The Social Emergency - Studies in Sex Hygiene and Morals
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Studies in Sex Hygiene and Morals







This volume is the outgrowth of an extension course conducted by Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1913. The course was offered to teachers and to workers in various other fields of social service as an outline of the main problems of social hygiene and morals and as a guide to further study. An edition of forty-five hundred copies of the syllabus of the course was soon exhausted, and there appeared to be a sufficient demand for the publication of some of the lectures.

The chapters are the various lectures, condensed by the editor, but otherwise substantially as given, with the exception of chapters I, II, and XII, which are here presented for the first time. In the original course, Reed College fortunately had the services of Calvin S. White, M.D., and L.R. Alderman, officers of the Oregon Social Hygiene Society. Their addresses have been omitted, because they were prepared rather to meet local conditions and the needs of the course than for the general public. For the same reason the greater part of the addresses of William House, M.D., and of the editor have been omitted.

The Social Emergency does not purport to be a comprehensive or systematic treatment of the problems of sex hygiene and morals; it presents merely the views of a number of persons on certain phases of the subject. Although no writer is responsible for the ideas of any other writer, yet nearly all the writers have read and approved all the chapters. Furthermore, the editor has had the aid of other competent critics. The proof has been read by Maurice Bigelow, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Teachers College, Columbia University; by Calvin S. White, M.D., Secretary of the State Board of Health of Oregon and President of the Oregon Social Hygiene Society; and by William Snow, M.D., Secretary of the American Social Hygiene Association. Others, including Edward L. Keyes, Jr., M.D., and Harry Beal Torrey, Ph.D., have read the particular chapters concerning which they could give expert opinion. The editor is grateful to all these men, and to Florence Read, Secretary of Reed Extension Courses, who has given valuable aid. With their help he has endeavored to avoid the errors, the exaggerations, the narrowness of view, and the hysteria that characterize some of the current discussions concerning sex and the social evil.

If there is one dominant truth in this volume, it is that any plan for meeting the social emergency that would relax the control of moral and spiritual law over sex impulses is antagonistic, not only to physical health, but as well to the highest development of personality and to the progressive evolution of human society.




INTRODUCTION. By Charles W. Eliot, LL.D., President Emeritus of Harvard University 1

I. THE SOCIAL EMERGENCY. By William Trufant Foster, Ph.D., LL.D. 5

II. VARIOUS PHASES OF THE QUESTION. By William Trufant Foster 13

III. PHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECTS. By William House, M.D., Member of the Executive Committee, Oregon Social Hygiene Society 25

IV. MEDICAL PHASES. By Andrew C. Smith, M.D., Member of the Oregon State Board of Health 32

V. ECONOMIC PHASES. By Arthur Evans Wood, A.B., Instructor in Social Economics, Reed College; Member of the Vice Commission, Portland, Oregon 45

VI. RECREATIONAL PHASES. By Lebert Howard Weir, A.B., Field Secretary of the Playground and Recreation Association of America 70

VII. EDUCATIONAL PHASES. By Edward Octavius Sisson, Ph.D., Commissioner of Education for the State of Idaho; recently Professor of Education, Reed College 84

VIII. TEACHING PHASES: FOR CHILDREN. By William Greenleaf Eliot, Jr., A.B., Minister of Church of Our Father, Portland; Member of the Executive Committee, Oregon Social Hygiene Society 104

IX. TEACHING PHASES: FOR BOYS. By Harry H. Moore, Executive Secretary, Oregon Social Hygiene Society 127

X. TEACHING PHASES: FOR GIRLS. By Bertha Stuart, A.B., M.D., Director of the Gymnasium for Women, University of Oregon 154

XI. MORAL AND RELIGIOUS PHASES. By Norman Frank Coleman, A.M., Professor of English, Reed College 168






By Charles W. Eliot

This book is a collection of essays by several authors on the various aspects of social hygiene, and on the proper means of forming an enlightened public opinion concerning the measures which society can now, at last, wisely undertake against the vices and evils which in the human race accompany bodily self-indulgence and lack of moral stamina.

Till within five years, it was the custom in families, churches, and schools, to say nothing about sex relations, normal or abnormal; and in society at large to do nothing about the ancient evil of prostitution, to provide neither isolation nor treatment for the worst of contagious diseases, and to regard the blindness, feeble-mindedness, sterility, paralysis, and insanity which result from those diseases as afflictions which could not be prevented. The progress of medicine within twenty years, both preventive and curative, has greatly changed the ethical as well as the physical situation. The policy of silence and concealment concerning evils which are now known to be preventable is no longer justifiable. The thinking public can now learn what these evils are, how destructive they are, and by what measures they may be cured or prevented. With this knowledge goes the responsibility and duty of applying it in defense of society and civilization.

This book is a sincere effort, first, to supply the needed knowledge of terrible wrongs and destructions; and, secondly, to indicate cautiously and tentatively the most available means of attacking the evils described. It is an attempt to enlighten public opinion on one of the gravest of modern problems—indeed, the very gravest, with the exception of the warfare between capital and labor. The book is not intended for children, or even for adolescents, but rather for parents, teachers, and ministers who have to answer the questions of children and youth about sex relations, or deal sympathetically with the victims of sexual vice.

All efforts to deal directly with sex relations in schools, churches, and clubs are hampered, and must be for some years to come, by the lack of competent instructors in that difficult subject. So far as instruction in educational institutions is concerned, it seems as if the normal schools and the colleges for men or for women must be selected for the first experiments on class instruction. Family instruction is in most cases impossible; because neither father nor mother is competent to teach the children what needs to be taught about both the normal and the disordered sex relations. The ministers and priests are as a rule equally incompetent. They can give precepts or orders, but not explanations or reasons. Considerate managers of large industries ought to have a keen interest in all social hygiene problems, because they nearly concern industrial efficiency; but it is only lately that business men have begun to understand the close connection between public health and industrial prosperity, and most of them are not well informed on the subject.

Against prostitution and drunkenness governments of many sorts have been struggling ineffectually for centuries. These two evils go together; but whether taken separately or together no government has yet adopted an effective mode of dealing with them. Fortunately medical science has lately placed in the hands of government, and of private associations, effective means of defense against the social vices and their consequences; and the new social ethics call loudly on all men of good will to enlist in the warfare against these ancient evils, which to-day are more destructive than ever before, because of the prevailing industrial and social freedom, and the new facilities for individual traveling, and the migration of masses of men.

This book is intended to arouse public sentiment, spread accurate knowledge, check rash enthusiasm, and promote well-informed and resolute action.



By William Trufant Foster

Concerning matters of sex and reproduction there has been for many generations a conspiracy of silence. The silence is now broken. Whatever may be the wisdom or the folly of this change of attitude, it is a fact; and it constitutes a social emergency.

Throughout the nineteenth century the taboo prevailed. Certain subjects were rarely mentioned in public, and then only in euphemistic terms. The home, the church, the school; and the press joined in the conspiracy. Supposedly, they were keeping the young in a blessed state of innocence. As a matter of fact, other agencies were busy disseminating falsehoods. Most of our boys and girls, having no opportunity to hear sex and marriage and motherhood discussed with reverence, heard these matters discussed with vulgarity. While those interested in the welfare of the young withheld the truth, those who could profit by their downfall poisoned their minds with error and half-truths. An abundance of distressing evidence showed that nearly all children gained information concerning sex and reproduction from foul sources,—from misinformed playmates, degenerates, obscene pictures, booklets, and advertisements of quack doctors. At the same time the social evil and its train of tragic consequences showed no abatement. The policy of silence, after many generations of trial, proved a failure.

The past few years have seen a sudden change. Subjects formerly tabooed are now thrust before the public. The plain-spoken publications of social hygiene societies are distributed by hundreds of thousands. Public exhibits, setting forth the horrors of venereal diseases, are sent from place to place. Motion-picture films portray white slavers, prostitutes, and restricted districts, and show exactly how an innocent girl may be seduced, betrayed, and sold. The stage finds it profitable to offer problem plays concerned with illicit love, with prostitution, and even with the results of venereal contagion. Newspapers that formerly made only brief references to corespondents, houses of bad repute, statutory offenses, and serious charges, now fill columns with detailed accounts of divorce trials, traffic in women, earnings of prostitutes, and raids on houses. Novels that might have been condemned and suppressed a few decades ago are now listed among "the best sellers." Lectures on sex hygiene and morals are given widely, over four hundred such lectures having been given under the auspices of a single society. Fake doctors, while obeying the letter of new laws, are bolder than ever in some directions and use the alarm caused by the production of Damaged Goods, for example, as a means of snaring new victims. Generations of silence, enforced by the powerful influence of social custom, have been suddenly followed by a campaign of pitiless publicity, sanctioned by eminent men and women, and carried forward by the agencies of public education that daily reach the largest number of human beings—namely, the press, the motion picture, and the stage.

