Typos p. 205: emanicipation [= emancipation]
Feminist Replies to My Books
To call by the name of "Replies" the few attempts made by the Feminists to meet my arguments would amount to using a polite euphemism for something which often deserves a cruder expression. For, as I have stated, no "replies," in the sense of invalidations of my claims and contentions, have yet been attempted. I have been subjected to attack and, by some, to personal abuse; but few male or female writers have offered me even serious and courteous opposition. 1
The first of the only four writers to attempt a reasoned and civil reply to my charges against Feminism and to my contributions to the problems of sex, was Mrs. Bertrand Russell with her book Hypatia, published in 1925. In my Future of Woman (1936) I answered her principal arguments and, I believe, disposed of them. So that I shall not return to them now. These matters apart, however, there was little new in her book, and it repeated without fresh evidence, almost all the Feminist pleas which it has been my business to repudiate and expose. She dragged out once more the unfounded grievance about the "masculine repression" of women through the ages; confounded me, as Miss Beatrice Kean Seymour was to do two years later, 2 with the misogynists; displayed the usual benightedness of modern women about the sup-
1 I shall not refer here to newspaper and magazine replies and criticisms. They would take me too far afield.
2 In her novel, THREE WIVES.
Those who know my work will hardly need to have the errors of Mrs. Russell's Hypatia pointed out. Every blow she delivered will be found adequately parried in one or the other of my sexological books, especially The Future of Woman and The Truth About Childbirth. It is only necessary to add that, where Feminists assume from the start, as Mrs. Russell did, that I am prompted by misogyny, they necessarily see in all my contentions, however rational and sound, an effort to denigrate women as such. This initial error, by representing me as a hostile witness in everything I say about women, leads them to resort to any debating point, however trivial or specious, if only they can thereby appear, before an ill-informed public, as presenting a bold and determined front to my purely anti-Feminist attack.
This comment applies also to the late Mr. Austin Harrison's Pandora's Hope 1 a wild and disconnected work. In it the author's advocacy of Feminism à outrance is marked by such strenuous efforts to be epigrammatic and arresting at all costs that, unfortunately, sense is almost wholly subordinated to sound. Just as in a poor poet the exigencies of rhyme often determine the ideas, so here the constant straining
1 Heinemann, 1925.
A more praiseworthy effort was that of Mr. Ralph de Pomerai who, like Mrs. Bertrand Russell, thought it worth while to write a whole book in order to refute me. 1 In his preface, he says: "In that year  I encountered in the Far East a copy of Mr. Ludovici's Woman: A Vindication, and a perusal of this undeniably clever work on sexual relationships induced me to attempt a refutation of some of his generalisations with which I found myself in almost complete disagreement."
In my Truth About Childbirth, I replied to the gravamen of his criticisms. Suffice it to say, therefore, that, apart from relishing the extreme courtesy with which he dealt with me, and although I always keep an open mind and am ever ready to be convinced against my will (i.e., through my intellect), I cannot say I derived much benefit from Mr. Pomerai's strictures, and saw in his arguments no reason to modify one tenet of my faith or doctrines. He certainly does not strive after effect as Austin Harrison did. But, throughout his book, he makes it only too clear that he cannot rid himself of the Englishmen's profound belief that woman is only "a peculiar kind of man," and this influences his every conclusion.
To look on woman as a being radically different from man, requiring a different sexual life; to regard
1 In his MARRIAGE, PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE (London, 1930).
Not that Mr. de Pomerai is unappreciative! Indeed, he throws flowers where he thinks they are deserved and admits that many of my generalisations are useful and justified. But my principal contribution to the whole subject of sex escapes his notice. He does not even derive help from it and thinks and writes as one not yet outside the phenomena he is examining.
The last of my courteous and serious critics was Mr. R. B. Kerr who, in Our Prophets, 1 devoted one of the six chapters of his book to me and my work. Everything I have written on the sex question since his book appeared, however, provides an abundant reply to his criticisms. He is a Feminist. He still believed in 1932 that the Parliamentary Vote had value and that Female Suffrage was, therefore, worth a fight. He is
1 London, 1932.
In all such matters, and many more besides, he cannot, therefore, see eye to eye with me. On the other hand, no publicist has paid a greater tribute to my achievements, whether as a thinker, a public speaker, or a writer and, although our differences are fundamental, I naturally feel grateful for the effort he has made to understand me.
The first to denigrate my work, without in the least answering my arguments or disputing my facts, was John Langdon-Davies. In his Short History of Women, 1 which appeared after the publication of my Woman: A Vindication, Lysistrata, The Night Hoers and Man: An Indictment, he referred to me as a writer of "impertinent subjective books." His work is an attempt to parry the kind of thrusts made at Feminism in my Woman: A Vindication, and as such would seem to call for a more elaborate reply than I propose to give it here. When, however, it is remembered that the Short History, rather after the fashion of Hypatia, opposes the point of view of anti-Feminists as if it were based on misogyny, and recklessly, therefore, contradicts without weighing carefully the justice of the contradiction, my brief treatment of it will perhaps seem adequate.
