Blinky the Tree Frog (blinkytreefrog) wrote,
Blinky the Tree Frog

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'On Becoming a Woman' - A FAQ

*blinks* Ah. Wow. The post containing scans from this wondrous tome has, as of now, more than 300 comments on it, most of them containing amazement, disgust, or just vaguely stunned babbling. I'm sure old Harold would be appalled :-).

This post is an attempt to answer some of the questions that have come up. It's not really a FAQ list as such. Some of these questions have in fact only been asked once, or in one case, haven't even been asked, and they are therefore 'frequently asked questions' only in the same way the On Becoming a Woman is a serious feminist text, i.e., not at all.

I'm writing this post because, although I have read every single comment, I fear attempting to reply to every single comment would give me some kind of exotic strain of RSI. Which is cool, I hasten to say. I've never had a popular post before. *is proud*

I just arrived here. Where are all these scans, anyway?
This post has the original scans. This post has the chapter on homosexuality. This post has more horrifying snippets.

Who was the author?
Harold Shryock, M.A, M,D. He was a doctor and a devout Seventh Day Adventist and was apparently fond of writing scary 'welcome to puberty' books. Yes, there is an On Becoming a Man. Anyway, he died last year at the grand old age of 97 or 98 (depending on sources), so he's dead, but certainly not long dead.

Also he was, in his later life, part of something called the "College of Medical Evangelists", which I'm sure you'll all agree sounds very frightening indeed.

Did he seriously mean all this crap?
Yup, seems so. Whatta guy.

So that's really what people thought in the fifties?
Well, not really. I mean, kinda. Thing is, you do have to remember that this guy was very religious and conservative, even for this time period. That's not to say that the whole "you woman stay at home, me man go hunt for food and high paying executive job" attitude wasn't prevalent then, but genital mutilation wasn't what most people would recommend as a cure-all for masturbation. I suspect most people would just tell you to stop touching your genitals, in fact. Alternatively, and more probably, they'd just stick their fingers in their ears and pretend the whole thing didn't exist. Much like married couples on TV slept happily in separate beds in the fifties, sex not having been invented in TV land.

Okay, I want this thing now. What are the publishing details?
That's an interesting question. I can give you the details of my copy, but I don't know how much it'll help, because from what I can discern, the book came out in multiple editions. Yep, it was that popular. The copy I have was published in Australia by the Signs Publishing Company and I have reason to believe that it was an edition specially made for Australia, mostly because there are times throughout the book where is says things like 'as a teenager in Australia, you'll know...' followed by something implausible and vaguely horrifying. There's no copyright date on my edition, meaning that I had to surf the internet to find out the publishing year.

Putting things together, it seems the original edition was published in 1951, and then other editions were retooled and published periodically some years after that. Several people in the comments have mentioned that they've seen editions published in the late sixties, which is sad because you'd rather think they'd know better by then.

So how might I go about getting a copy?
There are apparently copies available from several out-of-print booksellers on the web. Scanning through the comments, here're a few people have found:

Would you sell me yours?
'Fraid not. I want to keep it, both for amusement value and because I'm a teacher, and some of the less explicit extracts will make some very good class discussion material.

Did Harold actually have any daughters of his own?
He had one daughter and one son. They had 10 grandkids between them, which would seem to indicate that the daughter did her 'womanly duty' well. *sigh*

Are your sarcastic comments meant to imply that you look down on women who are housewives?
What? God no! I have every respect for women who choose to be housewives and run families. It's one hell of a job, and involves multitasking to the max. The important word here is 'choose'; I firmly believe that both men and woman should be free to choose their own role in life. Sadly Harold wasn't big on giving woman choice in the matter, and he implies left right and centre that women should defer to their man once they're married. That's what ticks me off.

This is funny/horrifying/spasm inducing. Can I link to it?
Go nuts. The more the merrier. Feel free to link to personal journals or communities, I don't mind a bit. One request though: I would like to know if you're going to link to it. Just for my own curiosity.

Can I make icons?
Why not :-).

So what else is in your journal? Any reason I'd want to hang around?
This journal generally contains:
* Links to amusing/worthy of note sites on the internet.
* Scans of interesting things, usually comic based.
* Rants on fannish things.
* Fanfic, usually about relatively obscure characters, and usually using an eclectic blend of horrifyingly serious events and the same type of humour you see in this document. Someone compared one of my stories to Terry Pratchett once. I was very proud and egotistical until a friend of mine pointed out that Terry Pratchett probably didn't split his infinitives with quite so much regularity, and also he writes published novels, and I have not. Damn.

Can I friend you?
I'd be flattered :-). Go ahead!

Scan some more! Go on.
Wait, that's not a question! Oh, okay. Y'know, I was all ready to say that I'd already scanned in the most interesting and appalling bits of this text (it's about 200 pages long, btw), and then I read it again and... yeesh. I'll have another page done by tomorrow, okay?

*bows* And this is all. Unless anyone else has a question, in which case it's not :-).


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