This far-reaching change in the customs of society is fraught with immediate dangers, because we do not know whether the mere knowledge of facts concerning sexual processes, vices, and diseases will do a given individual harm or good. The effect of such information upon any person is unquestionably determined by his physiological age, by his nervous system, by the manner and time of the presentation of the subject; above all, by his will power and the controlling ideals that are acquired along with scientific facts. As yet, we have not discovered thoroughly trustworthy pedagogical principles, administrative methods, and printed materials for public education in matters of sex. So difficult and complicated are the problems, and so disastrous are mistakes in this field of instruction, that the home, the church, and the school—the institutions to which young people should naturally look for truth in all matters, the agencies best qualified to solve the problems—are extremely cautious and conservative. While these agencies, which are concerned primarily with the welfare of the individual, the family, and society, have made some efforts to solve the problems, and to discover a safe and gradual transition from the old order to the new, other agencies, concerned primarily with making money, have rushed in to exploit the new freedom and the universal interest in matters of sex. This passing of the old order, and the invasion of the new order before we are prepared for it, constitute the social emergency of the twentieth century. Great as are the industrial and political revolutions of modern times, it is doubtful if anything so deeply concerns the coming generations as our measure of success in confronting the present social emergency.

In no other phase of social education are mistakes so serious. Other changes, demanded by new ideas of the function of the school, have been made prematurely and clumsily, but without grave danger. We have adjusted ourselves readily enough to compulsory education, normal schools, higher education for women, expert supervision, the kindergartens, physical training, industrial schools, university extension, care of defectives, and vocational guidance. Every new type of school and every new subject has been introduced before there were teachers trained for the new work. We stumbled along. Few were greatly concerned over mistakes in the teaching of penmanship and spelling and millinery and Latin and algebra. Few protested against the inefficient teaching of physiology as long as it rattled only dry bones, and had no evident relation to the physical functions and health of the student. But the moment men proposed to teach a subject of vital consequence, there was a cry of protest—and rightly.

Here mistakes will not do: here incompetent teachers cannot be trusted. Ill-advised efforts to teach sex hygiene may aggravate the very evils we are trying to assuage. Because the subject is of vital importance, education in sexual hygiene and morals must proceed cautiously and conservatively; according to tried methods, psychologically sound; always under the control of men and women of maturity, who see the present emergency in its many phases, who know how to teach, whose character is in keeping with the highest ideals of their work, and who approach their subject with reverence and their pupils with the joy and inspiration which come from a large opportunity to serve mankind.

Unhappily, not all of those who have been stimulated by the new freedom of speech to thrust themselves forward as teachers of sex hygiene, and as social reformers, are safe leaders. Some are ignorant and unaware that enthusiasm is not a satisfactory substitute for knowledge. Some are hysterical. At a recent purity convention, a woman said, "I know little about the facts, but it is wonderful how much ignorance can accomplish when accompanied by devotion and persistence." That declaration was applauded. Some people appear to believe that they will arrive safely if they go rapidly enough and far enough, even though they may be going in the wrong direction. Many retard the movement for social hygiene by making statements they do not know to be true, especially in respect to the extent of sexual immorality, the number of prostitutes, and the prevalence of venereal disease. Young people of opposite sexes, finding evidence on every hand that the traditional taboo is removed, discuss the subject for personal pleasure.

The books in the field of social hygiene which have most scrupulously and successfully avoided everything that might be sexually stimulating are not the ones bought by the largest numbers. The demand for erotic publications is so great as to warn us in advance that the new freedom will prove dangerous for many whose minds are already unclean. The propaganda for social purity is unlike many others, in that there is special danger of doing injury to the very ones in special need of help. The fact that the young, the ignorant, the hysterical, and the sexually abnormal, as well as commercialized agencies, are using the newfound license in dangerous ways is reason enough for the liberal and whole-hearted support of the American Social Hygiene Association and affiliated societies.

These private organizations are striving to meet the present social emergency. They are temporary expedients. Their chief aim is public education. They should frustrate the efforts of all dangerous agencies and hasten the day when the home, the church, and the school shall meet their full responsibilities in the teaching of sexual hygiene and morals.



By William Trufant Foster

It is necessary to take into account all phases of the social emergency. The question is not merely one of physiology, or pathology, or diseases, or wages, or industrial education, or recreation, or knowledge, or commercial organization, or legal regulation, or lust, or social customs, or cultivation of will power, or religion. It is all of this and more. The danger is that we shall see only one or two sides of a many-sided problem. A solution may appear adequate because it leaves essential factors out of consideration.

One physiological factor in the situation is of fundamental importance, namely, the discrepancy between the age of sexual maturity and the prevailing age of marriage,—an artificial condition largely determined by social customs, by modern educational systems, and by standards of living. While society has set forward, generation after generation, the age at which marriage seems feasible, the age of puberty has remained virtually the same. This unnatural condition—as artificial as the clothes we wear—is a phase of the emergency which should be considered by those who condemn as unnatural and forced the education of adolescent boys and girls in sexual hygiene and morals. Partly as a result of this has come the general acceptance of the double standard of chastity which has bitterly condemned the girl—made her an outcast of society—and excused the boy for the same offense, on the false plea of physiological necessity.

With the sanction of this double standard, tacitly accepted by society, thousands of prostitutes have been harbored and protected. What shall we do with them? We may drive them out of certain districts and certain houses, and even certain cities, but they are still with us, and we are responsible for them. If they are denied resorts where men seek them, they will seek men. Most of them are unable, without special training, to earn a living in any other way, and many of them would not if they could. A majority are mentally defective and should be wards of society. Any plan which fails to take care of these women—adequately, permanently, and humanely—ignores one of the greatest of the problems which history, with the sanction of society, has made a factor of the present emergency.

The medical phase of the present situation is not often ignored, except by those who hold that there is no such thing as disease. All countries are alarmed over the prevalence of venereal infection. Definite information, however, concerning the extent of these diseases, the sources and conditions of contagion, and the complications and results, is not to be had; because society still persists in treating venereal diseases as not subject to public registration and control, in spite of their terrible attacks on tens of thousands of innocent victims.

The fear of contracting disease has long been used in attempts to promote a single standard of chastity. Such fear has no doubt played its part and will continue to keep many prudent men away from prostitutes. But in looking forward to the work of the next generation, we must face the need of higher motives than the fear of disease, for science may at any time discover positive safeguards against contagion, thus diminishing one of the factors of the present emergency and by the same stroke accentuating others.

Of the economic phases of the emergency, there are some which directly affect the wage-earner. One is the failure of wages to keep pace with the higher cost of living; another is the increase in the number and proportion of wage-earning women and the resultant keenness of competition for places; another is the fact that women workers are for the most part unorganized and unprotected; another is the occasional effect of supplementary wages of vice in lowering the wages of women in industry; still another is the constant temptation of shop-girls to imitate their patrons' vulgar displays of finery. But of all the economic factors contributing to the moral breakdown of girls, the most general and inexcusable is the failure of our public schools to provide vocational training, although it is certain that above fifty per cent of all girls leave the schools to become wage-earners. Failure to gain a living wage is undoubtedly one of the causes, though seldom the sole cause, of the first delinquency of some girls.

Other economic conditions serve to promote and intrench the business of prostitution. These conditions are as real as any other factors and will block reform until they are squarely met. One of these is the excessive profit on property used for immoral purposes. The fact that such property is often owned by persons who pass as respectable members of society does not make the problem easier. Then there is the intimate connection between the sale of intoxicating liquors and commercialized prostitution, as definitely revealed by the investigations of every vice commission.

Another economic factor intrenching prostitution as a business is the commercial organization which continues to do an international and interstate business, partly because of our inadequate white-slave laws and inadequate appropriation for enforcement.

Most important among the economic aids to prostitution as a business are the high immediate wages of vice in contrast with the low wages of virtue. A girl in the shop, or factory, or office may be capitalized at six thousand dollars; in the clutches of a procurer, she may become worth twenty-six thousand dollars. As a prostitute, she "earns more than four times as much as she is worth as a factor in the social and industrial economy, where brains, intelligence, virtue and womanly charm should bring a premium." In an average lifetime, to be sure, the wages of one woman in industry are greater than the earnings in the short life of one prostitute; but from the viewpoint of the man who pockets most of the earnings, it is more profitable to kill off a dozen women than to keep one at decent work through an average lifetime. This economic condition is revealed to the cast-out woman after a few years, on the brink of the grave; but at the outset of her brief career, she sees the immediate gain, not the ultimate ruin.

