Typos p. 57: mongamic [= monogamic]
The martyrdom of man
Anthony M. Ludovici
The International Journal of Sexology 2, 194849, pp. 5658
- p. 56 -
In both Dr. Pillay's and Dr. Wallace's comments on my article bearing the above title in your issue of August 1947, there is the same tendency to assume that, in sex, what is good for the gander must also be good for the goose. This assumption pervades most modern thought, whether on social or sex psychology, and is based not only on a disregard of the fundamental differences between the sexual cycles of man and woman, but, in the case of Drs. Pillay and Wallace, on a failure to grasp what I was at pains to make unmistakably clear.
There is little to be said for assimilating the female to the male at all, whether in the social or sexual sphere. But, in the latter, it seems more than ever ill-judged, because it is precisely here that the differences are most marked and unquestionable.
Dr. Pillay betrays his bias in favour of overlooking these differences when, at the end of his comments (p. 2 of your issue of Aug. 1947), he suggests that "a more apt title for Mr. Ludovici's article" would have been "Martyrdom of Man and Woman." Truth to tell, I could never, on the thesis of my article, have written anything capable of bearing such a title. It was because the difference between the sexes in the need of an adequate stimulus for the completion of the normal sex cycle of each, appeared to me to be obvious and to involve a hardship for the male in our Western marriages, that I gave my article the title it bore. Let this dispose of the comments of Dr. Pillay; for, in replying to Dr. Wallace, I hope to leave the former in no doubt about my reasons for disagreeing with him.
Dr. Wallace opens by charging me with presenting a "one-sided statement." He then adds, "It is generally agreed that mutually satisfying physical relations are essential to the happiness of both partners in marriage." But I did not base my argument on marriage happiness. I had something much more serious in mind. This was the impossibility of the male's being able to function sexually at all when once the essential stimulus for his so doing ceases to be adequate. I pointed out that the moment this state was reached he was condemned to total or partial impotence, together with all the psycho-physical damage this might inflict on one normally equipped.
Where then could the exact parallel be found for the female?
In order to sustain his Feminist claim of equality for gander and goose, even in sex, Dr. Wallace, as a trained scientist, might have been expected at least to try to prove that, to both the female and the male, the sexual embrace bears the same importance. To cap my argument, he might have tried to show that, without the adequate stimulus, woman also was unable to complete her sexual cycle; therefore, that with woman an adequate stimulus was as important as with man.
Did he avoid this line of attack because no such demonstration is possible ? Did he perhaps appreciate, after all, that in woman the sexual embrace and the orgasm amount to little more than a sparking-plug episode in her cycle, which is infinitesimal in importance compared with what follows?
At all events, in his cogitations on the subject, he can hardly have failed to perceive that, for man, this sparking-plug episode happens to be the whole thing, that it begins and completes his sexual cycle in one operation.
The very fact that the female's whole sexual cycle may be successfully started by an act of rape, and reach its normal termination in parturition and lactation, although the male involved may be repellent to her, indicates the immense difference between the importance of coitus and the stimulus on which, in the male, it depends, to the male's and female's sexual cycles. In the one it is the whole cycle, in the other but a relatively small part. Can the part be as great as the whole?
On this ground alone, apart from any other considerations, we might infer a priori that the kind of woman to whom coitus is as important as it is to man, would be to that extent aberrant and masculinoid.
Nor, indeed, has this fact passed unnoticed. For, two prominent sexologists call attention to it.
In his Mothers (Vol. I p. 143) Dr. Briffault observes that "extreme sexuality in the female . . . is undoubtedly a transferred male character." This is confirmed by Dr. Maranon, who, in his Evolution of Sex (pp. 7679) shows how the Messalina type always reveals "morphological and physical intermediateness." Later he says (p. 334) that "the viriloid tendency in the woman coincides with a strong aptitude for the orgasm," and he points to "the frequency of viriloid characteristics in prostitutes." Indeed, Maranon goes so far as to declare that in the normal woman "the orgasm is a superfluous act."
Probably for these reasons Prof. Erwin Stransky is able to speak of the "fundamentally deeper mongamic tendency of woman's temperament," and of "the greater persistence in woman of sexual attachment to a particular partner." (Halban & Seitz: Biologie Und Pathologie Des Weibes, Vol. V. 3, pp. 1824). The implication being that, if the effectiveness of the stimulus were of similar importance to woman's sexual cycle as to man's, she would display neither this superior adaptability in monogamy nor the greater tolerance of the same partner over a long period.
