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The Sexual Question - A Scientific, psychological, hygienic and sociological study
by August Forel
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The struggle for social welfare prepares for us the highest and most ideal joy. It teaches man to master himself, to overcome his natural idleness, his desire for pleasure, his dependence on all kinds of futile habits and base appetites. It educates his will, curbs his weak and egoistic sentiments, while exercising his faculty for creating good and useful works. Thanks to this incessant strife, a brain of even mediocre quality may become a useful social instrument.

I ask in all sincerity if, living in the way we have just described, a man will find the time and inclination to indulge in the love stories which the novels of our libraries offer to readers of both sexes for their daily consumption? I reply: if the man is normal, no. It is only pathological natures, with their exaggerated sentiment and morbid passions, which remain incapable of mastering their passionate emotionalism and reducing it to silence. Other individuals, normal or semi-normal, are artificially urged to exaggerated exaltation in the sexual domain by idleness, by reading pernicious novels which excite their sexual appetite and their sentimentality, also by the artificial life and feverish activity of life in cities.

Work in itself is not sufficient, and every one ought to add social work to his ordinary occupation. In fact, the monotony of any special occupation, and even the exclusive work of a scientific speciality, ends by giving the cerebral energy itself an exclusive character. The moral sentiments become atrophied. Exclusiveness in a speciality, practiced without any complement, easily leads to exclusiveness in love (not in the sexual appetite!). We often see two egoists, or several in a family, working together to exploit the rest of society. As long as they keep in good health and their business prospers, as long as the egoistic plans of a third party do not upset their calculations, they may remain faithful to each other and live in comparative happiness. But what else?

Whoever, on the contrary, has known how to combine with his conjugal love, a lively interest in humanity, will always find in the latter a consoling compensation for the greatest misfortunes and the most cruel losses. He will not fall into a state of despair, but will survive his trouble, and will become reconciled to men and society without expecting anything from them, for he will have been accustomed all his life to work in an impersonal manner.

If I am accused of being enthusiastic over an ideal which is impossible to attain, I protest strongly. Good habits may always be acquired, and true altruists are found among the most modest of men, among simple workingmen or peasants who comprehend and realize the ideal I have just depicted.

In Chapter XVII we shall see in what way the dispositions of the child can be and ought to be developed in the direction indicated. It is needless to say that pure egoists and perverse individuals, who are negative from the moral point of view, in other words natures which are evil and harmful by heredity, can never be educated so as to become altruists. But these perverse natures do not form the majority. The great majority of men, although idle and indifferent, may still become habituated to social work by suitable education, as soon as the external forces which urge them to evil, such as drink and the greed for money, have been removed and replaced by beneficial forces.

Lastly, the whole attention of humanity should be directed toward its proper selection, so as to increase the number of useful individuals, and diminish or gradually eliminate the bad and incapable. But this is the work of many centuries of enlightenment and education, a work which we can only begin at present. We find ourselves here in face of one of the weakest points in human nature, a weakness which consists in only becoming enthusiastic over progress which will enable self to attain its object, and not help others. When self does not quickly obtain a palpable result, it is paralyzed and discouraged, and turns its back on reform under the most futile pretexts. I will give an example:

A young bachelor became enthusiastic over the social reform of abstinence from alcohol. For some years he worked with zeal, took part in numerous public demonstrations, and became an apostle of total abstinence. One day, after some failure, he turned his back on abstinence, declaring that the movement had no future. Nevertheless, the social movement of abstinence progressed without him. After some years, he was asked the reason why he had abandoned the movement. After having first of all repeated his pretext, he confessed that he did not wish to appear eccentric. He admitted that he had never felt so well as when he was an abstainer, appeared somewhat astonished to learn that the movement had made so much progress without him, was finally convinced of his error, and promised to return to the camp of the faithful.

In common daily events of this kind lies the secret of the slow progress of every social reform. Men who are momentarily enthusiastic nearly always expect everything to progress according to their imagination, and when they see that it will be some time before any obvious result is attained, they become discouraged, because they have neither the personal courage nor the perseverance to remain in a minority and wait. The same want of perseverance, courage and judgment is found in the education of children, and it will take a long time to enlighten people on this subject.

It would seem that we have lost sight of our subject in occupying ourselves with the irradiation of love, which forms the object of social sentiments or ethics (vide Chapter V). But it is by exactly understanding and realizing this irradiation of love that we shall gradually suppress the unhealthy social aberrations of the sexual appetite, and prevent them doing harm, by guiding them in the path of a healthy morality. It is not the severe external constraint of so-called moral laws, it is not by the threats or punishments of hell, nor the promise of paradise, nor the moral preachings of the priests, parents or pedagogues, nor an exalted asceticism, which can ever construct a healthy, just and lasting sexual ethics. It is not by words that we recognize the value of moral precepts, but by their results. It is quite certain that the sexual life of man can never rise above its present state without being freed from the bonds of mysticism and religious dogma, and based on a loyal and unequivocal human morality which will recognize the normal wants of humanity, always having as its principal object the welfare of posterity.

Marriage should be considered as a means of satisfying the sexual appetite, and at the same time a moral and social school of life; not as a refuge for egoism. Division of duties, absolute equality of rights and social work in common, will solidify more and more the sexual bonds of two conjoints. By the aid of a better understanding of the wants of human society, the conjoints will learn how to overcome their egoistic sentiments, their polygamous inclinations, and their jealousy, etc.

In striving for happiness, and especially for the sexual happiness of others, such conjoints will learn better how to excuse and pardon the sexual failings of other men. They will cease to despise the poor man's household, the girl-mother, the divorced wife, the concubine, even the poor invert, and other failings in their fellow beings. On the contrary, they will do their utmost to make their lot a happier one, by helping all those for whom help may be efficacious. They will find their greatest pleasure in this work, and if one of them becomes himself the victim of some sexual failing, he will be pardoned all the more easily, and will master it all the more quickly.

There will then be no time to make life bitter by bad temper, slander, acrimony, sulking and other conjugal disputes. The husband will no longer behave with the despotism of a lord and master, and the wife will no longer think it her duty to humble herself. Religious dogmas will no longer separate man from woman. Priests will no longer be required in marriage. Lastly, there will be no more fear of death; this will be regarded as a welcome rest after the long labor and duty fulfilled of a well-spent life.

I cannot help taxing with narrow-mindedness, and even unintelligence, persons who consider such an ideal of life as a fantasy impossible to realize, or as the product of exalted dreamers who do not know the world. No doubt this ideal cannot be attained by ill-constructed, unnatural beings, tainted by a morbid heredity, or depraved by idleness, vice and passion for pleasure, who have lost their elasticity and plasticity of brain or have never possessed them. It has, however, been often realized already by men and women of better quality. It is, therefore, necessary to act on the children, both by education and selection, in order to obtain a youth of superior quality.

Let us not abandon the future of our race to the fatalism of Allah; let us create it ourselves!