There are other economic factors which will aid all movements for social hygiene when they are more clearly perceived by those engaged in reputable business: first, the loss to honest industry due to the reduced efficiency of sexual perverts, of the diseased, and of those who, through their ignorance, have been kept in worry by "leading specialists"; and, in the second place, the inevitable reduction in the profits of legitimate business due to the excessive profits of illegitimate business.

The recreational pursuits of young people are other factors of immediate concern to those who would see the problems of social hygiene in their entirety. Adolescent boys and girls spend most of their leisure time either in wholesome physical activity conducive to normal sex life or in various forms of amusement fraught with danger. In seeking innocent recreation, young people can hardly escape contact with amusements cunningly devised to excite sex impulses and at the same time to lower respect for woman. The bill-boards and the picture post-cards, the penny-in-the-slot machines and the motion pictures, the exhibits of quack doctors, vaudeville performances, many so-called comic operas, popular new songs, the dress of women approved by modern fashion,—these all help at times to prepare young people to fall before the special temptations that beset all commercial recreation centers. Especially dangerous are the saloons, billiard rooms, dance-halls, ice-cream parlors, road-houses and amusement parks. Both male and female enemies of decency frequent these resorts. They are often schools of sexual immorality, with clever and persistent teachers. Unless we take them into due account, we cannot see the whole problem of education in sexual hygiene and morals.

Then there are the legal phases of the situation. We must consider, on the one hand how much can be accomplished by legislation, in view of all the known factors in the situation. Our courts, for example, in spasmodically or regularly rounding up women, fining them ten or fifteen dollars apiece, and turning them loose, are trying to meet the social emergency by shutting their eyes to nine out of ten of its essential features. Their policy gives a clean bill to the male prostitute, arrests the woman, takes away a part of her earnings, sets her free under the necessity of seeking new victims to offset the fine, offers her no incentive to lead any other life, incidentally increases opportunities for police graft, and virtually gives the sanction of the law to the whole nefarious business. The ostrich with his head buried in the sand sees our gravest social problem about as clearly and wholly as do many who are administering laws concerning prostitution in American cities.

The impotence of laws passed in advance of public education and public demand is a difficulty often overlooked. Some reformers seem to think they can eliminate the social evil by getting a law passed. They urge state legislatures to pass laws requiring every school to teach sex hygiene. These people think they are going straight at a solution; but they fail to see the patent fact that there are not now enough competent teachers for this work; no, not one teacher for every hundred schools. Another example of futile legislation is the California law requiring the reporting of cases of venereal diseases. One could easily list a score of laws in the domain of sexual morals which are ineffective, either because in their very nature they could not be enforced, or because the public do not wish to have them enforced. Perhaps there are no factors of the social emergency so frequently left out of account as the relation of public education to public opinion and the relation of public opinion to the possibility of law enforcement.

As a matter of fact the educational phases of social reform are of most immediate importance. Nothing can so profitably occupy the attention of social hygiene societies as the education of the public. If groups of social workers come to serious disagreement on other phases of the present emergency,—if the discussion of restricted districts, minimum-wage laws, health certificates for marriage, and reporting of diseases divides the group into warring camps,—all can unite in favor of spreading certain truths as widely as possible; and it is not difficult to agree on at least a few of the many methods which have already proved effective in educational campaigns.

At the outset of our attempt to educate the general public in matters of sex, we face certain factors which govern the scope, time, place, and method of any successful efforts. Failure to give these factors due consideration has brought many attempts to early and unhappy ends, and convinced some people that ignorance is safer than such education.

We must reckon carefully with the centuries of social tradition which have resulted in the taboo on the subjects of sex and reproduction. It may be that this conspiracy of silence has proved a failure; it may be that it has no basis worthy of intellectual respect. It may be that all people should welcome the new freedom of speech. These are not issues in the process of education. Our first concern is the actual state of the public mind; we begin with that or else we fail.

Biologically the all-inclusive issue concerns the survival of the race. Nature has no favorites: the fittest of the human stock will survive after others have degenerated and disappeared; the fittest animals will ultimately people the earth. Sexual degeneracy is the surest road to race extinction.

No aspects are more important than those concerning morals and religion. The restraining influences of the fear of disease may and probably will be thrown off by science. Whether education in scientific aspects of the subject will do good or harm in a given case depends on the extent to which moral and religious ideals control the conduct of the individual. The inadequacy of mere knowledge in the realm of sex hygiene is painfully evident. To the knowledge of what is right must be added the will to do the right. As moral and religious instruction is the dominant educational need of the present generation, so the moral and religious aspects of sex problems transcend all others in importance.

These are the most important phases of the social emergency. It is difficult to see them in all their intricate relationships and to realize that in any one approach we touch only one side of a many-sided problem. The great majority of our people see only the superficial aspects, or see one particular phase in distorted perspective, because that is brought close to them through a special case of misfortune. Even social workers are in danger of narrowness of vision because of devoted service in particular fields. The aim of the following chapters is to consider successively and in right relationships various aspects of the social emergency.



By William House

All instruction in the physiology of reproduction as an aid to sexual hygiene should be so conducted as to give assurance that the wonders of the origin and development of life in all its millions of forms be taught in a respectful, even reverent, spirit. Naught in the universe is more marvelous than the beginnings of life. Naught else compares with the wonders of growth and development.

Rightly taught, reproduction may be cleansed from the foul interpretations which have soiled the minds of countless children, and may be made into a body of wonderful and sacred truths capable of fortifying youthful minds against the uncleanness and indecencies which have contributed so largely to sexual impurity. If it be never forgotten that human ingenuity has been taxed in untold numbers of unsuccessful experiments to produce life by other than nature's methods, while the power of reproduction resides in even the lowliest of living organisms, the mystery and marvel are multiplied a hundredfold, and the subject of reproduction is invested with a halo of splendid and inspiring proportions.

* * * * *

The sex organs are the agencies by which every plant and every animal, each after its kind, brings into the world a succeeding generation. Sex activity is the result of sex impulse. The imperative need of reproduction in the scheme of nature is responsible for the presence of sex impulse as it occurs in every normal adult animal. Were it not for this impulse the earth would soon become void of life. The human sex impulse is a powerful one, thought compelling, at times well-nigh overmastering. Though in the main good, it sometimes produces harmful results. Among the lower animals the sex function is exercised without thought or knowledge of consequence, restrained only by the limitations of physical power,—the power to obtain by might, by conquest. In fully developed mankind, the mind acts as a constraining force which may control or even completely subdue physical manifestations of sex impulse.

In adolescents—those who are approaching maturity, but are in a transition state, neither man nor child—sex desire may be as strong as in those of riper years. Many who are passing through this period know little or nothing of the forces that pulse through their frames and seem to consume them with unquenchable fires. These forces are the sex impulses, the beginning of sex life and sex activity. And as every work of man or nature while in a state of transition is unstable, less firmly founded, more easily destroyed or injured than at any other time, so it is that the adolescent finds himself in greater danger than at any other time of life. Consumed with incomprehensible desire, which he cannot gratify, he is the victim of circumstances which cause him distress, yet admit of no relief.

Probably all marriage laws have as their real object the protection of child life. Without marriage laws there could be no organized society and the human race would soon sink to the level of the animal world in general. Under present social conditions marriages are put off longer and longer. Each succeeding generation is marked by an increase in the age of those who marry. But the conditions which cause late marriages in no way lessen the sex impulses or mitigate the distress which these impulses cause. The impulse to multiply is neither greater nor less than in the past when marriages generally occurred earlier. Fortunately it is weaker in the female than in the male. There are those who believe that the male must exercise it if he would achieve his full strength of mind and body. Certain political and philosophic sects take cognizance of this belief and advocate legalized provision for the gratification of the sex impulse even to the extent of providing for the destruction of the lives of the unborn.

The most pernicious of the false beliefs regarding physiological necessity are as follows:—

1. That a life of sexual continence is not consistent with the best physical health.

2. That the exercise of the sex function is necessary to the full development and preservation of "manly power,"—the power of procreation.

3. That the sexual impulse in man is so imperious that it is impossible to control it and, therefore, a sexually continent life cannot be expected of man.

