Typos p. 150: revelant [= relevant]; p. 151: Cornfords' [= Cornford's]; p. 152: Weives [= Weibes]; p. 152: upto [= up to]; p. 152: augument's [= argument's]; p. 152: " are products" [= "are products"]; p. 154: unfavourble [= unfavourable]; p. 155: psychogoly [= psychology]; p. 156: fiancè [= fiancé]; p. 156: pre cent [= per cent]; p. 157: matrimonal [= matrimonial]; p. 158: transvesitsm [= transvestism]; p. 158: meme [= même]; p. 158: respetcs [= respects]; p. 158: tno [= not]
Sexual behaviour in the human female *
A critical study
Anthony M. Ludovici
The International Journal of Sexology 7, 195354, pp. 150158
- p. 150 -
First, that it is possible to investigate the human female's sexual behaviour, i.e., her behaviour up to and not beyond the attainment of the orgasm, or, the stage in her reproductive cycle when the first climax may be reached (the fact that it is not always reached is irrelevant here) as if it could be studied, as the male's can, independently of and uninfluenced by the reproductive sequelae peculiar to her full cycle; and
Secondly, that the 5940 females constituting the material on which the findings of the treatise are based, constituted a sufficiently standard group to warrant the author's designating these findings as presenting a picture of the "Human Female" and her Sexual Behaviour.
Since both these assumptions may be hotly contested and since, at best, the first is the outcome of a purely modern convention owing its prevalence chiefly to the many attempts made within roughly the last hundred and fifty years in Europe, to assimilate the female to the male, the reader who may not happen to agree with them can hardly settle down to a patient study of this work without a certain bonne volonté, a provisionally conciliatory mood which will enable him, for the sake of the argument, to overlook the heretical nature of the principles with which the authors set out.
This is not to say that such a reader will necessarily fail to be deeply interested or richly rewarded for his pains by the enormous amount of information the book contains. But, no matter how abundantly his study of it may extend his knowledge and grasp of the customs, temper and conditions of his Age, if, like the present writer, he dissents from the two major assumptions which its title implies, he is likely to feel compelled constantly to deplore the fact that so much labour, learning, time and treasure should have been devoted to a production which both as to its data and doctrine, is so fatally dated, so clearly limited to a brief moment in the modern history of one section of a nation belonging to our Christian civilization, so merely locally revelant, and therefore so incapable of long surviving its birth, except as a historical document.
It would be not only unkind but also unfair to compare the treatise to the proverbial sledge-hammer used to swat a fly but in view of its scholarship, painstaking research, exhaustive detail and scrupulously honest presentation not to mention its impressive and faultless production the temporary, almost parochial validity of its findings can hardly help to surest some such unflattering simile to the more impatient and critical of its readers.
After pronouncing this elaborate caveat regarding their book, it may be only proper to apprise the authors of the fact that, although I write as a layman, I am not unsupported by experts of their faculty, who contest at least the first implicit assumption in their title. For Dr. Roland Dalbiez to mention him alone, in his admirable work, Le Méthode Psychoanalytique et la Doctrine Freudienne (Paris 1936, vol. II, Chap. IV), refutes in the most magisterial manner the claims of those who would differentiate the sexual and the reproductive functions in woman, and treat them as if they could be separately studied. But, at all events to state as the authors frequently do, that any such differentiation and separation is not merely scientifically sound but actually the only sound method of approach to their subject, is surely an exorbitant claim, and it carries the less conviction in their prepent treatise seeing that it is supported by no arguments or data comparable in cogency with, for instance. Dalbiez's counter-claim.
Again, in regard to the sample of the female population on which the authors based their findings no one acquainted with the more seamy side la partie honteuse of our Christian civilization, and of the present condition of the various peoples who are supposed to "enjoy" its advantages, could fail to feel considerable misgivings regarding the ultimate value of the
*By A. C. Kinsey and others. Philadelphia and London: W. B. Saunders.
The deplorable state of the average man and woman all over the Christian world is surely a modern commonplace. Nobody who reads the medical journals of America and Europe, who keeps his eyes open, and who follows the reports of the various national health services can fail to harbour the gravest apprehensions regarding the future of Christian mankind everywhere.
