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Ida Craddock took her own life in October 1902, rather than face the 5-year federal prison term she seemed certain to receive following her conviction for distributing this work through the U.S. Mail. It is a short (24-page) pamphlet addressed to young women and men about to embark on a sexual relationship and an honest and frank effort to alleviate the ignorance which both sexes often brought to the marriage union. Craddock's discussion of the "sexual act" stressed that empathy and consideration for one's partner were the vital elements for an enduring marriage. Craddock neither shrank from the description of genital anatomy nor from giving prescriptions for men's proper role in giving sexual pleasure to the female. These things put her advice and her attitudes beyond the realm of what could be safely published in America at that time.
Craddock's advice for men included the following:
A woman’s orgasm is as important for her health as a man’s is for his. And the bridegroom who hastens through the act without giving the bride the necessary half-hour or hour to come to her own climax, is not only acting selfishly; he is also sowing the seeds of future ill-health and permanent invalidism in his wife.
And her counsel for women:
Also, to the bride, I would say: Bear in mind that it is part of your wifely duty to perform pelvic movements during the embrace, riding your husband’s organ gently, and, at times, passionately, with various movements, up and down, sideways, and with a semi-rotary movement, resembling the movement of the thread of a screw upon a screw. These movements will add very greatly to your own passion and your own pleasure, but they should not be dwelt on in thought for this purpose.
Ultimately for Craddock, however, it was in the union of man, woman, and Divine Spirit, that highest fulfillment was achieved, and the close of her little treatise includes a discussion of yoga, Christian holiness, controlled orgasm, and "the most perfect communion with the Spirit of God which is known to us earthly beings."
The persecution of Ida Craddock and the legal censoring of her teachings were spearheaded by Anthony Comstock of the League for the Suppression of Vice, even though she never advocated anything more than the monogamous intercourse of heterosexual couples within marriage. She quite consciously and purposefully violated the taboos that restricted women's lives and diminished their opportunities by speaking plainly and eloquently on subjects of intimate importance. She paid a heavy price for attempting to shed light and knowledge where ignorance and prejudice prevailed, and this little-known pamphlet is a monument to her dedication, generosity, perseverance.
American Studies | Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling
Craddock, Ida C. and Royster, Paul , editor, "The Wedding Night" (1902). Zea E-Books in American Studies. 14.