4. That, therefore, the moral standard which we apply to woman cannot be applied to man.

To correct these erroneous beliefs about the sex function, Dr. M.J. Exner brought together the testimony of the foremost medical authorities of the United States. He drew up a statement regarding sexual continence, and submitted it to leading physiologists for criticism so as to bring its phraseology wholly within the requirements of scientific precision. It was then submitted for endorsement to leading medical authorities throughout the country. The ready and hearty response of 370 of these men in endorsing the declaration leaves no doubt as to the conviction of the leading men of the medical profession on this question. The declaration is as follows:—

"In view of the individual and social dangers which spring from the widespread belief that continence may be detrimental to health, and of the fact that municipal toleration of prostitution is sometimes defended on the ground that sexual indulgence is necessary, we, the undersigned, members of the medical profession, testify to our belief that continence has not been shown to be detrimental to health or virility; that there is no evidence of its being inconsistent with the highest physical, mental and moral efficiency; and that it offers the only sure reliance for sexual health outside of marriage."[1]

The erroneous beliefs concerning physiological necessity have been propagated chiefly on the authority of advertising medical fakers, whose business depends on misrepresentation and deceit, men whose methods exclude them from the ranks of reputable physicians. They are also taught by those within the ranks of the profession who are ignorant or unscrupulous or both, and who for the most part have no higher incentive in their profession than the pursuit of the dollar. The teaching of these men is in most cases more an expression of their own vicious habits than of real conviction. Both wholly misrepresent the teaching and attitude of the great majority of physicians who constitute the reputable body of the profession.

Dr. William H. Howell, Professor of Physiology at Johns Hopkins University, says: "There is no evidence whatsoever that the sexual appetite or the act of reproduction has any physiological relationship to the preservation of the integrity of the individual. This appetite has been created or evolved and made strong in us for an entirely different purpose. A sexual necessity exists only so far as the integrity of the race is concerned; so far as the individual is concerned his sexual functions may be unused or he may be completely unsexed without any injury to his bodily health."


[1] The full list of authorities is given in The Physician's Answer, by M.J. Exner, M.D., Secretary, Student Department, International Committee, Young Men's Christian Associations, Association Press, New York, 1913. This is the best treatment of the question of physiological necessity. It is freely quoted in this chapter. [Editor.]



By Andrew C. Smith

Some idea of the prevalence of venereal diseases in the United States may be obtained from the following statistics of the census for 1910. The registration area covered a population of 48,877,893 persons. The figures are here extended to cover a population of 90,000,000 people: Deaths ascribed to venereal disease, 5275; spinal cord diseases, 2598; paresis, 4845. Other diseases partly due to syphilis: softening of the brain, a term indiscriminately used to cover a number of diseases including brain syphilis and paresis, 2111; paralysis, usually meaning apoplexy, but always including many cases of brain syphilis, 14,479; premature birth, by some believed to be the result of syphilis in one half of all cases, 34,174; congenital debility, deaths due in many cases to feebleness of the child resulting from syphilis, 25,285; blindness, one fourth the total number of blind in this country estimated at 15,000 to 20,000. Many estimate that over half of the entire male population have had gonorrhea. The principal reason for this alarming distribution among all classes of these infections and their steady increase is ignorance and misunderstanding of physiological facts, particularly the viciously false teaching of the street corner that sexual activity is a physiological necessity.

These diseases would be arrested were there a widespread knowledge of their disastrous effects. Although young men hear the mischievous lie that "gonorrhea is no worse than a bad cold," thousands of them are punished with sterility as a result of the disease. Nearly all the neglected cases result in so-called ascending infections, reaching the bladder and kidneys and causing many deaths, and many men carry the infection in dormant form, to infect innocent wives in later years.

Appalling as are the consequences of gonorrheal infection in men, they are not so fatal or so far-reaching as syphilis. The causative parasite of this disease spares not a single tissue in the body and may disturb any or all of its functions, not even mentality escaping. As a cause of death it is extremely frequent. Our statistics ordinarily ascribe to syphilis but a small percentage of the deaths actually due to it; for instance, many of our cases of spinal disease, paralysis, arterial and other organic diseases are tabled under other names, although directly due to syphilis.

In women gonococcic infections are even more destructive than in men, as it is extremely common for the infection to extend to the tubes and to the peritoneal cavity, thus necessitating dangerous and mutilating operations, generally followed by sterility and often by death. Syphilis, though less frequent in women than in men, is nearly if not quite as fatal as in men, and otherwise similar in its baneful effects. I The child suffers the most tragic results of venereal infection, for it is always wholly innocent, yet infected to a greater or less extent, if the parents be syphilitic, and frequently if the birth-canal be gonorrheally infected. Although silver nitrate is a remedy for gonorrheal infection, if applied to the eyes immediately after birth, nevertheless the babe frequently suffers with infected eyes, and not infrequently with blindness.

If the child's sad infection is syphilis, instead of gonorrhea, there are still other miseries in store for it. If it is not so fortunate to be stillborn, it may have infection that ranges from almost imperceptible degrees to the most loathsome extent that it is possible for animal tissue to harbor. Its brain may be so invaded by the syphilitic parasites that it can never attain any degree of mentality; its spinal column maybe so involved that paralytic conditions will surely result; and if these nerve centers escape special involvement, other organs may be affected, such as the stomach, bowels, and liver; if these escape, the bones may be so deficient in vitality as to be incapable of sustaining the frame as development proceeds; the skin only may be involved, or the mucous membranes so affected as to make of the child a perpetual snuffler and inefficient breather. In most cases of lesser as well as greater mental defect, the tests show syphilitic infection. Endless are the complications that may be visited upon the innocent progeny of syphilitic antecedents.

The gonorrheal infections occur in the mucous membranes lining the cavities, especially those of the urethra and female genital tract. It is in these tissues that the germ of gonorrhea finds lodgment, and once there its development is hard to interrupt. Although the growth of the gonorrheal germ produces acute symptoms, such as discharge and pain, these pass off under treatment in a few weeks. Unfortunately the disease is far from cured, for the microbe has found its natural habitat in the inter-cellular structure of the genital mucus, from which it cannot readily be dislodged, and from which it may invade other tissues. It may remain in a state of latency for an indefinite time; then transferred to a new field, it may resume its original activities. While in this stage of latency it is difficult to destroy. At this time it is more likely to be further disseminated, as the patient, ignorant of the condition, is more likely to convey the disease, which so often occurs in married life after a long forgotten infection.

The gonococcus (the microbe of gonorrhea) is a pus—producing bacterium, occurring in pairs, resembling in form two coffee grains, generally with a distinct interval of separation. Although its natural habitat is the mucous membrane lining the genito-urinary tracts it may invade the muscular and serous and other tissues. If often affects the Fallopian tubes and ovaries and the serous lining of the pelvic and abdominal cavities. The deeper sub-mucous tissues of the uterus and the male genito-urinary tracts are also frequently involved, it being sometimes impossible to eradicate it from these deeper retreats. From these deeper tissues it is more commonly taken up by the circulation and deposited in distant parts, frequently in the joints. When it becomes thus systematically disseminated, the so-called secondary or metastatic lesions are almost as numerous, though not as virulent, as syphilitic infection. Recent pathological researchers have found that occasionally the gonococcus becomes the causative factor in inflammations of the muscles, tendons, and glands, and in inflammatory conditions of the lungs, kidneys, heart, and even the brain, spinal cord, and the serous membranes enveloping these great cranial and spinal viscera.

The individuality and characteristics of the syphilis microbe were not positively determined until in 1905, Schaudinn, of Germany, convinced the medical world that it was a spiral, corkscrew-like organism, from a quarter to one millimeter in thickness, and from four to twelve millimeters in length. It is not so discriminating as the gonococcus in its points of inoculation, nor is it as vulnerable to attack; and it is vastly more destructive to the tissues invaded. It spares no tissue in the human frame, and resists destruction by any known drugs of vegetable origin. When in a latent state its presence was often impossible to determine until, two years after its discovery, a test was worked out by Wasserman, also of Germany, by which diagnosis of the infection may be made,—even in latent form,—as in a hereditary case where no clinical manifestations have yet asserted themselves. There is another valuable blood test worked out by Noguchi. With these two tests we are now able to diagnose the disease, almost absolutely, and follow up the treatment till cure is complete, except in some of the incurable brain and spinal cord cases.

