Monday, March 26, 2018

Today -100: March 26, 1918: Of crashing Christophers, muck, sex-ignorance, and wheat

For some reason the British are calling the shells hitting Paris from those far-off giant cannons “crashing Christophers.”

Karl Muck, the Boston Symphony’s conductor, is arrested as an enemy alien. The US is ignoring his Swiss citizenship and passport because he was born in Germany.

Marie Stopes’s book Married Love is published in Britain, providing information about sex and contraception. 37, Stopes is a geologist and paleobotanist (plant fossils). She is divorced, engaged to what will be her second husband, and a virgin. Her mother, also a university graduate and a feminist, didn’t clue her in before her wedding night. Some time later, wondering why she hadn’t gotten pregnant, Marie looked at some biology books in the secret section of the British Museum Reading Room which she only had access to because of her university degree, figured out what was going wrong and promptly, in 1916, got an annulment on the grounds of her husband’s impotence, presenting the court with a certificate from her doctor that her hymen had not been “penetrated by a normal male organ” (her ex, who was named Reginald Ruggles Gates, because of course he was, was not best pleased).  She writes in the preface, “In my first 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.” As in the US, people who published on the subject of birth control had been prosecuted for decades (and books like the 1915 edition of T.H. Huxley’s Human Physiology still left out the reproductive bits of human physiology), but Stopes was not (her writings were banned in the Irish Republic from 1930 until at least 1998). The title of the book is intended, like Margaret Sanger’s coinage of the term “family planning,” to distance contraception from notions of free love (and prostitution). Stopes went on to open birth control clinics all over Britain and snipe back and forth with the Catholic Church.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Not proto-hipsters being precious about gluten, but the Dodgers rejecting outfielder Zack Wheat’s salary demands.

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