to detect Self Abuse
Or the perils of Female Masturbation: a Victorian perspective revisited
By our resident historian,
|Mercy Dannenberg unearths a fascinating 19th Century treatise on the evils of self-abuse|
Following the death of a close relative earlier this year, I came into the possession of the personal effects of my illustrious great-grandmother, Dr Clarissa McTaggart, who was a Consultant Gynaecologist at St Thomas' Hospital, in London, until her retirement in 1908, and a leading writer on female sexuality. Among the papers that I inherited, I found several unpublished monographs on such diverse topics as 'The Sexual Life of the Phocidae', 'The phenomena of premature ejaculation as a collorary of Corporal punishment in British Public Schools', and, rather surprisingly, 'The use of Fish oils as an aphrodisiac'.
In the hope that my great grandmother's remarkable work on behalf of women's health may afford some instruction, enlightenment, and possibly amusement, to those of our readers who are interested in the proper upbringing of their female offspring, I have taken the liberty of publishing one of Dr McTaggart's shorter monographs on a subject which is surely dear to every woman's heart: self abuse or female masturbation.
I need hardly add that this is not a subject fit for the ears of those of a delicate or nervous disposition, and must warn my readers that my great-grandmother does not mince her words in her scathing condemnation of a practise which has now become so endemic amongst young girls, that my own daughter has written a shameless guide to it! I shudder to think what Clarissa would have made of today's teenage girls, some as young as thirteen, who shamlessly admit to using electric toothbrushes to indulge in a practise which, to her, was the vilest of sins. Given the wide range of symptoms which Dr McTaggart presents to us as evidence of self abuse, and the precision of her pithy observations, I think it is safe to conclude that, notwithstanding their protestations of innocence, the majority of today's young girls are 'playing with themselves' rather more often than their parents may suspect!
Interestingly, recent medical evidence seems to support many of Dr McTaggart's observations that masturbation may not be as good for us as we have been led to believe. Make no mistake, once you have read Dr McTaggart's list of symptoms you may never again regard lank, greasy hair, zits, a shambling gait, lower back pain, tiredness and irritability in quite the same light!
In preparing this monograph for publication I have omitted my great
grandmother's appendix in which she recommends a number of Victorian
devices designed to inhibit self abuse in young girls. The most popular
of these was apparently known as 'Onan's girdle', and consisted
of cushion covered with Japanese silk, into the centre of which a small
mesh grating was fixed to shield the
genitals from manipulation, whilst still allowing the normal bodily
functions to be exercised. Needless to add, this apparatus was, as one
might expect, secured by a stout brass padlock! What I found surprising
was a hand-written note in the margin of the monograph, apparently written
by one Dr J O Pullen of Edinburgh which read:
It is my sincere hope that this frank and thought-provoking monograph may lead us to question our present attitudes toward this fashionable pastime and ask the important question: 'is masturbation really good for girls?' I leave you to draw your own conclusions!
The Slingshot is indispensible reading for discerning Ladies and Gentlemen of Quality and Taste. Warning: our American readers may require the services of a translator!