In 1909, Ehrlich determined, after a series of laboratory experiments on animals inoculated with the syphilis germ (spirochaeta pallida), that a complex compound, with arsenic as its base, had the desired effect of destroying the parasite, in a dose not poisonous to the animal. This compound, first designated as "606," representing its number among his many laboratory experiments, he later named "salvarsan." With the assistance of his clinical friends, he soon demonstrated the action of his compound on man, and gave it freely to the world. Although it is now almost universally used, it has not proved to be the absolute cure that it was hoped it would be, as some of the spirochaetae seem to be hidden away where they are protected from the circulating poison,—to bring forth new progeny,—thus producing so-called recurrence.

The possibility of the infection of innocent persons is always uppermost in the mind of the medical man, and should equally concern the layman. Contaminated articles and utensils, such as towels and common drinking-cups, have caused many infections. This danger is greater from syphilis than from gonorrhea, for the reason that the spirochaeta pallida is more virulent than the gonococcus. In our own fields, camps, and mines, it is common for men to drink from one jug or dipper. Infection almost surely follows if one of the crowd has a syphilitic sore on the lip. So intense is the activity of the spirochaeta pallida in the primary stage that it may be borne to innocent parties by unwashed clothes and utensils of any kind, that have been in recent contact with a primary syphilitic sore. A dentist's or a doctor's instruments, for instance, are extremely dangerous as infection carriers, if they are not thoroughly sterilized by boiling. The danger of infection in syphilis and gonorrhea depends largely upon the virulence of the individual infection. As some living tubercle bacilli may be harbored and thrown off with impunity, while others will destroy the strongest man, regardless of all treatment, so some spirochaetae or gonococci may be safely disposed of, while others are most deadly.

Of all the sad instances of germ infection, the saddest are those from venereal germs, for they are disseminated mostly in vice, and inoculated into the innocent through ignorance. A common cause of infection of the innocent is the false popular belief that venereal germs are transmitted only in sexual congress. The truth is that any part of the body is in danger of inoculation from syphilis if the germ be virulent. So may any membranous point be infected by the gonococcus, whether conveyed by hand or instrument or fabric. This explains the number of gonococcic infections occurring in girl children. They come in membranous contact (at the outlet of vagina or rectum, or in the eye) with a contaminated article of clothing, or with the contaminated hands of an infected person. Ignorance is the cause of nearly all venereal infections. Why, then, should venereal infection not be eradicated? With adequate education, if there is not eradication, there will at least be compensation, for the sacrifice will be mainly of those who will not accept education—the unfit.

The possibility of recovery from syphilis is greater at present than it has been in the past, but we cannot yet say that the disease is absolutely curable in a given case. While most cases treated early with salvarsan, and followed by judicious use of mercury, are curable, there are nevertheless those which do not thus respond, and which in spite of all treatment go from bad to worse, till the patient's miseries are ended in insanity, paralysis, and death.

While the venereal diseases are the greatest physical evils to be attributed to sex ignorance, there are others chargeable to the same cause. There are, for instance, important physiological phenomena pertaining to sex development, ignorance of which is often baneful to the developing adolescent of either sex. When the boy's voice begins to change, and hair begins to appear on his face and body, and more thrilling sensations occasionally command his attention, he should be told, modestly but distinctly, that a pure and manly function is developing within him, the sole object of which is reproduction, and he must not consider it in a vulgar way, nor discuss it with others than his parents or physician or minister. Tell him that these physical changes of oncoming manhood are due to the establishment of the secretion of the procreative fluid,—the semen,—and will be safely cared for by nature. Fortify him against the mental pollution of the quack advertisement, and the satanically false teaching of ignorant associates that sexual intercourse is physiologically necessary, by impressing him with the fact that nature cares for the disposal of the seminal secretion. When clearly made aware of these simple sex principles, and convinced that it is unmanly and depraved to consider them vulgarly, the rapidly developing manly boy will not become a masturbator or a frequenter of bawdy-houses and a victim of the gonococcic or spirochaetic infections; nor will he become a moral assassin, a seducer of girls.

The sister, no less than the brother, needs pure, plain, non-prudish sex education. If her mother is not qualified to impart it, she, like the boy, should seek the aid of her minister, or physician, or a qualified school teacher; better a few suggestions from an experienced, modest source than many suggestions from inexperienced and often lewd companions. As the brother was told of the physical phenomena accompanying his sex development, so the sister should be apprised of the physiological necessity of her periodical functions, and of nature's kindly care and development of her delicate and wonderful sex mechanism, the sole purpose of which is maternity. It will fortify her maidenliness to tell her that much of the world is deceitful and degrading in sex matters, and that if she would be a perfect woman, mentally and physically, she must vigilantly guard her virtue, maintaining absolute purity, not only with persons of the opposite sex, but with persons of her own sex, and the person of her own self. Incalculable good can be done toward the uplift of wayward humanity by sex education.



By Arthur Evans Wood

In any effort for social improvement it is necessary to know conditions that make both for and against success. This is especially so in social hygiene, for it is closely related to all aspects of modern life. Lack of education and false instruction are largely responsible for sexual immorality. It is not so generally known that economic conditions are responsible for vice, opinions on this matter ranging all the way from a denial that economic conditions have anything to do with vice to the assertion that vice would disappear with the increase in the incomes of working-people. Assuming that ignorance is the fundamental cause of vice (an assumption which does not "stand to reason") the results of ignorance must manifest themselves through the institutions of society. Some institutions, such as slavery, encourage vice. Likewise, any caste system, such as feudalism in the Middle Ages, in which there must be depths as well as heights, supplies the vicious classes. The aim of this chapter is to show that, while modern economic conditions do not create "the social evil" they furnish an environment favorable to its spread. If this is so, an improvement in these conditions must accompany all other measures for the eradication of vice.

One of the most significant facts of the industrial evolution of the last half-century is the increase in the number of women who have become wage-earners outside the home. According to the Federal Census the number of females fifteen years of age and over, employed as breadwinners in 1900, was 5,007,069, an increase of 34.9 per cent over the number thus employed in 1890.[2] The largest number in any one occupation, 1,213,828, were servants and waitresses. Of this class the domestics were not employed "outside the home." The homes, however, were not their own, and salutary influences of home life do not exist for the majority of domestics. In the decade between 1900 and 1910 the increase in the number of wage-earning women has been even more accelerated than in previous decades, and to-day probably from 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 women in the United States are industrially employed.

One important aspect of this influx of women into industry is that the proportion of those in domestic and personal service, which has always been women's work, has decreased; whereas the proportion of those in manufacturing, trade, and transportation, which are new employments for women, has increased.[3] This means that not only are working-girls and women leaving the homes, but they are also abandoning in increasing numbers those occupations to which in times past their sex has been most accustomed. It is impossible that this prodigious change in the sphere and work of women should not be accompanied by some change in the social and moral standards that were nourished in the seclusion of the home. Miss Jane Addams has made the suggestion that perhaps the superior reputation of women for virtue is due to the fact that, generally speaking, women have been secluded from the influences of the world.[4]

The increase in the proportion of girls engaged in non-domestic pursuits means that industrial vocations for women are becoming more dissociated from the arts of home-making,—a fact which is doubtless the cause of many an inner struggle.

In the present lack of industrial education young girls who must work to support themselves or their families drift about from place to place with no definite vocational aims. Frequently they come to the offices of child labor commissions wanting work, but not knowing what they can do, or even what they would like to do. If they do find work, it is rarely of a sort that offers incentives for a career. Lack of skill, of interests, and of ambitions result in industrial inefficiency. They are also the usual accompaniments of moral delinquency.

Even where opportunities for industrial training are offered, they may not lessen the disparity between industrial opportunities that exist for girls and womanly tastes. A recent report on the need for a trade school for girls in Worcester, Massachusetts, advocates a school that will train for skill in the machine-operating trades, because there is most demand for workers in these trades.[5] One might think in reading the report that machines for stitching corsets and underwear provided the ideal vocation for women. Biological considerations, if no others, would favor distribution of wage-earning women away from the mechanical pursuits into those which are more or less associated with the domestic arts.

A further significance for social hygiene of the entrance of women into industry is that it places a strain upon the spirit of chivalry which is a basis of right relations between the sexes. Chivalry in men has accompanied the comparative seclusion of women from the world, and is due to those instincts which lead men to protect those who are weaker than themselves. The term "the weaker sex" has a sound physiological basis. With the passing of the domestic system of industry, however, the seclusion of women becomes more and more a thing of the past. In factory and shop they mingle promiscuously with men. Crowds of young working-girls in every large city at the noon hour throng the streets. If they walk to and from work they sometimes have to pass unprotected through parts of the city given over to vice.[6] They thus become familiar with vice conditions and are often subject to ungentlemanly, if not insulting, conduct. There are in every community a number of men who are decent only under restraint, and the economic position of wage-earning girls weakens that restraint.