If, as long ago as 1918 in England, only one third of the 2,500,000 men of military age "who were considered to be a fair sample of the manhood of the country" could be regarded as healthy (B. M. J. 7929); if according to a more recent estimate, given in John Cornford's book, significantly entitled Health the Unknown (London, 1947, p. 67), the percentage of "really healthy people" to-day is as low as 10; if, in the five years of its existence, the National Health Service is able to report that the chemists under its authority dispensed 1,062,000,000 prescriptions in England and "Wales alone, the oculists supplied 27,000,000 pairs of glasses, the otologists 305,000 deaf-aids and the dentists treated 43,000,000 cases and supplied 10,500,000 dentures (Daily Mail, 6753); if in 1951, 37,499 children needed treatment for squint compared with 31,189 in 1941; if a sharp increase in the number of newly registered blind, between 1948 and 1951, is revealed in a Ministry of Health report published on October 27th, 1963 an increase which has been continuous since 1919 (Lancet, 13553 and Daily Mail 71053); and if Dr. J. A. Fraser Roberts feels entitled to state that "in a country like our own at the present time . . . the proportion of blindness and ocular disease due to genetic causes is very high indeed" (B. M. J. 26152); if deafness among young children is increasing; (Daily Mail, 101252) and Dr. J. A. Crowden was already able in 1935 to claim that the number of deaf people, partially deaf and hard of hearing, amounted to 2,540,000 (B. M. J. 25835); if tonsil operation upon children rose from 69,449 in 1949 to 100,821 in 1951 (Daily Mail, 281053); and if intelligence in England is falling at the rate of 1.6 points per generation (Lancet, 17153); if, not to quote any further depressing figures, all these findings are true of our population in this country, what purpose would it serve to record the facts of Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female of modern England and draw any but merely historical conclusions from them? Could such facts and conclusions be expected to be true of any other women than precisely those who happen to form part of the generally sick and defective population of post-victory England and Wales lay roughly in the fifteen years, 19371952? What other relevancy could such findings have? And what bearing could they have even on the women of England and Wales in ten or twenty years time, when presumably degeneration would have increased?
For although we have no statistics dealing specifically with the health of the women of England, there is no reason to regard them as superior in this respect to the rest of the population. On the contrary, the invalidism among women workers is even higher than that of men, and their teeth, eyes, and ears are certainly no better. Indeed, their deportment and their feet, above all, are invariably worse; whilst according to Cornford not only are women included in his estimate of only a ten per cent incidence of "real health" in the population, but he also points out that "more than 50 per cent of women are deficient in blood iron", and in this alone they display inferiority to men.
They tend, it is true, to enjoy longer lives; but against this we must reckon with the greater hazards both of male infants at birth, of boys' lives in general, and of adult males' lives in the harder and more perilous industries. So that industrial diseases, not to mention such ailments as chronic bronchitis with its sequelae emphysema and possibly lung cancer, are invariably more common among males than females.
So that it boils down to this: if a sample of 5940 modern English females were chosen as the basis for an investigation similar to that undertaken by Dr. Kinsey and his colleagues, it would be necessary to point out that not more than 1960 (if we take the proportion of health in 1918 male recruits), and not more than 594, if we taken Cornfords' later estimate, could be regarded as healthy enough to justify conclusions concerning that female sexual behaviour which could bear any relation to the "human" female of the world. Admittedly, this is a rough reckoning, but it is more nearly accurate than any which would take for granted that the sample was all healthy and therefore capable of supplying standard characters.
But this rough reckoning would necessitate invalidating the conclusions drawn from the remainder of the sample, and rendering the investigation untrustworthy to the extent of 90 per cent.
Is it likely that in modern America a higher standard of general health prevails? According to Cornford (op. cit. p. 17) in 1941, even among the first batch of American recruits, "50 per cent were rejected as being unfit for admission to the U. S. Army". So that it may hardly be contended that the position did not worsen as more and more reinforcements became necessary.
If, then, the health of American women bears about the same relation to that of their menfolk as does the health of English women to their men, we should have to reduce very consider-
Now, no critical reader of Dr. Kinsey's report can fail to deplore that apparently he and his colleagues made no attempt to determine the state of health of the females composing the sample before they were examined about their sexual behaviour. It is as if this aspect of the matter had from the first been regarded as negligible; for every conceivable feature except this important one seems to have been thought of. Nor, as far as I have been able to discover, was any attempt made to determine the morphological features of the individuals of the sample.
