Social hygiene movement

Last updated
"Sex hygiene" is contrasted with "false modesty" in this frontispiece to an early 20th-century book. Sex hygiene and false modesty.png
"Sex hygiene" is contrasted with "false modesty" in this frontispiece to an early 20th-century book.

The social hygiene movement was an attempt by Progressive-era reformers to control venereal disease, regulate prostitution and vice, and disseminate sexual education through the use of scientific research methods and modern media techniques. Social hygiene as a profession grew alongside social work and other public health movements of the era. Social hygienists emphasized sexual continence and strict self-discipline as a solution to societal ills, tracing prostitution, drug use and illegitimacy to rapid urbanization. The movement remained alive throughout much of the 20th century and found its way into American schools, where it was transmitted in the form of classroom films about menstruation, sexually transmitted disease, drug abuse and acceptable sexual behavior in addition to an array of pamphlets, posters, textbooks and films. [1]

Contents

History

The social hygiene movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was an attempt by Progressive-era reformers to control venereal disease, regulate prostitution and vice, and disseminate sexual education through the use of scientific research methods and modern media techniques. A mental hygiene movement also developed, partly separately and now generally known as mental health, although the older term is still in use, e.g. in New York state's law. [2] The social hygiene movement represented a rationalized, professionalized version of the earlier social purity movement. [3] Many reformers, such as Marie Stopes, were also proponents of eugenics. Inspired by Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, they argued for the sterilisation of certain groups, even racial groups, in society. Indeed, by the 1930s thousands of forced sterilizations of people deemed undesirable took place in America and other countries each year. This continued for several more decades in some countries, though after 1945, the movement was largely discredited. [4]

Social Hygiene Movement

Social hygiene as a profession grew alongside social work and other public health movements of the era. Social hygienists emphasized sexual continence and strict self-discipline as a solution to societal ills, tracing prostitution, drug use and illegitimacy to rapid urbanization.

The social hygiene movement began to gain momentum and in 1913 making the movement part of publishings such as the American Journal of Public Health. [5] The American Social Hygiene Association was officially formed in 1913. It was later renamed to the American Social Health Association and, in 2012, the American Sexual Health Association.

The Social hygiene approach was adopted in medical schools in Russia in the 1920s and supported by the Commissariat of Public Health. The definition adopted by Commissar Nikolai Semashko was less focussed on eugenics and more in line with what is now regarded as public health: “study of the influence of economic and social factors on the incidence of disease and on the ways to make the population healthy”. The State Institute for Social Hygiene opened in 1923. This approach was not popular with educators or with medical students. In 1930 the institute was renamed the Institute of Organisation of Health Care and Hygiene. [6]

The movement remained alive throughout much of the 20th century and found its way into American schools, where it was transmitted in the form of classroom films about menstruation, sexually transmitted disease, drug abuse and acceptable sexual behavior in addition to an array of pamphlets, posters, textbooks and films. [1]

American Social Hygiene Association

The American Social Hygiene Association partnered with the government during The Great War. The American Social Hygiene Association provided social hygiene health and sexual health information to the soldiers in hopes that this education would help take fewer soldiers out of action from venereal diseases. [7]

The idea of prostitution was considered a “necessary evil” in light of an artificial demand that had been created through various forms including political corruption and advertising. With further investigation into the business of prostitution cities that did not contain commercialized prostitution had less crime and appeared to be in better shape than those who contained such. Most prostitutes that had been examined were found to have venereal diseases, but with that included a negative social stigma which stopped people from getting examined and so there became a campaign involving several organizations to suppress prostitution and begin educating people about sex and venereal diseases. The two organizations that had developed were the American Vigilance Association, fighting prostitution, and the American Federation for Sex Hygiene. Finally, the two organizations had realized their mutual interest and called a meeting in Buffalo, New York which the term “social hygiene” was coined. By 1914 the organizations formed into one, calling themselves, “The American Social Hygiene Association”. [8]

Progressive Era

The social hygiene movement helped with the development of the management of prostitution in the Progressive Era. The Progressive Era was the turning point in the state's regulations of sexuality. It was said that the Progressive Era had physicians and women moral reformers working together to help manage prostitution and educate the people on social hygiene. [9]

