1939’s best love advice: to combat “sex ignorance,” learn to pleasure your bride in both positions


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Secrets of Love and Marriage

Author: James Parker Hendry
Date: 1939
Publisher: The Social Science Press
Discovered at: Thrift store

Representative Quotes:

  • “A woman has a formidable foe in the man who woos her, for nature is on his side. It is the same as in other forms of life; the male is given the gaudy plumage to attract the eye of the female.” (page 25)
  • “Twenty per cent [of women] are aroused only under very unusual circumstances, probably for the brief period of the honeymoon.” (page 39)

Much like today’s sex-guide authors, James Parker Hendry advocates that couples communicate their desires and make time for each other. Unlike today’s sex-guide authors, he insists, “Abstinence has no ill effects on girls up to the age of twenty, although self abuse may result and this of course leads to frigidity.”

Despite this, Hendry was on to something in Secrets of Love & Marriage, his remarkable guide to how hard it is to do that thing that you already totally want to do because of nature.

America had just come to find out that a couple centuries of preaching about the Satan-y wickedness of women’s juicy bits somehow had not encouraged healthy sex lives. Hendry hazards that “unhappy marriages far outnumber the happy ones” and insists, “Fully forty per cent of wives are denied the measure of love in marriage.”

The reason? “sex ignorance.”

So, Hendry turns to the noble task of booklearning married Americans on how to pleasure each other. He suggests that men experiment with something called “foreplay,” that they endeavor to withhold climax until the wife has enjoyed hers, and that they learn mastery of all two sex positions.

Here’s what happens when the man finishes first:

“It is like dropping the curtain before the play is ended, leaving everything in suspense. So extremely unsatisfactory and nerve racking is this to the wife that she is apt to take a strong dislike to the marital relation and to the husband.”

Hendry conceives of lovemaking in the terms of a three-act narrative structure. (This is why you should never turn down sex with a dramaturge.) It works like this:

“[After] a lengthy period of tender courting and caressing, the parts are now saturated with the lubricating secretions, the vulva and penis are tumescent, thoroughly covered with the natural fluids, and all is ready to lift the curtain on the third act of the drama.”

Fellows, that’s when you hit her with your proscenium thrust!

Hendry includes four pages of illustrations. Unfortunately, decency laws dictated that these couldn’t be too helpful.

Here, the male’s “gaudy plumage” is more of a penis tornado.


Does this account for the high pregnancy rates in trailer parks? Or explain why the wicked witch’s feet curl up so sensuously beneath Dorothy’s house? Squint a little, and it’s not a tornado at all – it’s a chariot, driven by the sphincter, yoked to a furred and mighty phallus.

This shows what bra is best for you.

“The correct bandeau should prevent sagging and subsequent ptosis. It should permit full freedom in breathing, and relieve the pendulous sensation.”


Hendry also claims:

  • “Even a fat girl may have far more sex appeal than she thinks – if her smile sparkles and her skin blooms.”
  • “No man wants a bargain counter wife who has been soiled and manhandled.”
  • “People who practice birth control usually are educated and intelligent people who should be best suited to improving the race.”
  • “It is the nature of womankind to be particularly interested in eugenics.”
  • “A strong desire to touch and smooth a woman’s hair is confessed by most men. If it is long and silken the average man will experience a distinct urge to uncoil its shimmering length.”

More on this last point:

“When a white woman marries a Negro the storm of objections raised are not entirely from a moral viewpoint. The protests come from a feeling that the quality of the white race is threatened. Social and legal barriers are raised to guard against marriages that would weaken or impair the quality of future generations.”

Oh, American past! What ever will we do with you?

We can all laugh now, of course, because after attending a diversity seminar in HR that one time all Americans realized that such thinking is wrong and that marriage is a fundamental human right for everyone, so nobody is racist, nobody ever thought up that “Adam and Steve” joke, and no celebrities ever had to ask the Scientologists for beards, and 31 per cent of Republicans believe Obama is secretly a Christian Scientist.

Hendry’s best advice:

Who should initiate an intimate encounter?
“It is the husband’s moral duty to select the proper time for his courting. At this point it should be observed that his wife should be given an opportunity to instigate the courtship herself. Give her that opportunity at least once in awhile.”

How can a woman tell if a man’s interest is pure?
“Arousing a man’s jealousy, if carried out with finesse, sometimes serves the purpose of making him realize how much he cares.”

What can I do about bad breath?
“This can be corrected by making sure of proper and regular elimination of waste materials from the body, and by rinsing the mouth.”

[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]