FOOTNOTES:

[10] It is true that the friendly union of individuals of the same sex is often fundamentally derived from the phylogenetic development of animal or human societies. But the sentiments of sympathy, on the sole basis of which such friendly unions may be developed, are only themselves the derivatives of the more primitive sentiments of sympathy of one individual for another, and these latter have originated in sexual attraction.



CHAPTER XVI

THE SEXUAL QUESTION IN POLITICS AND IN POLITICAL ECONOMY

Power and money have always been the principal aims of politics. Political economy is a science which deals with the great family of nations and their conditions of existence. Based on history, statistics and observation, it seeks for the laws which govern the production, consumption and division of goods, labor and its products, the social organization of nations, their health, the increase or decrease of the population, the death-rate, birth-rate, etc.

I cannot here enter into the details of the domestic economy of the nation, as this is beyond my province. I may, however, point out that this science has too much neglected the natural sciences, owing to its traditional connection with politics.

In 1881 Cognetti de Martiis[11] had already attempted to apply the ideas of evolution to political economy. Recently, Prof. Eugene Schwiedland of Vienna treated the same subject in an interesting study of the ideas of want and desire in human psychology.[12] So far, it is only the quantity and not the quality of men which has been taken into account, originating from the false idea that man made in God's image can only come into the world in a perfect state. If he was often malformed in body and mind, this was the fault of his sins. Even hereditary degeneration to the third and fourth generation was considered as divine punishment for the sins of the fathers on the children.

War.—The despots of olden times, like those of to-day, have always regarded men as instruments of their ambition or even as food for cannon. When Napoleon I established a bounty for large families, he was no doubt thinking of the number of soldiers he could make for the use of his son. He had good reason to provide for the replenishment of the ranks of his army. The mental quality of the individuals mattered little to him. Wars are a harmful factor in human selection, for they destroy or mutilate the fittest in the prime of life, while leaving the unfit and the aged.

Moreover, we have already seen to what an extent the quality and even the quantity of soldiers suffer from venereal disease and alcohol. After certain long wars the male population has been decimated to such a point that polygamy had to be resorted to to reconstitute the nation. It is, therefore, obvious that wars have a bad influence on the sexual relations of men, and hence on the quantity, or what is still worse, the quality of a nation.

Statistics.—Political economy is still more important. I do not doubt the correctness of the figures which tell us that under this or that economic system the population increases, while under another system it diminishes, etc. But these are only summary data whose true causes remain in the dark. It is necessary to carefully study the factors which produce these figures. Emigration and immigration with their causes, the intimate habits of individuals and families, their willingness and aptitude for work, etc. One fact which follows another is not always the direct consequence of it and if we examine things more closely, we arrive at curious results.

Alcohol.—Things being otherwise equal, it is found that nations who abstain from alcohol and those who are moderate consumers are more prolific than nations who are addicted to drink. In Russia, for instance, the abstainers, although of the same race and living under the same conditions, are more prolific than their neighbors who drink.

As we have already pointed out, alcohol greatly deteriorates the quality of man by blastophthoria, and we must agree with men such as Darwin, Gladstone, Cobden, Comte, etc., that alcohol (even in so-called moderation) does more harm to a nation than war, plague and famine together.

We find here an economic factor of the first order, to which the majority of economists (with the exception of Cobden) are blind. It is a very short-sighted policy to regard the alcohol industry as a source of wealth and welfare for nations. What an amount of labor, human power and valuable land is employed to produce this mischievous substance which, although useful in pharmacy and other industries, neither nourishes nor strengthens, but deteriorates the organism and leads to degeneration of the race! If it were not so sad, it would be ridiculous to observe the serious way in which high officials, or even scientists, calculate the product of taxes on distilled and fermented liquors, the laws for their import and export, the monopoly of their manufacture, etc. It is remarkable how the budget is balanced by the aid of the alcoholic intoxication of the people, and how people are made to believe that a masterpiece of political economy is thereby achieved. In reality, the health and strength of the nation are sacrificed. This kind of political economy can only be qualified as false and deceitful. We cannot too often nor too strongly stigmatize its destructive influence on sexual matters and on the hereditary energies of humanity.

Density of Population.—As regards the most desirable figures for population, opinions are diametrically opposed. Some authors look for the happiness of humanity in prolific reproduction, and imagine that by utilizing all parts of the globe an unlimited number of people could be supported by its produce.

We cannot regard with favor this singular Chinese-like ideal, which would tend to transform the whole world into a huge cornfield for the raising of men like rabbits. Moreover, it is greatly to be feared that the real Chinese, when they have become sufficiently armed and re-civilized, will transform the surface of the earth into a human stable, if we do not take sufficient precautions.

Neo-malthusianism.—On the other hand, a certain group of idealists, the neo-malthusianists, have declared a war of extermination against all increase of the population. I have myself been accused by one of them of committing a crime by procreating more than four children! Neo-malthusianists of this kind only deal with quantity and do not concern themselves with quality.

They recommend, as we do, the employment of anticonceptional measures, but they do so without any discrimination. They address themselves to the altruistic and intelligent portion of the public, and induce the most useful members of society to procreate as little as possible, without recognizing that with their system, not only the Chinese and negroes, but, among European races, the most incapable and amoral classes of the population are those who trouble the least about their maximum number of children. Hence, the result they obtain is exactly the opposite of what they intend.

Among the North Americans and New Zealanders, with whom neo-malthusianism is very prevalent, the number of births among the intelligent classes is diminishing to an alarming extent, while the Chinese and negroes multiply exceedingly. In France, the practice of neo-malthusianism is chiefly due to reasons of economy.

Rational Selection.—These two extremes, which are equally absurd, should be replaced by rational selection. Neo-malthusianism should be confined to the unfit of all kinds, and to the lower races. On the contrary, the fit should be urged to multiply as much as possible. By this means we obtain an indirect factor of the first order for a rational political economy; I even maintain that it is the most important of all. No doubt its action is extremely slow, and it would take centuries to obtain a definite result. But if the principle of proper human selection ever prevails, we may confidently hope for a good future for our descendants.

A time will come when the human population of the earth will become more or less stationary. If, in the meantime, human nature has succeeded in appreciably improving its quality, and in gradually suppressing the physical and mental proletariat with its poverty, hunger and brutality, which now infests the world—then only will the dogmas of our modern neo-malthusianists acquire a certain object for the whole world.

If humanity does not soon begin to degenerate by brutish accumulation, but finds in time the means to gradually elevate its quality, our future descendants will take care not to abandon rational selection. A capable and active man gives to society much more than he receives, and thus forms an economic asset. A person who is unfit in body or mind, receives more than he gives, and thus constitutes an economic deficit.

Contrary Selection.—We have seen in Chapter VI how certain customs of essentially human origin ended by becoming part of religion. Unfortunately for humanity, religion and politics have at all times generally combined to do wrong. The celibacy of priests (to say nothing of the Inquisition, religious wars, and the fatalism of Islam) which is based on a kind of religious politics, has largely resulted in sterilizing the more intelligent among Catholic races.

The prohibition of inquiry into paternity is another abominable custom of the same kind introduced by Napoleon. Laws of this nature lead to artificial abortion and encourage promiscuous intercourse. The safety of families and sexual intercourse lies in the duties of parents toward their children.