The reader who knows my work might agree that it
1 London, 1928.
For a treatise to be subjective it must deal wholly or chiefly with the personal reactions of the writer to the object he is discussing. Can Langdon-Davies have read my books? This is unfortunately something of which a criticised author can never be certain. At least a painter or sculptor knows, when be reads a criticism of his work, that it has been seen. No such assurance is vouchsafed the publicist. The internal evidence of The Short History offers no proof that its author ever read the books he attacks on the contrary, as we shall see!
In any case, to make the sweeping assertion that my treatises on sex, published up to say, 1927 were subjective, was no answer to them. For even if they had been what Langdon-Davies supposed, they still challenged serious criticism. Coleridge has pointed out, for instance, that poets are usually subjective. Does that mean that they never state truths which are susceptible to verification by the investigator? Goethe read the correct evolutionary history of the human skull merely by handling it as Hamlet did generations before him. It was a pure intuition. And what is intuition but a subjective reaction to a phenomenon? So that even had my treatises on Woman and Sex been wholly subjective, the statement that they were so did not dispose of the claims and doctrines they contained.
When Langdon-Davies's own book is examined, however, it becomes evident why he used precisely the term "subjective," to describe the work of his opponent. For his History has numerous assertions and claims which relate to no objective reality whatsoever. There was, then, perhaps at least the justification of sound tactics in his charge. For attack is the best kind of defence.
It would be impossible here to enumerate all the "subjective" statements, which amount to mis-statements of fact and products of "wishful thinking" in his book. Let me take only two from the first few pages.
He says on p. 21, for instance: "The more warfare has been regarded in any society as the highest form of male activity, the more the position of women has been degraded in that society."
This is completely unsupported by the facts, at least of European history. In Athens, for instance, when warfare was not nearly so highly esteemed as a male activity as in Sparta, women were more degraded (in Langdon-Davies' sense) than in the latter City State. In Ancient Rome, as every scholar knows, it was not during the period of the greatest military conquests, but rather during the constructive early period, before
If Langdon-Davies had read my "subjective" work, Woman: A Vindication, he would have found on pp. 290294, the documented proof of this statement. Nor did women's privileges decline until long afterwards. Throughout the Renaissance period, when the prestige of arms still had the priority of all other forms of honour, women all over Western Europe, including above all Italy, attained distinction in medicine, letters and local administration! In England itself, where for centuries the noblest and most coveted calling was the military, women have been increasingly exalted. Had Langdon-Davies read my "subjective" Man: An Indictment, or even Aristotle's Politics, he would have learnt all this. At least he would have acquired some inkling of the necessary connection between the pursuit of arms as a national ideal and the progressive power of women.
Six pages further on, Langdon-Davies, among many nonsensical statements, writes the following: "It was not when women began to desire men's work, but when
Where is the evidence of this alleged fact? Certainly not in the history of Greece prior to the Feminist movement there; and if Langdon-Davies had read Ivo Bruns' Frauenemancipation in Athen, one of the authorities on whom I rely for Greek Feminism, he would have avoided one of the many mistakes that mar his work. There was, as a matter of fact, in ancient Greece no male encroachment on women's work prior to the Feminist movement. Exactly the same applies to the Feminist movement in ancient Rome. When we come to later times also i.e., the French Feminist movement of the 17th century and the English Feminist movement of the 18th and early 19th centuries we find their origin, not among the class of women who worked, but wholly among the idle and well-to-do women of society. It is only in the late 19th century, and in England, that any evidence can be found of a connection between masculine industrialism and Feminism, and even there the root-doctrines of Feminism had already been public property for generations before masculine industrial inroads on women's work began to promote the wider acceptance of the Feminist standpoint.
And it is the author of this so-called "History," in which there is hardly a page that does not contain some statement or alleged fact that can be hotly contested, who thought fit to stigmatise the books I had published up to 1928, concerned as they were with well-documented facts in support of my argument, as "impertinent and subjective!"
The last of the critics who try to dispose of me less by reasoned argument and facts than by misrepresent-
Although she may be the last, however, she is by no means the least interesting, for her perversion of my actual standpoint impressively confirms all that I have alleged above about the female Feminist's hatred of all arguments or facts that are calculated to dissipate the myth of woman's "sacrifice" in childbirth
I have given my reasons why Feminists cling as resolutely as they do to the fable of the inevitability of "pain and agony" in childbirth, even when all conditions are normal. They know the power they have acquired over man by means of it, and treat as a mortal foe anyone who challenges the truth of it.
Now towards a mortal foe, all means are permitted. Hence, perhaps, Doris Langley Moore's tactics when she deals with me. For she is presumably an Englishwoman who, in every moment of her life, except when she confronts one who questions the inevitability of "pain and agony" in childbirth, not only boasts of her fairness, but is really fair. Nor is mere unfairness the limit to which she goes. She not only gives a false impression of what I have said, she also foists upon me statements which, although not authentically mine are conveniently made mine because they are easily refuted and, what is more, appear on the face of them pure nonsense.
