years ago?

Retroatelier / Getty Images

Now you can test your knowledge. This quiz comes from the information in the 1899 book What a Young Woman Ought to Know, a guide for girls and women on everything from diet and fitness to bathing, menstruation, sexual health, and manners, by Dr. Mary Wood-Allen.

  1. Which of the following activities is most detrimental to women?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    "The reading of sensational love stories is most detrimental."

    Reading stories with erotic love scenes is harmful to women's mental and sexual health, according to the author. She says: "The descriptions of passionate love scenes arouse in the reader a thrill through her own sexual organism that tends to increase its activity and derange its normal state."

  2. Which of the following is
    a euphemism for masturbation?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    "Solitary vice."

    The author refers to masturbation as "solitary vice," as in: "You will not need to be told of the loss of physical strength or of beauty, of memory or of reason, through evil habits of solitary vice, for they will have no temptation for you, even as you do not need threats of police and prisons to keep you from stealing, because honesty is the active and guiding principle of your life." Speaking from 2017, my question is: Since when does masturbation have to be solitary OR a vice?

  3. Flirting with men for fun (without intending to let them pursue you in earnest) is, in its cruelty, like what?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Throwing Christians to wild beasts and watching them while being torn to pieces.

    The author says that flirting with men for one's own amusement and then casting them aside when you tire of their adoration is akin, in its cruelty, to the practice in "olden days" when "men amused themselves by throwing Christians to wild beasts and watching them while being torn to pieces." Really makes you think.

  4. Why shouldn't a woman offer platonic comfort to
    a man in distress?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Being babied doesn't strengthen men's moral fiber.

    When a woman offers platonic or sisterly sympathy to a man, "he may go away feeling comforted, even as a baby might be quieted by petting; but his moral fiber has not been strengthened; he has not been made to feel stronger to do and dare." NOTED. Take care of yerselves, men.

  5. Which form of exercise should a woman not do while menstruating?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    It is not wise to indulge in swimming while menstruating.

    Even though swimming is "not only a valuable exercise, but it really conduces to the safety of life in these days of constant boat travel," it's not something a woman should do while she has her period. No word on why, but maybe menstruation makes you sink instead of float? IDK.

  6. Love is true and worthy when it contains which three things between both parties?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Intellectual congeniality, spiritual sympathy, and physical attraction.

    As the author explains, "Love, to be worthy of the name, must rest, not on the fact of admiration for beauty, not on the physical attraction manifested in sweet electric thrills. Love should include intellectual congeniality and spiritual sympathy, as well as physical attraction. Lacking any one of these three ingredients, the interest of two people in each other should not be called love." OK, this is actually not unreasonable.

  7. What double standard should women reject?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    That men should sow their wild oats while women should remain pure and virtuous.

    In fact, the author explains that some women think that as long as a man gets his act together and becomes virtuous before he marries, it's as if his past indiscretions don't matter. But actually, "even one lapse from virtue is enough to taint the young man" with syphilis, which he could then pass to his future wife, thereby ruining his life and his family's lives. The author says that even if the men reform before marriage, women should not "shut their eyes to the derelictions of young men." HEAR, HEAR, MARY WOOD-ALLEN!

  8. Once engaged, is it permissible to give in to your fiancé's ~caresses~?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    You should not have sex even if you're engaged.

    To allow caresses and endearments, even when engaged, will "infringe upon the moral code." Chaste love is superior. Debatable, but OK.

  9. What should women avoid consuming?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Tea, coffee, and alcohol.

    "Tea and coffee are not foods. They are irritants, stimulants, nerve-poisons. They bring nothing to the system to build it up." And as for alcohol, those "products interfere with digestion" and should be avoided. Now we're crossing a line.

  10. Should women wear corsets?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Corsets can compress and displace the internal organs; they should not be worn.

    Wearing a corset is an insult to the divine creator because it interferes with the functions of the vital organ, which should be allowed to function perfectly. "The activity of the body is an evidence of its life, and if it is so tied up that it cannot be active, it certainly is not in the fullest condition of life," the author writes. I mean, that sounds basically right.

  11. Why should girls be told about menstruation before it happens?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Girls should be told about menstruation because if they don't know to expect bleeding, they might wash their undergarments, put them on wet, and die of a cold.

    When girls aren't told about menstruation, their first period takes them by surprise and they become distraught upon seeing their blood. She says: "I have known of girls who washed their clothes in cold water and put them on wet, and so took cold and perhaps checked the menstrual flow, and as a consequence were injured for life, or may even have died years after as a result of this unwise conduct." Pretty steep price to pay, folks. Let's all talk about menstruation more.

  12. What activity can cause menstruation to happen earlier than it should?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Reading novels can cause a girl to "become a woman" months or years before she should.

    The author explains that reading novels — especially romance novels — excites the bodily organs, which leads to premature development (i.e., menstruation). Nonfiction is prob fine.

  13. What can contribute to troublesome periods?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Thinking about sex matters during menstruation can make your period worse.

    "It is a scientific fact that thinking continually of an organ tends to disturb that organ," the author writes. So freeing your mind of your organ and sex matters during menstruation will improve your period. Not worth it, obvs.

  14. When is it appropriate to acknowledge one's own sexual arousal?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    When it happens within marriage.

    "The only natural method of arousing a recognition of sexual feeling is as God has appointed in holy marriage." So, just FYI.

  15. Is it acceptable for women to smoke cigarettes?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Women should not smoke, as it is a lowering of the standard of womanhood.

    The author says that she has observed girls who smoke secretly for fun, but "it was a lowering of the standard of womanhood; it was tampering with a poison; it was something to be ashamed of, rather than something to call fun." (But mostly it's just super bad for you.)

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