Personal Habits In Relation To Marriage
( Originally Published 1918 )
WHILE there is a growing willingness in this country to accept the conclusions of science to the harmfulness of alcoholic stimulation, there seems to be growing also a complete unwilingness to accept the same judgment in regard to th euse of tobacco.
It is not strange that, with woman's increasing freedom, there should come a greater reluctance to limit her actions by what has hitherto been considered "proper" or "improper" for her. She feels that she is a human being and, if it is right for a masculine human being to indulge in this habit, it is equally right for his feminine counter-part to do the same. In this position she is fundamentally correct. If it were right for man to allow himself this form of self-indulgence, it would be equally right for her.
Viewed from the standpoint of the effect of this habit upon his own constitution and upon the inheritance of his children, however, it is not right for him. Therefore, it cannot be considered right for her. Moreover, she is responsible not only for the inheritance of her children, but for the conditions under which they pass the nine months of their prenatal life; also, when she per-forms the mother's full function, she is responsible for the condition of the food received by the child during the first nine months of its separate existence. Therefore, as her responsibility is greater, so is her duty in this matter greater.
One of the arguments which should have the greatest weight with men in considering this question is the fact that tobacco-using is a very common cause of impotence. The effect of this poison is not so immediate as that of some others, but, in the long run, it has a most depressing effect upon the procreative function. So well is this understood by the medical profession that it is used definitely for the purpose of allaying the sexual desire. The man who prizes his virility, therefore, will not allow himself to form a habit which will bring to his system the inevitable destructive effect of this alkaloid poison.
It would not be fair for us to consider simply those poisons which men are most apt to take into their systems, and neglect the ones which women are most inclined to indulge in.
Tea and coffee are not ordinarily considered poisons, yet their effect is unquestionably poisonous. It is only recently that the morbid effects of these beverages have been sufficiently well studied to secure the recognition of the fact that they produce a distinct class of such symptoms.
Says Dr. B. W. Richardson : "The symptoms which indicate the injurious action of this form of drink (tea) are sufficiently characteristic. They are intensely severe headaches, constipation of the bowels with what is usually considered to be deficiency of bilious secretion, flatulency, unsteadiness and feebleness of muscular power, and not infrequently a lowness of spirit amounting to hypochondriacal despondency. In poverty-stricken districts amongst the women who take tea at every meal, this extremely nervous semi-hysterical condition from the action of tea is universal. The flatulency induced by tea taken late in the evening, has the effect of interfering with the processes of sleep, it prevents or disturbs sleep by dreams and muscular startings, and is a common cause of that peculiarly painful symptom known as nightmare. Coffee, like tea, induces dyspepsia, and perhaps with even more activity than tea it keeps the brain awake when that wearied organ ought, according to nature, to be asleep."
I have suggested elsewhere that the drinking of tea and coffee in unlimited quantities on the part of women probably has a great deal to do with the prevalence of what is called frigidity in women, due to the health-destroying effect of theine or caffein, either of which must have an effect upon the reproductive system, as have other drugs.
The use of bromides must also be condemned. It is undisputed that they are sexually depressing. They paralyze and destroy the sex function. The safest plan is not only to avoid the more powerful drugs and poisons, but to steer clear even of the milder stimulants and narcotics.