Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!

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Posts Tagged ‘morality’

Country vs. City Kids (1891)

Monday, March 14th, 2011

“It cannot be claimed that children brought up in the country are better morally than those brought up in the cities. Evil exists in both places, and much of it cannot be kept from the knowledge of the young. It is seen in the city stripped of its glamour, and with its degrading effects more prominently in view, while in the country the unrestrained imagination is apt to supply fascinations which do not in reality exist. It is often better to know of dangers in order to avoid them than, in ignorance, to grow up with the chances of succumbing to their attractions.”

From the recently acquired book, The Daughter: Her Health, Education, and Wedlock.

Ready? Sex? No!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

driving along a strange roadQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for six months. He pressures me to have sex, but I don’t think I’m ready. What should I do?

Signed,
Dina

A Dear Dina:

“Wait until you are ready!” is the right answer, I believe. But for a bit more information, let’s read from Sense and Nonsense About Sex, co-authored in the fabulous sixties by Evelyn and Sylvanus Duvall ~ “top sex and marriage consultants” according to the back of the book. I can always count on the Duvall’s to provide useful tips about maintaining control. Lucky, lucky me.

1962: Expressing Feeling of Love and Sex

Our young people must themselves have a considerable knowledge of what conduct is right, and the self-control to behave themselves. Here are some suggestions that may help.

The first essential is to know clearly what your own moral standards are, and what you will or will not permit. It is the boy or the girl who is ‘iffy,’ who has not made up his mind in advance and developed the controls to stand by his decision, who is most likely to get into trouble, not only regarding sex but in all matters.

Secondly, if you want to maintain the ideal of chastity, it is not wise to permit yourself or your date to become unduly aroused sexually. Be especially careful about heavy petting. In many, many instances, fine young people who had no intention of actual sex relations have gotton into serious difficulties. It all began so innocently. They merely sat down in a secluded spot to watch the moon with their arms around each other. But one thing led to another. Before they became aware of what had happened, they had both become aroused to a pitch that fairly swept them off their feet. Sometimes they became parents of a baby for whom they were not at all ready to provide. Even if one or the other had ‘come to’ before actual intercourse had taken place, the result was a distressing experience that spoiled the date and placed a barrier between them.

How much petting is proper for you who do not intend to go ‘all the way’? One simple answer is this. Stop before, or at least as soon as one or the other becomes ‘uncomfortable.’ Who should decide? The one that becomes uncomfortable first should. The one who actually has the moral standards will. Until you know what the moral standards of the other person are, and have come to know him or her fairly well, watch your step. Be alert to the signs that the other may interpret as your permission to go further than you intend. Unless you know from previous experience how much the other can be trusted, don’t let yourself get in a position where the other can take advantage. . . .

But suppose that the other person either intends to go all the way, or is shy about telling how he feels, what then? Use the same sense that you would if you were driving along a strange road. Go slowly and with caution until you have had enough dates together so that you both know what to expect.

Who is responsible for upholding the moral standards ~ the boy or the girl? The answer to this is easy. The moral standards should be upheld by the person who has them. Furthermore, on any date, each person should know what the moral standards of the other person actually are, so that there will be no embarrassing misunderstandings.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn M. and Sylvanus M. Sense and Nonsense About Sex. New York: Association Press, 1962.
~pp. 85-86 ~

Practical Aspects of Chastity

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

she should make sure that he is clean, honest, and worth whileThis week I was going to feature some words on the joys of petting, but I have had a sudden change of heart. My selection comes from a chapter entitled “Dangers of Petting” found in a book called Secrets of Love and Marriage.

1939: Practical Aspects of Chastity

[T]here is another matter to consider, since we are frankly and openly dealing with the practical reasons why the moral way is the best way ~ and that is simply this ~ the physical part of marriage is an art that cannot be practiced in haste, in furtive meetings, and in an atmosphere of worry, dread, and fear.

No, the art of love requires freedom from those very things which I have mentioned. Love cannot bloom and expand in an air of secret fear, but instead requires a sense of confidence, of mutual admiration and respect, and complete privacy.

How can young unmarried lovers hope to learn the rich, full flavored values of love and the delights of the senses in such adverse conditions? Their ideas of sex would be distorted, ugly, and wholly unsatisfactory, from a spiritual point of view. The feeling that they are committing sin makes the later legalized marriage relation seem like sin. Truly, the tasting of forbidden fruit by reckless lovers carried away by dangerous petting is bound to exact its tragic penalties.

The girl gambles a momentary thrill against a life-time of happiness and health. Such a gamble isn’t worth it.

In a practical age, young women demand practical answers, and I have given them straight from the shoulder in this chapter.

I have not touched upon the moral reasons why young women should be on guard against lowering the sex barriers before marriage, because those reasons can be more eloquently advanced by others.

When a man marries he wants a woman who is morally clean and strong. He wants a woman whom he can trust. Life, as young men know, is not all petting, and the girl whom he chooses as a life companion must be able to offer more than petting. She must be a girl with whom he can work and plan and build.

If a girl is “easy,” he may take what she offers and then forget her. It is particularly dangerous for a girl to start petting with a man the first few times she goes out with him. She should make sure that he is clean, honest, and worth while. She makes herself cheap by offering easily won kisses. And no man wants a bargain counter wife who has been soiled and manhandled.

Marriage requires a strong spiritual balance to succeed. If it is merely physical it is doomed to failure. That means the young man and woman should possess a deep sense of the spiritual quality of sex, obtaining from their married relations an exaltation of the soul as well as ecstasy of the flesh.

The dangers of petting are very real, and very serious. A girl does well to think twice before she encourages the sort of petting that may lead to disastrous results.

Source: Hendry, James Parker and E. Podolsky, ed. Secrets of Love and Marriage. New York: Herald Publishing Company, 1939.
~ pp. 99-100 ~