1870: Nights-in will “redevelop shrivelled breasts”

Orson Squire Fowler (1809-1887) was an American physician, phrenologist and writer. The son of a New York farmer and preacher, Fowler studied at Amherst College, graduating in 1834 alongside Henry Ward Beecher. While at Amherst, Fowler became interested in phrenology, the pseudo-science of ascertaining character and personality by studying the dimensions of the skull. Few academics took this seriously but Fowler nevertheless made money by giving ‘skull readings’ to his fellow students. After graduating, he opened a phrenological practice in New York City which later became quite profitable.

A prolific writer and lecturer, Fowler was also known for his quirky theories and social reforms. In the 1850s he pioneered the construction of octagon-shaped houses, claiming they were easier to build, more spacious and symmetrical and conducive to “a harmonious environment”.

Fowler was also something of a progressive, arguing against slavery, child labour and corporal punishment. A supporter of the ‘votes for women’ lobby, his views on women were also relatively enlightened. Nevertheless, Fowler was still prone to Victorian naivete about women. Writing in 1870 he told his male readers that slackness in their wives’ breasts could be corrected with a little quality time together:

“Have your wife’s breasts declined since you courted and married her? It is because her womb has declined… and nursing up her love will rebuild both her womb and breasts… Court her up again, as you used to do before marriage. Besides reddening up her now pale cheeks, lightening up her now lagging motion and animating her flagging spirits, you will redevelop her shrivelled breasts! Stay home at nights from your clubrooms, billiard saloons and lodges to read or talk to her… you’ll get well ‘paid’ every time you see her bust. And your infants will be better fed.”

Conversely, Fowler warned that continuing to ignore your wife and neglect her emotional needs will produce “two opposite results”. In other words, the more you go out, the saggier they will become. In addition, Fowler was also a vocal critic of women who read novels.

Source: Orson S. Fowler, Creative and Sexual Science, or Manhood, Womanhood and their Mutual Interrelations, Cincinatti, 1870. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

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