And here, above all, we are confronted with the danger of separating the sexual from the reproductive functions of woman; because it is precisely those morphological features which are correlated with a capacity for an uneventful and smoothly functioning reproductive life, or with varying deviations from it, which may most influence and mould her sexual behaviour.
The most cursory study of the subject of female morphology say, for instance, under the guidance of an expert like Professor P. Mathes (See particularly his contribution to Halban and Seitz's Biologie und Pathologie des Weives, Vol. III. Chap. I) can leave no impartial investigator in doubt regarding the close dependence of sexual behaviour and reproductive capacity in the female (as also in the male; but that is here beside the point) upon morphological features, and we have only to learn about the characters of the infantile, hypoplastic and intersexual types to mention these alone as described by Mathes, in order to be persuaded that the morphology of the female and the state of development of her reproductive organs are of fundamental importance in conditioning her sexual-cum-reproductive functions and consequently her behaviour up to the first contact with the male, which initiates her reproductive cycle, and which behaviour might, at a pinch, be narrowly designated as merely sexual.
Thus, here again, the failure to determine even the morphological types of the individual females constituting the sample, and consequently the failure to correlate behaviour patterns with either dysplastic or euplastic types and their intervening variations, has reduced the value of the report to the extent to which the incidence of aberrant female types in modern America may be found to be either great or small.
In order, then, to give a clear idea of the true nature of the report, how ought its title to have differed from the present one?
Instead of Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female, I would suggest, Report on the Examination, between 1937 and 1952 on the Behaviour of 5940 American Females Unselected either for Type, State of Health, or Skeletal and Other Features connected with uneventful Childbirth) upto and including the First Essential Climax in their Reproductive Cycle.
This prohibitively prolix title, however, would obviously have been rejected by any sensible publisher. It should, therefore, have been reserved for the sub-title and made to follow some such general and unobjectionable title as, Socio-Moral Report on 5940 American Females.
Admittedly no book bearing such a title and sub-title which modestly and truly revealed the limited nature of the information it purported to impart, could have led its authors to regard it as capable of living and enduring the ravages of time and change. The most they could hope from it would be that investigators of the future might refer to it for facts about the morality of American females during the fifteen years specified in the sub-title, no more and no less. But at least such ideas as those aroused by the words "Human Female" and "Sexual Behaviour" would have been avoided, and the implied generalizations and sweeping conclusions consequent on them would therefore have been beyond cavil.
Thus, by arousing false expectations for their massive work, the authors injured rather than improved their chances of a wholly favourable reception.
But should we now feel disposed to display that bonne volonté and provisional agreement which, as suggested above, would enable us, for augument's sake, to overlook the very debatable character of the principles with which the authors set out, what should we find?
Without a doubt, a feast of facts about the sexual experiences of a large body of modern American females, which shed a vivid, if not lurid, light on both themselves and their civilization; and the data assembled are so extensive and presented in such perfect order, that this report constitutes the most elaborate attempt hitherto made to produce a comprehensive picture of modern female sexual activity.
The authors obtained their information from a total of some 8000 women and girls, of whom only 5940 actually form the basis of their report. They are at pains, whenever possible, to support their findings by appeals both to biology, anthropology and such treatises already in existence as bear any relation to their own report. And, no matter how the reader may regard the principles with which they set out, he will feel bound to acknowledge that the result of their labours, like their conception of its fitting presentation is, to say the least, impressive.
Particularly interesting to the sociologist are the facts which bear out the authors' contention, already stated in their 1918 report on the male that human adolescents, in this case females, become "biologically adult," i.e., nubile and capable of reproductive functioning, "before our social customs and the statute law recognize them as such." And the problems incidental to adolescent life" are products" of this fact. The authors moreover claim that this "failure to recognize the mature capacities of teen age youth is relatively recent" a fact already made perfectly plain fifteen years ago in my Truth About Childbirth where, to the chagrin of the Feminists and Puritans of England, evidence was also adduced to show that the present average age of round about 26 years for experiencing the first childbirth is too late and accounts for many of the difficulties of parturition and hence also for much of the mental defect due to birth-trauma.
