Sexual foreplay in American marital advice literature, 1900-1925

“Kiss without shame, for she desires it”: sexual foreplay in American marital advice literature, 1900-1925

Peter Laipson

In 1932, a young man named Arthur sought advice from William J. Fielding, the author of Sanity and Sex, Sex and the Love-Life and several “little blue books” on sexual topics. “I am contemplating marriage with a virtuous, beautiful Southern girl who is the acme of all my ideals in woman,” he wrote, “but … I am afraid. Yes afraid, because I am under a terrible fear that I am impotent…. The facts are these. I realize that in order to get the maximum degree of pleasure out of sexual intercourse, the husband must learn to control his discharge of semen until the wife is about to reach the climax, then both should let go together. But with me, I fear that control is beyond my grasp. I am like a rooster, a few quick thrusts and I spend.” After noting that he had recently given up masturbation for basketball to relieve his “store of excess energy,” Arthur concluded, “I want to be a perfect lover but my fear that I will be unable to reach the climax with my future wife is what worry’s [sic] me…. Won’t you help me, sir?”

In his response, Fielding explained that the man seemed to suffer from ejaculatio precox [sic] and suggested several options for sexual satisfaction, including non-simultaneous orgasm and manual stimulation of the wife after his ejaculation. He also noted,

After you are married, you should find it helpful in getting your wife fully aroused sexually (that is, of course, after she is sexually initiated) by various stimulus of love-play, so that she will reach her climax more readily. This, in all cases, is more or less a matter of experimentation, and it takes time to achieve the best results.(1)

This remarkable letter speaks volumes about the transformation in American sexual expectations from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Fearful that a man could become a “slave to his passions,” Victorian advisors had counseled only occasional indulgence, limiting the acceptable frequency of intercourse throughout the life cycle as well as proscribing it entirely during a woman’s pregnancy and menses.(2) No guide recommended intercourse more than once weekly; most suggested relations far less frequently.(3) As Anita and Gordon Fellman have observed, “Few, if any of the sex guides had an exuberant, self-confident view of sexual expression and so the reader was given the impression that moderate sexual expression was like a path through a minefield, a risky trek requiring markers both for the danger spots and for the safe areas.”(4)

As Arthur’s letter to Fielding suggests, sex may have been no less a minefield in the twentieth century than it was in the nineteenth, but both the path and the rules for traversing it had changed significantly. For one thing, Arthur assumed that mutual sexual satisfaction was a sine qua non of a normal sex life and that his “virtuous, beautiful” future wife would have sexual desires it was his obligation as a husband to satisfy. Indeed, Arthur’s letter predicated not only his own sexual pleasure but his masculine competence on the ability to gratify his wife.

The idea that a woman’s natural impulses inclined at all toward the erotic was a novel one, since many Victorian advisors had claimed that men were the only ones with carnal desires.(5) Dr. William Acton, author of Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs, spoke for many nineteenth-century advisors on women’s sexuality when he wrote that “the majority of women (happily for them) are not very much troubled with sexual feelings of any kind. What men are habitually, women are only exceptionally.”(6) In a similar vein, George Napheys observed that “only in very rare instances do women feel one tithe of the sexual feeling which is familiar to most men. Many of them are entirely frigid, and not even in marriage do they ever perceive any real desire.”(7) The only passion women did experience, these manuals argued, was maternal, with predictable consequences for the female character.

Much evidence suggests that women’s actual attitudes toward and experiences of sexuality were quite different from those represented in the prescriptive literature.(8) While historians continue to debate the relationship between representation and reality, however, Regina Wolkoff rightly notes that “female sexuality was perceived more in terms of motherliness than sensuality, restraint rather than passion, and characterized by spiritual rather than physical impulses.”(9) The authors of Victorian marital advice literature extolled the virtues of passionlessness, juxtaposing women’s natural self-control with men’s innate carnality. In the nineteenth century, “it was a typical belief that even if women could not govern feeling and affection by their weaker intellects, they did have an innate appetitivelessness that allowed them ‘greater control’ than men.”(10) Unlike men, who constantly struggled to contain their animalistic desires, women were considered spiritually elevated creatures identified with a higher moral calling.(11)

In contrast to the marital advice literature of the nineteenth century, post-Victorian sexual discourse was strikingly innovative in its affirmation of conjugal erotic desire. Arguing that love between husbands and wives was increased through physical contact, marriage and advice books proclaimed that “sex and all that it implies is a perfectly natural, normal fact of life with nothing intrinsically unholy or perverse about it.”(12) If the literature of the nineteenth century had permitted sexual expression, the literature of the early twentieth positively promoted it. Marital advisors after 1900 argued not only that women had the potential and right to experience pleasurable sex but that husbands were responsible for providing it. “There is no hope for widespread married happiness till men learn that love is the art of understanding and pleasing women,” Walter Gallichan wrote in 1922; “The art of marriage is the art of perennial love-making.”(13) Furthermore, advisors began to claim for the first time that precoital erotic activity was an essential part of normal sexuality.(14) In his study of Victorian popular medical texts, Steven Seidman found no mention of sexual foreplay. By the mid ‘teens, however, many authors described foreplay as critically important to sexual satisfaction.(15)

Long ignored in the historiography of sexuality, the twentieth-century discourse of foreplay did not simply add novel activities to the adult sexual repertoire but implied a new modal narrative of marital sexuality. In this paper, I not only describe this narrative but discuss the way it both inscribed and mediated gender contestations within the bourgeois readership to which it was addressed. Historians have discussed the increasing emphasis on heterosociability and conjugal companionability in the early twentieth century as well as the expectations such changes entailed for female pleasure and male sexual performance.(16) But little has been written about the ways that these new expectations were practically or discursively negotiated. An examination of foreplay not only provides insight into a specific example of what Steven Seidman has called “the eroticization of sex” in the early twentieth century but also demonstrates how marital advice literature simultaneously served the interests of both women and men.(17) On the one hand, the discourse of foreplay allowed middle-class women to lay claim to sexual pleasure while maintaining their respectability – a possibility denied them throughout the nineteenth century – but only by constructing their sexual desire as latent and able to be evoked by a skilled husband. On the other hand, even as the discourse of foreplay ostensibly defined men as uniquely capable of inspiring their wives’ passion, it held husbands responsible for most instances of sexual dissatisfaction within marriage. Middle-class women gained the possibility of pleasure but at the cost of sexual autonomy; middle-class men maintained the promise of authority but at the expense of a sometimes paralyzing expectation of sexual performance.

