On Becoming A Woman Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Personal Problems

This chapter took me like, 3 days to write, because it was just so bad. This is probably the worst chapter in the entire book. This chapter is about MASTURBATION.

Now, I had no idea I was masturbating when I picked up this book. The book for men (OBAM) talked about it, but the author was so vague I wasn’t sure if women were capable of masturbating, or even if what I was doing was masturbation.  So I picked up this one to find out. And, until today, I would’ve sworn on all things holy that this book did not mention masturbation at all. I never did exactly figure out what masturbation was, but after reading this chapter I came to the conclusion that nope, I’m totally not masturbating. Spoiler alert, that’s exactly what I was doing.

As teenagers, we have abilities we didn’t possess a few months ago. We’ve grown taller, developed a figure, and now have new attitudes, interests, and sensations. I have no idea what that last one means but it’s vague, so I’m going to assume it’s sexual.

We are then told that a teenage girl fantasizes about what it will be like to have a home of her own all the time, yadda yadda. Let’s move on to what you really want to hear about: masturbation!

Was the book really that vague, or is the Abominable Snowman’s memory that terrible? Let’s find out.

A teenage girl normally develops an interest in her own person. This interest stems somewhat from her interest in the function and meaning of menstruation. But her interest in herself is broader than can be explained by her curiosity about menstruation. She notices certain new sensations that have developed in association with her reproductive organs.

Psssst Shryock? Most of us have been masturbating since we were 5. I seriously doubt these “new sensations” have anything to do with “development of the reproductive organs.”

These rather mysterious sensations seem to be linked in a way that she does not yet fully understand, with an attraction that she now feels toward young men.

This could be why I missed the fact that I was masturbating. At age 14 (and also 27), I had not (have not) developed an attraction to the opposite sex. Never even associated what I was doing with sexual until someone spelled it out for me. At age 16.

A woman’s reproductive organs are mostly within her body. There are features of her reproductive system, however, that are accessible to the outside. These are located between the thighs and just behind the pubic bone.

I think he’s talking about the clitoris.

He goes on to talk about the labial folds, even calling them “labia.” He calls the vagina a vestibule…. oh no wait, that’s not a vagina, that’s the vulva. I only figured this out because he started talking about urine coming out of the “slitlike cavity just beyond and between the labia.” He does not bother to name this “slitlike cavity,” mind you, but my mother believed I should be educated on such things, so I’ve always known I have a vulva, even if I didn’t always know where “down there” it was actually located.

The author talks about the vagina, how it’s basically a long tube that goes up to the uterus. There’s no mention of the cervix at all, and I feel like that’s a very important omission.

It is by way of the vagina that a husband implants the male germ cells into the body of his wife.

Look everyone, he finally told the woman where the man is going to put it! He doesn’t tell us what “it” is, but if we go back to chapter… what chapter was that again? The one titled Secrets About boys? We learn that it is the penis. We’re finally able to put two and two together!

Between the two labia and near their forward extremities (near the pubic bone) there is a tiny elevation of spongy tissue richly supplied with delicate nerves. This elevation is spoken of as the clitoris. The lining within the vagina is also richly supplied with nerve filaments.

“Ok,” says the reader. “I kinda sorta know what a clitoris is, now. What does it do, exactly?”

The creator has seen fit to arrange the organs of a woman in such a way that the clitoris and vagina are very sensitive.

My vagina is not sensitive. I do not… you know what, I think this is TMI. Let’s move on.

Delicate contact with these areas produces exciting sensations.

Delicate contact with the clitoris produces an “exciting sensation?” What kind of exciting sensation? And there’s a lot of squishy parts down there, which one is the clitoris? (I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I figured out I wasn’t getting those feelings from touching my vulva). God, no wonder I never connected the dots.

Delicate contact with these areas produces exciting sensations. The obvious reason is to enable a wife to experience a feeling of belonging when in her husband’s intimate embrace.







I mean, wh-wh-what do I even say to that? Obvious rea–obvious reaso—

Obviously, I mean, what else is it there for?

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my GOD.

At first I was feeling sorry for those of you who had really vague sex ed from this book, now I’m feeling sorry for me.

No wonder I didn’t make the connection that “touching my downstairs bits to get “the feeling”” was the same thing as the word “masturbation.”

I kinda want to go back in time and give myself a hug.

Anyway, Dear Reader, I hope you weren’t curious as to what this “intimate embrace” is, because We Don’t Get To Know. Hope you’re not confused on your wedding night, kids.

But there are teenage girls who, impelled by an unwholesome curiosity or by the example of unscrupulous girlfriends, have fallen into the habit of manipulating these sensitive tissues as a means of excitement. This habit is spoken of as masturbation.

