The Mosher Report

The sexual habits of American women, examined half a century before Kinsey

The nineteenth century was, according to the stereotype, ashamed and fearful of all things sexual. It was an era when, as one visitor to America swore, teachers put “modest little trousers with frills at the bottom” over the “limbs” of their pianos. The Victorian woman’s lack of passion was proverbial, her frigidity extolled by the popular hygiene books and marriage manuals of the day. Read more »

She Had To Die!

One of Ruth Snyder’s Crimes Was Murder

In 1925 a woman named Ruth Snyder too up with a salesman—a corset and brassiere salesman to be exact—and together on March 20, 1927, they murdered her husband in his bed. Months later, they were both electrocuted. To the public Judd Gray was just another murderer, but the crime of Ruth Snyder was as subversive to American domesticity as the anarchism of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti was to the American political and economic order. Like Sacco and Vanzetti, Ruth Snyder died in the electric chair while the whole country watched the clock.Read more »

The Story Of The Pill

How a Crash Program Developed an Efficient Oral Contraceptive in Less Than a Decade

A good beginning for this story is a meeting in early 1951 of three remarkable people—the greatest feminist of our age, a great philanthropist who was as notably eccentric as she was fantastically wealthy, and a biological scientist whose subsequent world fame was achieved in large part because of this meeting. Would that it could be described in circumstantial detail and invested with the drama it should have in view of what followed from it. Read more »

Theodore Roosevelt, Feminist

“Viewed purely in the abstract, I think there can be no question that women should have equal rights with men …I would have the word ‘obey’ used no more by the wife than by the husband.”

”I first saw her on October 18, 1878, and loved her as soon as I saw her sweet, fair young face. …” Thus Theodore Roosevelt wrote of Alice Hathaway Lee, the girl he married in 1880 when he was twenty-two and she nineteen—tall and lithe, with curly light hair and “dovegray” eyes; “beautiful in face and form,” he said, “and lovelier still in spirit.…” T.R. wooed her with all the impetuous gusto for which he was later famous, and the wedding took place soon after he graduated from Harvard. Read more »

Beyond Mother’s Knee

EARLY AMERICAN MALE CHAUVINIST PIGS REGARDED LITERACY FOR WOMEN WITH SCANT ENTHUSIASM. LEARNING TO READ WAS THE FIRST FEMINIST TRIUMPH

Could I have died a martyr in the cause, and thus ensured its success, I could have blessed the faggot and hugged the stake.” The cause was state support for female education, the would-be Saint Joan was Emma Willard, and the rhetorical standards of the 1820’s were lofty and impassioned. Themost militant feminists rarely scale such heights today. For one thing, dogged effort has finally reduced the supply of grand injustices; and today’s preference for less florid metaphor has deprived the movement of such dramatic images.Read more »

Good Lord, Grandpa It All Came True

Ideas change. A thigh thought massive in 1970 was another era’s ideal, and the pinups presented here never failed to draw admiring looks from gentlemen of the 1890’s, along with a chuckle or two at the presumption of these career-minded girls. Read more »