By simultaneously enabling and constraining men and women as sexual actors, marital advisors writing for a bourgeois audience created a new arena for contests over sexual pleasure and responsibility.(18) At the same time, foreplay and the larger narrative of which it was a part constituted a set of rules which allowed middle-class married couples to negotiate a novel terrain of expressive sexuality – rules which did not work exclusively or entirely to the advantage or disadvantage of either sex.

The modal narrative of sex in the early twentieth century is striking as much for its explicit format as for its content. Sex was depicted not as a single event but as a series of acts whose satisfying consummation required careful activity at every step. Some advisors even used a scripting metaphor to describe the pleasures and dangers of love-making. Walter Gallichan, for example, began his argument for foreplay by analogizing sex to the theater, noting that “Man, the prime partner in passion, the valient [sic] wooer, the sole initiator, is accountable, in the great majority of cases, for the disastrous second act in the drama of love.”(19)

Two key elements of this new narrative were the notions that pleasure, not procreation, was a worthy goal of marital sex and that a satisfying sex life was crucial to a happy marriage.(20) William Robinson made the “bold, unequivocal statement” that “every case of divorce has for its basis lack of sexual satisfaction;” William Fielding argued that marriage “is fundamentally a sexual union, and its success or failure, all things considered, is largely determined by conditions arising from the actual problems of sex.”(21)

In recasting pleasurable sex as central to marital happiness, advisors stressed that it was a process to be enjoyed at leisure, not an act to be accomplished in haste. In contrast to the nineteenth-century preoccupation with timeliness and punctuality, twentieth-century writers counseled relaxation and patience.(22) As one author declared:

Regarding the first part of the act, let it be said that here, above all other situations in the world “haste makes waste.” Put that down as the most fundamental fact in this whole affair! Right here is where ninety-nine one-hundredths of all the troubles of married life begin!(23)

The new modal narrative of marital sexuality not only justified sex as a pleasurable pursuit but recast men’s and women’s responsibility as sexual actors. In the nineteenth century advisors claimed it was a woman’s “duty to her husband, her children, and herself to heartily enjoy with her husband sexual intercourse, and to keep herself in such condition that she may enjoy it.”(24) In the twentieth, the authors of advice literature stressed the responsibility of the husband to make sex a delight. “No woman is so glacial that she will not respond to the tactful insistence of the right man,” Dr. Walter Robie wrote. “The husband should not rest easy, nor should his wife allow him to, until they have discovered the methods and positions which give her greatest pleasure and completest orgasm.”(25)

In describing the correct methods by which a man could kindle his wife’s sexual interest, advisors often suggested that the ideal sexual act was a recapitulation of courtship. Just as a suitor was attentive to the interests and desires of his intended when he wooed her, so should he remain aware of her needs after he had wed her. “Between husband and wife there must always be mutual concessions, forbearance, and sympathy;” Anna Galbraith counseled, “a mutual helpfulness to all that is best.”(26) Although such language evokes the “union of hands and hearts” one historian has described as the nineteenth-century romantic ideal, it assumed a specifically sexual meaning in the early twentieth century.(27) Marie Stopes declared that “a man does not woo and win woman once and for all when he marries her: he must woo her before every separate act of coitus.” Charles Malchow likewise insisted that “every act of copulation should be undertaken with an abbreviated courtship.”(28) Walter Robie, advising his readers that women continued to require courting after marriage as before, advised men to “control (their) erotic feelings for a time, even if they seem overpowering…. Embracing and kissing and, gentle handling are preliminaries to further intimacy with all normal women.”(29)

As Robie’s language suggests, a third element of the new modal narrative of marital sexuality, and especially of foreplay, was an emphasis on the polyerotic potential of the female body and the permissibility of ‘unorthodox’ sexual acts. In Sex and Life, Robie expressed his enthusiasm for “the art of love” when he encouraged husbands:

Kiss without shame, for she desires it, your wife’s lips, tongue, neck; and, as Shakespeare says: ‘If these founts be dry, stray lower where the pleasant fountains lie’…. Kiss her nipples, arms and abdomen. Hold tenderly and manipulate softly her breasts, and delicately, when she yields nestlingly, caress her nipples.(30)

Despite this emphasis on the multiple sites for female pleasure, the new sexual script had the same final act as the old one: climax. Although they suggested that sex should be more playful, the authors of marital advice literature maintained the orgasmic teleology of the nineteenth century. Even Robie, one of the most progressive of the early twentieth-century sexologists, defined foreplay primarily as a means to the end of orgasm. “Woman is … slow,” he wrote,

requiring, as a rule, a long sequence of endearments and gentle caresses, and final specific manipulation of nipples and clitoris, and perhaps adjacent structures, to produce the overwhelming erotic feelings and the free flow of precoital mucus which are necessary to make coitus mutually pleasurable and simultaneously climactic, both of which are necessary if it is to be scientifically correct.(31)

Assuming that a man needed no warm-up, marital advisors’ discussion of pre-coital activity concerned itself almost exclusively with preparing a woman for intercourse. “A man can fully enjoy sexual intercourse without any preliminaries,” Dr. William Robinson wrote; “With a woman the preliminaries are of the utmost importance, and when these are lacking she is often incapable of experiencing any pleasure.”(32) Harold Long concurred: “[F]or the most part, it is true that women are much slower in making ready for the sexual act than men are.”(33) The literature attributed the different sexual roles largely to the constitutional differences between the sexes. Man, whose part it was “to ‘seduce,’ to allure, to woo, to charm the woman’s imagination with entrancing visions,” was indisputably the more carnal, even “liable to sudden gusts of passion;” he naturally “(had) more powerful sex-desires than the female.”(34) Woman, by contrast, with her “highly sensitive, delicately adjusted nervous system,” often was not even aware of her sexual nature.(35)

Yet every normal woman was capable of sensuality, and it was the husband’s challenge and responsibility to awaken her dormant passions. In fact, advisors asserted that a man’s sexual initiative was absolutely critical to a woman’s self-realization of her erotic potential. “Women’s innate coyness keeps her from giving way to her natural impulses which often need the active stimulation of a lover before they are brought into conscious evidence,” Salomon Herbert wrote, while Havelock Ellis asserted that a woman’s sexuality usually remained “latent until aroused by a lover’s caresses.” A girl, he continued, “must be kissed into a woman.”(36)

