Sex Without Fear

Sex without fear coverSex Without Fear
Lewin and Gilmore

Submitter: I found this book at an estate sale – it was first printed in 1950 and, seven years after that, was on its thirteenth printing…! The pictures really speak for themselves – words fail.

Holly: This was probably a reasonable library choice in 1950. It’s a museum piece now. Interesting from a cultural history point of view, but definitely not good information. What a great estate sale find, though! Libraries owning this – and there are a few – should follow that example and sell this in their book sale. Some collector out there will be glad to have it. You have simply got to read some of the passages below!

Sex without fear dedication

sex without fear - bible verse

sex without fear contents

sex without fear contents

list of illustrations

list of illustrations


the art of intercourse

sex desire and frigidity


  1. I’m not surprised it went through 13 printings. Sex advice wasn’t easy to come by back then, and this looks like fairly decent advice (it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s better than some abstinence-only courses). I’m particularly impressed by its statement men and women have a comparable need for sex since a lot of people don’t buy that even today.
    Obviously dated but I suspect impressive in its day.

  2. This doesn’t seem so awful to me. Some young adults in the time it was written may not have had these conversations with peers or parents. I’m honestly impressed with how thorough and frank this book is for its age, and surprisingly accurate for its time (dispelling the douching myth, for example).

    I’ve seen Christian books written recently attempting to cover the same ground that do it much more poorly, and less directly. Hooray for this book!

  3. Well, actually, it’s not THAT bad. The TL;DR version of the first one is “the sex impulse in men and women is about equal”, and the third one tells readers that they’ll have to work together to figure out how to have satisfying intercourse. That’s some good, useful information that you would never pick up from watching movies or reading fiction or even listening to most people.
    The “feminine daintiness” page is pretty egregious, unless there is a corresponding page about the maintenance of masculine charms…
    Of course we have more STDs to worry about now, and I’m sure the contraception info is terrifying!

  4. Now I’m wondering if the “dangers of abortion” bit is better researched than the malarkey the pro-lifers throw around nowadays.

    1. I suspect they were referring to “the back alley” abortions rather than the clinical ones.

  5. That’s kind of sweet actually! You’re right, not in the least appropriate for a modern library. But sweet. 🙂

  6. We had SO many copies of this donated to our library! I suppose it was quite a nice idea at the time to give newlyweds a “What is The Sex, and how do I do it?” kind of book, but yeah, some of the information and terms (“frigidity” jumps out at me) are terribly antiquated.

  7. The one really outdated statement is that the Victorians didn’t recognize female sexual desire. Well, it’s true and it isn’t true. Since the era of this book, modern historians have uncovered and reinterpreted about how Victorian doctors medicalized orgasm and used it as a medical treatment for women instead of framing it as part of the sexual relationship. Lots of sources exist if you want to read more. Try a search on (without quotes) {victorian hysteria sex doctors}. This long repressed part of history is getting so mainstream that there’s a popular film about it, “Hysteria”.

  8. Those excerpts are rather progressive for the book’s time. It’s certainly outdated in other respects, but I bet it was a very helpful guide for many.

  9. This book is actually pretty good. How many books out there have a chapter on “ulterosalpingograms”, whatever that is? Good thing we have the internet now so that I can look it up.

  10. What a gem! My grandmother owns a lot of books from the fifties and sixties. I could totally see her giving her own battered and well-read copy of this book to one of the young ladies in our family on their wedding day, and telling them: “Trust me, sweetie: This book’ll save you more than once! I’d swear by it!” Even if it’s outdated, it seems like it was an amazing reference at the time it was written. It seems like it’d be a great read today simply for the historical factor!

    1. I feel like I should clarify–my grandmother doesn’t actually own a copy of this! At least, not to my knowledge she doesn’t. But it’s very much like the things she DOES own!

  11. It seems quite open for it’s time – especially the thinking first of your partner and try to attain whatever way will satisfy and give your mate happiness
    There are probably millions of would be lovers that could use this advice

  12. My minister gave this very same book to us on the eve of our wedding in 1970!!! In a plain brown wrapper LOL! I was so embarassed — I could tell what sort of book it was from the title — that I was speechless. I wonder if it is still kicking around somewhere — maybe I could get some $ for it.

  13. What a great book! The douching myth is still widespread, unfortunately.

    I’m a little disappointed we don’t get to see the chapter on aphrodisiacs.

    1. Make me an offer and a copy could become your very own! Assuming I can find it…but I don’t think I have any other books in brown paper wrappers, should be easy to spot.

  14. Also a fascinating comparison with “Plain Talk About Sex For Christian Young People”: Same era, but that one is completely preachy, judgmental, and reactionary, while this one is informative and non-judgmental.

  15. To the blog owners: I think the Comments are messed up? The last one posted above arrived in my mailbox with the title “100 Tasty Ways to Please Your Family.” Several others on not-that-entry have also been posted with that title. Confusing.

      1. I got a correct one today for Strangers in a Strange Land, so maybe it is fixed now? At 10 PM last night I got another erroneous one for 100 Tasty Ways.

  16. I agree with everyone else that I was actually pleasantly surprised about this. Some rigid ideas of female attractiveness aside, it’s refreshingly frank for its time.

    I do dig the unintentionally-sexually-charged picture of the two women at the top, though. 😉

  17. I laughed at the line “A recent popular song, Irving Berlin’s ‘The Girl that I Marry’…” That song is from Annie Get Your Gun, which premiered in 1946. Recent for the book, certainly, but it probably totally unknown to the current generation of students (or maybe even their parents).

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