The principal task of a political economy which has the true happiness of men at heart, should be to encourage the procreation of happy, useful, healthy and hard-working individuals. To build an ever-increasing number of hospitals, asylums for lunatics, idiots and incurables, reformatories, etc.; to provide them with every comfort, and manage them scientifically, is no doubt a very fine thing, and speaks well of the progress and development of human sympathy. But, what is forgotten, is that by concerning ourselves almost exclusively with human ruins, the results of our social abuses, we gradually weaken the forces of the healthy portion of the population.

By attacking the roots of the evil and limiting the procreation of the unfit, we shall be performing a work which is much more humanitarian, if less striking in its effect.

Formerly, our economists and politicians hardly ever considered this question, and even now very few are interested in it, because it brings neither honors nor money, as we do not ourselves see the fruits of such efforts. Any one who aims at serious reforms and puts his hand to the work is looked upon as eccentric, or even mad. This is why we are contented with the kind of humanitarianism which makes a show and panders to the sentimentality of the masses, by holding out a charitable hand to the visible and audible evils which make women weep. In short, we amuse ourselves with repairing the ruins, but are afraid of attacking what makes these ruins!

The Laws of Lycurgus.—There was once in Sparta a great legislator named Lycurgus, who attempted to introduce a kind of human selection into the laws. He wished to make the Spartans a strong nation, because at that time bodily strength was almost the only ideal of the people. He understood the value of hardness but not that of work. The importance of selective elimination of the diseased and weak was apparent to his pre-Darwinian intuition, but in his time natural laws were not understood. However, in spite of their failings, the laws of Lycurgus succeeded up to a certain point in making the Spartans a strong nation.

According to the laws of Lycurgus, the Spartan inherited no property, and was forbidden all luxury. He had to eat his simple black broth with his fellows, and to exercise himself continually in trials of strength and skill. Every Spartan had to marry, and the bonds of matrimony were strictly observed. Every weak child was eliminated. But there were two fundamental errors in the Spartan organization.

First of all, the Spartan was a warrior, but not a worker, and although hardened, was an aristocrat. He left all labor to his slaves, and in this way strengthened his slaves and enfeebled himself in many respects. The value of work in strengthening and developing the brain and the whole body was not then understood.

In the second place, all the efforts of the Spartans were directed toward muscular strength, bodily skill, courage, and simple wants, but not at all toward a life of higher intelligence or ideal sentiments. The exclusiveness with which they only promoted man's bodily development, while neglecting his intellect, their negligence of the laws of organic evolution due to ignorance of natural science, would sooner or later have led to the decay of the Spartans.

However, it was not the laws of Lycurgus in themselves, but their abandonment, which was the direct cause of the decadence of Sparta. The Spartans only sought for power, and this led to envy and jealousy, a deplorable although indirect result of the exclusiveness of their laws. These laws, however, will always constitute a unique historical document, a remarkable attempt at human selection.

We are at the present day incomparably better armed intellectually than Lycurgus to deal with the question of selection. What is chiefly wanting is initiative on the part of the men who are charged with the government of their fellows. They are so deeply absorbed in economic interests and rival influences, that all desire of aspiring to a higher social ideal is paralyzed and etiolated in them. We require a powerful social shaking if we are to make steady progress.

Politics and the Sexual Question.—"Cherchez la femme" is the common expression when anything unusual occurs in society. It would be more correct to say "Look for the sexual motive!" The actions of men are determined much more by their passions and sentiments than by purely intellectual reflection, i.e., by reason and logic.

But no sentiment is stronger than the direct sexual sentiment, or its derivatives—love, jealousy and hatred. From this results a fact which social systems have too much neglected, namely: that in all the domains of human social activity, the sexual passions and their psychic irradiations often interact directly or indirectly in a mischievous way. Mistresses and courtesans have always played a considerable part in political intrigue.

It is not necessary to have such a tragic scandal as that which caused the assassination of the king and queen of Servia. Everyday influences, even the smallest and most dissimulated, are often the most efficacious. Sexual intrigues have at all times influenced and directed the fate of nations. History relates a number of cases of this kind, but there are many more which have never been revealed to the public. It is sufficient to mention this fact. Every one who reflects will find an illustration of it, in the history of the past as well as in the politics of the present, in the courts of monarchs and in small democracies, in the local history of provinces, in his own parish, and lastly among his own relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Sexual Life in Social Action.—The socialist who said that the social question was exclusively a question of stomach mistook its scope as well as human psychology. However admirably the economic relations of men and their work may be regulated, the introduction of sexual passions into social life will never be eliminated. All that can be done is to give both sexes an education which will elevate their social conscience and attenuate the evil influences exercised by personal sexual sentiments on social actions.

The sexual question, therefore, intervenes in politics and in the whole of social life. Moreover, if the deplorable social influence of money and the attraction it exerts could be eliminated, antisocial acts, which only depend indirectly on the sexual passions, would lose much of their danger and infamy.

The Role of Women.—Here again, much may be expected from the free emancipation of woman, and from her work in social questions in conjunction with man. This work in common will make them more clearly understand the high importance of their social task. Then sexual life will encourage social development instead of hindering it; it will cease to be considered as an egoistic pleasure but as a means of procreation, and will become the acme of an existence founded on the joy of work.

We can already see, in countries where women have a vote, that they know very well how to benefit by social progress. If it is objected that woman is more conservative and more routine than man, I reply that this inconvenience is compensated by the fact that she is on the whole more inclined to enthusiasm, and to be led by noble masculine natures, who have the sense of the ideal, than by others (vide Chapter V). Her great perseverance and courage are also inestimable qualities for social work which aims at true progress.

Necessity and Desire.—In the work which I have already quoted, Schwiedland points out the need for distinguishing between necessity and desire, in political economy. In practice it is no doubt difficult to always make an exact distinction between necessity and luxury. What our ancestors considered as luxuries we now regard as necessities. Man knows no limits in his desires; he is insatiable in his passion for pleasure and change. Certain socialists, especially anarchists, make a great mistake in proclaiming the right of man to satisfy all his desires. This is a proclamation of corruption and degeneration. As it is just to exact the right to satisfaction of the natural wants of each, so is it unjust to sanction every desire and every appetite.

It is a question of distinguishing between good and useful wants and evil desires. All wants which promote a healthy life, all instincts which lead to social work, are good. All desires, which damage the health and life of the individual or injure the rights and welfare of society, are bad, and are the procreators of luxury, excessive concupiscence, and often corruption. Between these two extremes there are desires which are more or less indifferent, for example, that of possessing objects of beauty.

Certain objects of human desire are harmful in themselves, such as the use of alcoholic liquor and narcotics. Others are only harmful when pushed to excess, such as good living, sexual pleasures, personal adornment, etc. Among the things desired by man, sexual pleasure plays a great part. Thus, when a pasha or a sultan provides himself with a large number of women, this excess is harmful from the social point of view, as it injures the rights of others. I have sufficiently dwelt on this fact elsewhere. I wish only to indicate here, with Schwiedland, how necessary it is to fix the limits between necessities and desires from the point of view of political economy, however relative and subjective these limits may be.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] "Le forme primitive nella evoluzione economia."