Moreover, the phrase "the weaker sex" has lost some of its significance. Many occupations, such as clerking, stenographing, laundering, and certain kinds of unskilled factory work are almost entirely taken over by women, who labor throughout the same working-day as men, and usually at a lesser wage than men would receive for the same kind of work. Under these conditions, to talk of the physical weakness of women is to accuse our civilization of cruelty.

Around wages most of the discussion has centered concerning the economic aspect of vice. The investigations conducted throughout the country have revealed a great variety of opinion concerning the relation between low wages and immorality. There has been much confusion of thought on the question. It is true, on the one hand, that injustice is done to wage-earning girls and women of the country when the report is circulated that the difference between morality and immorality is only one of dollars and cents. On the other hand, to deny that low wages paid to working-girls has any bearing on the question of vice is evidence of failure to grasp the moral problem involved. Morality, to be sure, is always expressed in the overcoming of difficulties. Yet we can hold a person blameworthy only if in the full possession of his or her faculties. A poorly nourished, fatigued girl has no such self-possession. If she does not earn enough on which to live, and "goes wrong," her inadequate wage is a factor in her wrong-doing, and the one who pays it to her cannot be rid of his share of the responsibility. "Sin is misery, misery is poverty. The antidote for poverty is income,"[7] says Professor Simon N. Patten, who is doing a vast deal toward bringing economics and morals on speaking terms with each other.

Vice investigations in Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia, and elsewhere snow that there are many economic factors besides wages involved as causes of vice. Some of these other factors are housing, hours of work morally dangerous employments, associations at work, and fatigue. The wage, however, is more important than all of these, for the wage largely governs living conditions, associations and recreation. The wage often makes the difference between life as mere existence and life with the opportunities for self-improvement that should belong to a human being.

It will be of value, then, to note some of the facts about wages that have appeared in recent surveys made by the Consumers' League of Oregon, by the State of Massachusetts, and by the Federal Government. After showing that the minimum cost of living for a self-supporting woman in Portland is $10 a week, the Oregon Survey shows that in the nine principal occupations employing women in Portland, from 22 to 92 per cent are receiving less than $10 a week. The table is as follows:—

Occupations Per cent under $10

Department stores 58.2 Factories 74.7 Hotels and restaurants 49.2 Laundries 92.6 Offices (clerks) 46.4 Offices (stenographers) 22.4 Printing-shops 56.1 Telephone exchanges 50. Miscellaneous 48.7

Another table shows that in five different employments,—laundries, factories, offices, department stores, and miscellaneous employment,—out of 509 women all but 31 (office workers) close the year with a deficit.[8]

A significant point is that among all but factory workers the excess of expenditures over incomes is greatest among those who live at home. This disproves the statement often made that those who live at home do not need a living wage. In conclusion, the Report of the Oregon Survey says: "The investigation has proved beyond a doubt that a large majority of self-supporting women in the State are earning less than it costs them to live decently; that many are receiving subsidiary help from their homes, which thus contribute to the profits of their employers; that those who do not receive help from relatives are breaking down in health from lack of proper nourishing food and comfortable lodging quarters, or are supplementing their wages by money received from immoral living."[9]

The Massachusetts Commission on Minimum Wage Boards reports even lower standards in wages for women. Among wage-earning girls and women over 18 years of age, 93 per cent of the candy-workers, 60 per cent of the workers in retail stores, and 75 per cent of laundry-women receive less than $8 a week.[10] In the cotton textile industry, among the 8021 women over 18 years of age whose wages were investigated, 38 per cent received less than $6 a week.[11] Among the individual stories that are buried in the Report, the following are typical:—

Ernestine is an eighteen-year-old Canadian girl, very pretty and neatly dressed. Her parents both died several months ago and left her utterly alone, without living relatives. She worked as a stock girl at $4.50 a week for two months, was laid off, and went to a summer hotel as waitress for $3 a week, room and board. She worked there for two months, or until the season was over, and then came to another store for $5 a week. She pays $1.50 for her room, including light and heat, has no carfare, does her laundering, except for shirt waists which cost her $.30 during the summer. She goes without breakfast or eats only a banana, gets her lunch for ten or fifteen cents, and her dinners for twenty or twenty-five cents. She has never paid more than twenty-five cents for a meal since she started to work. She is just a child, and is quite bewildered over the problem of facing life on $5 a week, and is terribly afraid of debt. She is intelligent and clever.[12]

Jennie is a frail little body, about 40 years old. After working 16 years in a Boston department store her wage was $5 a week.... For eleven years Jennie's little $5 a week had been the sole support of herself and her aged mother.... When her astonished employer learned that she had worked 16 years in his store and attained a wage of only $5 a week, he raised it $1. So the wage is supplemented by the girls (in the store) underpaid themselves, but comprehending the woman's need.... Thus seventeen years of faithful service to one master has won for Jennie this position of semi-dependence upon charity, increasing anxiety over an unprovided-for future, and declining health as a result of her pitiless struggle to stretch a miserable $5 over the cost of support of herself and mother.[13]

The most comprehensive report has been made by the Federal Government, and includes a survey of conditions among women in stores and factories in seven cities[14]. According to this report the average earnings of the women in retail stores of these cities is $6.88 in the case of those who live at home, and $7.89 in the case of those who are "adrift."[15] Among the factory women of these cities the average wage of those who live at home is $6.40, and of those who are "adrift," $6.78. The Boston investigation shows that from 11,000 to 12,000 women and girls were living in lodging- or boarding-houses at an average cost of $5.18 a week for prime necessities, leaving only $2.24 for clothing and all other expenses. The following comment is made on this government report by the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission:—

Although more than half the adrift women (in Boston) live in lodging- or boarding-houses,—numbering be it remembered between 11,000 and 12,000 girls and women,—two thirds of them lack the use of a sitting-room and must entertain men as well as women in their bedrooms. Not a few indications were seen in the course of the investigation of the demoralizing results of this practice. Many of the young women in lodgings were young and were friendless and were earning very low pay. Eighteen per cent of those who were reported without the use of a sitting-room were under twenty-five. The housing or food, or both, were reported as bad for a number of these perilously defenceless young women.[16]

Consideration of wages and standards of living leads to the question, What is a living wage? Studies in different parts of the country agree that it is about $10 a week. An estimate made by social workers for the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission places the minimum at $10.60 for girls who are adrift, and $8.37 to $8.71 for girls and women living at home. This estimate, however, made no allowance for unemployment, sickness, accident, or old age.[17] The Portland Vice Commission and the Consumers' League of Oregon have adopted a $10 minimum.[18] The first conference called by the Oregon Industrial Welfare Commission adopted $9.25 a week, or $40 per month, as "the sum required to maintain in frugal but decent conditions of living a self-supporting woman employed in mercantile establishments in Portland."[19] To this, however, representatives of the employees on the conference made objection, stating that a straight $10 a minimum was the only safe one.

If the minimum is rightly placed at $10, and if the investigations are true in showing that the majority of self-supporting women the country over are receiving less than this amount, we may now come to a more detailed discussion as to the relation between underpayment and vice. It is just here that it is easy to jump at conclusions. Most people approach social questions not with a scientific mind, but with preconceptions which mar their judgment. For example, the socialist exaggerates the effect of bad wage conditions, and the Woman's Auxiliary Department of the police exaggerate the influence of home conditions. Again, personal testimony is unreliable, because, on the one hand, victims of the social evil are liable to blame external conditions; and, on the other hand, well-fed, well-housed investigators often underestimate the bad moral effect of poor nourishment and fatigue.

Of this much we may be certain: low wages poor living, which involves poor housing, poor food, no savings, and either no recreation or dependence on others for it. In the federal report on living conditions of women in stores and factories, it is estimated that in the seven cities where the investigation took place approximately 65,000 women are adrift.[20] Since the majority of these are receiving less than the minimum cost of a decent living, they are "perilously defenseless young women."

Another federal report,[21] bearing directly on the relation between conditions of work and vice, concludes that whereas few girls "go wrong" on account of poverty, the misstep once taken, poverty and want are powerful deterrents to reform. A fourfold classification is made of immoral women, as follows: (1) Unmarried mothers; (2) girls who leave and regain the path of virtue, having their fling for the sake of good times; (3) occasional prostitutes, who enter the career as a business for a while; (4) professional prostitutes. Mention should be here made of this report, because its total effect is to minimize economic causes of prostitution, placing the responsibility elsewhere than on industrial conditions. It is to be noted, however, that it does emphasize the indirect effects of poverty, and does speak of the moral danger lurking in certain occupations, and of the bad effects of the lack of industrial education.