Racial Hygiene Association

This link between racial hygiene and social hygiene movements can be seen in Australia, where the Racial Hygiene Association of New South Wales is now named The Family Planning Association. [10]

Negro Project

In the 1940s during World War II, ASHA (American Social Hygiene Association) launched a new project called The Negro Project, also known as the Negro Venereal Disease Education Project. The aim of this project was to address the widespread presence of venereal diseases among African Americans. In the early 1940s, ASHA drafted a grant proposal and in 1942 it was sent to prospective funding agencies. The proposal emphasized two main aspects of the Negro Project, “that the higher rate of prevalence of venereal diseases among the black population was alarming; and two, that this higher prevalence rate was not the fault of the black community.” (A. Sharma) The main purpose of the Negro Project was to provide educational materials and methods for instruction regarding syphilis. Some of the intended materials to be produced were pamphlets, posters, and motion pictures specifically aimed at the African American community. After being rejected by private funding organizations, the project found support from the Social Protection Division of the Federal Security Agency. In November 1943 in New York City, the Negro Project held its first major activity which was the National Conference on Wartime Problems in Venereal Disease Control. This conference was held so that they could form a committee and create an action plan for the Negro Project. After the national conference in 1943, project officials held meetings at regional level, predominantly in Southern states. However, in 1945 the records of the project suddenly go silent and no further activity for this project was documented in ASHA records. It has been speculated that due to the Social Protection Division of the Federal Security Agency being dissolved in the 1940s, the funds for the project dried up causing the project to end. [11]

Mental Hygiene Movement

In regards to the mental hygiene movement, it helped providers realize that the problems of mental health and prevention of disease goes beyond providers in hospitals. The movement helped healthcare train their providers properly. It also helped with studies of more sympathetic treatment for mental health patients. [12]

Helpful definitions

Social hygiene is "the practice of measures designed to protect and improve the family as a social institution. Specially the practice of measures aiming at the elimination of venereal disease and prostitution" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. [13]

Mental hygiene is "the science of maintaining mental health and preventing the development of mental illness" according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sex worker Person who works in the sex industry

A sex worker is a person who is employed in the sex industry. The term is used in reference to all those in all areas of the sex industry, including those who provide direct sexual services as well as the staff and management of such industries. Some sex workers are paid to engage in sex acts or sexually explicit behavior which involves varying degrees of physical contact with clients ; pornographic models and actors engage in sexually explicit behavior which is filmed or photographed. Phone sex operators have sexually-oriented conversations with clients, and may do verbal sexual roleplay.

Paulina Luisi Uruguayan politician

Paulina Luisi (1875–1950), was a leader of the feminist movement in the country of Uruguay. In 1909, she became the first Uruguayan woman to earn a medical degree in Uruguay. She was highly respected. She represented Uruguay in international women's conferences and traveled throughout Europe. She voiced her opinion on women's rights, and in 1919, Paulina started the force for women's rights in Uruguay. By 1922, the Pan-American Conference of Women named Paulina Luisi an honorary vice president of the meeting and she continued to be an activist until Uruguay gave women the right to vote.

COYOTE is an American sex workers' rights organization. Its name is a backronym for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, a reflection of the fact that sex work tends to be stigmatized primarily because of society-imposed standards of ethics. COYOTE's goals include the decriminalization of prostitution, pimping and pandering, as well as the elimination of social stigma concerning sex work as an occupation.

In the history of the United States, a clean living movement is a period of time when a surge of health-reform crusades, many with moral overtones, erupts into the popular consciousness. This results in individual, or group reformers such as the anti-tobacco or alcohol coalitions of the late twentieth century, to campaign to eliminate the health problem or to "clean up" society. The term "Clean Living Movement" was coined by Ruth C. Engs, a Professor of Applied Health Sciences at Indiana University in 1990.

American Sexual Health Association organization

The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) is an American non-profit organization established in 1914, that cites a mission to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities, with an emphasis on sexual health, as well as a focus on preventing sexually transmitted infections and their harmful consequences. ASHA uses tools such as education, communication, advocacy and policy analysis activities with the intent to heighten public, patient, provider, policymaker and media awareness of STI prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment strategies.

