Thursday, April 13, 2006

Into Their Company

When I was 14 the nuns gave out a pamphlet called ‘My Dear Daughter’. This work was penned by a Catholic Lady Doctor (and Mother) and was intended to guide us innocent Catholic girls through puberty, adolescence and the rest. I wish I’d kept my copy. It was full of interesting biological facts and diagrams but was also heavy on the sort of advice that would help a young Catholic girl stay pure. I remember it advised us never to sit on a boy’s knee. I couldn’t understand that as I was so excessively shy and modest then that I wouldn’t have considered sitting on a masculine knee and indeed I’m sure I was 18 before I did. Then I realised what the pamphlet was on about. ‘My Dear Daughter’ was also dead set against girls wearing patent or shiny shoes whilst at ‘hops’, in case the boys would be able to see the reflection of their reinforced double gussets in their shiny shoes. My best memory of ‘My Dear Daughter’ was being instructed to say prayers for purity whilst we were washing our private parts. This was an aid to guard against ‘excitement’ brought about by ‘friction’. Sometimes I wonder if I imagined all this and have been looking for a copy of ‘My Dear Daughter’ ever since to check it out.

So I was quite chuffed to find a similar booklet, ‘Into Their Company’ written anonymously by A Medical Woman, A Girl and A Wife with an introduction by The Rev C.C. Martindale, S.J.

‘Into Their Company’ is an earlier work than ‘My Dear Daughter’ and was first published in 1931. Here are some extracts.

On The Desire To Marry

The first point to remember about the sex-instinct is that it is just as normal and natural as is the instinct to get food. But whereas human beings have always acknowledged their hunger, because that was the way to get something to satisfy it, they realised very early that, for a woman at least, to say: ‘I do want a home and a husband!’ was not the best way to get one. (Into Their Company pp2-3)

And women especially have tended to hide away the fact that they want to get married, and have tried never to show or admit it. The finer the woman, the more self-respect she has, the greater care she will take not to be the one to make the first advances. If she has her own dreams of an ideal marriage she never makes them cheap by talking about them. (Into Their Company p3)

On Controlling ‘Bad Thoughts’ or ‘Thinking About Sex’

The Church….wants her daughters to be beautiful in mind as well as body. . (Into Their Company p16)

Thoughts against purity?….You hate them. Don’t let them trouble you. Simply say to God: ‘These aren’t me, I hate them. It’s just the devil.’
….in your private dreams of having a husband and children, you don’t realise that it isn’t lawful to dwell on and take pleasure in the thought of such things as will, if you are married, be quite right and lawful between your husband and yourself. Taking pleasure in that kind of imagining is tearing something out of its setting- stealing, in fact. (Into Their Company pp17-18)

Do not think about your ‘bad thoughts.’ Say quickly ‘Jesus save me – Mary help me,’ and then think of something else. If you are a domestic sort of girl, picture to yourself the little house that you and your future husband are going to live in, and decide upon the colour schemes for the various rooms. By the time you have solved the knotty problem as to which pattern of chintz or cretonne will look best with your drawing-room walls the bad thoughts will have flown leagues away! (Into Their Company pp19-20)

‘Into Their Company’ also offers some useful advice on dealing with those troublesome lesbian tendencies. I don't recall 'My Dear Daughter' covering this issue. I may have to return to that subject in another post.

6 comments:

Ganching said...

I look forward to consulting this tome over the next few days.

Ronni said...

Ha! Reminds me of an old (190something) medical book I used to have. It listed pregnancy under "Diseases of Women."

Nelly said...

This book is very modern. It encourages the use of pain relief in childbirth.

CyberScribe said...

Was there anything about excessive habits harming your eyesight? ;-)

Nelly said...

That'll be in the chapter entitled 'Self-Control'. I'll get back to you on that one.

Anonymous said...

that doesn't suprise me! got my friend 'God Loves You because You're Celebate' for his christmas...essential reading. it was secret snata too!

mikey x