Lee- we have covered toilets and plumbing and underwear, Lydia Pinkham's medicinal compound and just about everything to do with hygiene- am not sure we ever touched on women's difficulties however. Er....what type of difficulties did you have in mind? I should say crawling into lifeboats and up sling rope ladders in hobble skirts would qualify!
Actually, this came up out of the urinating discussion...there must have been at least a few of the women in boats who were at "that time of the month" - I was wondering how you took care of such things under the circumstances.
Well, there was a clumsy device, sold by Sears and other retail outlets, which looked like a combination garter belt/thong worn under the clothing which would have "taken care of" one aspect of that time of month. It would have made climbing a bit difficult, but as Shelley said, so too would have hobble skirts and corsets. There was a wide range of alcohol and opiate based nostrums to help through the physical symptoms, marketed at the time under names such as Mrs. Smiths 5-Day, which would probably have been in the bags of at least the first and second class women- so one can imagine that many of the women who were, in the terms of the day, "cursed" were probably slightly buzzed during the course of events. The immigrant women probably dealt with it in the "traditional" way which is a bit too graphic to go into here.
And coping with the physical symptoms- the text of an authentic ad:
THE WONDER OF THE AGE
WOMEN DO NOT SUFFER SO Brown's Cure will cure you. If you have any of these symptoms take this remedy at once and be cured: Nausea and bad taste in the mouth, sore feeling in the lower part of the bowels, an unusual discharge, impared general health, feelings of langour, sharp pain in the region of kidneys, backache, dull pain in small of back, pain in passing water, bearing down feeling, a dragging sensation in the groin, courses irregular, a timid nervous and restless feeling, a dread of some impending evil, wayward and irritable temper, a feeling of fullness, sparks before the eyes, gait unsteady, pain in the womb, swelling in front, pain in the breastbone, pain when courses occur, hysterics, temples and ears throb, sleep short and distorted,impared digestion,headache, trouble with sight or hearing, dizziness, morbid feeling and the blues,palpitation of the heart, nerves weak and sensitive, appetite poor, a craving for unnatural food,spirits depressed, nervous dyspeptic symptoms, a heavy feeling and pain in the back upon exertion, fainting spells, habitual constipation, cold extremeties IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS SEND TO US FOR BROWN'S CURE AND BE CURED AT ONCE. THOUSANDS HAVE BEEN CURED WHO HAVE CONSIDERED THEIR CASES INCURABLE. 6 BOTTLES WILL CURE ANY CASE OF FEMALE WEAKNESS.
The range of ingredients in these "cure alls" was amazing. Some were herbal and likely harmless, others contained laudanum (tincture of opium) or paregoric along with high doses of alcohol.
In 1896. Lizzie Borden refered to this "condition" as "having fleas"- the gentlemen blushed and the subject was changed. I expect there was nothing to be done in a lifeboat except to do what women have done for ages and in all calamities- carry on.
The most unmentionable of unmentionables! Of course there should be no shame regarding this most natural episode that was at the forefront of many a woman's mind under normal circumstance; let alone a disaster.
Sears 1902 offered "The Venus or Sanitary Protector." for 47 cents; which was a rubber contraption (much like the typical belted variety)in which "...readily admits a napkin or any other soft substance like cheesecloth or cotton, and will hold it securely in the proper position." Makes no mention of the effectivness of said product!
Now, some corset advertisements have a tell-tale tab in front, which might have held a napkin, or "serviette" as they might also been called. Safety pins were invented for these purposes I believe (thankfully!). In fact, "safety" and "sanitary" were words most used is describing these articles.
I have seen advertisements for the disposable "Kotex" products beginning 1925 (possibly before?) or so; around the time of "Kleenex". I have heard that the disposable paper products came about during WWI in relation to filters for soldier's gas masks. After the war, this substance was put to...other uses. Before that, cloth items were disposed or washed as discretly as possible.
Also in Sears was a whole page devoted to "syringes"...but I'll let someone else pick up on that one!
I should add, that the next page of the catalogue, after the "Venus", was an array of "belts" for men's hernia problems! So ladies, do not think I am unsympathetic to the trials of womankind!
