Typos p. 59: untractable [= intractable]; p. 72: afterall [= after all]
The Positive Man and the Positive Woman
Let us consider the positive male first. And I refer to him only because no book on Woman is complete without a more than passing reference to her counterpart Man.
First of all examine his body! It is clear that Life and its business of multiplication have not nearly so strong, so complete, a hold over him as they have over Woman. The sphere the business of reproduction, alone, occupies in his body is limited, comparatively small, and confined. The part he plays in this business is, moreover, incidental, transitory, spasmodic. As I have already said, he is an amputation from Life rather than Life itself; and he returns to Life only at certain intervals in order, as it were, to pay tribute to her, to enable her to carry on her grand scheme. When he has paid this tribute at stated intervals, the fact that he willingly renounces any further concern in the matter, in fact, with some discontent and sense of surfeit, turns away as one who does not want to have anything more to do with it, is proof enough of the relatively small part he plays. For while he turns away and refreshes his resources by indulging for a space his two other instincts only the self-preservative and the
In Man, therefore, we must not confound the attitude of positiveness or yea-saying to Life with positiveness or yea-saying to sex. In Woman they amount practically to the same thing. Her reproductive instinct and her yea to Life are inextricably involved. They merge; they are simply different ways of expressing the same attitude. But in Man there is a positiveness to sex which is smaller, more fitful, more irregular than his positiveness to Life. For the latter may last uninterruptedly throughout his whole existence, whereas the former, as we have seen, unless he be a mere beast, is moody, transient, intermittent.
Looking upon men from the outside, therefore, we should no more expect to find their reproductive instinct universally predominant in them, than the vice of kicking is universally predominant in horses.
We should readily acknowledge that a certain super-normal sexuality might exist in men of the Mark Antony type, in which the reproductive instinct prevailed over all others; but we should be forced to conclude that as a general rule there would be every chance, even in the healthiest and most normal man, either of the self-preservative or of the social instinct obtaining the upper hand.
And this indeed is what we find constantly occurs in real life at least sufficiently often for us to recognize that the reproductive or sexual obsession in Man is more or less an exception, or an abnormality.
From the correlation of his bodily parts, then, we cannot deduce a predominance of the reproductive instinct in Man.
What do we know of his racial memory? What have his ancestors done and been doing all these years? If we can posit anything absolutely certain about them it is this, that they have been almost incessantly concerned with the mastering of Life, and the organization
Whereas, therefore, a woman cannot be positive without being paramountly sexual, a man who would be paramountly sexual would be negative to a most important part of his being his relationship to Nature, to the mastery of Nature, and therefore to the ordering and organization of Life, including himself as a social being.
A paramountly sexual man, therefore, is as hostile to Life as the asexual woman, and just as useless.
When a positive man faces Life with his social instinct keenly sharpened, his ordering mind becomes creative and his creation is society. He feels himself above Nature and bends it to his will which is governed by his social instinct. The stylobate of the ancient Greek temple, the elevation above the ground of the foundation of the Château de Versailles these things are but instances of the unconscious tokens Man has given all through his career as a rational being, of his feeling of difference, of distance, from rude uncultured Life When he faces Woman, he also faces Life pure and simple, and in exactly the same spirit. But here his body obtains the mastery, and the creation is the child.
Nature and Woman, being both different forms of Life unordered and unarranged, yield to Man's ordering mastery. They understand it and follow it, always provided it understands them; for, obviously, the gardener who sought to turn the rose-tree upside down, the cattle farmer who sought to make the sheep carnivorous, or the social gardener who sought to convert woman into a sort of non-productive asexual worker, might certainly come within an ace of success, but would
But when nature is understood it yields cheerfully and eagerly to Man's ordering power, although it does so dumbly and inarticulately. Woman, on the other hand, who is simply nature. Life itself, become articulate, does so admiringly, cheerfully, happily and consciously.
The positive man, therefore, is positive to three things; Society, self-preservation, and Woman. He cannot be wholly positive if he lack any one of these attitudes; and those men who have maintained all these attitudes with dignity and creative success, have been the only truly great men of history. Others are simply specialists, cripples, deformities or nonentities. Of course, for a man to be positive to Woman it is not necessary that he should actually have had a child from her. Circumstances may have been hostile to this consummating proof of his sexuality. This is only documentary proof, so to speak, and its absence does not necessarily argue against his having maintained a strictly positive attitude towards her and sex all his life.