Yup, not very specific there. Props for mentioning it, though, I mean, at least he bothered to admit that females could masturbate at all, even if he didn’t tell them what exactly masturbation was.

The practice of masturbation lowers a young woman’s regard for her reproductive organs. It causes to think of them only as a means of physical gratification rather than to emphasize the concept that these organs constitute a sacred legacy.

Since when is the clitoris a reproductive organ? Are we talking about the vagina now? The ovaries? The Oviducts?

These next few paragraphs are things Ellen White talked about, but I think she wasn’t the only one with these opinions. I remember reading a book called On Masturbation, which went over the history of people’s opinions on masturbation, what sort of devices were used through the ages, etc. I read that in the 1800s, a lot of people thought masturbation was responsible for, well, everything, really.

The stimulation of the sensitive portions of the reproductive organs in masturbation involves the expenditure of a tremendous amount of nervous energy-so much that the serve supply of this nervous energy is used up.

This is an important reason why masturbation is to be avoided. It consumes the reserve supply of vital force, leaving the individual tired, listless, and downcast.

The idea back then was that a person was only born with a certain amount of energy, and that orgasms used it up quickly. Ellen White in particular talks about how masturbation “excites the nerves” too much, which causes the brain to heat up, which causes all manner of problems. Ellen White was not new in thinking this way about masturbation. She was a product of her time.

By the 1960s, however, I’m pretty sure the scientific community had moved on from this antiquated line of thinking, so, what’s Shryock’s excuse?

Shryock then tells us that women who masturbate lose their ambition, their interests in hobbies, and they get tired easily. This is because a young woman’s supply of nervous energy is constantly being used in self stimulation.

Repeated indulgence in masturbation keeps the reserve of nervous energy at such a low level that the individual seems never to posses normal vigor.

Actually, all of this reminds me of something. Let me think…

  1. Loss of energy
  2. constant feeling of tiredness
  3. feelings of low self worth
  4. losing interest in hobbies
  5. lack of ambition

All textbook characteristics of depression. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of SDA youth suffer from some form of depression, not all of which ever gets diagnosed. A lot of those children probably also masturbate. I’d suggest this is merely correlation rather than causation but I don’t play a doctor on TV so what do I know.

Masturbation, then, can become a tyrant that robs its victim of the incentives and radiant energy for worthy accomplishments.

Imagine you’re 14 years old and you’re depressed. You’ve been depressed almost your entire life, ever since you were 4 years old. Coincidentally, that’s about the time you learned to masturbate. Imagine, for a moment, how that would make you feel.

Now you understand why I’m such a fucked up person.

The young person who has been so unfortunate as to develop the habit of masturbation feels constantly let down and fatigued. She adopts an attitude of stupidity simply because she cannot muster sufficient energy to remain alert.

Sounds very much like depression.

Study no longer appeals to her. Thus her mental development lags. Whenever 2 possibilities present themselves, she chooses the easier way.

Study no longer appeals to her… because she masturbates.

I am so glad my parents didn’t read this book. Or at least if they did they seem to have forgotten all about it in the time it took them to have me.

Nervous energy, you see, is to help us cope with the challenges of living. It also helps us keep ourselves healthy.  The nerves in our body are activated by the available nervous energy, like my computer is activated when I plug it in. So when a person’s energy is low, the entire body suffers. The person becomes vulnerable to disease and gets sick a lot.

If this were all true, I’m pretty sure 99% of the population would be chronically ill.

Still another tragic effect of the habit of masturbation is that the young woman who resorts to this practice realizes, in her own thinking, that it is not approved by people with high ideals. She therefore develops an attitude of shame regarding this practice. She attempts to hide the knowledge of her habit from her friends and relatives. Fear of its discovery cases her to feel ill at ease. This secrecy and this anxiety rob her of a great deal of the joy of living.

Well, Shryock got one thing right. People in power look down on the practice, the girl is filled with shame and fearful of its discovery. Kind of contradicts what the author said earlier about learning masturbation from “unscrupulous girls.” At least in my experience, all the girls who masturbated were terrified of anyone finding out.

This is a very unhealthy attitude to have about anything related to your body in general, and needs to die. Shryock has the problem right, but he has the wrong answer.

Then we come to the truly horrible part of this chapter, the one I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for with baited breath.

There is an anatomical factor that sometimes causes irritation about the clitoris and thus encourages a manipulation of the delicate reproductive organs.

I have no idea what he’s talking about. Does he mean, like, itching?

Although such cases are not very common, evidence of irritation to these tissues is sufficient reason for a young woman to consult a Christian Physician.

