Sex Facts for Women front cover

Sex Facts for Women front cover

by Richard J. Lambert, MD
Published in 1936 by Franklin Publishing Company

Like Sex Facts for Men, Sex Facts for Women is a condensed version of the Dr. Lambert’s book Sex and Marriage. This booklet is not only a vivid reminder of how society’s view of women’s sexuality has changed, but also serves as a near perfect example of how the traditional view of femininity severely limited women’s opportunities in society.

The first section is devoted to the “Anatomy and Physiology of the Female Generative Organs.” Amid the straightforward description of the female reproductive system, Dr. Lambert drops this bomb which made me pity Mrs. Lambert, “The important organs…are the uterus…and the vagina. Besides these there are others of less importance, as the clitoris and the vulva.” To be fair, he doesn’t completely ignore the clitoris. Later in the chapter he mentions:

“The clitoris has a tiny foreskin similar to that of a male, and like that of the male organ sometimes this foreskin is bound down too tightly and causes irritation. An operation similar to circumcision in the male must be performed to relieve the nervous irritation.”

I can’t help but wonder what exactly constitutes “nervous irritation.” I suspect it’s a condition found in girls who enjoy touching their nether regions and can’t help but wonder how many girls had their genitals mutilated for their “own good.”

The next section of the booklet is devoted to puberty and menstruation. It’s here that Dr. Lambert starts to really go off the deep end. He claims that at the onset of puberty girls should be protected lest they suffer from too much mental strain. He even recommends that a young woman be allowed to cut back on her studies so as to not “overtax her strength trying to keep up with her classes.” Parents are advised to expect their daughters to develop an interest in the “domestic arts” and encouraged to let their daughters pursue this interest even though the mother can do household chores more efficiently.

The other sections continue in similar fashion covering reproduction and pregnancy. Not surprisingly, unlike Sex Facts for Men, there is no mention of masturbation. Presumably that’s because he already addressed the matter with “nervous irritation.”

Aside from the vivid examples of the antiquated standards by which women were judged in decades past, there’s not much to recommend here.