We must always remember, too, that the complicated and wearing responsibility that man has always cheerfully undertaken, of ordering Life and mastering nature, is an arduous and very onerous business, and that those men who have fulfilled their obligations to their social instinct most scrupulously and honestly, have frequently come to their journey's end without having been able to cast more than a glance of hearty encouragement and tender affection at the women they passed on the road, however positive may have been their feelings towards them.
When we see a whole regiment, or two or three regiments, present arms, or slope arms simultaneously, so that the glint on their rifles seems like one flash that illuminates the whole multitude in the same second of time, when we see one policeman suddenly make a clear
What is this mysterious thrill, this cold shiver? It is intensely pleasurable. It is the only purely non-sexual thrill that in any way approaches the sexual thrill. Its importance, therefore, to us and our lives must be enormous. For the fact that it is poles asunder from sexuality, ought to make us see that here we have something, a deep instinct that is not reproductive, which is capable of feeling immense bodily pleasure.
As a matter of fact, this cold shiver is one of the most infallible signs of profound unqualified approval that our body shows. When it is felt deep down in the back, man may conclude with absolute certainty that one of the strongest, most vital and most necessary chords of his nature has been touched and set vibrating. For the fact that it is the body that speaks here, is, I repeat, a proof that we are concerned with an instinct, and not with an act of intellect. It is always possible to make quite sure of this distinction by remembering that the body never participates in an act of intellect. When the intellect apprehends anything, the body, remembering its superior rank, and its superior age, remains coldly distant and unaffected. For the intellect, as Schopenhauer rightly observed, is the servant of the body, and not vice versâ. And the body does not share either its servant's triumphs or pleasures.
Conversely, when the body apprehends something by means of its instincts, its servant the intellect is all agog, intensely interested, watchful and helpful; the
All bodily thrills, then, are very important; because they signify that the superior part of one, the older, more traditional, more unalterable, and more untractable part of one, is gratified, acquiescent, deeply approving what happens to be taking place.
This fact is most significant, particularly in regard to all that is going to follow in this book.
The thrill of the sexual union is easily explained and disposed of once and for all: It is the superior, the oldest, most traditional, and most unalterable part of us our body approving the act of procreation, which promises a continuation and a multiplication of Life.
Now my claim is that this other thrill, which, in its different way, is just as pleasurable as the thrill of sexual union, is also an act of bodily approval but of what?
Let us consider in what circumstances this thrill is felt. I have said that it is when we see a large body of troops manoeuvring in such a manner that the movements of the whole multitude are as the movements of one man. I have said that it is when we see one single man in blue step into the midst of the torrent of vehicles in Cheapside, put his hand up, and clear, as if by magic, an open thoroughfare for the fire-engine to dash through on its mission of mercy and of rescue. I have said also that it is when we see the rhythmic movements of a corps de ballet adjusted to perfection to the regular beat of a fine orchestra.
Now what is common to all these three instances? It is obvious that the only thing that can be common to them all is the quality of order, the quality which is the result and creation of the ordering power of man. Where this is found in a tangible, forcible, overwhelming form, the body approves, the body is thrilled. And this thrill
The particular manifestation of order that the body may be witnessing is immaterial; for it is not the nature of the manifestation, but its quality of order, that moves and thrills us so deeply, that, perhaps, in no other moment of our lives save possibly in sexual union do we feel such an exquisite titillation of our nerves and tissues.