I do not ask the reader to accept this in good faith. I invite him to study carefully the three pages devoted to me in the lady's book and to collate them with the two books of mine to which her strictures refer. And if, after this exercise of his critical faculties, he is not
1 London, 1945.
It will be remembered by those who have read my Truth About Childbirth that, with massive and irrefutable documentation, I plead that childbirth, as a function now performed by the average civilised woman, is attended by intolerable pain and often by mutilation, injury, or death, because it is now in most cases abnormal. The principal abnormality about most women's first childbirth, I point out, is that they have their first baby too late in life, i.e., when they are already too stiff in bone and muscle. Secondly, they are, in this country at least, often impaired for normal childbirth, by excessive athleticism. Thirdly as I am not alone to point out, the present mixture of types in our random-bred European populations causes dystocia owing to the frequently marked disparity of the parents. Fourthly, owing to the female's tendency to greed, which leads to over-eating during pregnancy, most babies are born too large and heavy. Fifthly, as a result of most women's indolence during pregnancy (pregnancy being regarded as a form of illness and therefore indicating rest), there is a great prevalence of overcarrying, which again leads to babies which are too heavy and too large. Sixthly, owing to the generally imperfect health of modern women, even before they
All these causes of difficult childbirth I examine with care, and the discussion of each is supported by documentation from authoritative sources. In conclusion, I point out that, when the above adverse conditions are not present, childbirth is both easy and uneventful, and I adduce much evidence to prove that among healthy women in primitive and even in civilised communities, easy childbirth is the rule.
How does Doris Langley Moore write about all this for a public she knows to be uninformed on the subject, and who can safely be acquitted of any knowledge of my Truth About Childbirth?
She says: "Where he [A. M. Ludovici] meets with any evidence which conflicts with his theory (that normal parturition is thoroughly health promoting, joy-giving and psychologically necessary) he tosses it briefly and angrily aside. Thus he disposes of the figures of maternal mortality and invalidism by the suggestion, made without credentials, that they are partly due to previous histories of criminal abortion, although they are irrefutably the lot of most women." Will the reader believe that this is not only a travesty of my thesis, but actually a deliberate perversion of it? Any sensible person reading this paragraph would infer that I lay the blame of "ordinary maternal mortality and invalidism" chiefly on "previous histories of criminal abortion." Because to say "partly" and mention only "previous histories of criminal abortion,"
Now I challenge anyone to read my Truth About Childbirth from cover to cover and to report to me one instance when I speak of "previous histories of criminal abortion" as being even a minor cause of "ordinary maternal mortality and invalidism."
Of course, when I deal with the case against legalised abortion, as I do in the Symposium on that subject, 1 I point out that women who have been aborted are likely to display abnormalities in subsequent childbirth. But I am dealing there, not with the generality of cases of maternal morbidity and invalidism, but only pointing out one of the dangers of induced abortion.
Surely one must be very angry, almost to the point of frenzy, to make such a grave suggestio falsi to the reader, and to base an attack upon it! And yet this is what Doris Langley Moore has undoubtedly done! Of course, it may be, as I imply above, that in making me appear to say what she would have liked me to have said, she facilitates her task in making my contentions appear ridiculous. But this does not excuse, it merely explains her method.
She goes on, "With typical sentimental idealisation he [A. M. L.] throws out nostalgic allusions to a state of nature (which has never existed since written records began) in which labour and delivery are altogether pleasurable. Now this most egregious piece of illusionism has been elaborated by him in a book called The Truth About Childbirth. . . . Ludovici has created an agreeable fantasy of the past (he speaks of 'restoring' the experience of 'pleasantness in child-
1 Published by Alien and Unwin, London, 1925.
I devote exactly 150 pages of my Truth About Childbirth (all of it authoritatively documented) to show how childbirth can be made "more generally normal." So that Doris Langley Moore's "whatever that may mean" is either a deliberate piece of misrepresentation to lead her reader to assume that I used the words quoted quite irresponsibly and thoughtlessly, or else and this is I suspect what happened she may not have troubled to read the book she has tried to denigrate.
As for her comment, "How this undefined aim is to be achieved remains totally obscure," which she makes upon my conclusions to the effect that "the solution is the normalising of a natural function;" in the first place the aim is not undefined on the contrary I go to great pains to define it very precisely; and the means of normalising the function constitutes the burden of the 150 pages already mentioned!
That I am right in this matter any reader can discover for himself by procuring my Truth About Childbirth. But what are we to think of a female Feminist who reports as inaccurately as this on a book whose principal object is to clarify the whole problem of present day maternal invalidism, suffering and mortality? Is it too much to suggest that only very great anger could have driven her to such lengths?
But why be so angry over the most arrant nonsense?
Truth to tell, she has lost her temper because the claims I make about childbirth threaten to despoil both the Feminists and the other sentimental and "vulgar hearts" among the female public of their most cherished illusions. They know how important it is to perpetuate the myth that childbirth, even under the most favourable conditions, is "woman's sacrifice," and anyone who dares at this hour to debunk this myth (although, as I have shown in the body of the book above, sensible women will have nothing to do with it) is deserving of any treatment, however unfair.
One last word. Doris Langley Moore appropriates to herself and her sympathetic readers the title of "genuine realists." Is realism then best served by giving unreal accounts of books that upset our cherished illusions?