Given statements like these, it is no surprise that questions of power and agency have occupied the attention of most students of changing sexual mores in the early twentieth century. The conventional account of changes in prescriptive literature about sex in the early twentieth century is that women’s assertion of their sexual nature was an act of feminist resistance to male oppression – a claim to autonomy – that ultimately was coopted by men, who subverted the feminist agenda by appropriating claims of female desire. Producing a new conception of normative female sensuality that attributed to men greater knowledge about sexual matters, this new advice only reaffirmed male gender dominance.(37)

Implicit in this argument is the assumption that a “real” or “true” sexuality underlies all the discursive formulations that obscure or reveal it, an assumption shared by many historians who have tried to explain the changes in sexual norms in the early twentieth century.(38) Thus, according to this model, the emphasis on heterosexual desire within companionate marriage constituted a kind of false consciousness which frustrated women’s attempts to shift the basis of power relations in society. As Foucault and others have shown, however, “sexuality must not be thought of as a kind of natural given which power tries to hold in check, or as an obscure domain which knowledge tries to uncover.”(39) Rather, new historical circumstances evoke new articulations of sexuality, none of which is more inherent than those preceding.

Christina Simmons has shown the inadequacy of the “hydraulic model of sexuality” (in which a natural sexuality is thought to be repressed or expressed) in an essay tracing the history of the “myth of Victorian repression” and analyzing how it served in the 1920s to legitimate innovative sexual norms. Observing that “the new sexual discourse of the 1920s and 1930s represented not ‘liberation’ but a new form of regulation,” she writes:

[The myth of Victorian repression] rehabilitated male sexuality and cast women as villains if they refused to respond to, nurture, or support it. And by identifying women with Victorianism and men with a progressive and realistic understanding of sex, it confirmed men’s sexual dominance as normative in modern marriage.(40)

Simmons is certainly correct in noting that post-Victorian sexual discourse produced mores as restrictive as those of the Victorian era. Less certain, however, is her claim that “the assumption in most writings that men had greater knowledge and sexual experience also showed an acceptance of continued male power.”(41) Advisors’ discussion of sexual foreplay indicate that many writers assumed men were painfully ignorant of how to please their wives, or even of their obligation to do so. Rather than being simply an instantiation of male hegemony, the new sexual script was a site of gender contestation. The emergent ideology of sex did constrain and regulate women’s sexual behavior, not only by making a woman’s pleasure contingent on her husband’s evocation of her “latent” sexual nature but by labeling as deviant any woman who did not desire sexual intercourse with a man. Yet it constrained and regulated men’s sexuality as well by assigning husbands responsibility for their wives’ sexual satisfaction and blame for lack of it. Predicating a wife’s fulfillment on her husband’s ability to stimulate her erotic desires meant that the man, not the woman, was to blame if she did not like sex. Advisors made clear that the act of stimulation was fraught with tension for man and woman alike. For the woman, the sensual delight only a man could arouse was critical to healthy development. Of the pitiful woman who had not achieved sexual pleasure, Havelock Ellis wrote,

She has not acquired an erotic personality, she has not mastered the art of life, with the result that her whole nature remains ill developed and unharmonized, and that she is incapable of bringing her personality – having indeed no achieved personality to bring – to bear effectively on the problems of society and the world around her.(42)

For the man, stimulating his wife became a test of his virility. Although some physicians believed that frigidity was indicative of a woman’s pathology – Dr. Wilhelm Stekel claimed that “unconscious homosexuality is a fact which explains many cases of anaesthesia sexualis feminarum” – most attributed a woman’s lack of desire for sex to her partner. As one advisor wrote, “Women may never experience the gratification and relief of intercourse and become sexually frigid through the ignorance of the husband who, however kindly disposed, does not know how to proceed.”(43)

The early-twentieth-century discourse of healthy sexual expression, then, demanded that both women and men respond in very specific ways. As Dr. Walter Robie put it, a woman’s greatest addition to her husband’s happiness was active response in the sexual act and his contribution was self-restraint.(44)

The new sexual script did not simply exact new levels of technique and response from men and women. Both polyvalent and overdetermined, it could function to expand as well as contain each gender’s claims to cultural power. Christina Simmons and Margaret Jackson have argued that advice literature served to confirm male sexual dominance and check women’s aspirations to economic and social equality.(45) Although I find this argument convincing, I want to suggest that the new modal narrative of sexuality – especially the discourse of sexual foreplay – also functioned to the advantage of some women, allowing middle-class matrons to claim sexual pleasure while dissociating themselves from links between sexual expression and four characteristics with which active female sexuality was associated: working-class life, prostitution, psychopathology and venereal disease.

As many historians have noted, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries marked both the explicit eroticization of women’s bodies and the emergence of new forms of heterosocial leisure.(46) Despite a new cultural emphasis on personal display and commercial consumption, however, participation in the new world of urban amusements was fraught with danger for middle-class women.(47) Not only did the nineteenth-century associations between entertainment and disreputable behavior continue to resonate in middle-class culture, but many social critics condemned new leisure forms for their link with urban vice. Kathy Peiss has described how working-class women in the early twentieth century traded sexual favors for access to commercial amusements they could not otherwise afford.(48) An exchange often remarked upon by urban vice investigators, widespread anxiety about “charity girls” confirmed a long-standing connection between participation in the public sphere, active female sexuality and prostitution.(49)

Female sexual passion, in particular, had been closely linked with prostitution throughout the nineteenth century. George Napheys, for example, although personally convinced that the root cause of prostitution was monetary need, claimed that “it is popularly supposed among men that in the greater number of cases, it is the strong passions, the insatiable lusts of these women, which lead them to take up this mode of life.”(50) Although public opinion became more sympathetic to the exploitation of prostitutes in the twentieth century, the notion that women had entered that occupation on account of their sexual desires remained popular.(51) As Ruth Rosen notes, “Typically the prostitute was presented as one of two polarized images: the innocent victim or the sinister polluter.”(52) Even the critics and social reformers whose work had helped to exonerate prostitutes from moral censure were deeply ambivalent about the women they were trying to save. Fredric Gerrish, for example, freely admitted that many prostitutes were “drawn into the maelstrom of vice through no fault of their own.” But he did not doubt that “many women enter its ranks because of innate depravity – they never lose their virtue, because they never had any; they were born in sin, and have always breathed an atmosphere of iniquity.”(53)

By the second decade of the twentieth century, overt expressions of female sexuality were associated not only with prostitution but with psychopathology as well. As Elizabeth Lunbeck has demonstrated, Progressive era psychiatrists developed the nosological category of the “hypersexual female” to describe working-class women who were unapologetically active or interested sexually.(54) Thus, those women who violated expectations of female modesty and sexual reticence ran the risk of being labeled not only crude and lower-class but psychologically deviant.

