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The Spectator on venereal diseases, 1916

A very noticeable example of the changes in attitude brought about by the war

29 October 2016

9:00 AM

29 October 2016

9:00 AM

From ‘Secrecy and disease’, The Spectator, 28 October 1916: The war might have damned us, as Germany planned, but it will end in saving us. Afterwards we shall be a more highly organised nation than we once thought necessary or desirable, and we shall see all things rather differently, but we shall be much stronger. A very noticeable example of the change of heart and outlook is the attitude of people towards this question of venereal diseases. The war has brought us much too closely into contact with real and hard things for us to shrink blushing, as people too often used to do, from a question which concerns the health and safety of the whole nation. The matter, of course, was always too important for the kind of silence that mistook itself for modesty or decency. But false modesty was preferred to honesty. And it is not merely as important now as ever it was to face the facts; it is more important, for the disease has spread and is spreading. Fortunately with the need for plain speaking and strong action comes the will for both. The nation is in the temper to grapple at once with the problem, and to set it among those which have been solved and finally placed beyond the reach of destructive controversy.


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