Dr. Kinsey and his colleagues make no allusion to the grave obstetrical consequences of our society's stubborn insistence on regarding girls from 15 to 20, whose nubility is really at its peak, as "too young" for childbearing; but they mention other untoward consequences of this convention. They say, for instance, that "the attempt to ignore and suppress the physiologic needs of the actually most capable segment of the population has led to more complications than most persons are willing to recognize. This is why so many of our American youths, both females and males, depend upon masturbation instead of coitus as a pre-marital outlet." And they add: "Restraints in pre-marital heterosexual contact? appear to be primary factors in the development of homosexual activities among both males and females" an interesting remark in view of the increase in perversion in our Christian civilization.
Far from commonplace facts abound in the earlier parts of this monumental treatise. It is illuminating to learn, for instance, that "only a minute fraction of one per cent of the persons involved in sexual behaviour contrary to the law are ever apprehended." Although this relates to America, it is probably also true of England.
The educational level of the females concerned in this volume was, as to 17 per cent high school; 56 per cent university, and 19 per cent graduate or post graduate. The remaining 8 per cent consisted of what we should term "primary school" females. 90 per cent were urban and 10 per cent rural, whilst the whole sample covers an age range of from two to ninety years.
Among the findings which the authors expect to cause most surprise are: (1) "the relatively low incidence of masturbation among females"; (2) "the relative infrequency of fantasy in connexion with it"; and (3) "the relatively low incidence" of female homosexuality. Masturbation would appear to be more frequent among females of the higher than the lower educational levels, because of the latters' probably greater dependence on "premarital coitus". The very early age at which 27 per cent of the sample "recalled that they had been aroused sexually" is also strange.
Apparently, many more females than males acquire auto-erotic habits independently; and the "percentage of children engaging in any kind of pre-adolescent sex-play had increased in the course of the three decades represented in the sample." Nor does any damage to their later sexual adjustments appear to have resulted from these practices, except when the parents "became emotionally disturbed" by them.
"We should feel inclined to join issue with the authors regarding their claim that a marked difference prevails between females and males in their erotic arousal and that whilst its peak in the male occurs a year or two after the onset of adolescence, in the female it is not readied until "the middle twenties or even thirties." It looks as if here we have an example of error due to the sick and defective society from which the sample was derived.
They may object: "Then why does this not affect males similarly?" The answer is because the male's reproductive cycle begins and ends with the orgasm and is therefore less likely to suffer damage from a disordered sex-life than the female's, which starts with coitus and includes gestation, parturition and lactation-functions which, in the majority of women to-day do not occur until much too late.
Much space is given to the question of orgasm in the female and how it is attained, and quite rightly; for the subject bristles with difficulties. This is not to say, however, that the authors' conclusions are necessarily acceptable. There are two major problems:
(I) In its importance and necessity as part of her reproductive cycle, is the female's orgasm comparable to the male's?
(II) By the stimulation of what psycho-physical mechanisms is it attained?
In their sophisticated and largely unhealthy and defective sample, the authors found 78 per cent of the females between adolescence and 15 years of age, and, among the older teen age girls, 55 per cent, "who were not reaching orgasm in any type of sexual activity". It is hardly necessary to point out that such a high proportion in males would indicate grave morbidity. Despite the steady drop in failure after teenage, 29 per cent of single females were still "not reaching orgasm from any source between the ages of 36 and 40", and higher percentages of failures occurred in the older groups. Some 39 per cent of spinsters "were without such experience between the ages of 46 and 50".
There were, moreover, 22 per cent of wives between 10 and 20, and 12 per cent of wives between 21 and 25 who "had never experienced any orgasm from any source." In the late thirties the number was 5 per cent, and in the forties 6 to 7 per cent.
As such percentages of failures in males would be a serious symptom and this alone indicates a marked disparity between the sexes, the claim of sexologists like Maranon, Briffault and Elkan (See The Evolution of Sex, 1932, pp. 7779; The Mothers, 1927. Vol. I. p. 143, and The Int. Journal of Sexology, Aug. 1948) that females prone to orgasm and who attach importance to it, incline to virilism, should be considered. In The Choice of a Mate, (1934, Part III, Chap II.) the present writer adduced arguments in support of this view; but no one has treated the subject with greater originality and erudition than Elkan, and before acquiescing too hastily in the claims made for the necessity and importance of orgasm in the female by many modern sexologists, his data and arguments should be studied. Elkan states that "about 50 per cent of all women, though their libido may be entirely normal, seldom or never experience any orgasm in their life," (Int. Journ. of Sexology, Nov. 1948), and on the strength of many biological data, he suggests, not only that the male's expectation of orgasm in his mate is due to subjective transference, but also that the stress laid on it is a modern heresy synchronizing with the Western female's struggle to masculinize both herself and her way of life.