Why a Christian one? What difference does it make if your doctor is religious or not? Your doctor is not going to sit there and jack off to your hoo ha.

Often times the remedy for this situation consists of a minor surgical operation spoken of as circumcision. This operation is not hazardous and is much to be preferred to allowing a condition of irritation to continue.

After consulting the almighty google, and scrolling past results for FGM (female genital mutilation), the only medical reasons I can come up with for clitoris removal are:

  1. Cancer
  2. Serious damage due to an accident
  3. clitoral hypertrophy, wherein the clitoris becomes inflamed, usually due to certain drugs. It does not say what kind of drugs, and according to most of what I’m reading, you would try other things first. Surgery is a last resort.

In short, I did not find any medical causes of clitorectomy that match what Shryock discusses. Therefore, it isn’t much of a stretch to figure out that he is advocating female circumcision.

I think I just shuddered.

I have serious doubts that this was normal even in the 1960s. I think by the 1960s people weren’t so chop happy with the female naughty bits.

I can see now why  Shryock says to see a “christian” doctor about this problem. He knows a secular doctor would tell the girl she doesn’t need a clitorectomy and that Shryock is full of shit. (I am aware that, at least today, most Christian doctors would say the same thing.)

Shryock jumps straight from this to discussing that women need to avoid reading, talking, daydreaming, and watching things that would make them think about masturbating.

Don’t think about sexy things too much, ladies, or you might need to get circumcised!

The teenage girl whose personality is developing along desirable lines directs her interests outward rather than inward. She focuses her attention on others rather than on herself.

Given that we’ve just been talking about masturbation, this seems more like an argument for premarital sex.

She concerns herself with being helpful rather than with attracting attention to her own preferences and comforts.

This is unhealthy. This is telling young women, essentially, that they don’t matter. Jesus first, others next, and yourself last. JOY. I grew up with that. I put others first and put others first and put others first until one day I woke up and realized I was miserable and that there was nothing left of myself.

This was my “teenage rebellion.”

It is unnatural and unwholesome for a teenager to spend very much of her time alone.

I am very glad my parents didn’t think this way. I was total introvert and needed large amounts of alone time. From other books I’ve read, this is quite normal.

Whenever possible, a girl should make a pal of her father and a confidante of her mother. This attitude of sharing one’s interests instead of selfishly hoarding them will largely eliminate opportunities for the development of unfortunate personal habits.

When I was little, I always felt I could talk to my father. Less so as a teenager, but that’s beside the point, since I started masturbating at age 8. At age 8, I did not feel I could talk to my mom,* but I did feel I could talk to my dad.

It would seem that having a relationship with my father did not prevent me from “developing unfortunate personal habits.”

The normal teenage girl is socially inclined.

What about the teenage girls who aren’t? Are they abnormal?

She has come to a time of life when she desires friendships outside of the home circle.

Pretty sure every girl of every age desires friends who aren’t their siblings.

Naturally, she must exercise discretion in this choice of friends, choosing those with high ideals and conservative standards.


A teenager should avoid the extremes of idleness, on one hand, and excess activity, on the other. Of the two extremes, however, it is better for her to become too active along too many lines than to have time to waste.


I actually disagree, I think that if I had to pick between two evils, I’d pick the one with lots and lots of time on my hands. Not just because that’s what I grew up with, but because it seems healthier than constantly going and going and going. I feel like you’d just wear out your body that way. You’d be better off masturbating than wearing out your heart by constant activity.

He then goes on to tell us that the teenage years are the best time to develop character, personality, and physical health. Snort. Whatever.

He goes on to talk about how teenagers need physical activity to release pent up energy. I’ve heard this argument before. If you have a problem with masturbation, you should exercise and do a lot of physical activity because then you will be too tired to masturbate.

Speaking from experience here: this never works.

He talks about how a teenager should study, and also do things to keep their minds occupied in the summer.

Even the diet is a factor that deserves its fair share of consideration as a means of avoiding those personal habits that would undermine the health and reduce the individual’s chances of success. Highly spiced food and food consisting principally of animal proteins have the effect of stimulating those sensations that attract attention to the reproductive organs.

Eating spicy food and meat will cause you to masturbate. Wow. I remember reading this in Ellen White, but I thought that was largely swept under the rug by 1920. Guess I was wrong.

Shryock goes on to talk about God being important.

The Christian’s faith in a kind heavenly Father gives access to divine help in solving all personal problems.

Jesus will help you not to masturbate! Spoiler alert, this doesn’t work either.


Note that he’s used the term “personal problems” twice now in reference to masturbation. Is that what the kids were calling it back then? I know some of my readers are old enough to remember the 60s, so help me out. Did dinosaurs masturbate?



*This is different now






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