"The Martyrdom of Man"
It is remarkable how imperfectly the sex-psychology of the male is understood in north-western Europe and north America. I do not much like the term "sex psychology", but use it to embrace the whole of the psycho-physical reactions of the male to his internal and external sex-stimuli.
Now, platitudinous as it may seem to state that the male's part in sexual congress is possible only under a sufficient stimulus which ensures tumescence, I submit that both this simple fact and its important implications are consistently overlooked by all those concerned with setting the tone and upholding "law and order" in the nations of north-western Europe (excluding France) and north America.
Although he may know nothing of the psycho-physical mechanism involved, every alert male is more or less aware of the circumstances within and without his person which must combine in order to ensure a satisfying experience of his sexual cycle, from tumescence to the orgasm. Without needing to be told, he knows that whilst some women with whom he is acquainted, or only sees, would be adequate detonators of his sexual explosive material, numbers of others on the other hand, far from being able to serve even as adequate detonators, would act rather as dampers or neutralizers of it. Between these two extremes he is aware also of a half-way group which, although they leave him more or less indifferent, might nevertheless
All these are facts within every alert male's knowledge, and he appreciates that if he is to lead a normal sexual life he is as much committed to a woman who can adequately stimulate him as vegetation is to the rays of the sun.
What he also knows in middle age, but what he neither knows nor is ever told while still adolescent or in his twenties, is that the same stimulus repeatedly applied inevitably and insensibly loses its effect. The speed with which this loss occurs varies widely in different men. In some comparatively rare individuals it is admittedly so low as to be hardly perceptible in a lifetime. But these exceptions apart, the fact that the stimulus necessary to the normal sexual reaction of the male must wane after repeated applications, remains undeniable. Even in the exceptional individuals referred to above an appreciable decline in effectiveness could doubtless be registered if such imponderabilia were amenable to precise measurement.
A further fact revealed to the alert male as he advances in years as a married man (or as a man who has merely lived with the same women for a long time), but which he neither knows nor is ever told in adolescence or in his twenties, is that pari-passu with the weakening of the stimulus supplied by his sexual partner, there will also occur in his own psycho-physical sexual equipment an abatement of vigour which will call, not for a diminished, but for an enhanced stimulus.
So that the mature male, observant of his actions and reactions, learns about his sexual life two facts
I. He learns that the sexual stimulus (the wife or mistress he has chosen) in due course insensibly but surely loses her power adequately to detonate his sexual explosive material, and
II. He learns that as he ages he needs not a diminishing but an increasing stimulus if he is to function with adequate normality as a male in sexual congress.
Thus he arrives at the important but disconcerting conclusion that, given an inadequate stimulus, or reduced to one that has ceased to be effective (although originally selected as such), he, as a perfectly potent individual, may find himself relatively impotent. He knows, however, that, given a fresh adequate stimulus, he will recover his potency and with it normal functioning.
All this amounts to a commonplace. It is no more than a frank description of the average man's sex-psychology.
And yet, if in the interests of accuracy and truth, and before a modern English audience, anybody stated that a perfectly potent man could be impotent vis-à-vis of certain female types, and what is much more important could and usually does in time become impotent even with the woman of his choice, the reaction would be one of astonishment increasing to horror and indignation. And this will apply more especially to the women amongst them, who, without attempting to understand, and, above all, not wishing to understand, would immediately assume that the I speaker's purpose was not to seek the truth, but to
Such an audience, especially the women in it, would not know that the above description of male sex-psychology is tacitly accepted as part of the natural scheme in all countries France and Italy above all where a realistic attitude is maintained towards the fundamental problems of human life. Least of all will they know that more than glimpses of its truth may be gathered from such writers as Stendhal, or the Austrian, Anton Wildgans, and others; though there are certainly no English authors that I know of in the list. I say, "no English authors". There is, however, one exception, if exception it can be called For although Lady Mary Wortley Montagu mentions facts which testify to the truth of my description, she nowhere indicates that she regards them as illustrating a principle. Indeed, she states them without understanding, with evident bewilderment, and with no sign of having learnt anything from them
Writing on Dec. 8th. 1751 about the divorces which to her knowledge, were taking place in Genoa, she says: "The constant pretext is impotency, to which the man often pleads guilty, and though he marries again, and has children by another wife, the plea remains good by saying he was so in regard to the first." 1
This is remarkable evidence in favour of the arguments I am advancing and is adduced quite innocently by a woman who clearly regards the circumstances she relates as aberrant. For her to connect what she witnessed in Genoa with the general sex-psychology of the male everywhere, it would obviously have been neces-