Two thoughtful women writers on the sex question also come to this conclusion. Mrs. Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale, for instance, in Women in Transition, argues cogently against any change of sexual partners for women, and claims that both their happiness and well-being are better served by keeping to one man. "I incline to the view," she says, "that difference [from the male] is fundamental." (Sex in Civilization, pp. 7980).
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, on the other hand, confirms my standpoint by implication when she declares: "Most needed is an understanding by woman of the overwhelming importance of their own sex, in its wide and prolonged activities [i.e., family bearing and rearing] . . . in place of our ridiculous preoccupation with sex from the male point of view, where all attention is concentrated on the power and pleasure of sex union." (Ibid, p. 123.)
This is extremely sane and bears out what I am claiming about the aberrance (masculinity) of the female who would hold coitus as of equal importance for her as for the male.
Besides, there is also the evidence from the quarter of the sexual embrace itself. Do men and women contribute equally to it? Does it make the same demands on each? If it were equally important to each in their sex cycles, the demand on each might be expected to be equal. How is it then that women can, with much less fatigue than men, endure a large number of consecutive orgasms?
I do not habitually favour references to Havelock Ellis as I have often found him wrong. But it will be remembered that in his Studies in Sex Psychology (Vol. III, p. 247 et seq.) he dwells on the smaller contribution women make to the orgasm and, therefore, on the fact that "the threshold of excess is passed very much sooner by the man than by the woman." Is this an indication of the equality in importance of the coitus to woman and to man?
There is, moreover, the fact of women's proverbial inability to understand the male's tendency to impotence when restricted for long to the same stimulus. I called attention to this in my article and gave an arresting example of it. If the average female felt as man feels towards an oft-repeated sexual stimulus, could she show the complete lack of understanding of his condition after years of marriage, which women everywhere show?
On these grounds, all too hurriedly explored here, but capable of much elaboration and greater documentation, I claim that there is no equality between man and woman in regard to the part played by coitus in their respective sexual cycles, and am surprised that what should be obvious to the point of platitude, should have required defending at all. Thus, I wholly agree with Dr. Helene Deutsch when she says: "It is of decisive importance in the understanding of this problem of the sexual act to give up the illusion of the equivalence of the sexual act for the two sexes." (The Psychology of Women, Vol II, pp. 7475).
Where then was the "unfairness" with which Dr. Wallace charges me? Such unfairness as has been displayed in this controversy seems to me to he rather on the side of Drs. Pillay and Wallace, who, despite their scientific training, have allowed themselves to become so deeply influenced by Feminist sophistry as to insist on seeing equalities where inequalities are most conspicuous. The attitude is, of course, not new to me and I have described its strange and largely unsuspected causes in Chapter II of my Enemies of Women (The Influence of the Masculine Accent over our Civilization). It might, perhaps open Dr. Wallace's eyes a little if he would glance at the contents of that chapter.
As for the rest of Dr. Wallace's strictures, they are really irrelevant. He appears not to have read the last paragraph of my article. Because of my appreciation of the present difficulty of prescribing the one effective remedy for relative impotence in married men, I there recommend only that "when the day comes for revising our social conventions" the facts stated in my article should be allowed "their full weight in estimating afresh the nature and value of such institutions as monogamic marriage."
One last word to Dr. Wallace. When one emphasizes as I do the minor significance of coitus in the female sexual cycle, it is customary for modern Feminist "scientists" to argue that, in so doing, the sexual and reproductive functions are being confused.
I cannot here give him the benefit of my reply to it. This letter is long enough in all conscience. Let it suffice, therefore, if I call his attention in advance to Dr. Roland Dalbiez, magisterial refutation of those who try to differentiate the sexual from the reproductive function in woman, in that admirable work, La Methode Psychoanalytique et La Doctrine Freudienne (Vol. II, Chap. IV).
As to Dr. LeMon Clark's temperate and careful comments on my article, while I readily concede the points he makes about the attractions of paternity and the means whereby the period of adequate stimulation by a wife may be prolonged, we have as yet, as he justly remarks, not arrived at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty to which my article called attention. But this much I may provisionally acknowledge that I think he is right in claiming that the difficulty can be satisfactorily met, though I cannot support the means of meeting it which he outlines. It would take too long to describe my own solution. I can only hint, therefore, that it turns on the question of affinity and the identity of psycho-physical characters in the parties to the match an identity which today is generally non-existent owing to our random breeding and the extreme differentiation of types it produces. This leads to the production of a wholly atomized population, in which each individual is a pronounced type by himself or herself (a being sui generis) which cannot be satisfactorily matched hence marked disparity, often of every couple in a family line for generations, and its consequences consisting of expedited conflict, division and mutual repulsion, when once the first fire of passion has waned.