[12] "Die psychologischen Grundlagen der Wirtschaft." Zeitschrift fuer Sozialwissenschaft, 1905.



CHAPTER XVII

THE SEXUAL QUESTION IN PEDAGOGY

Heredity and Education.—If we review the facts contained in Chapters IV, VI, VII and VIII, we must conclude that the sexual appetite, sensations and sentiments of every human being consist of two groups of elements: (1) phylogenetic or hereditary (hereditary mneme); and (2) elements acquired during life by the combined action of external agents and habit or custom.

The first lie dormant in the organism for a time, in the form of latent energies or dispositions, and form part of what is called character. Most of them do not disclose themselves till the age of puberty, and their development afterwards takes place under the influence of external stimuli, which are modified by the will of the individual, i.e., by his brain.

The second are the result of the influence excited by erotic excitations and habit on the first.

Pedagogy can in no way change the first, for they are predetermined, and constitute the soil to be cultivated by education. The task of the latter can, therefore, only be to guide the hereditary sexual dispositions into paths as healthy and useful as possible. In the case of perverse dispositions, such as homosexual appetites, sadism, etc., moral education can only act in a general way on the character, and combat that which excites the appetites. It cannot change the character of the latter; there must be no illusion on this point. Wherever hereditary dispositions present a normal average, education can do much to avoid pathological errors and habits, by guiding the sexual appetite in a healthy direction and by avoiding excess.

Sexual Education of Children.—Habit always diminishes the erotic effect of certain perceptions of the senses; and inversely, eroticism or sexual desire is especially excited by unaccustomed perceptions and images relating to the other sex. The adult, unfortunately, nearly always makes the same error in pedagogy; he unconsciously attributes his own adult sentiments to the child. What excites the sexual desire of an adult is quite indifferent to a child. It is, therefore, possible to speak plainly to children to a certain extent on sexual questions, without exciting them in the least; on the contrary, if the child becomes accustomed to consider sexual intercourse as something quite natural, this will excite his curiosity to a much less degree later on, because it has lost the spice of novelty.

If the child is accustomed to the sight of nudity in adults of his own sex, he will see nothing peculiar in his own sexual organs and pubic hairs when these develop. On the other hand, children brought up with strict prudery and in complete ignorance of sexual matters, often become greatly excited when their pubic hairs develop; they feel ashamed and at the same time erotic. When they are not prepared, girls become still more excited at the first appearance of menstruation, and boys at their first seminal emission. The mystery which is made of everything relating to sexual matters is not only a source of anxiety to children, but also excites their curiosity and the first signs of eroticism, so that they generally end by being instructed on the subject by other depraved children, by observing copulation among animals, or by obscene books, in a manner which is certainly not favorable to healthy development. What is still worse is that the child is generally instructed at the same time in masturbation, prostitution, and sometimes even sexual perversion.

The so-called innocence, or naive ignorance, of an adolescent possesses quite a peculiar charm of attraction for libertines of both sexes, who find a refined erotic pleasure, a unique relish, in the seduction of the innocent, in the role of "initiator in the sexual art." Parents, unfortunately, seldom realize the evil consequences of their passiveness, I will even say cowardice, in making use of subterfuge, pretext and falsehood, to elude the naive questions of their children concerning sexual matters. I will here quote the opinion of an enlightened mother of a family, Madame Schmid-Jager, an opinion with which I entirely agree:

"All mothers, or nearly all, bring up their daughters with a view to matrimony. Can we pretend that they are properly prepared for it? Alas! no; the most elementary knowledge which should be possessed by the future wife and mother is neglected, and for centuries our young girls have been married in more or less complete ignorance of their natural functions and duties. The slaves of routine will reply that it has always been so, that the world has been none the worse for it, and that women when once married have always learnt by personal experience all that was necessary. No doubt they are sometimes taught to cook and sew and to do household work, but they are told nothing concerning their sexual functions, nor of the consequences of these. At Zurich a school has been instituted for nurses and midwives which will soon give good results. This school is also open to young girls who, without becoming professional nurses, desire to learn how to take care of the sick in their own families, and especially the newly born. This is an experiment worthy of encouragement which should be extended universally.

"The awkwardness, incapacity and ignorance of a young wife, when she starts housekeeping and has a baby, are astonishing. She often pays dearly for it, in spite of the instinct which is so much talked about. It is not the same as with animals, whose instincts are sufficient for the care of the young.

"A lady doctor of Zurich, Madame Hilfiker, has lately developed a scheme of much greater importance, which will require a great effort on the part of women and the intervention of legislation, if it is to be realized. Men, she says, maintain their muscular strength by military service. Every young woman, who is not prevented by her occupation, should perform the equivalent of military service, from the age of eighteen, in obligatory service for a year, in hospitals, asylums, maternities, creches (public nurseries) or public kitchens. Such training would be extremely useful for future wives, and would at the same time provide the institutions in question with useful workers. Why should men be the only ones to perform obligatory social service? I expect," says Madame Schmid, "many adverse criticisms on this proposal, one of which I will refute at once. The ladies of the middle classes will strongly object because their daughters will see and hear so many things which ought to be hidden till they marry! But why should they be hidden? In order to prepare our daughters for marriage, is it not logical to begin by telling them what it is, what it involves and what it exacts?" ("L'Education sociale de nos filles," 1904.)

In neglecting this duty our parents and teachers commit a veritable crime. Does a normal man ever marry without knowing what he is doing? Yet our young girls are kept by their mothers in insensate and often dangerous ignorance of their whole future. Whoever invented this absurd and mischievous idea that a young girl should remain ignorant of her natural functions till the moment when she has bound herself for life to fulfill them? The law punishes persons who cause others to enter into contracts, while intentionally concealing the true conditions. This might almost equally well apply to parents who allow their daughters to marry in ignorance. Some women reply to this that marriage would be too sad and would have little attraction if it were not preceded by any illusion. Certain illusions which are natural to youth may be healthy, but the fantastic dreams which are in evident contradiction with reality, and nearly always followed by disillusion, are bad. A young woman who has always lived in a state of transcendental idealism till her marriage, infallibly courts disappointment, deception and heart-break. A wiser education would often succeed in sparing young women from this sudden and cruel disillusion. The moral level of men would also be raised if their future wives were better instructed in sexual matters, and exacted that the past life of their future husbands should give a better guarantee for the future.

It must, moreover, be understood that blind and obstinate resistance to new ideas serves no purpose. Our manners and customs change in spite of us; our girls will no longer allow themselves to be led blindly, but will seek more and more freedom. Would it not be wiser to take things in time and warn them of the dangers ahead? With incredible carelessness parents send their daughters into service abroad, without considering that they may be at the mercy of the first Don Juan who comes across them, or even fall into the meshes of "white slavery," if they are left to go in ignorance of sexual affairs, as is often the case (vide Chapter X). Moreover, by no longer taking a false and artificial view of life, girls will be more capable of understanding and sympathizing with the misery which surrounds them—the troubles of unfortunate marriages, seduced and abandoned girls, etc. What they lose in illusion they will gain in more useful knowledge.

