(Scathing) 1904 Australian Review of Stockham's Book

Printer-friendly version

[Transcript below image]


Singularly Strange Sensuality. The Gospel of Careful Cuddling.

How the Birth Rate is Decreased. Sexual Purists Push the Sale of a Grossly Sensual Book that Encourges Concupiscent Caressing, but Discourages Procreation.

The lady that lectures men and women in the Sydney Domain upon the evils of sexual impurity is in the habit of recommending her hearers to peruse some very peculiar literature. One of the books that she holds up to the admiration of mankind, and urges all men and women 'to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest,' is an American cloth-bound booklet by a woman that calls herself 'Alice B. Stockham, M.D.'

Whether she is, or is not a doctor of medicine we have no time at present to discover, and, even if we had time, the task is RENDERED PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT by the fact that she does not give the name of the university at which she took her alleged diploma. This, however, we can say: that there is so decided an absence of the scientific tone about the book that it is not probable that it was written by any person that had, like a doctor of medicine, received a scientific training.

The book is in some places singularly suggestive; and perhaps the title itself. 'Karezza,' is not without suggestiveness, for alter but one letter in the word, and [it] becomes 'carezza,' the Italian word for 'caress.' Add 're' to carezza' and we have the Italian verb infinitive that means ''to caress.' When our readers have become fully informed of the nature of tihs 'book OF STRANGE SENSUALITY, they will see that the Caresses to which the book refers are the most voluptuously, strangely, singularly sensual of all caresses.

It is a book that we not only cannot commend, but, what is more, we have no hesitation in saying that its influence on the birth-rate, if its extraordinary teachings were adopted by any large number of people, would be most pernicious, and that consequently they would be injurious to the nation as a whole. Moreover, it would lead to an immense amount of time that ought to be devoted to intellectual or physical work being dissipated in MERE SENSUAL INDULGENCE.

What then, does this strange book teach? In a jargon in which cant and pseudo-scientific terminology are curiously mingled, it advocates unfruitful intercourse between the sexes. Not the prevention of conception by means of the use of certain mechanical appliances, but the restriction of conception by a resort to such methods of coition as shall not result in the procuration of the orgasm, in other words, while the authoress of the book seeks to encourag sexual coition, she seeks to induce people to cultivate such extraordinary self-restraint as shall enable them to avoid THE FINAL CRISIS.

This is how the authoress explains, on page 33 of 'Karezza,' her deleterious doctrine:

'Approaching the event, expressions of endearment and affection, accompanying general bodily contact, is (sic) followed by the complete but quiet union of the male and female organs. During a lengthy period of perfect control, the whole being of each is submerged in the other, and an exquisite exultation experienced. This may be followed by a quiet motion, entirely under full subordination of the will, so that at no time the thrill of passion for either party will go beyond a pleasurable exchange. Unless procreation is desired, the final   propagative orgasm is entirely avoided. Given abundant time and mutual reciprocity, the interchange becomes satisfactory and complete without emission or CRISIS BY EITHER PARTY. In the course of an hour, the physical tension subsides, the spiritual exaltation increases, and not uncommonly visions of a transcendent life are seen and consciousness of new powers experienced.'

Behold the gospel of mere sensuality! The authoress of 'Karezza' advocates a form of lustfully sensual caressing that is, however, entirely without procreative effect. Many hours might be wasted in this way without satisfying pleasure to the participants or benefit to the human race by the procreation of offspring. Moreover, it is exceedingly probable that the intense strain thus put upon the nervous system would have the most debilitating effect thereon. It is well known that in portions of the French rural districts this method of the Stockham woman's is practised for the purpose of KEEPING DOWN THE POPULATION.

Owing to the French system of peasant propriotorsbip, which makes it customary for the paternal plot of land to be equally divided among the children of the peasant after his death, there is often very little to be given to each child, and, therefore, the peasant keeps his family at small as possible. But the method of Neo-Malthusianism that he practises, which is alleged to be of the same sort as that of the authoress of 'Karezza,' is said by various physicians to be degenerative, in that its strain upon the nervous system is pretty sure to produce mental instability.

The authoress also advocates her system as one that saves from waste the procreative fluid, and thus enables it to be used up as brain and nerve substance. This, too, is very much open to question, for the excitation OF THE SEXUAL SYSTEM that commerce between two persons of opposite sexes brings about is sure to cause an eventual emission: if not with the partner of the embrace, then in course of obedience to some common call of Nature. There is, then, no reason to believe that the gospel of Concupiscent Caressing promulgated by Alice Stockholm would do any good to anybody; but it might do much harm, and, if it were adopted by a large number of people, would certainly greatly decrease the birthrate. It thus would prove a national danger promotive of sensuality and sloth, but destructive of that NATURAL HUMAN FRUITFULNESS without which, no nation can become great or powerful.

As a matter of fact, the 'Karezza' cult is merely a revived propaganda of the 'Male Continence,' advocated and practised by the 'Christian Free Lovers' of Oneida, New York. This community was presided over by the Reverend John Humphrey Noyes, and its members indulged in a sort of group marriage. That is to say, every man was regarded as married to all the women in the community, and every woman was married to all the men in the community; but in order to prevent THE RECKLESS PROCREATION of children, and, in particular, to prevent women from having children by men whom the community did not wish to become fathers, the male members of this group of Christian Free Lovers practised 'Male Continence,' which Alice Stockham now calls 'Karezza.' It is noteworthy that a book most highly commended by the authoress of 'Karezza' is 'Zugassent's Discovery'," by George Noyes Miller, of Oneida, who is possibly a relative of the late J.H. Noyes.

View source