Finally, concern about working-class sexuality and prostitution was tied up at this time with another topic of public concern: the incidence of venereal disease.(55) Although it is not clear that the proportional incidence of either prostitution or venereal disease increased during this time, it is true that “most Americans perceived enormous increases in (both) and thought that both had reached epidemic proportions.”(56) William Fielding claimed that in 1909 approximately twenty percent of American soldiers were infected (as opposed to two percent of German and 16.7 percent of British soldiers) while in 1910 it was reported that eighty percent of urban males and 60-75 percent of “marriageable age” men had or had had gonorrhea.(57)

The authors of many advice books made it clear that concerns about “the social evil” underlay their aspirations for improved marital relations. Better sex, they believed, would improve the marriage bond and provide “the best antidote to the deleterious influence of sex curiosity.”(58) The “sex bond” would ripen into “the richest mental and spiritual companionship and love” between husband and wife, eliminating both the incentive for men’s extra-marital dalliances and any justification for the “double-standard.”(59) Advisors openly acknowledged that “a man’s first experience of sexual intercourse is so often with a prostitute” and that bourgeois domesticity was intricately connected with prostitution.(60)

The happy marriage of the securely placed wife is founded upon the degradation and debasement of another woman, the prostitute, who is required to become a sexual instrument because she must furnish for men a preliminary stage on the way to marriage.(61)

Indeed, some observers found little difference between prostitution and many forms of respectable marriage. One writer observed that “in order to escape destitution, many a woman finds herself compelled to sell body and soul in a marriage which cannot be characterized otherwise than as sex-slavery.”(62) Edith Hooker claimed that “the woman who sells herself once for all to a man as his wife is without doubt as morally degraded as her sister on the streets,” while Arena editor B.O. Flower compared marriage unflatteringly to prostitution. The common prostitute, he wrote, was “far freer than the wife who is nightly the victim of the unholy passion of her master.”(63)

If the new sexual script acknowledged and encouraged female eroticism, the discourse of sexual foreplay mediated middle-class women’s aspirations to sexual pleasure and their desire to distinguish themselves from those with whom unrestrained sexual expression was most clearly identified: working-class women and infected and infectious prostitutes. The ideology of foreplay in the early twentieth century recognized that women were capable of pleasure and sexually desirous; at the same time, it represented the sexual sensibility of a respectable woman as latent, susceptible to arousal only by an attentive, carefully trained husband and much practice. Advisors drew implicit distinctions between wives and prostitutes, emphasizing, for example, the perilousness of a respectable woman’s sexual initiation. Elizabeth Sloan Chesser declared that “the course of a marriage is determined by the wedding night,” while Walter Gallichan proclaimed that “Initiation for the woman must be a patient, loving, delicate process. A word even may shatter happiness on the very threshold of conjugality.”(64) Marie Stopes declared that a man could make his wife suffer “either by interpreting her in the light of [prostitutes] or … by setting her absolutely apart from them.”(65) By emphasizing the importance of sexual arousal for women, and specifying the acceptable context of such arousal, marriage manuals negotiated these two poles and represented a via media between sexual pleasure and harlotry.(66)

Advisors further emphasized the delicacy of middle-class female sensuality by defining foreplay in more than just physical terms. Although some authors claimed that “the sexual act is very much like any other physical action, such as walking, running, dancing, swimming, etc. and a proficiency in its accomplishment is acquired in very much the same manner,” others rejected such mechanical imagery. If a wife did not “understand” her husband, Maude Royden declared, “no yielding on her part – no physical passion that he may arouse – will quite stifle the protest which tells her that she suffers spiritual violation.”(67) William Fielding wrote that, at least on the wedding night and in the early weeks of the marriage, “the psychical element (was) even more important than the physical.” Grete Meisel-Hess declared

It is incontestable that a sexual relationship which is not based upon the full association of the two lives is profoundly unsatisfying…. It is not enough that there should be a close union of hearts, since for effective resistance to … disintegrating influences it is indispensable that the pair should also be united by the thousand and one bonds of a common social life.(68)

Authors made clear that pleasurable sex for both husband and wife was the product of mutual exploration and understanding. Dr. Wilhelm Stekel agreed with advisor Theodore Van de Velde’s dictum that “Wives are made, not born,” but claimed the same was true for husbands. “The soul is a complicated machine,” he instructed his readers, “which certainly has need of special cultivation.”(69) Anna Galbraith agreed. “Almost all men are married in ignorance of women and of love,” she wrote:

They have commenced by forcing open the doors of a strange house and have wished to be well received in its salon. But the most ordinary artist knows that there exists between him and his instrument – his instrument which is made of wood or ivory – a sort of indefinable friendship. He knows by experience that it has taken years to establish this mysterious rapport between an inert material and himself. He could not have divined at the first stroke all its resources and caprices, its faults and its virtues. His instrument only became a soul for him and source of melody after long study; he only came to understand it as two friends after the most learned interrogation.(70)

Such elaborate aesthetic metaphors suggest that the discourse of sexual foreplay in the early twentieth century did more than mediate the sexual claims of married couples in the first quarter of the twentieth century. It also mediated two approaches to sexuality itself: sex as an art, in which satisfying praxis was the result of received wisdom and careful cultivation; and sex as a science, in which greater knowledge was the product of controlled, expert inquiry. Although Michel Foucault identifies a shift in Western sexual discourse in the nineteenth century from ars erotica to scientia sexualis, advisors’ discussions of sexual foreplay in the early twentieth century represent an attempt to reconcile these two different, potentially opposing approaches.(71) Even as they constituted themselves as sexual experts, advisors insisted that lovemaking was a skill that must be learned but could not be taught. Ideal sex was to be informed by a scientific understanding of human physiology but was not reducible simply to mechanistic technique. Describing ideal lovemaking as a product of both art and science, sexologists rejected a sharp distinction between the two. Havelock Ellis expressed his own belief in the harmonious unity of art and science:

