Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/284

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imperfection of their sexual life. By the keenness of the vision directed to this period of woman's genesis, they are blinded to all the years of formative childhood. Perfect function is an expression for perfect organs. Women do not reach the inception of ovarian life with organs in an infantile condition. During the years of childhood structural evolution goes on, and ends in the climax of function. It naturally follows, that during the period of structural development are sown the seeds of ovarian ill-health. For instance: given, a child with no inherited taint, reared as she ought to be, mentally, bodily, and hygienically, and who escapes the accidents incident to growth, and some time, between the years of thirteen and eighteen, she becomes functionally perfect, without trouble and without hazard, be she at the boarding-school, at college, or at home in the whirl of fashion.

As this subject is having a practical bearing upon the usefulness and higher education of young women at what is commonly regarded the critical period of their development, I deem it in the interest of a more perfect understanding of the matter, that it be studied in the light of recent physiology. It is apparent from the above, that instead of confining the critical period of woman's development to the establishment of ovarian function, I believe that the true crisis is confined to the formative years of childhood.

In stating my idea of the genesis of woman sexually, it will be necessary for me to keep in view the usually accepted belief, and to apply reasonable objections, based upon admitted physiological data, to the value assigned to puberty. It is at this period, when young women are entering upon their higher education, that it is claimed they are physically and mentally disabled from pursuing the same studies, in the same manner, and in the same institutions, with young men; and that their time and study must be arranged solely with reference to ovarian function. This is the latest medical opinion upon this question. The answer to this comes from a class of society, from men and women engaged in teaching the sexes, either separately or together. The answer is a flat denial, and has almost a flavor of poetic justice. It is couching the lance in defense of woman against the grave charge of periodicity. It is a matter to be regretted that those who have answered this content themselves with facts which have simply a negative value. It is evident that if ever a generally accepted opinion upon this question is to be reached, it is attainable only by giving a just value, physiologically and hygienically, to the puberic age.

The position of writers upon the diseases of women, on this subject, is unfortunate, and one badly calculated to conserve public health. They comparatively ignore the formative years of childhood, or if referred to at all it is so incidentally that the interest turns upon the year of puberty. Dr. E. J. Tilt, of London, traces the diseases of ovulation to ovaritis, acute, subacute, and chronic. In his chain of