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In my own marriage I paid
  such a terrible price for sex-ignorance
  that I feel that knowledge gained at such
  a cost should be placed at the service of humanity

A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties
by Dr. Marie Stopes

"Instinct is NOT Enough"

First published in UK 1918, in the U.S. 1923

WiiN Editor's Historical Notes

Preface of Married Love by Dr. Jessie Murray

Letter to Stopes from E. H. Starling, MD,. Professor of Physiology


Letter to Roman Catholic priest by Marie Stopes

Chapter 4       
   Chapter 8
Chapter 1       
Chapter 5
   Chapter 9
Chapter 2       
Chapter 6
   Chapter 10
Chapter 3       
Chapter 7
   Chapter 11 and Appendix

WiiN Editor's Historical Notes: Was this slim book pornography or an amazing breakthrough in education - the shocking education of women about sex?
        More than education, it was a clarion call that women's sexual needs and desires must be considered!
        Today, it is hard to imagine that a book as "tame" as this one would have caused such a battle.
        But much of the sexual freedom and rights that women enjoy today dates back to this small volume.
        The courage to write and publish this book in the days when women's dresses dragged the ground and they had almost no legal or social rights (other than allowed by their husbands or fathers) is one of the great accomplishments by a woman. Remember, that talking to women about their sexuality or providing a method to prevent pregnancy was illegal until very, very recently... in the U.S. it was not until the Supreme Court decision of Griswald v Connecticut that a married woman was "allowed" birth control information!

"The Ninth Amendment simply shows the intent of the Constitution's authors that other fundamental personal rights should not be denied such protection or disparaged in any way simply because they are not specifically listed in the first eight constitutional amendments."
                -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg writing in Griswald v. State of Connecticut (1965) when the high court ruled a law passed in 1879 that banned contraceptives to married couples was unconstitutional. The court said the ban violated the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. In general the court declared that "the right to privacy" guaranteed access to birth control for married couples. The right to privacy became the basis for striking down laws restricting abortions in the Roe v Wade decision in 1973.

stopes.gifMarried Love author Marie Stopes

Most men, of course, had access to all sorts of information and even had free condoms and sex education provided by the military, but women were intentionally kept in ignorance under penalties of the law. And many young "pure" men suffered the same ignorance that women did if they did not partake of the "rough talk" at saloons, stables, and other gathering places for men "of experience." Unfortunately, most of those "experiences" that were passed on, generation after generation, were of male self-gratification methods without any consideration of the woman's pain or disappointments.

And never, never, never was any consideration given to the fact that a woman had sexual desires and that her partner should take those needs into consideration. The following is a famed quote from Lady Hillingdon's Journaldated 1912. It has been much misquoted and misappropriated, but Lady H did write it first):

"I am happy now that Charles calls on my bed chamber less frequently than of old. As it is I now endure but two calls a week and when I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, close my eyes, open my legs and think of England."

Such was life for a woman in those days... even the nobility. It was worse in the U.S. where Margaret Sanger was jailed for writing or advocating much less than is contained in Married Love.

However, we would be less than historically accurate if we did not point out that life in "those days" were lived closer to nature where all but the most isolated woman did witness the breeding of cats, dog, horses, cows, etc., as only some farm people witness today.
        The sex act between male and female - except by very isolated or protected girls - was known.
        There was also almost communal living for most people with very few doors or sound or sight barriers in living quarters - often children slept in the same room with their parents who continued to propagate.
        But the everyday example of animals was always before them - and the example of the unfeeling female animal who did the bidding of the male without any seeming enjoyment. Or at least, that's what they were told... by male biologists.

The text used here is from a volume of Married Love printed in 1919 for which the copyright has expired, publisher A. C. Fifield of U.K.
        Married Love did not appeared in the U.S. until 1923. It was translated into more than 15 languages and went through an impressive number of printing.

Dr. Marie Stopes (B.10-15-1880) opened the first Birth Control clinic in UK in 1921. Her second book Wise Parenthood, 1918 advocated birth control for family size and spacing of pregnancies.

-- Irene Stuber]


In the preface of Married Love Dr. Jessie Murray, MB, BS., wrote:

        "In this little book Dr. Marie Stopes deals with subjects which are generally regarded as too sacred for an entirely frank treatment. Some earnest and delicate minds may feel apprehensive that such frankness in details is 'dangerous' because the effect on prurient minds might be to give them food for their morbid fancies.
        "It is just such a fear which has been largely responsible for the silence and mystery which have for so long been wrapped round the sacred rites of mating.
        "The question now is, Has this reticence been carried too far? Has it been carried so far that it now tends to defeat its purpose of safeguarding public morals?