The reason why it is important to unify our notions of what we commonly call ‘science’ and ‘art’ is in order to purify both. We have too long suffered from the narrow conception of an art that may possibly be beautiful but is quite useless, and a science that may be useful but is certainly ugly. Good science is both beautiful and useful, and so also is good art. To be completely so it must be almost instinctive; then we are no longer anxiously concerned with ‘works’ of art or science(72)

It is tempting to recognize in early twentieth century discussions of foreplay a contemporary ideology of sex as an activity which “requires the constant rational application of sexual knowledge and experience.”(73) The discourse of foreplay, however, was not simply a precursor to the detailed and technical literature rigidly defining sexual competence that followed in subsequent decades.(74) On the contrary, by emphasizing that foreplay was an element of the “art of love” to which they could provide only limited guidance, advisors encouraged creativity and defined the limits of their own intervention in sexual matters. “The sexologist’s most sacred duty,” Marie Stopes wrote,

is to do everything in his power to make the monogamic relationship as pleasant as possible, to remove as far as possible all removable causes of friction, to steer the frail matrimonial bark in safe channels, to guard it from being wrecked on the Scylla of asceticism or the Charybdis of excess.(75)

According to many historians, physicians “consolidated their authority” in the early twentieth century, especially over issues of sexuality.(76) Directing wartime efforts to curb venereal disease and assuming exclusive responsibility for dispensing birth control, doctors became widely recognized as the “locus of authority in sexual matters.”(77) John Burnham, in distinguishing between religiously inspired reformers prior to 1900 and their secular counterparts in the early twentieth century, has linked new ideas about sexuality with the impulses and concerns of the Progressive movement.(78) It is true that discussions of foreplay between 1900 and 1925 bore some of the ideological stamps of Progressivism. Firmly convinced that rightly informed and trained individuals would make correct choices about how to conduct their sexual affairs, for example, the authors of marriage manuals shared the Progressive optimism about the transformative powers of education.(79) Edith Lowry insisted that “Everything pertaining to the origin of life, the relationship of the sexes and the sacredness of such matters should be delicately taught the growing girl by her mother or someone competent to speak of such things.”(80) Harold Long suggested that every bride and groom engage in a thorough study of human anatomy before commencing sexual relations. “[K]nowledge has got to take the place of ‘innocence’ on the part of the bride, and ignorance on the part of the bridegroom, both of whom must be taught to ‘Know what they are about’ before they engage in the sexual act …”.(81) Walter Robie was certain that sex education would confirm his belief in the necessity of foreplay. “To understand the subject thoroughly,” he wrote, invoking a displaced gestational metaphor, “it is absolutely necessary to study it, and then a person will know that as dough is prepared for baking, so must a woman be prepared for sexual intercourse, if she is to derive satisfaction from it.”(82)

Although wholeheartedly endorsing sexual education, many marital advisors in the first quarter of the twentieth century did not share another typically Progressive enthusiasm: the exaltation of technical expertise. Rather, authors of advice literature constantly emphasized the indeterminate and experimental nature of sexual satisfaction. Agreeing that “the art of Love (was) the longest of all arts, and the most difficult of all for its complete mastery and attainment,” they exhorted readers not simply to rely on advisors for sexual advice but actively to cultivate a suitable technique of their own.(83) For some advisors, such a technique could include practices which expanded the standard sexual repertoire and permitted women a new degree of sexual agency. Walter Robie recounted approvingly his successful treatment of a woman who had experienced only one orgasm in ten years of married life. After following Robie’s suggestion, she wrote to him of the experience:

I could scarcely control myself. Never did I know that so many powerful emotions could sweep a human body and soul! I was not coarse – just human and natural; and above all, I could love my husband’s love! God was in His Heaven and all right with the world!

Why hadn’t someone told me about husband’s hands – that they give a perfectly legitimate joy!!(84)

The attempts of some sexologists to reconcile art and science suggest that the connections between early discussions of foreplay and subsequent prescriptive sexual advice literature were neither direct nor inexorable. By representing foreplay as part of an “art of love” whose technique they could not specify, advisors created an ideological space in which couples could engage in an idiosyncratic and satisfying array of sexual practices. Even as it constrained men and women by defining their sexual natures and responsibilities, foreplay offered an historical moment of potential sexual autonomy for the married middle-class.

By the 1930s, this moment had largely passed. Encouraging the cultivation of a sexual aesthetic that, in Havelock Ellis’s words, would be “almost instinctive” was no longer the goal of most sexologists. Not only did physicians assume greater influence over sexual conduct as the practice of medicine became more professionalized and technical but public anxiety about gender roles grew as middle-class women’s presence in the paid workforce increased in the 1920s.(85) Both of these developments, along with widespread concerns about the implications of expanded leisure time in the 1930s, led to greater focus on men’s and women’s sexual roles and responses and how they might be achieved.(86) If it was no longer obvious who in the family “wore the pants” at work or play, doctors were quite clear about who should do what once the pants came off. Advisors became increasingly concerned with specific sexual technique, elaborating in particular a notion of sex as “an activity permeated with qualities of work” that sociologists have recognized in more recent sexual writing.(87) Even as it affirmed sex as a form of mutual recreational pleasure, advice literature in the 1930s and beyond also strictly defined notions of sexual competence and reinscribed normative masculine and feminine sexual roles. As in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the discourse of foreplay in the 1930’s helped to negotiate not only contests between the genders but also between a Victorian model of internal sexual regulation and a more contemporary model of sexual expressivism. By the 1930’s, however, the possibilities of the “art of love” had dissipated: internal personal restraint had given way to sexual constraint at the hands (or pens) of physicians and advisors.

Observing that “ars erotica did not disappear from Western civilization,” Foucault suggests that scientia sexualis itself functions prominently as an erotic art in producing a truth that we can know and upon which we can elaborate, giving us “the specific pleasure of the true discourse on pleasure.”(88) By prescribing sexual foreplay as a necessity for mutual satisfaction, the manuals of the early twentieth century appear themselves to have been a kind of foreplay, a titillating preparation for and anticipation of future ideologies of sexual desire and experience. Such a positivist interpretation of the history of American sexuality, however, is unwarranted. The inevitability of contemporary sexual mores is not nearly so clear to historians as “the final act of love’s drama” was to the authors of the marital advice of the early twentieth century. Indeed, like the larger narrative of which it is a part, the history of foreplay is a site of struggle over gender dominance, class identity, and professional authority, a struggle whose end could not – and in many respects still can not – be foreseen.

