‘The Man Who Hates Women’ Is About The Women He Mostly Hates


Despite Sohn’s generous attention to Craddock’s life and work, the “vibrant, attractive sex teacher” remains somewhat of a mystery. Technically single, Craddock features himself on his business card as “Mrs. Ida C. Craddock”; She claimed that her deep knowledge of sexual techniques came from sex with her secret husband, a ghost named Soph. Aside from his candid portrayals of spiritualism and sexuality, Craddock’s views on relationships between men and women were almost fanatically traditional. Vaginal orgasms were helpful because they helped make babies; Most divorces were due to wives who were unable to satisfy their husbands.

Sohn is often cautious about the problematic qualities of role models today; it doesn’t try to hide them, but it doesn’t offer much through in-depth insight either. Woodhull, who is proud to be a multi-lover and known as a “varietyist” rather than a monogamous person, lashed out at his suffragist rivals by threatening to publish their sexual histories if they did not pay women. When he ran for president in 1872, Frederick Douglass was chosen as his second vice president, but as Sohn wrote, “Douglass was never consulted.”

As for Comstock, she became such a hated figure that a homeopathic doctor named Sara Chase advertised a feminine hygiene product she called the “Comstock Syringe.” The regiment was not limited to the women it targeted, either; He was increasingly portrayed in the press as ridiculous and completely out of touch. (Under a cartoon of an old Comstock dragging a woman before the judge’s bench, the caption reads: “Your Honor, this woman gave birth to a naked child!”) Art historian Amy Werbel has published a solid book. Academic book about Comstock In 2018; Somewhat surprisingly, Sohn does not mention this anywhere, thus depriving “The Man Who Hate Women” from certain (and memorable) anecdotes such as Comstock, that someone mailed him smallpox scabs.

Some of the most complex complications fall into the epilogue, where Sohn offers capsule summaries of what happened to his role models after their encounter with Comstock. Woodhull, for example, moved to England and “rewrote his past”, praising the benefits of monogamy and “denying that he was a free lover”. Sanger endorsed the forced sterilization of institutionalized people, which Sohn calls “an appalling position that still has mainstream support.”

Sohn is right, but in her determination to turn Sanger into a hero for our time, she ends a kind of girl-boss feminism by unapologetically endorsing chatter and individualism: “A woman’s ultimate mission is the state, as she believes it to the end,” Sohn writes. “It happened to him.”


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