Racial Hygiene Association of New South Wales

The Racial Hygiene Association of New South Wales was an Australian-based association founded in 1926 by Lillie Goodisson and Ruby Rich of the Women's Reform League. The association was originally known as the Racial Improvement Society until 1928.

The social purity movement was a late 19th-century social movement that sought to abolish prostitution and other sexual activities that were considered immoral according to Christian morality. The movement was active in English-speaking nations from the late 1860s to about 1910, exerting an important influence on the contemporaneous feminist, eugenics, and birth control movements.

Katharine Bement Davis American criminologist and social reformer

Katharine Bement Davis was an American progressive era social reformer and criminologist who became the first woman to head a major New York City agency when she was appointed Correction Commissioner on January 1, 1914.

School hygiene

School hygiene or school hygiene education is a healthcare science, a form of the wider school health education. School hygiene is a study of school environment influence; it explores the impact of schooling to mental and physical health of students.

An outgrowth of the school hygiene movement, the American School Hygiene Association (ASCHA) was a professional organization of physicians, dentists, administrators, nurses, and other stakeholders in the health and well-being of school children. Formed in 1906, it involved reformers and politicians of the Progressive movement era, and was active in school health and advocacy issues until its last congress in 1921.

Lola Baldwin Policewoman

Aurora "Lola" Greene Baldwin was an American woman who became one of the first policewomen in the United States. In 1908, she was sworn in by the City of Portland as Superintendent of the Women's Auxiliary to the Police Department for the Protection of Girls, with the rank of detective.

Prostitution in colonial India

The practice of prostitution in colonial India was influenced by British rule dating back to the 19th century. From this century, continuing to the early 20th century, the government of British India facilitated, regulated and allowed the existence of prostitution. Not only was prostitution in India affected by the policy of the Governor General of India, it was also influenced by the moral and political beliefs of the British authorities and conflicts and tensions between the British authorities and the Indian populace at large. The colonial government had a profound effect on prostitution in India, both legislatively and socially.

The outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases in World War II brought interest in sex education to the public and the government. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, military maneuvers increased worldwide and sexual hygiene and conduct became major problems for the troops. Soldiers and sailors on assignment overseas were often lonely, had time to spare, got homesick, or were just looking for female companionship. This resulted in many men having multiple sex partners, and as a result, became a major health concern. During the Great War, venereal diseases (V.D.) had caused the United States Army to lose 18,000 servicemen per day. Although by 1944 this number had been reduced 30-fold, there were still around 606 servicemen incapacitated daily. This drop in numbers was partly because of the Army's effort to raise awareness about the dangers faced by servicemen through poor sexual hygiene, and also because of the important developments in medicine. In late 1943 a case of gonorrhea required a hospital treatment of 30 days, and curing syphilis remained a 6-month ordeal. By mid-1944, the average case of gonorrhea was reduced to 5 days, and in many cases the patient remained on duty while being treated.

Edith Houghton Hooker American suffragist and social worker

Edith Houghton Hooker was an American suffragist and social worker. She was a leader of the suffrage movement in Maryland in the early twentieth century and was posthumously inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. She was a maternal aunt of actress Katharine Hepburn.

Sybil Neville-Rolfe died 1955

Sybil Neville-Rolfe, OBE was a social hygienist and founder of the Eugenics Society, and a leading figure in the National Council for Combating Venereal Disease. She has been described as a feminist eugenicist.

La Follette-Bulwinkle Act

La Follette-Bulwinkle Act or Venereal Diseases Control and Prevention Act of 1938 sanctioned federal assistance to U.S. states establishing preventive healthcare for venereal diseases. The United States federal statute commissioned the United States Public Health Service for demonstrations, investigations, and studies as related to the control, prevention, and treatment of opportunistic infections. The public law amended the Army Appropriations Act of 1918 appending the judicial context which created the Division of Venereal Diseases within the Bureau of the Public Health Service.

Chamberlain-Kahn Act US Federal public health law

The Chamberlain-Kahn Act of 1918 is a U.S. federal law passed on July 9, 1918 by the 65th United States Congress. The law implemented a public health program that came to be known as the American Plan, whose stated goal was to combat the spread of venereal disease.