This approval, this never-to-be-forgotten chorus of praise that our old body sings, in spite of ourselves, is the sign that our social instinct 1 feels gratified, feels
1 I feel I must offer some explanation here in regard to the precise relationship of the social instinct to order. Some will object, and quite rightly, that all order is not social order, and that all rhythm is not gregarious rhythm. There is the natural rhythm (and therefore the natural order) of birds' songs, of insects' buzzing, of horses' and most animals' movements, of fish in water, of corn waving in the wind. Whatever be the strength or weakness of our social tendencies, therefore, we must, as animals, feel instinctively and deeply akin to the phenomenon of rhythm and its charm. This affinity will reside deep down in our natures, and will hark back to an age far more remote than that in which the first human society was formed. All this is perfectly true But this very phenomenon of natural rhythm, extended into the general notion of order, is the only origin to which we can possibly trace the power of rhythmic or orderly arrangement in the creative human being. Extended into the notion of order and applied creatively by a superior human being to Nature, whereby chaos becomes arrangement, and confusion is unravelled, this rhythm constitutes the birth not only of all human society, but of each separate civilization that has ever existed. In this way I conceive of the social instinct having, as a product of natural rhythm and order, engulfed and absorbed the source of its existence, in the human kind, and established itself in humanity as the developed and highly extended form of that source.
I do not know whether women get this cold shiver down their backs at the sight of order I believe they do; in fact I am sure they must: because, to the extent to which they feel positive to Man and to the child they must feel positive to the order that makes men and children possible and safe acquisitions.
Woman's respect for Man, her whole attitude of awe towards him, must of necessity fall to pieces when the order which it is his duty to Life to establish by means of his social instinct, either collapses, or proves in any way inadequate. Because, although Woman is constantly seeking to lure Man to specialize in his reproductive instinct, she never respects the man whom she thus succeeds in forcing to betray his other trusts; and knows perfectly well, unconsciously, that only that man who remains positive both to his social and his reproductive instinct, is of any use to the world and ultimately to her and her child.
For Man to fail in the exercise of his social instinct brings him into just as bad repute with decent women as when he fails in his reproductive instinct. Women realize that he cannot be wholly positive to Life without the exercise of both, and although they may make a mad and delirious rush into voluptuous pastimes with the man of degenerate social instincts as they are doing at present, for instance the more far-seeing among them, the more sensitive and apprehensive of their sex, will have a sense of insecurity and dissatisfaction which will make them look anxiously around and wonder whether all is well with Life and the world.
This is not the place to discuss the Woman's Suffrage Movement; but the above adumbrates my view of the deepest causes that underlay this most interesting, most significant and most symptomatic agitation of recent
For the present I must proceed with the consideration of Man's social instinct in its relation to Woman.
In addition to the task of imposing order on chaos and of creating the foundations of civilized society, it is the social instinct of man that has always been responsible for the contriving of all codes of morality, however diverse, however conflicting. It is the social instinct in lesser men that keeps them moral. For immorality is, in the first place, a crime against society.
Social life and all healthy human life is social life cannot flourish unless it is well ordered; unless, that is to say, it follows certain well chosen rules of conduct, diet, amusement and the like. Where man's social instinct begins to decline, therefore, he is not only ceasing from being positive to social life, but he is actually immoral. Of all this the best women, the most sensitive women, are vaguely, unconsciously aware. As the custodians of Life, they cannot respect, or feel confidence in, men whose social instincts are declining.
By immorality I do not mean that limited, foolishly narrow minded notion of the Puritans, which confines itself to the condemnation of all sexual pleasure. The Puritans themselves were immoral in my sense; because, they were hostile to life. St. Paul himself was immoral, in my sense; because, being a celibate, and as good as a monk himself, he said to the Corinthians: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman, . . . 1 For I would that all men were even as I myself 2 . . . I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I." 3 St. Paul was indeed
1 I Corinthians vii. I.
2 Ibid., vii. 7.
3 Ibid., vii. 8.
In Chapter III I showed how predominant the reproductive instinct must of necessity be in Woman; but I also showed that, owing to her mind's constant misinterpretation of bodily messages, it does not follow that Woman will always be thinking of sex, man and the child, simply because her body thinks and works round nothing else.
