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[Functional anatomy of the male continence mechanism].
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In regard to the injurious effects of Male Continence, which have been anticipated and often predicted…. It is seriously believed by many that nature requires a periodical and somewhat frequent discharge of the seed, and that the retention of it is liable to be injurious.
Even if this were true, it would be no argument against Male Continence, but rather an argument in favor of masturbation; for it is obvious that before marriage men have no lawful method of discharge but masturbation; and after marriage it is as foolish and cruel to expend one's seed on a wife merely for the sake of getting rid of it, as it would be to fire a gun at one's best friend merely for the sake of unloading it…. But it is not true that the seed is an excrement like the urine, that requires periodical and frequent discharge.
Nature has provided other ways of disposing of it. In fact it…is in its best function while retained…. The community has had no trouble from retention of seed; but on the other hand, has nearly exterminated masturbation by the reflex influence of Male Continence. Masturbation is a disreputable branch of the same seed-wasting business that is carried on more decently in ordinary matrimonial intercourse, and is evidently destined to pass away with it. Closely connected with this popular fallacy respecting the seed, is the suggestion of certain medical men that the practice of Male Continence would lead to seminal degeneracy and impotence.
The experience of the community has signally refuted this suggestion in the only effectual way, viz. Another apprehension suggested by medical men has been, that the avoidance of the crisis in sexual intercourse would so increase and prolong the excitement as to induce excesses, which would lead to various nervous diseases…. Noyes then admits that there had been a couple of cases of nervous disorder in the Community, which he attributed to misuse of Male Continence.
As he points out, over-excitement can be as much a problem for women as for men. Significantly, perhaps, the women of the Oneida Community were not enjoined to avoid orgasm. By the time he wrote Male Continence, it is possible he was rethinking this very issue:. To cultivate self-control in respect to the seminal crisis, but neglect it in other sexual indulgences, is evidently Male Continence in a spurious and dangerous form.
Or possibly, just as we have, he discovered that even with perfect control, excess passion from the search for selfish gratification sets off a degree of the same unwelcome shifts in perception and emotional state as ordinary intercourse. In any case, he accurately alludes to the effects of excess dopamine, without knowing anything about modern neurochemistry.
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The Oneida Community experiment had another feature, which made it scandalous in its day. Noyes ultimately concluded that monogamy was idolatrous. Many in the community therefore practiced complex marriage, which was really quite simple: Ultimately, outrage from the general public also directed against the Mormons , combined with Noyes' retirement, brought the Oneida experiment to an end.
Yet even detractors who visited Oneida before its termination acknowledged the apparent wellbeing of its residents. Women enjoyed absolute equality and wore a special type of garb, which, in the days of corsets, was considered hideous: I came away from the Community with increased respect for the religious sentiment which, in however distorted a form, can keep men and women from the degradation which one could expect to result from a life which seems to me so wrong.
I brought away, also, increased respect for the principle of association [community], which will yet secure to the human race, in the good time coming, better things than competition has to give. I saw men and women there whom I felt ready to respect and love. I admire the fidelity with which they maintain the equality of the sexes. It is tempting to view the Oneida experiment as irrelevant, given the widespread availability of artificial birth control.
Yet for those who are tired of the increasing disharmony between the sexes, Oneida's experiment with Male Continence furnishes a bright ray of hope. Still, Noyes only partially cracked the code of controlled sexuality.
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Just as the community owed its success to the discovery of male continence, it owed its downfall to sexual indulgence. Noyes lifted the ban on procreation in , and he and his son sired twelve of the sixty-two children born within the next few years. However, biology evidently triumphed over Noyes' best judgment.
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Noyes laid first claim to the pubescent girls - no doubt on the theory that he had the most experience and control - while younger men were expected to have sex with older women. In the men revolted and accused Noyes of raping several young women.
He fled, and within months the community disbanded. While struggling with his self-imposed celibacy, he conceived the idea that the sexual organs have a social function which is distinct from the propagative function…. Yet, Noyes was also a scientist seeking to share insights gleaned after Oneida's twenty-five year experiment with Male Continence: He also addresses directly the medical challenges to the practice: