80 years ago a book entitled 'How to Make Love' was published, giving men tips on how to woo a woman. Indy1000 has taken a look, for tips, and to see how outdated it seems in 2016.
First of all, nobody should still be associating the phrase 'make love' with sex, but neither were they doing that in the 1930s.
The book focuses on courting and wooing rather than practical tips for sexual intercourse.
The author of How To Make Love, who also wrote The Art of Kissing was Hugh Morris, about whom little is known other than these two short guides on 'modern' romance.
Originally published as a pamphlet in 1936 by Franklin Publishing, the work was reissued in 1987 by Padell books, and again in 2006 as 'How To Make Love: Secrets of Wooing form the 1930s', and edited by Pietro Sr. Ramirez.
Now our attitudes towards gender equality have progressed (at least a little bit), we can all appreciate the kitsch value in some of the sweeping sentiments about men and women in 1936, and their heterosexual relationships.
It being the 1930s however, when modernity was all the rage, the book thinks of itself as thoroughly modern, an update to the Victorian guides of fan flirting and parasols.
Some parts hold true. Morris is skeptical about love at First Sight.
A hair-trigger emotion such as love at first sight can only be possessed by people with hair-trigger temperaments.
But the majority of the book has very dated sentiments. For instance, take Morris on the roles of men and women in a relationship:
There is the difference in the attitude of man and woman toward the culmination of love. Woman, although she is just as anxious for love as man, must never betray her anxiety. She must always be passive. Man, it is, who must be the active partner. It is he who makes love to woman. He chases the woman who was made to be chased. The success of love depends entirely on the understanding of this basic relationship.
He also warns of a 'reversed relationship', as in one where women show agency.
A reversed relationship, that is where the woman is the physical superior of the man, is not only devoid of love but is ludicrous.
Laughable really. He also addresses playing hard to get, as a woman's natural way.
That accounts for woman’s coyness, her shyness. That also accounts for her sometimes illogical habits of putting her man off. She realizes intuitively that, in order to make herself more desirable to her man, she must make herself less accessible. She must, in other words, establish the chaser-chased relationship between them.
However, the book goes from outdated to offering genuinely creepy advice.
Only an arrant fool seizes hold of such a girl when they are comfortably seats on a sofa, and suddenly shoves face into hers and smacks her lips.
This sounds quite respectful, but it continues, and it isn't.
Naturally, the first thing he should do is to arrange it so that the girl is seated against the arm of the sofa while he is at her side. In this way, she cannot edge away from him when he becomes serious in his attentions...If she flinches, makes an outcry, and tries to get up from the sofa, don't worry. Hold her, gently but firmly and all her fears with kind reassuring words.
The book stops short of advocating violent sexual assault, it doesn't go beyond this underlying 'gently but firmly' threat. The reason it stops however is because Morris says that if the girl scratches at his face when he tries to kiss her, then the man should:
Start to get yourself out of a bad situation. Such girls are not to be trifled with...or kissed.
Historical context is important, but this book is less than a century old. The 'history' is within the lifetime of some of our grandparents.
Nevertheless it provides a snap shot of the past. Perhaps the Indy100 readers of 2096 will find blogs about 'negging' and wonder what the hell men were doing in the early 2000s.
Perhaps more worryingly, articles written today which are espousing the most up to date morality will be found to be undoubtedly immoral by the standards of the 22nd century.