The Positive Woman the young fully formed girl is all sex; her body aspires and yearns for nothing more ardently than the fulfilment of her destiny; this cannot help being so, and yet what from all appearances could be more remote, more different from thoughts of sexual relations and reproduction than the mental preoccupations of the healthy decent young girl? She could not tell you why she is fond of men's society. She knows only that she is fond of it. She could not explain why she hopes to marry ultimately; she knows her father and mother were married and that most adults seem to marry, but she has not the faintest conception of all that this implies. She notices that she has a marked taste in men that some men are like wooden images to her, and that others thrill her through and through; but she is not aware of the reasons of all this. While, however, the very mystery of these thrills, the very impenetrability of her likes and dislikes in regard to men, make her
1 Ibid., vii. 9. "But if they cannot contain, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn."
The very positive girl may be timid, in fact is, as a, rule, very timid in the presence of men, and very self-conscious too. Her body is aware that in this environment it can find its consummation, it would like to find its consummation, and it is therefore all tense and braced with excitement an excitement that the girl herself does not quite understand, except that it makes her extremely uncomfortable. And it is the difficulty she feels in overcoming her body's concern that constitutes the strain. This difficulty may easily be understood, however, if we remember that ever since she first became fully formed, her body has silently, but regularly been preparing for the consummation of its destiny. Unbeknown to the girl's consciousness, though of course she has been aware of the phenomenon, every month Life has prepared her her body has dressed itself, so to speak, for the act that will lead to the consummation of her destiny, no wonder that after all these months and years of silent waiting and waiting, and elaborate and minute preparations for the guest, that there should be some bustle, some joyful apprehension, when a potential guest is at hand, or actually waiting. But the mind knows nothing
All this bodily agitation gets telephoned through correctly enough to the brain; but it is transmitted to consciousness in a form so utterly garbled and inaccurate, that it becomes unintelligible. Consciously, the girl only feels uncomfortable, and sometimes so painfully so that she has to take flight altogether, and retire somewhere alone to recover her self-possession. Charlotte and Emily Brontë had to avert their eyes when they passed an attractive man in the street.
You may be quite certain that when a fully formed and decent girl looks boldly and unmoved (as hundreds do nowadays) into the eyes of men even of the most attractive men her degree of positiveness is very low indeed, and her body feels very little at all in the presence of the male sex.
The whole of the above, of course, applies only to the virgin.
There is no true positiveness to the social instinct in the positive girl. The social instinct's next finest products, 1 which are the fine arts, are to her but means to an end unconscious means to an end, just as everything else is: the end being the full exercise of her reproductive instinct. If a girl show a strong desire to play the violin, to paint or to write, you may feel quite sure these next finest manifestations of man's social instinct are attracting her only temporarily, as extra plumage with which to eclipse her sisters and friends. And the really positive girl will throw all these accessories to her bodily charms overboard the moment they have served her purpose. No admirably positive woman would ever continue the pastimes of painting, or music, once they had achieved her object for her.
As I suggested in Chapter III, for the social instinct to speak with even an ever so feeble voice in Woman,
1 For the connexion between man's social instinct and the Arts, see my Introduction to The Letters of a Post-Impressionist (Constable & Co., 1912).
Enough has now been said on this subject to leave the reader in no doubt as to how I distinguish between the Positive Man and the Positive Woman.
The first must, in order to be whole, be positive both to sex and to society, through his reproductive and social instincts respectively.
The latter must, in order to be whole, be positive to sex only.
Of course, I need hardly remind the reader that all men, by the exercise of their social instinct cannot be creative in social order, or in the fine arts; but the least of them, if their social instinct is normal, can protect and maintain society by observing its conventions and rules.
Nor do I wish to imply that, because Woman is now anxious about the fate of Life and society, she is therefore
It now remains for me to differentiate between the Positive Man's and the Positive Woman's attitude to the sexual act itself. This is necessary, in fact indispensable; because upon a proper grasp of this matter a true and serviceable understanding of Woman largely depends.
I shall deal with Man first.
