an escape artist of the imagination


As ahead of her time as she was in some ways, she was very much a Victorian in others—Craddock regarded homosexuality as a perversion and deplored masturbation of any kind, which by her definition included manual and/or lingual stimulation of the genitals. “There is but one lawful finger of love,” she wrote, “the erectile organ of the male.” She discouraged clitoral contact as well, instructing couples that that organ should be “saluted, at most, in passing, and afterwards ignored as far as possible.” Not surprisingly, many of her male clients hit on her. “There are times,” she wearily confided in her case notes, “when I think maleness in men is something diabolical and loathsome.” In other ways, she sounded altogether modern:

Just as long as wives remain, by reason of their wifehood, economically dependent upon their husbands, just as long as they are willing to fill, at one and the same time, the various positions of cook, chambermaid, seamstress, laundress, housekeeper, child’s nurse, governess and concubine, with no salary for their exhausting labors and remuneration beyond their board and clothing—and often not that: Just so long will marriage mean for the average wife sexual slavery and thankless household drudgery.

Craddock’s mother attempted to have her forcibly committed to an asylum on several occasions; worse still, her lecture on the benefits of belly dancing, which had been introduced to America at the Chicago World’s Fair, brought her to the attention of Anthony Comstock of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Constantly harassed by the authorities, Craddock moved frequently, making a precarious living as a secretary while pursuing her research and counseling on the side. She lived in San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago (where she started her Church of Yoga—and where her books were seized and burned after Clarence Darrow negotiated a plea bargain that kept her out of jail). She moved to Washington, DC, where she was arrested and expelled from the city.

more from Arthur Goldwag at Killing The Buddha here.