The past shenanigans of this island-city, which upon closer inspection beg little to differ from the present state of social displacement and economic servitude, are charted in low life perspectives by a certain high-falutin opus that failed to obtain syndication in journals of public interest. Gentle(men) readers who come across page 337 of said tome, however, are likely to suffer a dehabilitating round of blues owing to the otherwise duely diligent authors' neglect in explaining the inner workings of a device known as the Dutch pessary, or more crudely, as the 'cap-and-paste.'
Meanwhile, dames who desire a life of greater leisure would insert fruit jellies, pastes and other tarty juices into their chambers to thwart whatever comes their way. There were also other, more hazardous, methods involving sponges and creams laced with formulas potentially fatal to both sperm and spouse. In the 1880s, Dr C. Hasse, a German doctor, invented a cervical cap that women could insert into their womb to save them from the trouble of men who like bare backs or shoot too soon. The diaphragm, and its later upgrades, also became known as the Dutch or Mensinga pessary, as Dr Hasse took credit for his genius under the pseudonym, Wilhelm Mensinga.Comstock Laws of 1873 forbade the dissemination of contraceptive information. As late as the early 1910s, one Dora Sanger was forced to flee the land of the free for promulgating the obscene notion that each woman be "the absolute mistress of her own body." Sanger found her way to Holland, where she became convinced of the superiority of the diaphragm to the suppositories and douches used by her contemporary countrywomen. She then wrote a pamphlet, "Dutch Methods of Birth Control," outlining the numerous means by which the Dutch prevent their nation from overrunning the world. On the Dutch pessary (which it seems was available in a number of sizes), this is what she had to say:
"The pessary Mensinga (price 50 cents) is a simple ring closed by an indiarubber membrane curved like hemisphere... Generally the pessary is moistened with the same liquid which is used as an injection [a fluid, usually highly acidic, which ladies in Sanger's time literally injected with a glass syringe into their vaginas after sex to act against both conception and venereal contagion]; but on the first occasion, and always when the pessary is introduced with difficulty, the genital parts must be moistened with white soap to render them slippery. When a wife is measured for a pessary she should be at her ease, undressed, without her stays, in the stooping or cowering position, and thighs apart... To place the pessary, it is pushed vertically into the longitudinal opening of the vulva."Sanger adds, pointedly:
"The method which we mention for the use of women has great advantage of permitting her to be free from care during the night; and it is also an essential point that the husband need not be consulted in the matter. If these instruments are well placed, the husband cannot perceive their employment by the wife. It is also requisite that the method does not at all annoy the wife; if they produce the slightest pain, it is because they are either ill-chosen or misplaced."
Though she shared much of Sanger's goals, Constance Goh, the subject of the frustrating page 337, thought rather less of the pessary. The founder of Singapore's first family planning clinic in 1949 deemed the 'cap and paste' a "very messy, troublesome, very expensive" contraceptive. But it was still the best available option, as she explained, "It was very difficult to persuade men to use condoms. Most men thought only of their own pleasure. They thought their fun might be spoiled, their health injured."
It's far easier to make love without making babies these days, unless you are a teenager so convinced of the inefficacy of condoms that you prefer the greater power of a pledge. Diaphragms and douches, though, have gone the way of the non-avian dinosaur, save in a growing movement to reduce the footprint of monthly discharges. Of course, all this is moot to ducks that can only shoot a quiverfull of blanks and threaten the maidenhood of small furry mammals. Isn't it time to put to bed the irate vanity that every sperm is sacred and every spill is waste?