        "There are many who unhesitatingly answer such questions in the affirmative. Their intimate knowledge of human lives compels them to recognise that at least as much harm is done by silence as by speaking out.
        "Everything depends on how the matter is presented.
        "Those who are shocked at the publication of such a book as this on the ground that it gives material for impure minds to sport with, need only reflect that such material is already amply provided in certain comic papers, in hosts of inferior novels, too often on the stage and film, and presented thus in coarse and demoralizing guise.
        "It can do nothing but good to such minds to meet the facts they are already so familiar with in a totally new light.

        "On the other hand, there are all the earnest and noble young minds who seek to know what responsibilities they are taking on themselves when they marry, and how they may best meet these responsibilities.
        "How few of them have more than the vaguest ideas on the subject! How few of them know how or where to obtain the help they desire!

        "They recoil from the coarse and impure sources of information which are so accessible, and they hesitate to approach those they have learned to regard as virtuous and modest, realizing that from such they will receive so little actual information, and that so veiled as to be almost useless.

        "Dr. Stopes has attempted to meet the need of such seekers, and her book will certainly be warmly welcomed by them. It is calculated to prevent many of those mistakes which wreck the happiness of countless lovers as soon as they are actually mar- ried. "If it did no more than this it would be valuable indeed!
        "But there is an even more important aspect to be considered the effect on the child.
        "In all civilised lands there is a growing sense of responsibility towards the young. "The problems of their physical and mental nurture attract more and more attention day by day.
        "Eugenists, educationists, physicians, politicians, philanthropists, and even ordinary parents discuss and ponder, ponder and discuss matters both great and small which have a bearing on the development of the child. By common consent the first seven years of life are regarded as the most critical. It is during these years that the foundations of the personality-to-be are laid 'well and truly or otherwise.

"It is during these years that the deepest and most ineradicable impressions are made in the plastic constitution of the child, arresting or developing this or the other instinctive trend and fixing it, often for life.
        "And it is during these years above all that the parents play the most important role in the inner history of the child s life, not so much by anything they directly teach through verbal exhortations, warnings, or commands, as by those subtler influences which are conveyed in gesture, tone, and facial expression.
        "The younger the child, the more is it influenced through these more primitive modes of expression, and quite as much when they are not directed towards itself but are employed by the parents in their intimate relations with one another in the presence of their apparently unobserving child the infant in its cot, the toddling baby by the hearth, the little child to all appearance absorbed in its picture book or toys.

        "Is it not of the utmost importance that these earliest impressions should be of the finest nature? And should we not therefore welcome all that may help as this book can to make the living cradle of the next generation as full of beauty and harmony as love and mutual understanding can?

        "The age-long conflict between the 'lower and the 'higher impulses, between the primitive animal nature and the specifically human developments of an altruistic and ethical order, are fought afresh in each soul and in every marriage.
        "We need to realize more clearly that the lower is never ought never to be eliminated but rather subsumed by the higher. No true harmony can be hoped for so long as one factor or the other is ignored or repressed.

        "Dr. Stopes makes some very important biological suggestions which should not be lightly dismissed. Further observation is required to establish or disprove her theory of the normal sexual cycle in women, but my own observation certainly tends to confirm it."


This letter is from E. H. Starling, MD, BS, FRS. Professor of Physiology, University of London, November 23, 1917:

Dear Dr. Stopes,

The need of such guidance as you give is very evident. After all, instinct in man is all insufficient to determine social behavior, and there is need of instruction in the highest of physiological functions, that of reproduction, as there is in the lower functions of eating and drinking the only difference being that in the former instruction can be deferred to a later age.
        "And there is no doubt that in this case it is better to acquire knowledge by instruction than by a type of experience which is nearly always sordid and may be fraught with danger to the health of the individual and of the family.
        "At the present time it is of vital importance to the State that its marriages should be fruitful in children,. happiness, and efficiency (and all three are closely connected).
        "If your book helps in securing this object, your trouble will not have been in vain. Believe me... "


Dr. Marie Stopes' Own Preface:

"More than ever today are happy homes needed. It is my hope that this book may serve the State by adding to their numbers. Its object is to increase the joys of marriage, and to show how much sorrow may be avoided.
        "The only secure basis for a present-day State is the welding of its units in marriage; but there is rottenness and danger at the foundations of the State if many of the marriages are unhappy.

"Today, particularly in the middle classes in this country, marriage is far less really happy than its surface appears.
        "Too many who marry expecting joy are bitterly disappointed; and the demand for "freedom" grows; while those who cry aloud are generally unaware that it is more likely to have been their own ignorance than the 'marriage-bond which was the origin of their unhappiness.

"It is never easy to make marriage a lovely thing; and it is an achievement beyond the powers of the selfish, or the mentally cowardly. Knowledge is needed and, as things are at present, knowledge is almost unobtainable by those who are most in want of it.
        "The problems of the sex-life are infinitely complex, and for their solution urgently demand both sympathy and scientific research.

