George Ryley Scott was a prolific author, active as a writer between 1919 and 1965 – his last book actually appearing, after a fourteen year gap, in 1979. Not much is known of Scott’s life, but his work falls into rather distinct genres: sexology, corporal and capital punishment, and… erm… the keeping of poultry. Among his more interesting works that remains in print long after his death are Curious Customs of Sex and Marriage and The History of Torture Throughout the Ages, but the curious should also look out for Flogging: Yes or No?, The History of Cockfighting, The Common Sense of Nudism and The History Of Corporal Punishment: A Survey Of Flagellation In Its Historical Anthropological And Sociological Aspects. I think it would be fair to say that Scott was both a man ahead of his time and someone who only wrote about the things he liked.
His 1947 book Your Sex Questions Answered: 300 Questions on Sex, Marriage & Birth Control Authoritatively Answered is especially entertaining, and having recently obtained a copy, we thought that we should share some of the wisdom with you, the Reprobate reader. After all, we care about your health and well-being, and we’d hate to think of you coming down with a case of Gleet (that’s a chronically inflamed urethra – or “water pipe” as Scott helpfully explains).
The book covers genetics and heredity, adolescence, male and female ‘difficulties’, with control, nudity and sexual diseases, and Scott wades through these sticky subjects in a no-nonsense way. For instance, asked “does inbreeding cause idiocy?“, he explains that “it would be much more correct to say that these evils result from promiscuous or careless alliances between unfit, abnormal, immature or diseased specimens”, which presumably put a few country cousins at ease. He also reassures the reader that the offspring of an alcoholic will not “invariably be an idiot or a degenerate”.
The woman concerned that, because she has burned her face during pregnancy, her child will be born with a disfiguring birthmark is reassured that this will not be the case, while another reader asks is masturbation is hereditary. While this fear is allayed, self-abuse does get a bit of a bashing (if you’ll excuse the pun). Scott does not approve of this ‘vice’ and explains how to prevent the habit being accidentally acquired (through dancing, cycling, climbing poles, siding down bannisters, assorted skin diseases and overly tight trousers). He does at least concede that spanking the monkey does not lead directly to insanity, and tells one concerned questioner that masturbation is not illegal and will not result in a prison sentence unless done in public. Sound advice.
Elsewhere, young men are encouraged to wash heir penises – sound advice – and told that a tiny toddler is nothing to worry about. A shy bladder in public toilets is also dismissed as natural. we are told that cocaine and “the notorious Marihuana cigarette” are used to stimulate desire BUT SHOULD NEVER BE USED, but claims that monkey gland transplants and sex with a young virgin might revive a flagging potency are rubbished.
For women, Scott reassures the reader that it is perfectly safe to wash the genitals during menstruation, and that menstruating women will not turn fresh meat bad by handling it. He also explains that it is unlikely that a woman will go insane during the menopause and that practising “unorthodox methods of intercourse” will not cause women to give birth to monsters.
In terms of more general advice, Scott is asked “would you advise a man or a woman who is an invert to marry with a view to overcoming or curing the abnormality?”, and answers that this will not work. It’s the only clear reference to anything other that straight relationships, other than a brief mention that anal sex is illegal for any couples, male or female. He also waxes lyrical about nudism, suggesting that he was an enthusiast himself, and all manner of questions about birth control – including the best place to buy contraceptives – are covered briskly.
In case all this sex talk has inflamed the reader’s libido, the book ends on the boner-crushing subject of venereal disease. Scott works through the urban myths the continue to this day (catching disease from toilet seats) and some hysterical claims (that VD can be cured by sex with a virgin or an animal) before getting into the nitty-gritty about gonorrhoea and syphilis. The book ends with the question “what is the nature of the disease referred to as G.T.I.?”, and the answer is sobering stuff:
“This dread affliction is a species of paralysis, accompanied by mental deterioration, which ends in insanity and death. There is no cure, but death is usually slow in coming, the full course of the disease lasting for many years.”
Readers will be relieved to hear that this no longer seems to be the case. But just in case, you should avoid people who have “contortions of the features, inequality in the size of the eye pupils, emaciation, tongue protusion and difficulties in speech.” Of course, I realise that if you attend sporting events, film festivals or political rallies, this will be hard to do…