It would be impossible here to state the whole case against the attitude assumed in this matter by Dr. Kinsey and his colleagues. But, in view of the popularity of this attitude, the charge of the minority quoted above, that it is heretical, deserves the most careful attention.
Besides, in view of the present condition of the populations professing Christian civilization, two facts may confidently be postulated of the sample they worked with:
(1) That owing to the morbid and prevalent modern craze for the "boyish" figure in women more and more females of this type have been chosen as mates for over half a century. Modern fiction, both American and English, teems with heroines exalted for their male-adolescent features (See Choice of a Mate, Part III, Ch. II and Enemies of Women, Chap. II). So that it may be confidently assumed, in the absence of conflicting data, that among the 5940 females, examined, a large proportion were probably android. And here again we meet with the untoward consequences of separating the sexual from the reproductive functions of women; for, since these functions are known to be influenced by morphology and type, each of which in its varying deviations from standard involves corresponding modifications in the uneventfulness of every stage in the female reproductive cycle, to separate the sexual from the reproductive functions obscures the picture without achieving any comparable advantage. It can only yield data which are literally "in the air," and bear no relation to any permanent or useful truth.
(2) As the sample was not tested for health and it would be wrong to assume that it was composed of wholly sound females, the data on the orgasm cannot carry much weight, and the relatively small proportion of wives who failed to reach orgasm to mention these alone may therefore indicate that they were among either the more sound or unsound in the sample. If the former, the absence of orgasm would be favourable; if the latter, an unfavourble symptom.
How was the orgasm attained? The authors expatiate at length on this problem. They dismiss Freud's view of the clitoral (juvenile) and the vaginal (adult) stage in the orgastic life of the female and point out that, since in most females the vaginal walls "are practically without nerves", Freud's two stages seem unfounded. But if we accept this claim concerning the importance of female orgasm, what does the evidence relating to the site in the female anatomy by which orgasm is reached actually suggest?
The present writer's knowledge of English, French and German women does not confirm the authors' contention that "the female's sensory responses during coitus" are concentrated on the "clitoris and the labia". Without exception he found the adult female's centre of stimulation, both in masturbation and heterosexual petting and coitus, the meatus, or the region immediately about it. And
Because if, as Freud alleges (and many medical men support him) the clitoral orgasm is that of immaturity, and in adult females there is a transference of the site to deeper recesses of the vestibule, i.e., in his view, to the vaginal walls his mistake, if it is a mistake, may be explained if we remember that the site of the meatus is closer to the vagina than the clitoris.
The literature abounds in references to meatus stimulation, and the frequency with which foreign bodies are reported to have been inserted in the urethra in masturbation, lend colour to our contention. Inaccurate inferences certainly have been drawn from these data, and many sexologists still adhere to their faith in the clitoris as the centre of stimulation even in adult females. E. Grafenberg, however, is one of the few medical men to argue in favour of meatal orgasm. (See Intern. Journ. of Sexology, 1950. Vol. III. pp. 145148).
L. M. Terman considers female orgasm as either an evolving or a regressive trait, and Elkan favours the former alternative, although, strange to say, he argues that "the orgastic sensation is not, in the woman, linked up with any special part of her body as it is in the man."
The reasons favouring Grafenberg's view are: (1) He seems to be alone in having identified the erogenic zone in the female genitalia as lying "along the anterior vaginal wall, corresponding to the course of the urethra"; thus confirming our own experience; (2) He seems to be alone in emphasizing the fact that "the female urethra . . . has its own corpora cavernosa which become large during sexual stimulation and decrease in size after the orgasm has been completed." (this is surely most significant); and, finally. he lays stress on the likelihood of enhanced, or at least more regular and prompt orgasm in the female if the a tergo position is adopted in coitus a view shared by LeMon Clark, Hirschfeld and Ernst Klotz.
Now these claims do to a large extent explain why, as the authors say, "the average female is aroused sexually less often than the average male and . . . frequently has difficulty in reaching orgasm in her marital coitus."
