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Henry Stanton’s 1922 book Sex – Avoided Subjects Discussed in Plain English is intended as a frank (although consevative and moralistic) guide to human sexual behaviour and relationships. It is partly a self-help book, partly an attempt to relay the scientific knowledge of the day in relation to sex and reproduction in a way suitable for popular consumption. It Has 10 Chapters- This is Chapter II: THE TRANSITION FROM CELL TO HUMAN BEING
Henry Stanton was appalled at the shocking lack of information given to young people about sex and reproduction in his time. He felt this was a crime that needed to be fixed and so he wrote this book explaining sex for young and old. Ignorance of basic reproductive processes he felt led to experimentation that then led to sin, crime and prostitution. While this book is definitely not written in what I would call Plain English, contains some very questionable 'facts' about masturbation and menstruation and might seem very moralistic and dogmatic to our current society, he does hold out high ideas for all in affairs of self respect, love and marriage. If nothing else, this is a delightful peek into the thoughts of almost all people our very recent country's

SEX The happiness of all human beings, men and women, depends largely on their rational solution of the sexual problem. Sex and the part it plays in human life cannot be ignored. In the case of animals sex plays a simpler and less complex rôle. It is a purely natural and instinctive function whose underlying purpose is the perpetuation of the species. It is not complicated by the many incidental phenomena which result, in man’s case, from psychologic, economic, moral and religious causes. Climate, social conditions, individual modes of life and work, alcohol, wealth and poverty, and other factors affect sexual activity in human beings. Sexual love, which is practically unknown to the animals, is a special development of the sex urge in the human soul. The deeper purpose of the sex function in human beings, likewise, is procreation, the reproduction of species. The average man, woman and child should know the essential sex facts in order to be able to deal with the sex problems of life. Of late years there has been a greater diffusion of such knowledge. To a large extent, however, children and adolescents are still taught to look on all that pertains to sex as something shameful and immodest, something not to be discussed. Sex is an “Avoided Subject.” This is fundamentally wrong. Sex affects the very root of all human life. Its activities are not obscene, but Nature’s own means to certain legitimate ends. The sex functions, when properly controlled and led into the proper channels, are a most essential and legitimate form of physical self-expression. The veil of secrecy with which they are so often shrouded tends to create an altogether false impression regarding them. This discussion of these “Avoided Subjects,” in “Plain English,” is intended to give the salient facts regarding sex in a direct, straightforward manner, bearing in mind the true purpose of normal sex activities

The Fertilisation and transition from cell to human being

In the functional processes alluded to in the preceding chapter, the male germ-cell and the female germ-cell unite in a practically equal division of substance. We say "practically" because the maternal and the paternal influences are not equally divided in the offspring. One or the other usually predominates.

In this process lies the true secret of heredity. The inherited energies retain their full measure of power, and all their original quality in the growing and dividing chromosomes (the chromosome is one of the segments into which the chromoplasmic filaments of a cell-nucleus break up just before indirect division). On the other hand, the egg-substance of the female germ-cell, which is assimilated by the chromosomes, and which is turned into their substance by the process of organic chemistry, loses its specific plastic vital energy completely. It is in the same way that food eaten by the adult has absolutely no effect on his qualitative organic structure. We may eat ever so many beef-steaks without acquiring any of the characteristics of an ox. And the germ-cell may devour any amount of egg-protoplasma without losing its original paternal energy. As a rule a baby inherits as many qualities from its mother as from its father.

Determination of sex

Sex is determined after conception has taken place. At an early stage as certain cells are set apart. These, later, form the sex glands. Modern research claims to have discovered the secret of absolutely determining sex in the human embryo, but even if these claims are valid they have not as yet met with any general application.


Some twelve days after conception, the female ovule or egg, which has been impregnated by the male spermatazoön, escapes from the ovary where it was impregnated, and entering a tube (Fallopian) gradually descends by means of it into the cavity of the womb or uterus. Here the little germ begins to mature in order to develop into an exact counterpart of its parents. In the human being the womb has only a single cavity, and usually develops but a single embryo.


Sometimes two ovules are matured at the same time. If fecundated, two embryos instead of one will develop, producing twins. Triplets and quadruplets, the results of the maturing of three or four ovules at the same time, occur more rarely.


The development of the human in the womb is known as gestation or pregnancy. The process is one of continued cell division and growth, and while it goes on the ovule sticks to the inner wall of the womb. There it is soon enveloped by a mucous membrane, which grows around it and incloses it.


We often find babies who offer a striking resemblance to a paternal grandfather, a maternal aunt or a maternal great-grandmother. This is known as atavism. There are many curious variations with regard to the inheritance of ancestral traits. Some babies show a remarkable resemblance to their fathers in babyhood, others to their mothers. And many qualities of certain individual ancestors appear quite suddenly late in life. Everything may be inherited, from the most delicate shadings of the disposition, the intelligence and the will power, to the least details of hair, nails and bone structure, etc. And the combination of the qualities of one's ancestors in heredity is so manifold and so unequal that it is extremely difficult to arrive at fixed conclusions regarding it. Hereditary traits and tendencies are developed out of the energies of the original conjugated germ-cells throughout life, up to the very day of death. Even aged men often show peculiarities in the evening of their life which may be clearly recognized as inherited, and duplicating others shown by their forbears at the same period of life.

As has already been mentioned every individual inherits, generally speaking, as much from his paternal as from his maternal progenitors. This in spite of the fact that the tiny paternal germ-cell is the only medium of transmission of the paternal qualities, while the mother furnishes the much larger egg-cell, and feeds him throughout the embryonic period.

This Article is based on works of Henry Stanton’s 1922 book Sex – Avoided Subjects Discussed in Plain English and shall be continued based on feedback and some Portions have been edited based on rules of the Site

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