More definite responsibility for vice is ascribed to low wages in the reports of vice commissions. The Chicago Report says that of one group of 119 immoral women, 18 came from department stores, and 38 said that they had taken up the career for the need of money. The Portland Report presents 22 women as "Cases in which Low Wage and Vice are closely associated."[22] The Report continues:—

In presenting the foregoing table and statements from girls, this commission does not take the position that the low wages of self-supporting girls is the sole contributing cause of their delinquency, realizing that there are thousands of girls who would endure the utmost hardships before yielding themselves to those who are ready to seduce them. The evidence as to the effect of wage conditions is taken from the girls themselves, who, perhaps lacking adequate moral training, have, in the extremities of their position, allowed themselves to be driven "the easiest way."[23]

In the vice investigation conducted by the Illinois State Senate, 50 girls in one day testified under oath, 45 of whom said that their downfall had been due to the lack of money. The foregoing evidence is the kind unfortunate girls would be likely to give. Nevertheless, making due allowances, this evidence tends to confirm reports of vice commissions whose purpose has been strictly scientific.

If a conservative estimate of the proportion of vice due to low wages of girls would be 10 to 15 per cent, it must not be concluded that this represents all of the baneful moral effect of poverty. Whatever the other non-economic causes of vice, they are aggravated where poverty exists. Not only is this so, but alleged other causes may be partly economic. Bad home conditions are due not only to the lack of moral discipline, but also to the lack of income. The average wage of the adult male wage-earner of that section of the United States lying east of the Rockies and north of Mason and Dixon's line is said to be about $600. Sometimes the wage is as low as $500, and in only a few instances as high as $750.[24] If wage-earning men attempt to support families on these incomes, it means that they are not able to provide adequately for their wives and children. If they do not attempt to do so, it means, taking men as they are, an increase in the army of men who support prostitution. Professor H.R. Seager has said that prostitution in aid of wages is the greatest disgrace of our civilization.[25] An accompanying disgrace lies in the fact that economic conditions and other factors prevent the average male wage-earner in so large a section of our country from fulfilling his desire for marriage and a home of the sort that makes for health and happiness.

Besides the low wages of women and men, other economic facts have their bearing upon sexual hygiene and morals. These facts may be grouped under the head of industrial stress and strain which is moral as well as physical. The underpaid factory or store girl is subject to constant fatigue. In the rush season in department stores, girls often depend upon opiates for dulling the nervous strain. No trade is free from its special physical strain. There are, moreover, many morally dangerous trades. Work as chambermaids in hotels is conspicuously perilous for girls. The Chicago Juvenile Protective Association says, "The majority of girls who work in hotels go wrong sooner or later." The modern department stores, which employ the majority of young working-girls, offer temptations. Mrs. Florence Kelley refers to work in these stores as "the most dangerous to morals and health, of all occupations into which children can go."[26] Of course, it may be said that a "good girl" will not go wrong. It may also be said that a good social order will not place even good girls daily under conditions that are liable to bring about a physical or moral breakdown. Closer analysis of human character reveals the fact that physical and moral health are more closely associated than we have hitherto believed them to be.

According to statistics about female offenders, domestic service is morally the most dangerous employment.[27] The reasons for this are two: the social ostracism and the loneliness, and the low grade of worker. Each of these causes augments the influence of the other. The application of industrial standards to this neglected form of work should lead to improvements.

For those dependent upon employment offices, the seeking of a job may involve moral danger. The practice of private employment bureaus in sending unsuspecting girls to immoral places under the pretext of finding legitimate employment is common. The director of the Municipal Employment Bureau in Portland says that, the managers of houses are sometimes so bold as to telephone to the bureau for girls, telling for what purpose the girls are wanted.[28] One of the private bureaus was detected several times cooperating in such practices. The menace of such places can scarcely be overestimated.

We may now conclude our review of the economic phases of social hygiene. Economic conditions to-day are under indictment as endangering the health and morals of working-girls and women. Moral delinquency may arise through temptations met and hardships endured at the place of work; through scanty wages, inadequate for daily necessities; through lack of sympathetic consideration on the part of employers; through the stupidity of the community in adhering to worn-out educational methods that do not train wage-earners for earning a livelihood; through lack of protective legislation in regard to hours and conditions of labor. As a matter of fact, each of these conditions has been found to be an accompaniment of vice; and taken all together they constitute an environment that makes clean living difficult. Against the dark background of modern industry should be portrayed the luxurious conditions that are apparently enjoyed by those who have taken "the easiest way." In ancient society the status of the prostitute was that of slave: to-day it is that of an industrial citizen.[29] If the program of social hygiene comprehended only talking about sex to working-girls—to laundry-girls, for example, who, after a day's work of ten hours at the machines, go at night to their boarding-houses where they wash dishes to eke out a living,—then this program would not be unlike the advice of a physician who tells a poor man with tuberculosis that he must go to the country for a year and live on cream and eggs.

Even in the case of wage-earning girls who adopt loose ways to satisfy extravagant desires, their tastes are established by women of the wealthy and middle classes. The leisure of these women is due to their wage-earning sisters, who in factories and mills make the cloth, prepare food-stuffs, and do all sorts of tasks that formerly kept women of the upper classes at home. Through the instinct of imitation, combined with the American feeling of democracy, the habits of the well-to-do determine the ambition of many a working-girl.

Other factors are industrial arrangements which segregate men in construction and lumber camps for a part of the year, and then, without providing for their further employment, turn them loose into cities where only saloons welcome them and cash their checks, and where disease-infected lodging-houses are their only places of abode. Furthermore, standing armies take thousands of able-bodied men out of normal industrial relationships, and keep them in camps that become the congregating places of prostitutes.

The most hopeful phase of the whole problem that it lies within the power of the State to transform the industrial environment through progressive legislation. The law cannot form character, but it can protect that which has been developed through voluntary effort. Vice is partly a by-product of industrial chaos which can be eradicated by industrial organization. When working-people can establish themselves more generally in homes of their own,—"every man under his vine, and under his fig tree," as it were,—then they will be able to give more time to their children, and will perhaps cooperate better in the program for sex instruction.

Economic improvements should include a minimum wage for women, and one for men based upon the needs of a family; the eight-hour day; insurance against sickness, old age, and accidents; relief of unemployment; one day's rest in seven for all continuous industries; industrial education compulsory for all children; abolition of child labor; and amelioration of conditions under which women work.

When wage standards are raised, there arises the problem concerning those who cannot earn a living wage. "Who will pay poor, ignorant Mary Konovsky more than $6.90 a week?" is a question asked by a manufacturer during a minimum-wage discussion in New York State. The reply is, If Mary is really not worth more, she must be sent by the State to an industrial school until she can earn her living; and if she should be proved to be mentally deficient (as about 50 per cent of prostitutes are said to be), then she must be placed in an institution where she can be humanely and permanently cared for. The impossible alternatives are that she should be denied a living wage when she can earn it, or that she should be allowed to drift, in danger of becoming the prey of vicious men.

Meanwhile, before the machinery of a full legislative program can be set to work, the field is open for voluntary philanthropic endeavor. Welfare work in stores and factories that is done by some one who acts, not as a detective with condescending side interests in welfare, but whole-heartedly and sympathetically can avail much. Real social work in business establishments should be profitable to employers as well as to employees. The aim of all public and private effort should be to make industry not the occasion of stumbling, but what it should be, the universal means of progress.


[2] Statistical Abstract of U.S., p. 163. (1911.)

[3] Woman and Child Wage-Earners in U.S., vol. IX, p. 20; "History of Women in Industry."

[4] A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil, chap. I.

[5] A Trade School for Girls, U.S. Bureau of Education, Bulletin no. 17, pp. 52 ff.(1913.)

[6] Portland, Oregon, Vice Commission, Report, p. 188. (1913.)

[7] Social Basis of Religion.

[8] Social Survey Committee of Consumers' League of Oregon, Report, pp. 21, 22.

[9] Ibid., p. 24.

[10] Massachusetts Commission on Minimum Wage Boards, Report, pp. 51, 114, 157.

[11] Ibid., p. 191.

[12] Report of Massachusetts Commission, as above cited, p. 188.

[13] Ibid., p. 114.

[14] Woman and Child Wage-Earners, vol. V. The cities included were Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.

[15] By "adrift" is meant the condition of a self-supporting woman who is alone or of a widow with children to support.

[16] Report of Massachusetts Commission, p. 213.

[17] Ibid., p. 222.