Read in conjunction with the authors' admission that "nearly all the females in the sample recorded that they had most frequently used a coital position in which the male was above while the female lay supine," which they add "is the traditional position throughout European and American cultures"; the matter immediately became clarified, and lends Grafenberg's findings high probability. For, in the face to face position, the more convex side of the male organ bears heavily on an area of the vestibule opposite to the meatus and the course of the urethra, whilst its more concave surface presses much less heavily against the meatus and that same course. From the standpoint of stimulation, therefore, a less satisfactory position could hardly be found. When, finally, we appreciate the truth of Grafenberg's reminder that "Man is designed as a quadruped and therefore the normal position would be intercourse a posteriori" the evidence pointing to the necessity of meatal stimulation in the female adult seems overwhelming.
Turning now to the subject of nocturnal sex dreams, we learn that they were rare in the females of the sample, and that this "is the only outlet in which the range of individual variation is more limited among females than males." This probably illustrates another aspect of the inferior role which the authors allege psychogoly played in the sex arousal of their material and which they claim is characteristic of female sexual behaviour. They point out, for example, that "because the male is more strongly stimulated by psychologic factors during coitus, he cannot be distracted from his performance as easily as the female."
The chapter on pre-marital petting describes behaviour which, although characteristic of recent social developments in America, has probably prevailed among the unmarried throughout human history. But it is strange to be told that "in the premarital histories of many American females and males, it (petting) often serves as an end in itself"; that it is "not infrequent in many older unmarried persons", and that "it may serve as a substitute for coitus."
The authors deny that it is a perversion. "The real perversion," they claim, "is the inhibition and suppression of such activities on the supposition that they represent 'acts contrary to nature'."
About 90 per cent of the whole sample and 100 per cent of the married "had had some sort of petting experience prior to marriage". And yet "only about 80 per cent of the total sample had become erotically aroused " in this way. The statistics reveal that petting is increasing, and we are told that "no other aspect of the sexual behaviour of the American female seems to have changed so much as petting and
Petting techniques apparently vary in accordance with religion, class and sex.
Contrary to their "earlier thinking", the authors now acknowledge that "there are basic psychologic differences between the sexes," and they again emphasize "the greater capacity of the male to be stimulated psychologically." Surprising facts are given concerning the lengths to which young American females will go in abandoning taboos and traditional restraints in petting, and educational and social levels exercise no differentiating influence.
About premarital coitus we learn that 50 per cent of the wives in the sample had had coitus before marriage, and the authors claim that disapproval of "heterosexual coitus" and other types of heterosexual activity tends to promote homosexuality. Only 46 per cent of those who had had premarital coitus had confined it to their fiancè; 41 per cent had had it with him and other males, and 13 pre cent had had it with other males but not with him.
As to education, 30 per cent of the primary school group, 47 per cent of the high school group, and 60 per cent of the college girls had had pre-marital coitus. Exactly the converse appears to be true of the males, though in England, at least, Leonard England reported in 1950 (Int. Journ. of Sexology, Vol. III, No. 3) that "there is a noticeable lessening of moral strictness amongst those with more education."
The authors acknowledge that in America there has been a marked increase in premarital coitus since 1900, and suggest that the spreading knowledge of contraception has probably been responsible and considerably reduced "the frequencies with which American males went to prostitutes."
Urban females were apparently more prone to premarital coitus than their rural sisters, and religion again acted as a restraining force here.
In the U.S.A. there are some 130,000 illegitimate births a year; but, in a sample of 2094 spinsters "who had coitus" 460,000 times, only 476 pregnancies occurred. This is ascribed to the efficacy of modern contraceptives, whilst, owing to the latest methods of curing syphilis and gonorrhoea, these diseases had lost their terrors.
As to marital coitus, we are told that where as at 50 years of age 97 per cent of the male wee still having coitus, only 93 per cent of females had it; also that a few American women had for convenience deliberately married homosexuals and had thus abstained from coitus in marriage. The high coition frequencies of the youngest and those up to age forty are surprising, as is also the fact that the decline in interest or capacity is due more to a loss in the desires of the male than in those of the female.
The primary school wives experienced orgasm less often than the better educated. But the lower level male appears to be a more constant mate than his pecuniary superior.