How are we to begin? We should certainly not wait till the eve of marriage, but begin in childhood. In theory, it is wrong to lie to children, if they are to maintain unshaken confidence in their parents, and remain truthful themselves. No doubt we cannot explain everything to a child at the age when it begins to ask its mother certain embarrassing questions, but we should endeavor as far as possible to tell it the truth in a manner suitable to its age. When this is impossible, every child who knows that no reasonable explanation is ever refused it will be satisfied with the answer: "You are too young now to understand that; I will tell you when you are older." Every child who speaks openly to its mother asks sooner or later how children come into the world. It is easier to reply to this when the child has had the opportunity of observing the same thing in animals. Why should the mother conceal the fact that it is nearly the same in man as in animals? The child never thinks of blushing or laughing at natural phenomena.

The initiation of children into the mechanism of reproduction is best obtained by the study of botany and zoology. If no mystery is made of these things in the case of plants and animals, why should not instruction be given in human reproduction? On this point Madame Schmid remarks as follows:

"The father or the master should instruct the boys in this subject, and the mother or mistress the girls. Parents will then be able more easily to abandon their old and absurd prejudices, which they preserve, not so much because they attach any great importance to them, but because they shrink from the difficulty of explaining themselves to their children. We often see mothers, who would never have touched on the question with a child still ignorant of sexual matters, abandon the reserve hitherto observed in their language in the presence of the child, as soon as they perceive that it has become more or less acquainted with sexual phenomena. This is quite characteristic, and what is more so is that these mothers, and often also the fathers, frequently make equivocal jokes on the subject with their children instead of seriously discussing it.

"It is regrettable that so few pedagogues take up these questions, and that the instruction of children on the sexual question is left to the most impure sources—domestic servants, depraved companions, pornographic books, etc. This results in a deplorable estrangement between the children and their parents or masters, which destroys mutual confidence.

"If we wish to contend with sexual perversions acquired at an early age, or the precocious development of an unhealthy sexual appetite, this is not to be effected by prudery or vague moral preaching, but by affection and frankness. In this case, evasive replies, combined with so-called strict morals, only lead to estrangement, dissimulation and hypocrisy, and the result is often irreparable."

Madame Schmid also insists on the necessity of making young girls work and learn some business, so as to render them capable of surviving in the struggle for existence without being obliged to throw themselves at the head of the first man who presents himself, or becoming the prey of prostitution. She also emphasizes the necessity of remunerating the wife for her work as mother and housekeeper, as the husband is remunerated for his work.

It is needless to add that it is quite as necessary to instruct boys as girls in sexual questions. They do not run the risk, like girls, of falling through ignorance into the abject dependence of a forced marriage, and have no pregnancies to fear; but they are more exposed to temptation. When their sexual appetite has been once excited by masturbation or in some other way, it becomes very difficult to put them on the right path; to say nothing of the danger of venereal disease.

I therefore appeal to all fathers and masters in the same way that Madame Schmid appeals to mothers and mistresses Take measures in time and do not wait till the boys are instructed by evil persons of either sex, or till they have already been seduced, thanks to their erotic curiosity. It is generally evil companions who seduce them, but sometimes erotic women.

Exclusiveness in Education. Punishment. Automatism of Parents. Wants of Children.—In the human brain, intelligence and sentiment are intimately connected with one another, and from their combination arise volitions, which in their turn, react more or less strongly on cerebral activity, according to their solidity and duration. It is thus a great mistake to think that we can treat separately, by the aid of theoretical dogmas, the three great domains of the human mind—intelligence, sentiment and will. It is a fundamental error to imagine that the intelligence can be educated only at school, leaving sentiment and will to the parents. But it is still more absurd to attempt to act on sentiment, especially on ethical sentiment, and on the conscience, which is derived directly from sympathy, by moral preaching and punishment. What false conceptions of the human mind lie in these moral sermons, in this theoretical moral teaching, in these punishments and anger! Is it credible that, by the aid of abstract and arid dogmas supported by punishment, conscience and altruistic sentiments can be impressed on the brain of a child, which is only accessible to concrete ideas, to sympathy, affection and amusement? We may see daily, in nearly every family, parents finding fault with their children, in a vexatious, irritated or sorrowful tone of voice, to which the children reply by inattention, or tears, or more often by a repetition of the same tone of irritation. These scoldings pass through the child's mind without leaving any trace of an effect. Such stereotyped scenes produce in the intelligent observer the painful impression of two barrel-organs whose tunes are automatic. If this is the kind of moral teaching which is supposed to act on the child's mind, it is not astonishing that it has futile and even harmful effects. The parents do not appreciate the fact that when scolding their children they are only giving vent to their own bad temper. But the children are well aware of this fact, consciously or not, and react accordingly. The most deplorable thing is that they copy all these bad habits, like monkeys.

True moral teaching, the true way of influencing children for good, lies in the manner of speaking to them, treating them and living with them. Affection, truth, persuasion and perseverance should be manifest in the acts and manners of parents, for these qualities only can awaken sympathy and confidence in the breasts of children. It is not cold moral speech, but warm altruistic feeling, which alone can act as a moral educator of children.

A savant who delivers excellent and erudite lectures to his pupils in a dry and wearisome manner teaches them nothing, or at any rate very little. The students yawn, and are quite right in saying they could learn these things just as well out of a book. A teacher, however, who speaks with animation and knows how to hold the attention of his audience impresses his remarks on their brain. In the former case there is intelligence without feeling, while in the latter case the audience is held by the suggestive and contagious power of enthusiasm. Dry science, at the most, fills the memory, but it leaves "the heart" empty. What does not come from the heart has difficulty in entering the head.

It is precisely in this way that the will must be exercised by perseverance. The child must be made eager for social work; he must be urged to all noble and disinterested actions, without stimulating his emulation by promises of reward, or by punishment.

New Schools.—The object we desire may be attained by a system of education such as that of the new schools (Landerziehungsheime), which were first founded by Reddie in England, afterwards by Lietz in Germany, by Frey and Zuberuuebler in Switzerland, and by Contou in France. These institutes have finally realized the ideas of Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Owen and Froebel.

For the teacher who understands the psychology of children, it is a true pleasure to witness the teaching at these Landerziehungsheime. The children take a delight in their school and become the comrades of their master. Physical exercise, the development of the powers of reason and judgment, the education of the sentiments and will, are all harmoniously combined. The children are not given the dry text-books of our schools, but made familiar with the works of the great authors and men of genius. Instead of their existence becoming etiolated under the weight of domestic duties, and under the sword of Damocles of examinations, they thrive by living as far as possible among the things they ought to learn. They thus assimilate the object of instruction, which becomes a living and useful part of their personality, instead of becoming encysted in the brain in the form of dead erudition like a foreign body, and filling it with formulae learnt by heart. Such formulae are ill-understood by children, and later on it is difficult for them to clear their brains of this indigestible rubbish to make room for the realities of observation and induction. The only punishments at the Landerziehungsheime are those which naturally result from the fault committed.