Time to name names. Contrary to beliefs that Mrs. Baxter was experiencing sea-sickness ... she was actually at that time having ... a "womanly problem". I'll have to dig up where I got it from, but I think it was from Dr Frauenthal's account. He mentioned a few medical situations that arose over the rescue. He didn't mention Mrs. Baxter by name, but one can guess it was her. Now, I'm not sure if he were referring to that time of the month, or at her age - 50, perhaps menopause (did I even spell that right?) was the situation.
What an interesting thread!
Something else to think about...Sometimes, stress can play a big factor in it. It can speed you up or slow you down. Some of the ladies that might not have been "expecting" it, may have gotten it anyway. Some ladies that were suppose to get it...may not have. This may be TMI, but I can only imagine that a least a lady or two may have hoped and prayed that they were "Enciente" when there "visitor" didn't show up (You can only imagine after losing your Husband) Does anyone know if any of the ladies came away Enciente ? Mrs. Astor was already pregnant when she boarded.
Kate Phillips (2nd class) apparently conceived on board. I think so did the Bishops (1st class). There was a thread a few years ago about babies born after the disaster, there weren't too many. Perhaps someone can find the thread or repeat the information?
The day of age back then with out small inserters and minni sanity pads.Have no idea how they cope!
My mother in the yearly 1960's had big belts to hold there sanity pads inside,i can't imagine 50 years yearlier what they used.When women go visiting, how do they transport there sanity pads?They don't have luxury what we have today.
At the risk of contributing "too much information", in earlier years women had often used old bits of rag, though sanitary accoutrements had been introduced by 1912, this advertisement being just a few years later than the Titanic.
Also...you did not leave the house during 'that time' if you could afford not to. One took to the couch, with the swoon bottle, and offered vague excuses about "Madame being indisposed."
One could, and did, roll up and insert rags. One also wore what would one day be called 'panties' and over them layered multi-levels of slips and underskirts to prevent embarrassing bleed-thru.
One had a HUGE selection of patent medicines designed to ease or eliminate the symptoms. Not to be confused with 'regulators,' which were patent medicines that restored one's regular period...ie caused one to miscarry in the early stages by doses of substances like Ergotrate or Tansy.
Which makes me laugh when I see "Country Kitchen" type restaurants that try to give a Quainte Olde Fashionede Feele to the premises by using either vintage trade cards or that ghastly "Advert Pattern" wallpaper...many of the Quainte Olde Productse featured therein are either narcotics meant to knock you out during The Time Of The Curse, or abortifacients. I'm a barrel of laughs in such settings, as I interpret the wallpaper for my always enthraled date.
If I was a lady back then I'd pray to be a lite bleeder or Marry me a rich fella so I didn't have to be up or out and about. Madame is indisposed indeed and doesn't want to be disturbed unless you want a dose of a shrew's tongue.
One REALLY begins to see this topic covered, in almost excruciating, detail, as the 1920s progressed. Adverts showed pretty flapper-types, in form fitting white gauze-over-fabric skirts that ended above the knee. No room for multiple layers of slip, and underskirt. The subtext of that image would have been lost on most men, but not on the women at whom these ads were targeted.
But, what was milady to do in a world of mostly male pharmacists and grocers? Women were reluctant to...more or less...announce in public "I'm having my period" or "I need a dress shield" in front of an entire line of customers, to a male staff member.
Kotex instituted an 'honor box' system, in which a cash box was built into a free-standing display. One dropped some quarters in, took one's Kotex product, and left without having had to talk with anyone at all.
Other companies used the 'silent coupon' method:
but it remained a sales hinderance until self-serve chain stores began killing off neighborhood grocers and old-style pharmacies after about 1927.
Were the pad and the tampon invented before the first World War? Dress silhouettes appear, to me, to be slenderer and slenderer from 1911-12 onward. Perhaps the new, less padded and petticoat styles, made the pad and tampon necessities.
In the depression, my mother and her sisters used rags. I did too in the '60's - my brother's old baby diapers - below the pad during heavy days.