Following the Mexican Revolution, the eugenics movement gained prominence in Mexico. Seeking to change the genetic make-up of the country's population, proponents of eugenics in Mexico focused primarily on rebuilding the population, creating healthy citizens, and ameliorating the effects of perceived social ills such as alcoholism, prostitution, and venereal diseases. Mexican eugenics, at its height in the 1930s, influenced the state's health, education, and welfare policies.

<i>Sexual Education of the Young Woman</i> 1923 book by David H. Keller

Sexual Education of the Young Woman is an educational book, published in 1923 and written by a psychiatrist and author David H. Keller. The book provides sexual education guidelines for the girls above the age of six years old. The guidelines concern biological knowledge about the female and male bodies, discussed in the context of prevailing moral and social norms. The book is intended to be read by the young girl herself or conveyed by her parents. As such, it is not only a source of knowledge but also a parenting tool. Sexual Education of the Young Woman contains 13 chapters, each dealing with a different topic of sexual education. It has clear views on the issues of morality and social norms- women are depicted as fundamentally different from men. The author suggests that the life purpose of a woman is giving birth and raising children as well as assuring a cozy and relaxing life for her husband. However, Dr. Keller stresses the importance of proper general and sexual education, and the influence it has on the happiness of a future mother and wife. Sexual Education of the Young Woman is a part of a 10 volume collection The Sexual Education Series released in 1928.

Alma Sundquist Swedish physician and gynaecologist

Alma Maria Katarina Sundquist (1872–1940) was a Swedish physician and a pioneering female specialist in the treatment of venereal diseases. A committed women's rights activist, she campaigned for better working conditions for women, addressed problems associated with unhygienic homes and prostitution, and promoted the need for sexual education for girls. She fought for women's suffrage, contributing to the inaugural meeting of the Swedish Association for Women's Suffrage (FKPR) in June 1902. Internationally, in 1919 she represented Sweden at the founding of the Medical Women's International Association in New York and attended the First International Congress of Working Women in Washington, D.C. In the early 1930s, on behalf of the League of Nations, she was one of the three contributors to a report on the slave trade in women and children in the countries of Asia.

References

  1. 1 2 Tupper, Kenneth (2013). "Sex, Drugs and the Honour Roll: The Perennial Challenges of Addressing Moral Purity Issues in Schools". Critical Public Health. 24 (2): 115–131. doi:10.1080/09581596.2013.862517.
  2. "Mental Hygiene Law - Admissions Process". omh.ny.gov.
  3. Simmons, Christina (1993). "African Americans and Sexual Victorianism in the Social Hygiene Movement, 1910-40". Journal of the History of Sexuality. 4 (1): 51–75. JSTOR   3704179.
  4. Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society: Hygiene JACQUELINE S. WILKIE.
  5. "The Social Hygiene Movement". American Journal of Public Health. 3 (11): 1154–1157. November 1913. doi:10.2105/AJPH.3.11.1154. PMC   1089720 . PMID   18008942.
  6. Khwaja, Barbara (26 May 2017). "Health Reform in Revolutionary Russia". Socialist Health Association. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  7. Anderson, William B. (September 2017). "The great war against venereal disease: How the government used PR to wage an anti-vice campaign". Public Relations Review. 43 (3): 507–516. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.03.003.
  8. American Social Health Association Records, 1905-2005. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN: https://www.lib.umn.edu/swha (https://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/programs/health-nutrition/american-social-hygiene-association-history-and-a-forecast/)
  9. Luker, Kristin (1998). "Sex, Social Hygiene, and the State: The Double-Edged Sword of Social Reform". Theory and Society. 27 (5): 601–634. doi:10.1023/A:1006875928287. JSTOR   657941.
  10. "Family Planning NSW: News: Announcements: 80 years of Family Planning". Archived from the original on January 6, 2009.
  11. Sharma, Alankaar (1 July 2009). "Diseased Race, Racialized Disease: The Story of the Negro Project of American Social Hygiene Association Against the Backdrop of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment". Journal of African American Studies. 14 (2): 247–262. doi:10.1007/s12111-009-9099-0.
  12. Meyer, Adolf (July 1918). "The Mental Hygiene Movement". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 8 (7): 632–634. PMC   1585211 . PMID   20311133.
  13. "Definition of SOCIAL HYGIENE". www.merriam-webster.com.
  14. "Medical Definition of MENTAL HYGIENE". www.merriam-webster.com.