The pupils and their masters bathe together in a state of nature. The sexual question is treated openly in these schools in a proper, natural and logical way. The open confidence which obtains between masters and pupils, combined with free intellectual and physical work and the absolute exclusion of alcoholic drinks, constitute the best preventive and curative remedy for masturbation, sexual precocity and all perversions which are not hereditary.

It is needless to say that such schools cannot cure a pathological sexual hereditary mneme, whether it consists in perversion, precocity or some other vice. Every boarding school has its drawbacks, on account of the possible influence of mischievous individuals. Nevertheless, no boarding school offers such excellent conditions as the Landerziehungsheime, for as soon as a boy gives evidence of any sexual perversion, this perversion soon becomes well known, thanks to the good sense which prevails in the whole school.[13]

Standard of Human Value in the Child.—Our pedagogy has hitherto not understood the true standard of human value. The social value of a man is composed of two groups of factors; mental and bodily hereditary dispositions, and faculties acquired by education and instruction. Without sufficient hereditary dispositions, all efforts expended in learning a certain subject will generally fail more or less. Without instruction and without exercise, the best hereditary dispositions will become atrophied, or will give indifferent results. But hereditary dispositions not only influence the different domains of knowledge, as the traditional pedagogues of our public schools seem to admit, they also act on all the domains of human life, especially on the mind. Good dispositions in the domains of will, sentiment, judgment, imagination, perseverance, duty, accuracy, self-control, the faculty of thinking logically and distinguishing the true from the false, the faculty of combining aesthetic thoughts and sensations, all constitute human values which are much superior to the faculty of rapid assimilation or receptivity, and a good memory for words and phrases.

Nevertheless these last faculties are almost the only ones which are taken into consideration in our examinations, which decide nearly everything in our schools and universities. Is it to be wondered at that, by the aid of such a false standard, mediocrities whose brains are only the echoes of their masters and those who bow to authority, climb to the highest official positions, and even to most of those positions which are not official?

With a good memory and the gift of rapid comprehension, one can obtain everything, even without the protection of the clergy, freemasonry or any other powerful association or personality (male or female)! If they do not possess these natural secondary gifts, the most capable men, even men of genius, are passed over or only obtain a situation by circuitous routes and great efforts, after much loss of time.

In the Landerziehungsheime, Dr. Hermann-Lietz uses a scale intended to estimate the psychological and social value of the pupils. First of all the results obtained from two standards are measured:

(a) Individual: Does the actual value of work performed by the pupil always correspond to his faculties?

(b) Objective: Is the work very good, good, mediocre or bad, compared with the normal human average?

After this the different domains of psychology and human activity are passed in review, a thing which is quite possible in a school of this kind whose object is to carry out the integral education of man.

1. Bodily results: Health, disease, weight of body, activity, walking, running, swimming, cycling, games, ski, gymnastics.

2. Conduct: Order, cleanliness, punctuality. Conduct outside, etc.

3. Moral and religious results: Conduct toward parents, masters, companions, self and others. Veracity, zeal and sentiment of duty; honesty in the administration of his personal property and that entrusted to him; sentiment of solidarity and disinterestedness. Is the pupil worthy of trust? Is he conscientious? Strength of moral sentiments, moral comprehension and moral will.

4. Intellectual results: Practical work; gardening, agriculture, carpentry, turning, locksmith's work, work in forge. Drawing, writing, elocution, music. Knowledge of literature and human nature, physics, mathematics and natural science.

5. General results: Strength of character, physique and intelligence; faculty of observation, imagination and judgment. Real value of practical work, artistic and scientific.

Measured by such a standard, the human value of a pupil takes quite another character to that judged by the results of examinations. By means of this standard, it is possible to predict with much more certainty what kind of man the child will become. There is no need to add that there are no examinations in these schools, for the whole life is a perpetual examination.

Samuel Smiles, in "Self Help" relates that Swift failed in his examinations, that James Watt (the discoverer of the motive power of steam), Stephenson and Newton were bad pupils, that an Edinburgh professor regarded Walter Scott as a dunce. [The same with Darwin, who says in his autobiography, "When I left the school I was, for my age, neither high nor low in it, and I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect."] These examples of the way in which the school of tradition judges human mental value might be multiplied a hundredfold, but they will suffice, especially if we compare them with the future of the distinguished pupils of colleges in practical life. These facts are not due so much to later development, as to the disgust inspired by our system of education in reflective minds which refuse to be overloaded with a heap of dry things learnt by heart, undigested, often hardly comprehensible, or open to contradiction.

It is only on the basis of a just evaluation of man, from all points of view, that we can found a proper human selection.

Coeducation.—It is now beginning to be understood that the coeducation of the two sexes in schools, not only does no harm, but is very advantageous, both from the sexual and the moral points of view. In the universities it is already established. In children's schools and many primary schools it has always existed. It is especially the authorities of secondary schools who have raised opposition.

In the secondary schools in Holland and Italy, as well as in some Swiss gymnasiums, coeducation has been introduced without the least inconvenience; on the contrary, it has led to the best results.

A native of Finland, Miss Maikki Friberg, has lately made an appeal in favor of coeducation based on the excellent results obtained in her country. Some feared that sexual excitement would result; but this is an error, for the custom of daily co-existence of the sexes diminishes the sexual appetite. The forbidden fruit loses its charm as soon as it appears no longer to be forbidden!

It is unnecessary to say that it is not intended that girls and boys should sleep in the same dormitories, nor bathe together in the costume of Adam and Eve! Our remarks do not apply to boarding-schools, but to coeducation in public schools.

When we speak of coeducation, we generally meet with the argument that the nature and vocation of women differ from those of men, and that consequently their education ought to differ. To this I reply as follows: The external objects of the world, the branches of human knowledge, in fact the subjects for study and instruction, are the same for both sexes. It is, therefore, both a useless waste of forces and an injustice to organize an inferior education for women.

Instruction in Coeducation.—A course of instruction as interesting as possible should be organized for each subject, without distinction of sex. This rule should also apply to things which are generally considered as the special province of women; such as sewing, dressmaking, cooking, household work, etc. It will then be the business of each sex to choose the subject most suited to its abilities.

Part of the course of instruction should be obligatory for all, while another part intended for ulterior individual development should be optional, according to individual taste and talent. In the obligatory part of instruction certain subjects might be made obligatory for one sex and optional for the other; sewing and algebra, for instance. In this way each sex could choose the most suitable subjects, as is the case now in universities only.

Danger of Sexual Perversions.—A very important point, unfortunately little understood in sexual pedagogy, is that of congenital sexual perversions. Tradition regards every sexual anomaly as an acquired vice, which should be treated by indignation and punishment. The effects of this manner of looking at the question are disastrous. It gives entirely wrong ideas to youth, and shuts the eyes of parents and teachers to the truth.

