Book Review: The Sexual Responsibility Of Woman

This is one of two books [1] that I purchased for a combined quarter at the estate sale for an unconventional Mormon lady, and its title is not an accident. This book is a basic-level treatise on the sexual responsibility of the woman (the book assumes a wife or a young woman who is soon to marry) within the bounds of marriage. This book, which was published in 1956, could only have been written in its time, with its optimism and its confidence in science and in the ability of women to use their new-found sexual freedom without licentiousness. The book is full of tensions and contradictions, but also a book that it is easy to look at sympathetically with the eye of decades of painful experience.

Some of the contradictions of this book are worthy of note. For one, the book has a rather critical eye of biblical law as well as “Christian” culture that seeks to regulate sexual conduct while blithely assuming that its hostility towards the Bible and tradition would not erode the basis of morality that the book views as acceptable and proper. Over and over again the book takes an inconsistent position of railing against prudery in culture and scripture (without showing a deep understanding of scripture, at any rate), while also taking for granted that women and men were better off without the physical and emotional and spiritual scars due to promiscuity. Likewise, the book considers Planned Parenthood as a good source for information contraceptives but speaks harshly against abortion for its damaging effects on the mind and body and heart of women, perhaps unaware of the malign view of Planned Parenthood in serving as the spearhead of legalized infanticide within the United States. In addition, the book is full of caution against the overuse of drugs and sketchy medical treatments while speaking in almost religious terms about the expertise of physicians and scientists in general concerning their role in advances in the health of women. Despite these contradictions, the book seems rather quaint and old-fashioned as well as morally rigorous when one considers the total failures of contemporary society to engage in sexual freedom with any sense of responsibility whatsoever.

That said, despite the flaws of this book, this book is genuinely worthwhile and useful today not merely as a historical relic of its time and the way in which the moral standards of Western Civilization were slowly eroded by contempt and disrespect for God’s role as an authority in all aspects of our lives, but also for its true and often-forgotten observations on the keen responsibility that women have for their own happiness in marriage. Where this book best succeeds is in its lengthy and clinical ways in discussing the responsibility of women for their own happiness and for understanding and meeting their husbands needs and in openly and honestly communicating with their husbands so that their own needs might be met. In addition, over and over again, this book seeks to avoid blaming men for the problems of women and examines the negative effects of trauma and health problems on the sexual enjoyment of women, problems that women have to own up to and resolve rather than blaming their (usually loving) husbands for a lack of enjoyment of sex. Particularly important in this nature is the book’s treatment of the subject of frigidity and premenstrual tension (what we call PMS these days), where the book places upon women the responsibility of doing what is necessary to make sure that they are not blaming men for what is going on in their own bodies. This advice, along with the book’s tactful approach on how women should avoid criticizing and carping their men while at the same time communicating with kindness and honesty, would not be out of place in the book of 1 Peter or Ephesians, and is advice that is seldom followed in unhappy marriages, which have only gotten vastly more common over the last few decades.

It bears mentioning that like a large amount of books that have found their way into my library of late, this book is directed to women, although the book contains nothing that would be either tawdry or offensive to a reasonably sympathetic man who wanted to understand the nature of the responsibility of women within the marriage union as conceived by a well-educated and secular-minded but reasonably moral woman. As a reasonably sympathetic man, I found this book clinical, a tad anachronistic, but overall full of advice that rings true today and that is seldom followed. A great deal of the breakdown of families has occurred because women intoxicated with their new-found sexual freedom did not pay close enough attention to their sexual responsibilities, and because men have often forgotten their own responsibilities (sexual and otherwise) to their wives. We would all be well-served to understand our responsibilities and behave with tenderness and understanding to each other, which is all the more necessary because we are far more scarred these days than the original readers of this book, who lived in a much more morally upright time. While this book (with its approving mentions of Kinsey and Margaret Sanger) was a part of that opening wedge in the war against godly morality, like Pandora (whose myth this book explores), it was not a sin that was intentionally committed, and the book’s focus on responsibility remains valid today as we seek to rebuild godly relationships in a vastly more broken and damaged world that we have been left behind by the sins of our fathers as our inheritance. This book recalls the calm before the tempest that tore our family’s moorings apart, the slow erosion of faith and respect for God, a time that could not last because its foundations were eroded, but which still seems idyllic when compared to the horrors of our own wicked age.

[1] The other book was this one: https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/book-review-the-women-of-afghanistan-under-the-taliban/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, History, Love & Marriage and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Book Review: The Sexual Responsibility Of Woman

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Stress Of Life | Edge Induced Cohesion

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