So you guys of the male persuasion may just want to skip it.
Apparently, in 1873, having one's period was a sign of weakness. (I actually like the reverse of this---now that I don't have one, I am obviously POWERFUL! Quick, someone! Bring me my cape!) But Mrs. Duffey wants to dispel any and all mythology surrounding "the curse."
In 1873, the rumor was that menstrual flow was to get rid of any "bad blood" (I love this Elton John song!) coursing through the woman's veins. Mrs. Duffey says that this blood is just like any other blood--no better or worse than the rest. She also notes that if the flow is profuse, "the girls must abstain as much as possible from exercise at these periods, avoid all stimulating food and drink, and if practicable lie in a recumbent position a portion of each day while the flow continues." No where does she say "slap on a super plus maxi pad, preferably one with wings," which is how I would have dealt with any 'profuse' flow. As far as stimulating food and drink is concerned--I think most women tolerate their periods only through the use of a well-placed martini. I'm just sayin'.
For the remainder of this chapter (chapter three, if you're counting), Mrs. Duffey seems to be quite pre-occupied with what she calls "Secret Bad Habits." Honestly, I had to read it carefully to figure out to which bad habit she was referring--I was expecting something like taking secret nips from the patent medicine bottle or smoking salvia behind the outhouse. But no, Mrs. Duffey was leaving me in the dark.
Which is where this "Secret Bad Habit" tends to be practiced.
Here's Mrs. Duffey's advice for avoiding a "Secret Bad Habit":
* Monitor who your kids' friends are. "...the acquisition of these habits is often the result of improper associations." (Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the whole reason for a Secret Bad Habit is because you don't have a friend.)
* Don't let your child spend the night with a friend, nor should you let a friend stay over. (This is an old rule. Kids these days have Xboxes and Wiis and PlayStation ten thousands and about two hundred channels on twenty-four hours a day. Today's kids don't need "Pleasantville" when they have "Call of Duty: Black Ops.")
* Talk about it. (Oh, Lawd, Mrs. Duffey...you are treading on some thin ice here.) She suggests that "She must be show how a persistance in secret vice will undermine her health, prostrate her nervous system, weaken her mental powers and degrade her morally." (No where in this entire chapter does Mrs. Duffey suggest that anyone will go blind.)
* And, if all else fails, cure it. Some of the suggestions she makes in this respect are tepid baths (oh, yeah. That'll do it.), a plain diet, disallowing "imaginative" reading material, or applying a caustic. (A chemical that burns? Hmmmm....that's an interesting suggestion. Not sure how that would work, Mrs. Duffey.)
*The last thing Mrs. Duffey suggests to stop a Secret Bad Habit in young ladies is to introduce her to boys. (Okay--let's see what she has up her Victorian sleeve.) She says that "(t)he girl will, from respect for the other sex, conceive a higher idea of womanhood and greater respect for herself." This makes me want to slap Mrs. Duffey, but then I remember--in 1873, all we could ever hope for is to be a wife and mother. In the era of Reconstruction, the real deal was the only deal we could make.