1 THE LETTERS AND WORKS OF LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGUE (London, 1898, Vol. II, p. 224).
People laugh at the French adage: "Faute de mieux on couche avec sa femme", and think it merely an example of Latin cynicism and debauchery. But in the light of a realistic masculine sex-psychology a genuine hardship lies hidden in the words. For, when they come as a cri du coeur, they imply conditions in which the man, having ceased to enjoy an adequate sexual stimulus in his wife, is already approaching relative impotence with her.
Now, Protestant civilisation, especially in the classes where side-slipping is forgiven neither socially nor morally, makes no provision for this state of affairs and indeed refuses to recognize it. As a result, there exists among the respectable whether the clergy, the legal and medical professions, and the employees of all institutions of trust such as banks, insurance offices, Government bureaux etc. an enormous amount of secret and often exasperating misery. For, when it is remembered that, unlike women, men complete their whole sexual cycle with every sexual embrace, and that
The refusal to recognize this gradual drift towards relative impotence in all men dependent for decades on the same sexual stimulus, is not restricted to the conventions of a Protestant civilization. Women as a whole and of what country soever, seem quite incapable of grasping it. Their habitual subjectivity, which renders them unable to imagine the male's attitude towards sex, also prevents their perceiving with any understanding not to mention sympathy the male's ineluctable dependence on an adequate stimulus to the sex function; whilst every emotion rooted in their vanity makes them resist with ferocity the very idea that their effectiveness as their own male's only stimulus could ever decline, no matter how long he has been exposed to it. Least of all will they be inclined to concede the point that as the male ages, a stronger rather than a weaker stimulus becomes necessary to him.
As to the aggregate effect of these regrettable features of marriage or "collage," women will probably continue for all time resolutely blind to it.
A typical example of the average woman's reaction to the discovery that her male partner (husband or lover) has, after decades of intimacy with her, ceased to find her an adequate sexual stimulus, occurs in a
"There is some excuse perhaps if there is ever excuse, for other men to be unfaithful to their wives. But there is no excuse for Warren Harding. Now is there Mr. Means? . . . I am never ill! I have never been ill in my life except when it was brought on by mental worry. That's God's truth! And I have kept myself young and attractive. . . . Our union has been ideal for more than thirty years. There never has been the slightest excuse for Warren Harding to ever look at another woman! Never! Never!" 1
So that, apparently, Mrs. Harding could see no excuse for a husband's infidelity even after thirty years! unless the wife had been always ill or if she had not kept herself young and attractive. No one could have persuaded her that, despite all the advantages she claimed over habitually sick women and women who did not keep themselves young and attractive, she must inevitably, in due course, have become, in the thirty years of their married life, an inadequate sexual stimulus to her husband. The whole of her speech proves her total inability an inability she shares with all her sisters in every clime to understand that even in the best possible circumstances, the average male's sexual mechanisms will not stay the course if he depends on the same sexual detonator over a protracted period.
This is the female's classical response to the male's
1 THE STRANGE DEATH OF PRESIDENT HARDING by Gaston B. Means (New York, 1930, p. 102).
When a man settles down and marries, what he actually does in socio-biological terms, is to provide the mise-en-scène and optimal conditions in which the normal woman may at stated intervals experience the whole of her sexual cycle from conception to the hour of weaning. The "Home" is, in fact, the woman's essential environment for the full expression of her psycho-physical equipment.
In return for the financial and other responsibilities the Home imposes on him, the man procures a degree of comfort and privacy not usually accessible to him outside his own walls, plus and above all the means of normally securing detumescence.
By far the most important aspect of the arrangement as far as his continued health and sanity are concerned, is and remains the means the Home provides of leading a normal sexual life.
It is precisely this "most important aspect of the arrangement," however, which unfortunately for millions of average men in the Protestant civilisation of north-western Europe and North America, usually proves quite illusory at least after a time. The length of time that has to elapse before it proves illusory is, as I have stated, extremely variable. But to argue from the exceptions to whom it does not prove illusory that strict conjugal fidelity is possible for the male without great hardship, would be both romantic and inhuman.