It is not without a serious motive that I have described at length the repugnant phenomena of sexual pathology (Chapter VIII). Teachers and parents should be thoroughly acquainted with this subject. But this is not enough, for these phenomena commence in infancy. It is a long time before the child whose sexual appetite is perverted has the least idea that his inclinations and desires are considered by others as abnormal. The psychic irradiations of his abnormal appetite usually constitute the sanctuary of his ideal aspirations and sentiments, the object of obscure hopes and struggles which are opposed to nature and the inclinations of his comrades. This is why he neither understands the world nor himself in this respect. His amorous exaltations are ridiculed, or else they inspire disgust. Anxiety and shame alternate more and more with the perverse aspirations of his mind, which slowly increase. It is only when he arrives at the age of puberty that the pervert understands his exceptional position; he then feels that he is exiled from society, abandoned and without a future. He sees his ideal aspirations mocked by men and regarded as a ridiculous caricature or even as a culpable monstrosity. He is obliged to hide his passions like a criminal. As his character is often weak and impulsive, and is combined with a strong and precocious sexual appetite, he is very easily led astray, especially if he discovers suitable objects for his appetite, or perverted companions like himself.

In this way, in secondary schools, we often find groups of young inverts who succeed by cunning in seducing their friends. The mention of these phenomena, which from time to time give rise to school scandals, should be enough to make any one who is unprejudiced understand the urgency for instructing children betimes in sexual questions. This is a duty which is necessary in the name of hygiene and morality.

It is evident that if parents and masters exchange ideas on this subject with children, freely but decently, they will soon bring to light the sexual nature of the latter. They will discover which girls are cold and indifferent, and which are precociously erotic.

It is needless to say that one should speak and act differently in the two cases. There is no risk in instructing the first on the whole sexual question, but prudence is required with the latter, who should be guarded against anything which stimulates their appetite, by warning them of the dangers of venereal disease, illegitimate children and seduction.

We sometimes meet with young girls of hysterical nature with inverted inclinations, who become enamored of other girls and have a sexual repugnance for men. Occasionally a sadist is discovered.

Among boys we observe analogous differences in the intensity and precocity of the sexual appetite. An attentive observer will frequently discover homosexual appetites in boys, for these are comparatively common. Other perversions, such as sadism, masochism, fetichism and exhibitionism, etc., are more rarely met with. Masturbation is common in both sexes.

The great advantage of such discoveries is that children affected with sexual perversions can be put under special supervision, and above all things kept away from boarding schools, where they are subject to great temptations. An invert in a boarding-school is in reality almost in the same position as a young man who sleeps in the same room as young girls, and no one thinks of the danger.

When perversion is recognized, the subject should not be treated as a criminal, nor even as a vicious individual, but as a patient afflicted with a nervous affection who is thereby dangerous to himself and others. He should be treated and prevented from becoming a center of infection for his surroundings. Inverts should be specially supervised and taken care of till adult age. When they come of age, in my opinion, it would be an innocent idea to allow them to marry persons of their own sex, as they so much desire to do. Normal adults can very well protect themselves against their attentions, when they are warned by sufficient instruction in sexual questions.

The child, on the other hand, has the right to be protected against all contamination by perversion, as against all sexual assault of whatever nature, and it is the duty of society to organize its protection. But this cannot be done unless society is itself instructed on the question, and in a position to give a rational education to youth such as we have sketched above.

If dangerous congenital perversions are discovered, such as sadism and pederosis, energetic measures of protection should be taken; in grave cases, the operations we have spoken of, or permanent internment.

Apart from suggestion, there is no better remedy against masturbation than a system of education such as that in force in the Landerziehungsheime, especially continuous physical labor combined with useful and attractive intellectual occupation. When such a system of education is put in force at an early age, the sexual appetite develops more slowly and more moderately, and has the most favorable influence on the whole sexual life of man.

In speaking of masturbation in Chapter VIII we have seen that it may be the expression of very different conditions, and we should act accordingly.

Eroticism in Childhood.—By giving children betimes the requisite instruction on the sexual question, they are tranquilized. Many boys and girls give themselves up to despair because of the erroneous and terrifying ideas they have of sexual affairs. On the one hand, they hear pornographic remarks which disgust them, while their parents envelop the subject in mystery; on the other hand, their sexual appetites evoke desire and call for satisfaction. When a young man in this state of mind has an emission, either spontaneously or as the result of artificial excitation, he is seized with anxiety and shame, often also with phantoms of disease and moral depravity. He then requires almost heroic resolution to unburden his mind to a doctor or to his father. With nervous subjects, inclined to be melancholic or hypochondriacal, such a state of mind sometimes leads to suicide.

Another advantage in the instruction of children in sexual matters is that the questions of heredity, alcohol and venereal disease can be explained to them at the same time. In giving these explanations it is important not to awaken eroticism in the child by dwelling more than necessary on sexual topics. Instruction in this subject should not be given too frequently; on the contrary, the attention of youth should, as far as possible, be drawn away from sexual questions to other subjects, till the age of maturity.

With the same object, erotic and pornographic literature should be condemned. Unfortunately, many novels and dramas which meet with the approbation of society, thanks to their fashionable or even decent form of presentation, are often full of half-veiled eroticism, which is much more exciting to the sexual appetite than the brutal and realistic descriptions of Zola or Brieux, or even the erotic art of de Maupassant.

A doctor once told me that in his country the country children, who observed copulation among animals, often made similar attempts themselves, while bathing or otherwise. Yet these country-people are no more corrupt or degenerate than the townspeople. Here again, proper instruction and warnings would be the best remedy, especially in the case of girls.

What is to be said, on the contrary, of certain Austrian judges who punish by imprisonment urchins of fourteen, who have copulated with girls of the same age or made them pregnant? Have they punished the real culprit? Do they imagine that they have done anything that will improve these children?

The confession of Catholics plays a deplorable pedagogic part in the sexual domain. We may admit that some high-minded priests may be capable of modifying their interpretation of the prescriptions of Liguori and others which we have cited, and do little or no harm to young people of either sex. It must, however, be recognized—and the most devout Catholic cannot deny it—that priests are only human, and have not all the noble spirit nor the tact to fulfill the ideal required of them in their behavior toward women. This is enough to make the confessional, in many cases, a depraved institution from the sexual point of view. On this subject, I refer the reader to what has already been said in Chapter XII on the experiences of the Canadian reformer, father Chiniqui.

The following instance is very characteristic. A very prudish man, observing children of both sexes bathing together, exclaimed to them indignantly, that this was improper. Thereupon a little boy replied naively: "We do not know which is a boy nor which is a girl, because we have no clothes." This charming reply shows how certain moral intentions are more likely to attract the attention of young people to erotic subjects.

Corporal Punishment and Sadism.—An important fact has recently attracted the attention of the whole world, concerning certain terrible crimes. There is no longer any doubt that in some cases perverted masters and teachers find satisfaction for their sadist sexual appetite in the corporal punishment of children. This was the case with the German teacher, Dippold, who, to satisfy his perverted appetite flogged two children confided to him by their parents, till one of them died.