"I have some things to say about sex, which, so far as I am aware, have not yet been said, things which seem to be of pro- found importance to men and women who hope to make their marriages beautiful.
        "This little book is less a record of a research than an attempt to present in easily understandable form the clarified and crystalused results of long and complex investigations.
        "Its simple statements are based on a very large number of first-hand observations, on confidences from men and women of all classes and types, and on face gleaned from wide reading.
        "My original contributions to the age-long problems of marriage will principally be found in Chapters IV, V. and VIII. The other chapters fill in what I hope is an undistorted picture of the potential beauties and realities of marriage.

"The whole is written simply, and for the ordinary untrained reader, though it embodies some observations which will be new even to those who have made scientific researches on the subjects of sex and human physiology. These observations I intend to supplement and publish at greater length and in more scientific language in another place.
        "I do not now touch upon the many human variations and abnormalities which bulk so largely in most books on sex, nor do I deal with the many problems raised by incurably unhappy marriages. In the following pages I speak to those and in spite of all our neurotic literature and plays they are in the great majority who are nearly normal, and who are married or about to be married, and hope, but do not know how, to make their marriages beautiful and happy.

"To the reticent, as to the conventional, it may seem a presumption or a superfluity to speak of the details of the most complex of all our functions. They ask: Is not instinct enough? The answer is No. Instinct is not enough. In every other human activity it has been realized that training, the handing on of tradition are essential.
        "As Dr. Saleeby once wisely pointed out: A cat knows how to manage her new-born kittens, how to bring them up and teach them; a human mother does not know how to manage her baby unless she is trained, either directly or by her own quick observation of other mothers.
        "A cat performs her simple duties by instinct; a human mother has to be trained to fulfil her very complex ones.

"The same is true in the subtle realm of sex. ln this country, in modem times, the old traditions, the profound primitive knowledge of the needs of both sexes have been lost, and nothing but a muffled confusion of individual gossip disturbs a silence, shamefaced or foul.
        "Here and there, in a family of fine tradition, a youth or maiden may learn some of the mysteries of marriage, but the great majority of people in our country have no glimmering of the supreme human art, the art of love; while in books on advanced Physiology and Medicine the gaps, the omissions, and even the misstatements of bare fact are amazing.

"In my own marriage I paid such a terrible price for sex - ignorance that I feel that knowledge gained at such a cost should be placed at the service of humanity.
        "In this little book average, healthy, mating creatures will find the key to the happiness which should be the portion of each. It has already guided some to happiness, and I hope it may save some others years of heartache and blind questioning in the dark.


[Ed. Note: Dr. Stopes also wrote a reply to a letter submitted by a Roman Catholic priest that opposed some of her views about limiting families. We excerpt.]

"Dear Father St. John,

"Your letter wins my heart entirely by its appreciation and kindness. It is a great help and encouragement to find that we are so far in essential agreement, and that you are so well dis- posed toward even part of my effort.

"But and I wish I could say it in burning words it is not because I am chiefly concerned with Time that I wrote Chapter IX, but just because I am so acutely and so persistently conscious that I am dealing with factors of Eternity. To me today is essentially a part of my Life Everlasting.

"I cannot separate time and eternity, this world and, the next, as religious people often seem able to do; to me this body is a tool in the service of (though not completely in the control of) my immortal soul. Now it seems to me that religious people and even in your letter I fancy I detect the same tendency (forgive me if I am wrong) are too ready to separate this world and the next, to act unreasonably or cruelly here and to trust to Eternity, or the Hereafter, to put all right. I do not think that is the way God wills us to work out His plans now that He is giving us the knowledge to do better.

"Could there be anything more unreasonable or cruel than to bring into life half a dozen children doomed from birth to ill-health, poverty, and almost inevitable crime?

"Christ forgave the thief upon the Cross, but He said, 'Woe unto him through whom offences come. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he cast into the sea.

"Would Christ approve of deliberately creating a thief by bringing forth a child who was one inevitably through predictable weakness of physique and mentality and an environment of poverty? (Thief stands for criminals in general.)

"But more, what about others, born dead, born imbecile, thwarted of life by miscarriage, which tear and rend the over-burdened mother so that she is forced to neglect the children she has, and her neglect turns them into thieves? The poor, uneducated mother commits this crime through ignorance: it is we who know and allow her to remain in ignorance who are really responsible. Is not our withholding God-given knowledge the greatest stumbling-block of offence to these little ones, and shall we not deserve the millstone round our necks?

"Were everyone to have all the children physiologically possible (now that infant mortality is so much reduced by science) in a few centuries there would not be standing room on the earth, and nowhere for a blade of grass or an ear of corn to grow between the crowding feet.

"Is then a Roman Catholic mother, the increases to whose large family get punier and punier, to be privileged to go deliberately with that host of puny children at the expense of others, not only through that part of Eternity called Time, but through all Eternity?

"...Oh, that the Churches would look to Christ's own words instead of to the official Church interpretation of them!

"Marie Carmichael Stopes
"December 12, 1917"


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