In the first place, the education of girls, which has been almost entirely determined by the standardized concepts of the ideal woman, has left them totally unprepared for wifehood and motherhood, the very calling which those ideals demand that they shall follow. The whole education of the girl aims at the concealment of the physiological nature of men and women. She enters marriage unprepared for the realities of conjugal life, and hence incapable of understanding either herself or her husband. When pregnancy comes to such a wife, the old seclusion taboos fall upon her like a categorical imperative. She is overwhelmed with embarrassment at a normal and natural biological process which can hardly be classified as “romantic.” Such an attitude is neither conducive to the eugenic choice of a male nor to the proper care of the child either before or after its birth.
A second dysgenic influence which results from the taboo system of sexual ethics is the institution of prostitution, the great agency for the spread of venereal disease through the homes of the community, and which takes such heavy toll from the next generation in lowered vitality and defective organization.
The 1911 report of the Committee on the Social Evil in Baltimore showed that at the time there was in that city one prostitute to every 500 inhabitants. As is the case everywhere, such statistics cover only prostitutes who have been detected. Hospital and clinic reports for Baltimore gave 9,450 acute cases of venereal disease in 1906 as compared with 575 cases of measles, 1,172 cases of diphtheria, 577 of scarlet fever, 175 of chickenpox, 58 of smallpox and 733 cases of tuberculosis.
Statistics on the health of young men shown by the physical examinations of the various draft boards throughout the country give us a more complete estimate of the prevalence of venereal disease among the prospective fathers of the next generation than any other figures for the United States. In an article in the New York Medical Journal for February 2, 1918, Dr. Isaac W. Brewer of the Medical Reserve Corps presents tables showing the percentage of rejections for various disabilities among the applicants for enlistment in the regular army from January 1, 1912, to December 31, 1915. Among 153,705 white and 11,092 coloured applicants, the rejection rate per 1,000 for venereal disease was 196.7 for whites and 279.9 for coloured as against 91.3 for whites and 75.0 for coloured for heart difficulties, next on the list. In foreshadowing the results under the draft, Dr. Brewer says: “Venereal disease is the greatest cause for rejection, and reports from the cantonments where the National Army has assembled indicate that a large number of the men had these diseases when they arrived at the camp. It is probably true that venereal diseases cause the greatest amount of sickness in our country.”