The Positive Man, who is necessarily the healthy and moral man, is faced by Woman as a temptation from a few years after puberty, practically until the end of his life. He is faced by her as a temptation very much in the same way as the child of my third chapter was faced by the heavy stone as a temptation. One of the first things he observes in regard to this temptation, however, is that it is not continuous, not constant, but intermittent and fitful. It is much more in the nature of an appetite that can be satisfied and momentarily stilled, a desire that can be met and gratified, than a need that never ceases, as for instance the need of air, or of food. What is more, the very satisfaction it is possible to give it, is the principal cause of its intermittent character. I do not, myself, believe in any feeling of disgust or repulsion arising in the male towards the female after a gratification of the male sexual appetite; I am convinced that where this occurs it is only the outcome of bestial excess; but I am certain that the appetite of the male, his desire, undoubtedly can and does remain quiescent for a space after its gratification, that it is possible for him during that quiescent period to act and live in a way which is
The fact that the sexual act alone constitutes the whole of man's share, the whole of his desire, and the whole of his physical concern, in regard to reproduction, and that for a space after its accomplishment he may be regarded as practically asexual, is so important in the understanding of Man's attitude and his duty both to the world, to Life, and to Woman, that it cannot be too thoroughly understood.
It is the fitful nature of Man's sexual Life, the crescendo and diminuendo of his desire, that constitutes its principal characteristic. From the moment he rises from the couch not refreshed, but having rejoined the continuous stream of Life for a moment, only to pay it tribute he becomes for a while purely social, purely asexual, turning his mind to other matters, pleased to turn his mind to other matters, and retaining the woman who is his mate, no longer from pure desire (let all women thoroughly grasp this), but from pure morality, pure sociability; aye! and supporting her children too, no longer as a sexual accomplice or confederate, but as a social agent, prompted thereto by his social instinct.
This state of asexuality, or pure sociability, lasts until the next longing for the stream of Life seizes him once more; but even then again, it is his social instinct that guides him in the way in which he should gratify it, and the way he should meet the responsibilities arising from having gratified it.
One can recognize immediately the man with a normally developed social instinct (just as one can recognize immediately a well-developed social community) by the strictness with which his fitfulness in regard to sex is not allowed to work havoc among his female acquaintances generally, or to make him neglectful of the responsibilities it imposes.
For, it should always be remembered that to the positive man, well-built and well-fed, the sexual longing
Who has felt this and not marvelled at the fact that Man was ever able to build up a possible human society! Who has felt this and not learnt thereby to admire and respect Man's social instinct, which was able, out of this fierce and tremendous passion to construct a scheme whereby he who felt it took upon himself the responsibilities arising from its very gratification! 1
No wonder a cold shiver of exquisite and mysterious pleasure courses down our backs whenever we are in the presence of a masterful example of Man's order! What triumphs of the past that cold shiver remembers, which we are at a loss to recall, but which we still unconsciously applaud every time the regular movements of a multitude, the measured strains of a rich melody, or the swing and stride of a corps de ballet appear before our eyes! For these are but the outward, visible, tangible and most obvious examples of Man's social instinct working for order!
1 I know of only one woman who has recognized this and given man full credit for his self-mastery in regard to the consequences of his sexual lust. See Arabella Kenealy (Op. cit., pp. 1789). The passages are too long to be quoted, but they should be read by all those who may be tempted to conclude that my views, as expressed above, have been prompted by masculine bias alone.
To return, however, to the question of his attitude to the sexual act, it is clear that man, once he has risen from the couch, after gratifying one of his fitful longings, has for the time being done with sex. This is most important. After having rejoined the stream of Life to pay it tribute, he becomes once more the amputation from Life, and can turn away from its sexual thraldom until another of his fitful longings overtakes him. 3 As a well-known French painter once said to me at a moment when his house was in a turmoil over his wife's presenting him with his first child: "J'y suis pour si eu de chose là dedans!"
1 See Sir Almroth E. Wright, M.D., F.R.S., The Unexpurgated Case against Woman Suffrage, p. 74, where the author hints at how much under civilization has been done for women by man.
2 See also pp. 7, 9094.
3 The part played by his self-preservative instinct in all this will be disclosed in another chapter. See chapter V, pp. 8990.
And it is precisely this tabloid form of sexual ecstasy that enables man to know exactly the limits and boundaries of his part in sexual life. He knows that there it begins and ends. It is a definite thing that he can seek and find. He can be quite conscious about it and is quite conscious about it from the start. It is small enough, short enough, intense enough, to be grasped and understood by consciousness. The only things connected with sex that last and endure, where man is concerned, are its responsibilities and these are, of course, the very aspects of it that the man with a declining social instinct wishes to cast off from the problem of sex. That is why the value of a man, as a man, may almost always be determined by his attitude towards Woman. The anarchist, the degenerate, loves the prostitute; the true artist, the sober, healthy citizen loves the
1 Cf. Weininger, Op. cit., p. 227: Where the author disagreeing with me says: "Great men have always preferred women of the prostitute type." It is true that eighteen pages farther on he contradicts himself by saying of the prostitute: "She is the mate of the worst sort of men"; but this single example, taken from among the many equally amazing contradictions in this book, only tends to show its extraordinary futility.
