Book Review – Doctor Hubbard’s Sex Facts For Men & Women

Title: Doctor Hubbard’s Sex Facts For Men & Women
Author: S. Dana Hubbard, M.D.
Editors: Bob Berkowitz, Ph.D. and Susan Yager-Berkowitz
Format: Paperback
Written: 1922
Published: 2009

This book is a reprint of four pamphlets written by Doctor Hubbard in 1922, specifically Sex Facts For Young Men, Sex Facts For The Adolescent And Matured Woman, Facts About Marriage Every Young Man And Woman Should Know, and Facts About Parenthood. There is also an introduction to the book by the editors that outlines why these pamphlets were written and provides a historical context for their creation.

If you open this book expecting to find a vintage, American version of the Kama Sutra, you are going to be very quickly disillusioned. Doctor Hubbard takes a broad view of what sex is, and barely discusses intercourse. When the really interesting bits come up, his advice is to ask your mother, a married woman, or a physician. The book is carefully written in such a way that if you know what he is talking about it is crystal clear, but without the background information you would never work out the details.

Eugenics is a very clear motivation in this text. However, it is crucial to remember that this book was originally written before the Nazis gave eugenics the reputation that it has today. For Doctor Hubbard, eugenics meant ensuring that babies being born into this world had the best chance for healthy survival. He was not writing about obscure racial ideals or white supremacy; he was writing about his patients, the men and women he worked with on a daily basis. As a medical doctor, it is impossible to find fault with his ideals, however archaically they are sometimes expressed.

There is an obvious agenda in this book, expressed through the eugenics references. Venereal disease was rife, a cure had not been found, and the results were devastating. It is difficult as a modern reader to truly grasp the horror that he is writing about, because his world is so removed from our lives of antibiotics and freely available birth control. The only way to stop these diseases was to prevent infection and, if syphilis could spread through kissing, that meant a very firm stance for abstinence was required.

Doctor Hubbard’s writing is blunt, and in our politically correct time I found this incredibly refreshing. He clearly had no desire to sugar coat anything, and pushed to the upper limit of what was socially acceptable discourse. Men were firmly in his sights, and he was determined to point out their hypocrisy wherever he could. If women were going to be held to a high standard, he expected at least as much from the men he was writing to.

Many feminists would probably take offense at some of the ways Hubbard writes about women. After a careful reading, I think this would be a significant error. He often describes women as “the little wife” or “the little house keeper”, but I do not think this is intended to be offensive. There are long sections where he abhors the treatment of women, speaking out against what were socially accepted attitudes at the time. Many of the issues he raises in this text were not adopted by the feminist movement until the 1960s.

As the main focus of the book was to provide quality medical advice, it is interesting to see which bits are just as relevant today as they were when it was written. Syphilis and gonorrhea could be easily replaced with AIDS and herpes. Abortion is still as fiercely contested. Just as many people need to be reminded to eat healthy foods, get plenty of fresh air, and take the time to exercise. New parents still need advice about how to cope with a newborn.

The fundamental training of this book still holds firm, which I was quite surprised by. This is because Doctor Hubbard outlined why things were important. Many years later, we still have many of the same considerations without understanding where they came from. For that reason alone it is worth reading. He writes about serious issues, but also has a healthy dose of reality; people will always be people, and there is no point getting hysterical about it. This book is compassionate, and it assumes that you are a intelligent without being well educated on the subject matter.

If you are interested in social history, this book is an excellent read, and I would rate it 4 out of 5 pages. There are a few editorial errors that stop it from getting a higher rating. However, if you are only reading this book to have a giggle because it is a vintage text with sex in the title, it will very quickly get a rating of 1 out of 5 pages.

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