This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
In mere despair at discovering any means of entire repres-sion, and very properly unwilling to shut the eyes and refuse to see this hideous and advancing tide of immorality and disease, many governments have chosen the policy of recognizing its existence, and subjecting it to such regulations as have been thought best devised to limit its growth, and diminish its destructive consequences.
There have been recently published several very elaborate discussions concerning the success of these plans of legislation as they are carried out in Europe. In general terms, they aim to have the name and residence of each prostitute registered, to have the houses licensed, and their inmates subjected at certain intervals to medical examination. Those found diseased are at once sent to a venereal hospital, where they are detained until cured. In Paris, the registered prostitutes are furnished with a ticket, giving name and residence, and this they are obliged to carry always with them, and show when called upon. They are not allowed to accost men on the streets, nor to employ in public places any of the wiles of harlotry. The houses (maisons de tolerance) are strictly watched by the police, and the charges are fixed, and posted up in a conspicuous place. These onerous enactments have failed on account of their stringency. The girls are subjected to so much surveillance that they seek in every way to escape from public into private walks of crime. Consequently, while in the last ten years, the number of registered women in Paris has been steadily decreasing, the number of private prostitutes, called grisettes, lorettes, femmes entretenues, etc., have vastly and alarmingly increased.
The contagious diseases act, which against violent opposition has been introduced into England during the last few years, and which has been highly praised by some, and as severely condemned by others, is still under probation. It provides that any woman, against whom an informant has deposed that he has reason iG believe her a public prostitute, may be summoned by the superintendent of police, and be forced to submit to medical inspection, and to be placed under surveillance. If found diseased, she is ordered to a hospital, where she is obliged to remain until the medical officer pronounces her well. It has been justly urged against this act and the other acts associated with it, that they encroach too much on the freedom of the individual.
In the United States we have been very shy of approaching this delicate and difficult topic. Our legislators imitate the ostrich, which, when it wishes to escape its enemies, is currently reported to hide its head in the sand, thinking that if it cannot see them they cannot see it. The results of this policy are that in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and all our largest cities, gross vice stalks our streets with unblushing tread, the strange woman lays her snare for innocence and youth at every street corner, disease is more common and more deadly than in any regulated European state, and the proportion of prostitutes rivals that of any other civilized nation in the world.
It is quite time, therefore, that we lay aside this most mischievous and dangerous modesty, or pretended blindness, and set about some decisive measures if not to purge away, at least to limit, control, and render as powerless as possible this infecting ulcer. Two things we can do: we can prevent the open tempting in our public streets, the fearful facility of vice which now prevails; and we can limit the spread of conta, gious disease. For the former, we require police regulations, firmly carried out, forbidding the accosting of men on the streets, indecent behavior in public, and immodest dress. For The latter we must have periodical medical inspection of prostitutes, and wards or hospitals to which those found diseased can be sent until they are recovered.
Here are two distinct, practical, thoroughly practicable aims for legislation, and every one who has the good of his species at heart, and is not utterly cankered by obsolete prejudice, cannot but grant their urgent importance and great value.
It has been supposed by the French surgeon, Auzias-Tu-renne and his disciples, that, so far as syphilis is concerned, this could be successfully checked by the process known as " syphilization."
This method is based on the theory that after the syphilitic poison has been artificially introduced into the system by repeated puncturing, the individual will thereafter be protected against it, just as he is protected against smallpox by the practice of vaccination.
A number of experiments have been carried out in France, Italy, and Sweden, with this view. Necessarily it is chiefly limited to public prostitutes, as no other class of the commu nity would submit to such an ordeal. It was hoped that by its universal adoption public women would be made incapable of contracting, and hence incapable of transmitting this variety of venereal poison.
The results, though still somewhat uncertain, have not equalled these anticipations. While unquestionably the process does, to some extent, and for some time, materially lessen the liability to contract the disease, it does so unequally in different individuals, and the protective influence dies out after, at most, a few years.
Even if successful it would be difficult of application, and its effects on public morals are open to question. Therefore, we may dismiss it as a means of repression too visionary to merit serious consideration.
But, after all, it is not by police regulations, nor sanitary rules, nor legislative enactments, nor even, we fear, by gather-ing the fallen from the highways and byways of our crowded cities to hear the gospel, that we shall ever put an end to the social evil. We have been casting about for a thousand devices by which we could thrust virtue down the throats of others, while ourselves continue our cakes and ale in peace. We have ever been ready to point the finger of shame at the erring sister, we have ever been eager to rush forward and cast the first stone, but have we ever pondered for a moment on the words: " He that is without sin among you ?"
Ah! here we touch the heart of the matter. Would you learn the only possible method of reforming sinful women ? Three words contain the secret: Reform the men. In them, in their illicit lusts, in their misgoverned passions, in their selfish desires, in their godless disregard of duty, in their ignorance of the wages of sin, in their want of nobleness to resist temptation, in their false notions of health, is the source of all this sin. Teach them the physiological truth that chaste continence is man's best state, morally, physically, mentally: correct the seductive error which talks of indulgence as "natural," venial, excusable; show them that man is only manful when he sees the right and does it; train them to regard self-government as the noblest achievement of all; educate them fearlessly in the nature and regulation of those functions which pertain to the relations of the sexes; do this, and we shall soon see that we have gained a vantage ground over against which the powers of evil cannot stand.
Every great social reform must begin with the male sex; theirs it is to take the step in advance, and they must do it with self-knowledge, with intelligence, and with no false sentiment. Here, especially, they must act. The sin is wholly of their own making. All the misery, all the lost souls, all the blighting consequences present and to come, of prostitution, are chargeable solely and wholly to the uncontrolled sexual instinct of the male. What duty, then, is more imperative to the clergyman, the educator, the statesman, the enlightened philanthropist anywhere, than to study this instinct, to learn how to guide it in youth and age, and how to direct it in its natural and healthy channels?
[Authors and Works ok Prostitution referred to. - Dr. Sanger, History of Prostitution ; Dr. J. Jeannel, De la Prostitution au dix-neuvieme siecle; Acton, Prostitution in its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspects; Parent-Duchatelet, De la Prostitution en Paris; Dr. Ed. Andrews, Letter on Prostitution, Chicago Medical Examiner, Oct. 1867 ; Rev. Dr. W. A. Muhlenberg, Woman and Her Accusers, a Sermon for the Midnight Mission, 1869; Dr. Ziegler, Medical and Surgical Reporter, 1887; Dr. Charles Drys-dale, Medical Press and Circular, May, 1869; Westminster Review, Prostitution and How to Cure It, January and April 1870; the Annual Reports of the Superintendent of Police. the Boards of Health, and the Midnight Missions of New York, Philadelbia, Chicago, Cincinnati, etc., for 1867-69.]