The authors record an appreciable decline in coitus-frequency among the younger generation of males as compared with the older, and account for it chiefly by suggesting that the former "more often limit their contacts" according to their wives' desires. They seem not to have thought that a decline in potency may be operative here; and yet Corrado Gini to mention only one among many claimed that this had occurred. (See Population. Univ. of Chicago, 1930). Larochefoucauld had noted a decline among Frenchmen in the 17th century, and there are other witnesses to the same effect.
As to nudity in the marriage bed, couples in America would appear in this respect to be returning to the habits of their pre-Reformation forebears; for the practice of sleeping naked is increasing "much to the consternation of the manufacturers of night clothing."
The singular fact that teen-age wives appear to reach orgasm less frequently than older wives, the authors rather hastily ascribe to the formers' natural tendency not to experience orgasm; or, alternatively, to their having failed to indulge in premarital masturbation and petting. But, surely it would seem more plausible to ascribe this fact to the probable greater eagerness of young husbands, and hence to an expedition of their own orgasm and the corresponding curtailment of the time occupied by coitus.
In casting about for reasons to account for this lower frequency of orgasm in wives than in their husbands, the authors do not appear to have considered the important difference in our society between the sexes in the method of choice in mating. The man who proposes does so as a rule because, among other reasons, he feels definitely stimulated sexually. But the woman who receives the proposal may or may not be similarly stimulated, and may accept for a host of reasons bearing little relation to sex-stimulation. Her reproductive instincts may picture an ideal male; but too often, as we know, she has to put up with a second, third or fourth best.
The fact that the authors give instances of wives married and divorced two or three times before experiencing orgasm lends colour to this explanation, as does also the statement that wives who indulge in extra-marital coitus frequently experience orgasm for the first time. What need,
"Psychologic fatigue," we learn, is "the prime source of" matrimonal infidelity. True enough! But the cumulative evidence of history, biology, anthropology and zoology abundantly indicates that the female with her quota of offspring is less prone to this weariness than the male; and to see a complete analogy between his behaviour and hers is surely scientifically unsound. At all events, female extra-marital coitus is much less common than that of the male.
Females up to 30 years of age who had been erotically aroused homosexually amounted to about 28 per cent of the sample; but only 17 per cent of the sample, within the same age limit, had had homosexual contacts. At 40 this number had risen to 40 per cent; but only 3 per cent of the sample who were wives and 9 per cent who were widows or separated, had thus indulged; the rest were spinsters. The fact that homosexual contacts are effective in producing orgasm is but a further proof that when the female can command the conditions of her sexual activities she more often finds satisfaction.
In the higher educational levels there was a more care-free acceptance of homosexuality than among primary school females, and fewer women up to 30 years of age of the latter than of the former class displayed homosexual proclivities. Religion again acted as a restraining influence and, as to the technique employed, actual "vaginal penetrations" with objects simulating the penis, were uncommon. Contrary to the findings of Havelock Ellis, Kraft-Ebbing, Freud, etc., less homosexuality was found among females than among the males reported on in 1948.
Bestiality appears to be uncommon among the females of the sample. Only 1.5 per cent had contacts with animals; the majority with dogs though only two had gone as far as actual coitus. The rest confined the contact to oral stimulation of the genitalia by the animal.
Regarding the 28 per cent of the older spinsters in the sample who had "never experienced orgasm at any time in their lives"; if this means that they were wholly devoid of any sexual experience, the authors very properly observe that "the existence of such a large body of females who are not having any sexual outlet poses a problem of some social importance." And they proceed, "when such frustrated or sexually unresponsive "spinsters" attempt to direct the behaviour of other persons ("in schools, colleges" and we should add in boys' schools above all) they may do considerable damage. "When not a few of them had had a part in establishing public policies", this damage may be national. Finally, the authors utter the following warning. If it were realized that something between a third and a half of the spinsters over 20 have never had completed sexual experience, parents and particularly the males in the population might debate the wisdom of making such women responsible for the guidance of youth." The authors might have added that there is also very doubtful wisdom in making such women M.P.s, J.P.s and even stipendiary magistrates in large urban courts. We know of one or two who are thus functioning with brazen effrontery despite their jaundiced, not to say venomous, views on men and boys in general and on "that side of life" in particular.