[18] Report of Portland Vice Commission, p. 165.

[19] Morning Oregonian, July 24, 1913.

[20] Referred to on p. 211 of the Report of the Massachusetts Commission on Minimum Wage Boards.

[21] Woman and Child Wage-Earners, vol. XV, pp. 81, ff.; "Relation of Occupation and Criminality of Women."

[22] Report of Portland Vice Commission, p. 176.

[23] Report of Portland Vice Commission, p. 176.

[24] Scott Nearing, Wages in the United States, pp. 208, ff.

[25] American Labor Legislation Review, vol. III, no. 1, p. 88.

[26] Social Diseases, vol. III, no. 3, p. 9.

[27] See Portland Vice Commission Report, p. 193; also Woman and Child Wage-Earners, vol. XV.

[28] Portland Vice Commission Report, p. 192.

[29] E.R. Seligman, The Social Evil, Introduction.



By Lebert Howard Weir

This chapter is in no sense an attempt to discuss pathologic sex problems, but rather to show the necessity of providing facilities for normal, wholesome living for all the people during their leisure time. This will solve many of the vexing sex problems.

At the outset, it is important to contrast the 27,000,000 hours a year, during which the school has charge of all the children, with the 135,000,000 hours at the children's free disposal. Yet we are inclined to charge the schools with the responsibilities of many failures in the physical and moral make-up of growing boys and girls. The greater part of the education of the boys and girls is received outside of school through the various activities which fill up these 135,000,000 hours a year. Society has, therefore, a great responsibility in directing the activities of the free time of young people.

People employed in the home, store, factory, shop, or office, in a year of 365 days spend about 2880 hours of this time in sleep. Taking the average working-day as nine hours and the number of working-days in the year as 300, excluding Sundays and holidays, each person is employed in needful occupations 2700 hours during the year. Out of the working-days, a total of 2100 hours are at each person's disposal to use as he sees fit. Of the remaining 60 days, 15 hours of each day are for free use,—or a total of nearly 35 per cent of the entire year. What are the children, young people, and adults doing with this time?

One answer is found in the records of the juvenile court, in rescue homes, in reformatories, in the police and criminal courts, in jails and penitentiaries, in hospitals for the treatment of venereal diseases, the insane and feeble-minded; another in the fallen women (and men, too), of whom so much has been said of late; another in the crowded saloons and busy restaurants in the heart of the city, with their music, bright lights, food, liquor, and overdressed, painted women with their consorts; still another in the billiard-rooms and the moving-picture theaters.

The extent to which people of all ages and races resort to the moving-picture show is known by few people. In Portland, Oregon, a weekly attendance of 5000 is reported for a house with a seating capacity of 175; a weekly attendance of 3500 for a house seating 75; a weekly attendance of 25,000 for a house seating 500. Another with a seating capacity of 567 reports a weekly attendance of 22,000. The attendance of all the moving-picture houses in any city is a startling revelation of the use of the time of the people.

All forms of leisure-time consumption are offshoots of the one great common meeting-place of all the people, the street. The street is more than an avenue for traffic. It is the social meeting-place of many of the inhabitants. It is the playground of nearly all the children. Its glitter and glare, its lights and shadows and care-free spirit, attract boys and girls. They come as moths flutter about the candle flame and often with equally disastrous results. The call of the street is irresistible. It is the simplest, most convenient avenue for the satisfaction of that hunger for pleasure, excitement, amusement, and recreation, common to all ages, all races, and both sexes. It is the avenue for the spontaneous outpouring of the spirit of democracy. No matter how thickly the city may scatter its playgrounds, its athletic fields, boating and swimming centers and recreation buildings, the street will always have to be reckoned with as the one great all-engulfing factor in the use of the leisure time of the people.

Surely the possibilities for good or evil are infinite when the spirit of youth and age play free, willingly receiving impressions on every hand. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases the ministry in this field of infinite character-building possibilities has fallen into the hands of men who for the most part reckon its possibilities only in terms of the nickels, dimes, and dollars that pass over the bar or counter or through the box office. Many of them conceive low opinions of the recreation desires of the people, furnishing the lurid, the risque, the bold, the daring forms of entertainment, or coupling it with other lines of business, as in the case of the saloon, with unfortunate social results.

Can the city afford the commercial exploitations of so much of this valuable time? The answer must be that it can afford it only when the ideals of the men conducting these various forms of amusement are as high as the best that the community would demand if managing similar institutions. The saloon proprietor is not interested primarily in the physical and moral welfare of his patrons or in the general social welfare of the city. He provides various forms of recreation to increase the patronage of the bar; it is an unwritten law that those who avail themselves of the card-tables, of the pool- and billiard-tables, the moving-picture shows in the saloons, and who hear the music, must patronize the bar. Thirty-six per cent of the pool and billiard licenses are held by men holding saloon licenses, and in all the large pool- and billiard-halls, especially in the center of the city, not connected directly with saloons, liquor is served upon the demand of the patrons. The evil of the situation is significant when it is remembered that the larger percentage of the patrons of those places are men under twenty-five years of age. Profanity is common, and usually gambling is permitted. Often these pool- and billiard-parlors are the "hang-outs" of vicious, depraved young men who live upon the earnings of unfortunate women. This use of the leisure time of men is physically, morally, and socially dangerous and should not be permitted.

The public skating-rink is fairly free from objectionable features, but boys and girls attending without proper chaperons often form undesirable acquaintances. Women of the street and their male companions often attend. Juvenile court officials are aware of the immoralities springing from this source.

The amusement parks present almost unlimited possibilities for the formation of undesirable acquaintances. The fact that they are open in the evening, and not lighted in all parts, the presence of cafes where liquors can be had, inadequate police protection, the secrecy possible through the presence of large crowds, the size of the parks, the distance from the homes in the city, and the unchaperoned attendance of large crowds of young people, all make amusement parks dangerous without closer supervision by public authorities.

In former days the road-house ministered to the legitimate needs of wayfaring travelers. To-day the name "road-house" is synonymous with the "bawdy-house" of the city. Located just beyond the borders of towns and cities, beyond police supervision, catering to men and women who desire secrecy for their revels and orgies, the road-house is one of the worst possible institutions now ministering to the leisure time of the people.

In some sections of this country, the public excursion, both by land and water, is as bad as the road-house. Instead of being a time of relaxation and recreation, a time of freedom from cares of the workaday life and enjoyment of pure air, sunshine, and beauties of nature, and of fine social relationships of people, the excursions have become dissipations of physical and moral energy. With proper supervision and with proper standards on the part of promoters of transportation companies, the public excursion can be a fine constructive factor in the use of the leisure time of the people.

Festivals and carnivals conducted by the people of a community, commemorative of national holidays or of historical events or of religious life, are often admirable. But whenever the festival or carnival becomes a commercial enterprise for the purpose of attracting crowds to the city, for advertisement and for gain by merchants and hotel proprietors, young people are in danger. The city becomes the mecca for undesirable men and women who prey upon the susceptibilities of the people, animated by the festival spirit. The hotels are the temporary homes of women of the street. Every large festival of this kind has been followed by social evils of the most virulent type. Many a girl and many a boy, yielding to the influences of the abandonment of the crowd, take the first step in sexual vice. This type of festival is not socially profitable to a community, where the commercial aim and purpose predominates. The commercial exploitation of the recreation and social needs of the people is usually productive of sexual immorality.

A characteristic feature of American life is the club, union, society, or order spontaneously formed by the people. No matter what the fundamental purposes of these groups may be, whether for protection against sickness, accident, and industrial evils, whether for the study of art, music, and literature, or for the promotion of physical activities, the primary bond that brings the group together and holds it together is the social instinct of mankind.

Those which administer to the play and recreation life of their members most efficiently are strongest. The dances, card parties, lectures, entertainments, and other social activities conducted by such groups are usually under the best kind of social control, far better than any type of commercial amusement and perhaps better than most public-supervised amusements. The strength is in the comparative smallness of the group, the personal acquaintance of the members, the presence of older people with the young, and the existence of individual and group responsibility and ideals. Far better social control would result if all public dances and public skating-rinks and excursions were conducted on this group or society basis.

One field of neglected social activity is the home as a recreation and social center. The day of the "party" seems to be past. Parents have thus lost one strong hold on the character development of their children. Thousands of parents in the modern city have lost the social spirit of the home because of crowded living conditions, but there are also thousands, especially in the Western cities, who still have individual homes; every such home should be the primary social and recreation center for adolescent boys and girls. The revival of the small group social in the home for the young people would be a constructive contribution to some of the moral problems of the young.

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