Department of History Ann Arbor, MI 48109


I am grateful to colleagues and friends who read and commented on earlier drafts of this paper, including Laura Ahearn, Martin Pernick, James Turner, and Caroline Winterer. Special thanks to David Scobey, whose insightful comments made me rethink the paper completely.

1. Letter to Dr. William Fielding from Arthur and response, Oct. 4, 1932, William J. Fielding papers, Tamiment Library, New York University.

2. Steven Seidman, “The Power of Desire and the Danger of Pleasure: Victorian Sexuality Reconsidered,” Journal of Social History 24 (Fall, 1990): 50. Seidman elucidates further his argument that the Victorians spiritualized love and deeroticized sex in his book Romantic Longings (New York, 1991). See also John and Robin Haller The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America (Urbana, 1974): 91.

3. Physician R.T. Trall, for example, wrote in the 1860s that “few should exceed the limit of once a week (for sexual intercourse).” Trall cited in Michael Gordon, “From an Unfortunate Necessity to a Cult of Mutual Orgasm: Sex in American Marital Education Literature, 1830-1940,” Studies in the Sociology of Sex ed. by James M. Henslin (New York, 1971): 57. Most authors prescribed sex no more than once or twice a month. See, for example, Sylvester Graham, A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity (Boston, 1837).

4. Anita and Gordon Fellman, Making Sense of Self: Medical Advice Literature in Late 19th-Century America (Philadelphia, 1981): 99. Charles Rosenberg notes that the dangers of sexual intercourse within marriage became a subject of widespread censure only at the beginning of the 1830s in “Sexuality, Class and Role in Victorian America,” American Quarterly 25 (May, 1973): 135. See also Phillip Gibbs, “Self Control and Male Sexuality in Advice Literature of 19th-Century America, 1830-1860,” Journal of American Culture 9 (Summer, 1986): 37-41.

5. Nancy Cott, “Passionlessness” in A Heritage of Her Own ed. by Nancy Cott and Elizabeth Pleck (New York, 1979): 162-181. Ellen Rothman maintains that female passionlessness continued to be the “central tenet of Victorian sexual ideology,” after the Civil War, although she is doubtful that it described actual female behavior. (“Sex and Self-Control: Middle-Class Courtship in America, 1770-1870” Journal of Social History 16 [1982]: 421).

6. William Acton, Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs (1858) cited in Carl Degler, “What Ought to Be and What Was: Women’s Sexuality in the Nineteenth Century,” American Historical Review 79 (December, 1974): 1467.

7. George Napheys, The Transmission of Life. Counsels on the Nature and Hygiene of the Masculine Function (Philadelphia, 1871): 174. See also Haller and Haller, The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America: 99-101.

8. See, for example, Karen Lystra’s Searching the Heart: Women, Men and Romantic Love in Nineteenth Century America (New York, 1989) and Ellen Rothman, Hands and Hearts: A History of Courtship in America (New York, 1984). Carl Degler has argued, based primarily on a survey of forty-five women conducted by Dr. Clelia Mosher between 1892 and 1920 that “the prescriptive literature that denigrated sexual feelings or expression among women cannot be read as descriptive of the behavior attitude of these women” (“What Ought to Be and What Was”: 1488). Peter Gay concurs, noting that “(Victorians) plainly found it easier to perform the act of sex than to talk about it.” The Bourgeois Experience, Volume I. Education of the Senses (New York, 1984): 141. These conclusions have been cogently critiqued by Steven Seidman, who faults Degler and Gay for overdetermining the responses of some women to the questionnaire and for ignoring the disparity between women who answered the questionnaire before and after 1900. Steven Seidman, “Sexual Attitudes of Victorian and Post-Victorian Women: Another Look at the Mosher Survey,” Journal of American Studies 23 (April, 1989):68-72 and “The Power of Desire”: 59-61. See also Peter N. and Carol Z. Steams, “Victorian Sexuality: Can Historians Do It Better?” Journal of Social History 18 (Summer, 1985): 625-34.

9. Wolkoff, “The Ethics of Sex: Individuality and the Social Order in Early Twentieth Century American Sexual Advice Literature” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1974): 81, my emphasis.

10. G.J. Barker-Benfield, The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America (New York, 1976): 382.

11. Rosenberg, “Sexuality, Class and Role in Victorian America”: 148; Seidman, “The Powers of Desire”: 53-9.

12. Walter F. Robie, M.D., Sex and Life (Boston, 1921): 359, 361.

13. Alexander Stone, ed., Sex Searchlights and Sane Sex Ethics (Chicago, 1922): 109, 121.

14. See Michael Gordon, “From an Unfortunate Necessity to a Cult of Mutual Orgasm”: 60-2.

15. Steven Seidman, Romantic Longings: 25. Michael Gordon associates discussions of sexual foreplay with a slightly later period in which the advice literature emphasized sexual technique. See “From Unfortunate Necessity to a Cult of Mutual Orgasm”: 68-71.

16. Beth Bailey, From Front Porch to Back Seat (Baltimore, 1988); Seidman, Romantic Longings; Kevin White, The First Sexual Revolution (New York, 1993).

17. Seidman, Romantic Longings: 4.

18. The advice books examined here obviously were written for a lay middle-class audience (notwithstanding the inscriptions on their title pages, for the benefit of Anthony Comstock and his myrmidons, that they were for the use of those in the medical or legal profession only). Although it is certain that some authors knew and corresponded with others – William Fielding, for example, exchanged letters with English author Marie Stopes in England and Dr. William J. Robinson – the nature and extent of organizational and institutional affiliations common to early-twentieth-century sexologists and advisors have not been well investigated. A study of this sort is much needed.

19. Walter Gallichan in Stone, Sex Searchlights and Sane Sex Ethics: 119.

20. This was not, of course, entirely novel in the early twentieth century. See Sears, The Sex Radicals (Lawrence, 1977); John Spurlock, Free Love: Marriage and Middle-Class Radicalism in America, 1825-1860 (New York, 1988).