Take the little jewel constituting man's small instant of sexual ecstasy and beat it out to a length sufficiently great to cover twenty to thirty months, and sometimes more, and you have its extended and attenuated equivalent for the female. Until Woman has gathered up all the experiences that constitute her participation and her share of pleasure in the sexual act, and which are distributed over the period above mentioned, her sexual life and the pleasure it brings to her, cannot be said to be complete. Even the craving for the proper functioning of her organs and the primary instinct that animates and actuates her cannot be gratified unless she picks up every one of the moments strewn over that space of time unless, that is to say, she passes through the whole cycle of events and sensations that go to make up her complete relationship to man and to the child.
To suppose, by a false analogy with man, that sexual union alone, without its natural results, is going to satisfy Woman's body, however much she herself may be deluded into believing it will, is nothing more nor less than to condone an act of pure cruelty, of savage violence, against a basic instinct and its elaborate generating mechanism. 1
As a matter of fact, although Woman means everything to Man's sexuality, and is the embodiment of all that his reproductive instinct can desire, even when it is at its keenest, Man means very little to Woman. He is, afterall, no more than the sparking-plug that sets an elaborate process going, and the brief moment in which his share in her business is accomplished, and the incomplete pleasure it affords her, are ridiculously insignificant when compared with the importance he himself would fain attach
1 And yet most of the modern books on sex questions, particularly those written by women, take this false analogy for granted.
The only kind of woman to whom Man is everything, is the prostitute, and I shall show in Chapter IX what a cruel misconception even her position is.
By the time that man has done his share in the sexual act, therefore, and that his social instinct alone has taken command of him, bidding him protect and support his mate, and face the responsibilities that are coming, the Woman may be said to have only just begun, only just started on the road. Silently, secretly, but with vigorous determination, the reproductive instinct still reigns supreme, and has an enormous amount to do pleasures and pain to bring and to forget, power to confer and to withhold.
This is as important as it seems, generally to be misunderstood; and yet its non-acceptance as a principle is the source of more than three-quarters of the crimes that are committed against and by women in the whole of the modern world.
Unfortunately, positive Woman herself does not come forward with any help here. Because positive Woman sometimes even when she is married is completely unconscious of what is necessary in order for her to have a complete and full sexual experience. All positive
It is, of course, physical anguish for the woman. Her body suffers; because all the necessary subsequent stages of the sexual cycle are omitted: the period of gestation; parturition; suckling, when the mother's power reaches its zenith, and when the soft helpless creature in her arms offers exquisite flattery to every fibre, both mental and physical, in her body. All this, until the actual day of weaning, comes strictly within the cycle of Woman's complete sexual experience. To suppose that the mere act of sexual union, which is the first step in this cycle, is sufficient or adequate in the case of Woman, especially positive Woman, is to court disaster, it is to violate her deepest craving. She does not know this. How many millions of women have lived and died sufferers through not knowing this!
But those who profit from her unconsciousness in this matter, those who trade upon her apparent inability to understand her body's demands in this matter, those, in short, who while debasing her from her exalted position of the mother of Life to a mere instrument of pleasure, also rob her of her full and complete sexual experience and its quota of pleasure, are in my opinion no better than barbarians, troglodytes, common whoreson knaves! Many thousands of them get punished quite soundly enough, as I shall show in Part II; but how many thousands get off scot free!
The Positive Woman, although she does not know it, must be and is positive to the whole cycle of female sexual experiences. Her body knows nothing else and
That is why positive woman is conscious only of desiring the male, while her body insists blindly on obtaining the whole cycle.