In the chapter dealing with the Anatomy of Sexual Responses and Orgasm, the authors adduce much evidence to support the views expressed above identifying the meatus and the course of the urethra with the chief centre of stimulation in the female; but they come to no definite conclusion about it, and imply that the centre varies with individual females. They do, however, claim quite correctly, for we have actually witnessed the fact, that "some individuals may remain unconscious for a matter of seconds" after orgasm a condition which the French term "petite mort".
Few well-informed readers will nevertheless agree with the authors when they allege that orgasm "is essentially the same in the human female and the male." Seeing that many of their own findings conflict with this conclusion, it is difficult to see why and how they could reach it.
In discussing the Psychologic Factors in Sexual Response, they most properly hold the Socratic fallacy of distinguishing mind from body, responsible for the hopeless misunderstanding of essential facts. Although here again they stress the superior importance of psychological factors in the male's sexual response, they fail to mention the principal fact which demonstrates it viz., that men are preponderatingly voyeurs, whilst women are preponderatingly exhibitionists. And yet they are able to acknowledge that "most females are not psychologically stimulated, as males are, by objects associated with sex," and that "it is no accident and not merely the product of the cultural tradition, that commercialized exhibitions of sexual activity, since the days of ancient Rome, have been provided for male but almost never for female audiences."
Furthermore, they adduce abundant the evidence to suggest that in both the production and enjoyment of pornographic literature and images, the female is less active than the male, though here, incidentally, reference is made to Brantome's Vies des Femmes Gelantes (Discours Premier) which hardly supports their claim as much as they make out. It was only rolls a small fraction of the ladies at the Prince's banquet who, commenting on his obscene "coupe" observed: "nulle de ces drolleries y avoit eu pouvoir pour les picquer." . .
Never having been to America, we
In discussing the greater sexual promiscuity of the male, the authors once more pay the penalty of having tried to separate the sexual from the reproductive functions in the female; for, by doing so, they deprived themselves of the chance of assessing the fundamental difference in the importance of coitus in the two sexes. As in the male coitus is the be all and end all of his reproductive function, it is but natural that the importance he attaches to its adequacy and pleasure should be in inverse ratio to its duration. Consequently, any influence which reduces or eliminates this pleasure the ultimate decline of his sexual mate's powers of stimulating him, for instance compels him to seek the provocation of adequate tumescence elsewhere. Such a desire as this troubles the female much less, because in the cycle of her reproductive functions coitus is but a sparking-plug or detonating event which starts the major sequelae on their way.
But in their various methods of accounting for the greater promiscuity of the male, the authors omit the above fundamental and only true reason. Later on (Para. 32 of Chap. 16) they do indeed make amends for this omission. But it is too late. They have already committed themselves to error, and Para. 32 hangs in the air, unsupported by and unconnected with their thesis.
The matter constituting the chapters on Neural Mechanisms of Sexual Response, and Hormonal Factors in Sexual Response, highly technical as it is, offers little opportunity for controversial views, and may therefore be passed over without any other comment than that it is both informative and interesting,
The above does not pretend to be more than a brief survey of this massive work. It is, however, hoped that it gives a fair idea of the ground covered and of the infinite care with which every step was prepared by the learned authors.
If now, we attempt to sum up our impression of the whole work, we find little to add to the remarks already made in our preamble. It seems deplorable that both the authors' elaborate data and the conclusions they draw from them should apply, not to the Human Female, as their title suggests, but only to a particular order of human females hailing from a limited area of a prevailingly sick and defective Western nation between 1935 and 1950. It also seems regrettable that, owing to the defects of their survey (absence of morphological and hygienic details and of any attempt to relate these to function and hence to behaviour), the data and the conclusions, as they stand, are necessarily vague and inconclusive.
No praise could be too high for the industry, care, patience, tact and learning, the authors have displayed; and it is therefore all the greater pity that there should be such conspicuous disparity between their merits in these respetcs and the contingent value of their findings. For, as we have seen, even if their conclusions had wider applicability, many of them would still appear unwarranted and to follow only dubiously from the data on which they are based. We have called attention to many of these en route. The most staggering and perhaps most heterodox of their conclusions, however, and that which they seem least authorized to draw at all events from their ephemeral and purely local and dated facts and statistics is the claim that they can find no reason for believing that the physiologic and psychologic satisfactions derived from orgasm by the average female are different from those of the average male.
Our brief summary of their own findings, alone, and quite a number of other essential differences have not even been mentioned establish the arbitrary, tno to say, gratuitous nature of this claim.