21. William J. Robinson, Sexual Problems of Today (New York, 1912): 25; William J. Fielding, Sanity in Sex (New York, 1920): 188. Some authors continued to resist the eroticization of marriage. Dr. Florence Barrett, for example, argued that “when all parts of the nature (of two people) find their counterpart in another … frequent repetition of physical intercourse is not essential to (marriage’s) highest development” Conception Control (New York, 1922): 17.

22. This emphasis on leisure was an impulse shared by non-sexologists as well. See, for example, William James’s essay “The Gospel of Relaxation” in On Vital Reserves (New York, 1899), esp. 45, 59-60.

23. Harland Long, M.D., Sane Sex Life and Sane Sex Living (Boston, 1919): 68.

24. Henry Hanchett, Sexual Health, 2nd edition (1889) cited in Fellman, Making Sense of Self: 93; see also Haller and Haller, The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America: 99.

25. Robie, Sex and Life: 359, 361.

26. Anna M. Galbraith, M.D., The Four Epochs of a Woman’s Life (Philadelphia, 1904): 83.

27. Rothman, Hands and Hearts.

28. Marie Stopes, M.D., Married Love or Love in Marriage (New York, 1918): 85, italics in original; Charles Malchow, The Sexual Life (St. Louis, 1907): 122.

29. Walter F. Robie, M.D., Rational Sex Ethics (Boston, 1922): 297.

30. Robie, Sex and Life: 358-9.

31. Walter F. Robie, M.D., Sex Histories (London, 1922?): 15-16.

32. William Robinson, M.D., Woman: Her Sex and Love Life (New York, 1917): 322.

33. Long, Sane Sex Life and Sane Sex Living: 63.

34. Grete Meisel-Hess, The Sexual Crisis translated by Edna and Cedar Paul (New York, 1917): 303; Maude Royden, Sex and Common Sense (New York and London, 1924): 17980; Thomas Galloway, Biology of Sex for Parents and Teachers (Boston and New York, 1922): 60.

35. Winfield Hall, M.D., Reproduction and Sexual Hygiene (Chicago, 1913): 129.

36. Salomon Herbert, Fundamentals in Sexual Ethics (London, 1920): 34; Havelock Ellis, “Analysis of the Sexual Impulse,” 1913 (original 1908) cited in Wolkoff, “The Ethics of Sex”: 179.

37. For an example of this argument see Nancy Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven, 1987): 150-151.

38. In her earlier article “Passionlessness,” Cott claims that women made self-conscious use of their characterization as passionless to enhance their status and widen their opportunities in the nineteenth century but that women began to reject this notion when the medical establishment judged the concept in somatic rather than spiritual terms (see footnote 5, passim, esp. 175). Peter Cominos claims that “one of the most striking features of the second decade of the twentieth century was the re-emergence of the sexuality which had been so thoroughly repressed throughout the Victorian era” in “Late-Victorian Sexual Respectability and the Social System,” International Review of Social History 8 (1963): 31; Howard Kushner, however, argues that the “net result of this so-called (sexual) revolution was to replace religious reasons for repression with more scientific ones” in “Nineteenth-Century Sexuality and the ‘Sexual Revolution’ of the Progressive Era,” Canadian Review of American Studies 9 (1978): 37.

39. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction translated by Robert Hurley (New York, 1978): 105. For elaborations of this notion, see, for example, David Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays in Greek Love (New York, 1990) and Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society (New York, 1981).

40. Christina Simmons, “Modern Sexuality and the Myth of Victorian Repression,” Passion and Power (Philadelphia, 1985).

41. Ibid.: 163.

42. Havelock Ellis, “Analysis of the Sexual Impulse,” cited in Wolkoff, “The Ethics of Sex”: 179.

43. Malchow, The Sexual Life: 127.

44. Walter F. Robie, M.D., The Art of Love (Boston, 1921): 97.

45. Christina Simmons, “Marriage in the Modern Manner: Sexual Radicalism and Reform in America, 1914-1941” (Ph.D. dissertation Brown University, 1982); Margaret Jackson, “Sexology and the Social Construction of Male Sexuality,” in Explorations in Feminism edited by L. Coveney, M. Jackson, S. Jeffreys, L. Kaye, P. Mahoney (London, 1984); Margaret Jackson, The Real Facts of Life (Bristol, PA, 1994), esp. chapters 5 and 7.

46. See, for example, Lois Banner, American Beauty (Chicago, 1983); Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements (Philadelphia, 1986); Joanne Meyerowitz, Women Adrift (Chicago, 1988); Lewis Erenberg, Steppin’ Out (Chicago, 1981); Robert Allen, Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture (Chapel Hill, 1991).

47. William Leach “Transformations in a Culture of Consumption,” Journal of American History 71 (Sept., 1984): 319-342 and Land of Desire (New York, 1993); Elaine Abelson, When Ladies Go A-Thieving (New York, 1989); Kathy Peiss, “Making Faces: The Cosmetics Industry and the Cultural Construction of Gender, 1890-1930,” Genders 7 (March, 1990): 143-169.

48. Kathy Peiss, “‘Charity Girls’ and City Pleasures: Historical Notes on Working-Class Sexuality, 1880-1920” in Powers of Desire edited by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell and Sharon Thompson (New York, 1983): 74-87.

49. On theaters as one fraught site of female public presence see Claudia Johnson, “That Guilty Third Tier: Prostitution in Nineteenth Century Theaters,” in Victorian America ed. by Daniel Howe (Philadelphia, 1976): 111-120 and Richard Butsch “Bowery B’hoys and Matinee Ladies: The Re-Gendering of Nineteenth-Century American Theater Audiences,” American Quarterly 46 (September, 1994): 374-405. An example of vice investigators’ anxieties about women is the Chicago Vice Commission’s report The Social Evil in Chicago (Chicago, 1911), esp. chapter 4.

50. Napheys, The Transmission of Life: 119.

51. Proponents of this idea found support in William Sanger’s 1858 survey of two thousand prostitutes at New York’s House of Correction on Blackwell Island. In response to a question about why they had become prostitutes originally, more than one third cited “inclination.” See Barbara Hobson, Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition (New York, 1987): 100. Although few essayists during this period claimed that prostitutes entered the trade because of their desires, the belief survived from earlier days. In 1914, Josephine M. Burnham was prompted to write, “A recent essay (condoning the unpardonable), by one of the most gifted American women, only voices the disapproval I have heard expressed again and again by those who fear a relaxing of our hard-won standards…. They say it is an error to say that poverty is often a cause of prostitution, or is even so regarded by girls who go astray….” “The First Stone,” Forum 51 (March, 1914): 365.

