19. But a bride shouldn’t know too much…
A torrent of advice faced young women about getting wed. All fine, but the problem was that the advice had something of a tendency to be contradictory. Walter Gallichan said that women should have at least a theoretical knowledge of what was likely to happen on their wedding night. That sounds like solid advice.
But if the young bride-to-be also peeked into Maurice Bigelow’s 1916 collection of lectures on sex education, she’d read that too much knowledge was positively harmful. In Bigelow’s view a young woman should only be taught that she was the proud owner of a vulva. No further detail was advisable as it “might arouse curiosity that leads to exploration and irritation.”
18. Don’t ask too much of your husband
Some (of the mostly male) writers of marriage advice for women in the Victorian era recognized that there might even be young ladies who actually enjoyed sex. In fact, after her wedding night, Queen Victoria confided to her diary that carnal knowledge with Prince Albert had been a “foretaste of heaven.” Which rather contradicts her somewhat joyless image and the idea that Victorian women were all horrified by sex.