The only rational and merciful attitude in this matter is to face the facts and allow for them. They
There are, however, in our civilisation, several additional difficulties, all of which aggravate rather than alleviate the condition of the man of whom absolute conjugal fidelity is expected for life.
The first most significant one is, that the same Protestant civilisation which enjoins male conjugal fidelity in the respectable and the respected, is essentially a civilisation of large hypertrophied cities. It is, in fact, co extensive with widespread industrialism and commerce, and is characterised by urbanism.
Unfortunately for the institution of matrimony, urban conditions favour the multiplication of schizothymes i.e., a human type notoriously unstable in their sexual adaptations. In plain English, the community fostered by towns and cities tends to throw up a high proportion of men who reach comparatively quickly the state of relative impotence I have been examining.
We have but to think of the image of the Devil as depicted in the popular iconography of Europe for centuries, in order to see before us a typical schizothyme; and it is probably not a mere accident that the figure of his Satanic majesty should have been thus conceived by the popular imagination.
It is probable, therefore, that with increasing urbanism and the multiplication of schizothymes
A further difficulty arises out of the fact that women as a whole prefer the schizothyme before other male types. They like his litheness, resilience and recuperative power. They probably divine instinctively the customary excellence of his endocrine balance, and fancy him as the sire of their offspring. This may well be another reason why Satan, as the proverbial seducer, is generally depicted as of this type. The trouble is they neither know nor are ever told how speedily this type succumbs to restiveness and relative impotence when the stimulus they offer him has been responded to over a period more or less protracted.
The culminating difficulty arising out of the unstable sexual balance of men as a whole and above all of the schizothymes among them, is the considerable change in physical appearance which often overtakes women relatively early in the course of a so-called "happy marriage." The male knows better than anyone else what best stimulates his sexual activity, and chooses his mate accordingly. If, however, within a few years of married life, the sprightly, agile and lissom maiden he deliberately chose becomes, as she too often does, a heavy, adipose and inflexible figure of eight, the motives which first inclined him to her as a desirable sexual partner cease
Whether the wives who become thus transformed are wholly blameless or not i.e., whether by observing disciplines which they gladly adopted as eligible spinsters in order to remain attractive, they would delay or permanently postpone the untoward changes which so frequently disguise them after marriage it is not for me to say, nor is it to the point. All that concerns me here is to record the fact that these untoward changes do occur in a very large proportion or contented married women and that they must contribute to the general body of factors which ultimately induce relative impotence in their males.
Thus a vicious circle is formed. There is the convention enjoining conjugal fidelity on all respectable males who are the backbone of every Protestant civilisation. There is the fact of the dependence of male sexual potency on an adequate sexual stimulus. There is also the fact that the same stimulus repeatedly
There is at present no way out of the vicious circle formed by the aggregate effect of all these factors, except through the misery of millions of males in the respectable and respected classes (who incidentally forfeit much of their sanity as their misery increases), and the wreckage of marriages (and incidentally of lives) in the classes given to profligate excesses of naughtiness.
But the injustice done to the majority of the martyrs in the former class, consists not merely in condemning them, after twenty years of marriage to a life of quite inadequate sexual expression, but also in allowing them no credit whatsoever for the misery they undergo in the cause of "decency" and "propriety."
On the contrary! So benighted, so ignorant of the true facts, have the Feminists been and still remain, that they have tried to indoctrinate an ill-informed public with the belief that the Home is a setting chiefly contrived for the convenience and benefit of man! Obsessed by their phobia of every aspect of the reproductive life of the female, they actually failed to see
Delirium could hardly have gone further. But when we are concerned with the distillations of an infantile mental trauma as rank as that which produces the castration complex (penis envy), there is no telling to what monstrous distortions of the plainest facts it will resort.
In the light of the all too brief analysis given above, it is hard to imagine anything more insensate than the Feminist programme and policy, and it is a sad reflection on the intelligence and critical faculty of modern men and women that millions of English and American people should have been completely taken in by them. Even if there were no other reasons for trembling at the thought of democratic government, the spread of Feminism during the last century and the light it sheds on the value of "public opinion" in all democratic countries, would surely suffice to provoke alarm.
This, however, by the way. What is important, especially in connection with the discussion in Chapter III ante, to which this appendix refers, is to bear in mind the essential facts of masculine sex-psychology as outlined above, and, when the day comes for revising our social conventions, to allow