No young virgin who craves for children, or for a child of her own, is really sincere. Such a desire never reaches consciousness from the body. In fact the girls that make the best mothers are frequently absurdly impatient with and intolerant of other people's children. My mother always told me that before she had her first child she took no keen interest in children whatsoever. A positive girl may be fond of children, and kind to children; but she is consciously positive to man only. It is only natural that she should be so. The body knows of no royal road to the love and possession of offspring save through the portals of sexual life. Very often, however, a very positive girl will, from mere bashfulness or decency, express her strong desire for man by what she conceives to be a more polite and more euphemistic way of revealing it, and will tell you that she longs for a child. This should deceive no one. It is either a pose on her part, or a very transparent disguise of her genuine feeling.
Although, therefore, we may again be deceived, and frequently are deceived, by Woman's double life the unconscious life her body leads with all its determined aspirations and desires constantly directing her footsteps, and the mental or conscious life she leads, which frequently has not the smallest bearing on the true aims of
The prostitute, therefore, is merely a positive woman whom unfortunate circumstances have conspired to petrify and confirm in her misunderstanding of her true needs and desires.
The important bearing this admission has on the subsequent chapters of this book, emboldens me to urge the reader to bear it well in mind from now onwards; for, simple as it seems in its baldest statement, it clears up so many of the apparent complications of practical sexual life, that unless it be properly grasped and remembered now it may in itself appear complicated before my task is done.
I have but one more remark to make on positive Woman's attitude to the sexual act, and with it I shall draw this necessary but delicate discussion to a close.
After admitting that she, or rather her body, pronounces it, alone, inadequate, insufficient, why do I assume that though she consciously craves for it alone, she unconsciously craves for the whole cycle?
As I have pointed out, it is possible for man to recognize the limits, the full extent of his momentary participation in the business of procreation. It is short, intense, tangible. But think of the host of accidents, unexpected joys and pains that may attend an experience lasting eighteen to twenty months! How could that possibly be grasped by the body, let alone the mind, as a definite desire! Prophetic power would have to enter into consciousness as well as into the body, in order to distil from this panorama of events anything so delicate and unequivocal as a desire for a pleasurable experience! It is impossible for the young girl consciously to desire all
Personally I am convinced, from my knowledge of the healthy well-built and positive mothers I have known, that once the joys of these eighteen to twenty months have been experienced, they are consciously desired again. As, however, such mothers are, as a rule, not very communicative concerning the precise nature and degree of these joys, but secretly hug them all through their lives as something precious and private that elevates them and differentiates them from the rest of mankind, a girl can scarcely be expected to know about them secondhand, nor can she be blamed for not finding out about them.
Have you ever injured or harmed, even by accident, a child that its mother had reared at the breast? Have you ever experienced the fierce love that immediately flashes out of the mother in the form of the heartiest and most unjust indignation at your unintentional trespass? If you know all this, like myself you can entertain no doubts concerning the untold joys that Woman's life, alone with the child, can and often does bring her. To regard her relationship to man (without its natural consequences) as her sexual consummation, or even as her sexual pleasure, is, therefore, simply the most crass and most hopeless form of primitive barbarism.
It is true that, in order to rule man and to get a hold over him, also with the view of providing herself with an ever-ready means for creating in him a guilty conscience about her, Woman, in Europe at least, has grossly misrepresented her attitude to motherhood, and by concealing its joys and exaggerating its pains as much as possible, has at last succeeded in making maternity appear a sort of voluntary self-martyrdom. It should never be forgotten, however, that with stupid and ill-informed men, woman finds it easy to obtain power and mastery in this manner; for, if her man be foolish enough to believe her, it is the
Healthy, honest women will confess that they thoroughly enjoy every moment of motherhood; but inasmuch as to-day it is the fashion to speak of self-sacrifice in regard to these functions, they will only admit in secret, and with the feeling that they are making a guilty admission, that they have enjoyed them. It has become the custom in modern Europe, and particularly in England, to represent women as performing some mysterious
Unfortunately the number of women to-day who really do suffer from maternity shows such a large annual increase, and men's taste in women is so much vitiated by ignorance and false values, that the morbid association of "self-sacrifice" with motherhood is now regarded as almost inevitable, and doctors who thrive on it are the first to proclaim it as a necessary and even natural association.