52. Ruth Rosen, The Lost Sisterhood (Baltimore, 1982): 48.

53. Fredric Gerrish, M.D., Sex-Hygiene: A Talk to College Boys (Boston, 1917): 46.

54. Elizabeth Lunbeck, “‘A New Generation of Women’: Progressive Psychiatrists and the Hypersexual Female,” Feminist Studies 13 (Fall, 1987): 513-543. See also Lunbeck, The Psychiatric Persuasion (Princeton, NJ, 1994), chapter 7.

55. Mark Connelly, The Response to Prostitution in the Progressive Era (Chapel Hill, NC, 1980): 6-9.

56. Rosen, Lost Sisterhood: 39.

57. William Fielding, Sanity in Sex (New York, 1920): 174. Connelly, The Response to Prostitution in the Progressive Era: 70. Edith Hooker, writing in 1921, alleged that 60 percent of young, unmarried men either had or had had gonorrhea, and 10 to 15 percent syphilis. Edith Hooker, The Laws of Sex (Boston, 1920): 187.

58. Herbert, Fundamentals in Sexual Ethics: 107.

59. Galloway, Biology of Sex, 70. On the double standard, see Keith Thomas, “The Double Standard,” Journal of the History of Ideas 30 (April, 1959): 195-216.

60. Meisel-Hess, The Sexual Crisis: 81.

61. ibid.: 167.

62. Herbert, Fundamentals in Sexual Ethics: 295.

63. Hooker, Laws of Sex: 49.

64. Elizabeth Sloan Chesser, “The Honeymoon” in Love and Marriage ed. by Ellen Key (New York, 1911): 227; Gallichan in Stone, Sex Searchlights and Sane Sex Ethics: 121, italics in original.

65. Stopes, Married Love: 50. Stopes linked this idea explicitly with the need to arouse female desire, claiming that “Many men … may fall into the error of explaining their wife’s experiences in terms of the reactions of the prostitute. They argue that, because the prostitute showed physical excitement and pleasure in the sexual act, if the bride or wife does not do so, then she is ‘cold’ or ‘undersexed.’ They may not realize that often all the bodily movements of the prostitute are studied and simulated because her client enjoys his orgasm best when he imagines that the woman in his arms has one simultaneously” (49-50).

66. Although my focus in this paper is on the ideological functions of the discourse about sexual foreplay, it is unclear to what extent discussions of foreplay helped create class distinctions or reflected them. In 1948, Alfred Kinsey found that pre-coital love play was more common between partners among the upper classes of those individuals who had become sexually active between 1900 and 1925. See Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia, 1948): 369-70 and Regina Markell Morantz, “The Scientist as Sex Crusader: Alfred C. Kinsey and American Culture,” American Quarterly 29:5 (Winter, 1977).

67. Royden, Sex and Common Sense: 195.

68. Meisel-Hess, The Sexual Crisis: 43.

69. Dr. Wilhelm Stekel, “The First Disappointments in Men and Women,” in Love and Marriage: 287.

70. Anna Galbraith, The Four Epochs of a Woman’s Life: 84.

71. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: 69-70.

72. Havelock Ellis, My Confessional (Boston and New York, 1934): 108-9.

73. Gordon, “From Unfortunate Necessity to a Cult of Mutual Orgasm”: 68 ff.; Dennis Brisset and Lionel Lewis, “Guidelines for Marital Sex: An Analysis of Fifteen Popular Marriage Manuals,” The Family Coordinator (January, 1970): 46.

74. Theodore van de Velde, Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology and Technique (New York, 1930), for example, contained graphs depicting the comparative trajectories of women’s and men’s sexual excitement.

75. Stopes, Married Love: 8.

76. Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine (New York, 1982), chapter 3.

77. Allan Brandt, No Magic Bullet (New York, 1985): 121. See also Sheila Rothman, Woman’s Proper Place (New York, 1978): 200-209; Linda Gordon, Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right (New York, 1976): 250-300.

78. John Burnham, “The Progressive Era’s Revolution in American Attitudes Toward Sex,” Journal of American History 59 (1973): 885-908.

79. See John Burnham in Building the Organizational Society: Essays on Association Activities in Modern America (New York, 1972): 30. The first courses in sex instruction were developed and taught in the public schools during this period. See Clara Schmitt, “The Teaching of the Facts of Sex in the Public School,” Pedagogical Seminary 17 (June, 1910): 229-241; Charles Henderson, Education with Reference to Sex (Chicago, 1909). For an interpretation of the sex education movement that emphasizes the continuity of self-control as a theme in American sexual life, see Bryan Strong, “Ideas of the Early Sex Education Movement in America, 1890-1920,” History of Education Quarterly 11 (Summer, 1972): 129-161.

80. Edith Lowry, False Modesty (Chicago, 1914): 37, italics in original.

81. Long, Sane Sex Life and Sane Sex Living: 36, 63.

82. Robie, The Art of Love: 26, italics in original.

83. Long, Sane Sex Life and Sane Sex Living: 104.

84. Robie, The Art of Love: 302.

85. See Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine: 79-145. On women in the workforce Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work (New York, 1982), passim and esp. 217-249; on anxiety about working women see, for example, Meyerowitz, Women Adrift. On popular representations of working women, see Donald R. Makosky, “The Portrayal of Women in Wide Circulation Magazine Short Stories, 1905-1955,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1966) and Caroll Smith-Rosenberg, “The New Woman as Androgyne: Social and Gender Crisis, 1870-1936,” in Disorderly Conduct (New York, 1985): 245-296.

86. See The National Recreation Association’s The Leisure Hours of 5,000 People (New York, 1934).

87. Lionel Lewis and Dennis Brisset, “Sex as Work: A Study of Avocational Counseling,” Social Problems 15 (Summer, 1967): 10; Dennis Brisset and Lionel S. Lewis, “Guidelines for Marital Sex: An Analysis of Fifteen Popular Marriage Manuals,” The Family Coordinator (January, 1970): 41-48; Michael Gordon and Penelope J. Shankweiler, “Different Equals Less: Female Sexuality in Recent Marriage Manuals,” Journal of Marriage and the Family (August, 1971): 459-465.

88. Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol. I: 71.

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