The frightening ways Victorians dealt with "the solitary vice"
Most of women's health issues, it was believed, could be traced back to childhood masturbation.
I've written many articles based on Victorian/Edwardian advice books. There was advice for everything, from how to improve your breast size to keeping your man faithful, all written with earnest authority by "experts" of the day. In these old books, I noticed that one subject appeared over and over, usually shrouded with dire euphemisms: The Solitary Vice. Self Abuse. The Vicious Habit.
In other words: Masturbation.
Past generations were absolutely terrified by masturbation, and regarded it among the vilest of sexual practices. Some considered it more of an offense, as we will see, than child molestation. Health experts of the day demanded it be curbed, especially in children, often by any means necessary. That is why, unlike the other articles in my Advice series, a retrospective on masturbation cannot be funny. It can only be heartbreaking.
Reasons to fear masturbation
Nearly all writers of these anti-masturbation screeds referred to the state of the soul, and how masturbation slowly shreds it, defiling God-given organs of regeneration by using them for selfish gratification. The sinfulness of masturbation can still be debated, but the medical and psychological maladies these writers claimed resulted from the practice have mostly been disproved.
Joseph William Howe, who wrote Excessive Venery, Masturbation and Continence in 1884, gave bizarrely specific details as to the physical affects masturbation had on a woman's genitalia, believing that the practice deformed the organs. He wrote, for example, "I have seen cases in the hospital where [the labia minora] resembled the ear of a small spaniel."
According to Mary Ries Melendy, author of 1903's Perfect Womanhood for Maidens—Wives
For the rest of the story: http://theweek.com/article/index/254612/masturbation-was-once-considered-more-offensive-than-child-abuse