The Arbeiter Zeitung, of Vienna, a very conscientious journal, published the case of a prince of a small German state, who, whenever a schoolmaster ordered corporal punishment to a pupil, offered to execute it himself. The journal in question attributes with good reason this fantasy to sadism.

Again, many children were at one time belabored with blows for several years by a person who pretended to be a police agent, and who threatened them with prosecution if they complained. One boy more courageous than the others finally gave information, and the affair then ended.

We thus see that sadism does not always manifest itself by assassination. Its less dangerous forms in which pleasure is obtained by blows or some other form of bodily or mental ill-treatment, are no doubt much more common. They constitute a kind of complement to sexual desire in pathological individuals whose appetite is only partly perverted. This fact, which has hitherto not received sufficient attention, gives one more reason for the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, for the art of dissimulation and refinement of torture are unlimited in the sexually perverted. A thousand hypocritical pretexts serve to conceal their morbid appetite, and it has been proved by experience that they can succeed for a long time in deceiving even experts in this subject. This was the case with Dippold and many others.

Corporal punishment of schoolboys is only useless and harmful brutality. It is a disgrace to civilization that it is still maintained at a time when the bastinado has been suppressed among convicts.

Protection of Childhood. Child Martyrs.—Children, especially when illegitimate or of another marriage, are often exposed to atrocious treatment in which alcohol and sexual passion, inconvenienced by the presence of the child, play a great part.

I here refer the reader to the last work of Lydia von Wolfring.[14] This author, who has made a special study of the judicial protection of children, makes the following propositions directed against parents and tutors who commit misdemeanors against children or pupils confided to them, or who incite the latter to commit misdemeanors, or who show themselves incapable of protecting them against others who abuse them in the manner indicated (this last condition applies especially to concubines, widows, etc.).

(1). Withdrawal of paternal, maternal or tutelary authority and nomination of another tutor.

(2). Complete withdrawal of children in grave cases.

(3). Nomination of a "co-tutor" in all cases where a husband who survives his wife and has children who are minors, contracts a second marriage or lives in concubinage.

(4). Withdrawal of paternal and sometimes maternal authority from all parents who leave the education of their children to public or private charity, unless compelled to do so by poverty.

Without having a direct bearing on our subject the above propositions contain the elements of an efficacious, though indirect, protection against the abuses committed toward children; for example, when parents urge their children to prostitution. As regards proposition 4, I refer to what I have said in Chapter XIII. While authority over their children is withdrawn, unnatural parents of this kind should be obliged to work for their children's maintenance.

Future Possibilities.—Unfortunately we must admit that the programme of a sexual pedagogy for the future, such as we have sketched here, is very far from being realized. The Landerziehungsheime, which should serve as examples for future state schools are still sparsely distributed, and it seems impossible to carry out universally a rational sexual education, till the state and the public are better informed on the subject and have got rid of their prejudices. This hope appears to be only the reflection of a distant future. In the meantime every one must do his best. Parents, and some masters, can do much by free initiative. It is above all things necessary that young people who are interested in social reforms should not be satisfied with empty phrases, nor "play to the gallery." They should set the example in their own sexual relations, in condemning old customs which are opposed to true natural human ethics; they should show their adherence to sexual reforms by action and example, by raising objections to marriage for money, to the tyranny and formality of marriage, to prostitution, etc.; and they should attempt to put in force a healthy selection and a rational education such as we have indicated above.

FOOTNOTES:

[13] Vide.—Ernest Contou: Ecoles nouvelles et Landerziehungsheime, Paris, 1905; Wilhelm Frey: Landerziehungsheime, Leipzig, 1902; Forel: Hygiene des nerfs et de l'esprit, Stuttgart, 1905.

[14] "Das Recht des Kindes: Vorschlaege fuer eine gesetzliche Regelung." Allgemeine oesterreichische Gerichtszeitung, 1904.



CHAPTER XVIII

SEXUAL LIFE IN ART

The Genesis of Art.—Art represents in a harmonious form the movements of our sentimental life. The phylogeny of art is still very obscure; Darwin attributes it to sexual attraction, through the efforts made by one sex to attract the other; but his arguments have never convinced me.[15]

Aristotle recognized in art the principles of representation of the beautiful and of imitation. Karl Groos, of Giessen, refutes Darwin's hypothesis, and upholds the principle of the representation of self by sensations which relate to the subject, thus giving a tangible object to corresponding internal emotions (among animals, for example, the pleasure of hearing their own voice).[16]

The motor instinct and the movements executed in play seem to be among the most primitive autonomous creators of art. Similar play is observed in ants. In man, Groos attributes a considerable role to religious ecstasy and ecstasy in general, in the genesis of art. "Since its object is to excite the sentiments, it is obvious that art utilizes from the first the domain which is richest in emotional sensations, that is the sexual domain." He shows at the same time that erotic subjects have a much more general and definite importance in highly developed art than in what we know of primitive art.

Groos is certainly right, for primitive eroticism was too coarse and sensual, too exclusively tactile to affect the mind as deeply and with such gradations of symphony as is the case with civilized man. This reason alone seems to me sufficient to support Groos' view, which is also confirmed by the fact that primitive works of art contain very few erotic subjects.

The more delicate art becomes the better it acts. The intensity of its action depends, however, more especially on the power with which it moves our feelings. Art requires discord, not only in music, but elsewhere, in order to act more strongly on the human emotions by the effect of contrast. In describing the ugly it awakens desire for the beautiful. Art should be spontaneous and exuberant with the truth of conviction; it should be free from mannerism and all dogmatism, intellectual or moral. The positive aesthetic sentiment, or sentiment of beauty is very relative, and depends essentially on the phylogenetic adaptation of the human sentiments, as well as on individual habits and popular customs. The odor of manure is no doubt pleasant to a farm laborer, but it is unpleasant to us. The male invert finds man more beautiful than woman. A savage or a peasant regards as beautiful what a cultured man considers ugly. The music of Wagner or Chopin is tiresome to a person with no musical education or ear, while a melomaniac goes into raptures over it.

Erotic Art.—It is quite natural that the chord whose vibrations influence the most powerful human emotion—sexual love—has an infinite variety of vibrations in all forms of art. Music gives expression to the sexual sensations and their psychic irradiations by tones representing desire, passion, joy, sadness, deception, despair, sacrifice, ecstasy, etc.

In sculpture and painting it is love in all its shades which furnishes the inexhaustible theme; but it is in the domain of literature that love celebrates its triumphs, and often also its orgies. The novels and dramas in which it plays no part could be easily counted. I am not referring only to common novelettes, nor to those pot-house dramas which, in spite of repeating continually the same sentimental motives, always succeed in arousing the uncultivated sentiments of the masses. The greatest art aims at representing tragic, refined and complex conflicts of the human sexual sentiments and their irradiations, so as to awaken emotion by causing vibrations in the deepest chords of the human mind. Among poets and authors I may mention Shakespere, Schiller, Goethe, de Musset, Heine, Gotthelf, and de Maupassant; among musicians, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Schumann, Loewe; among painters, Titian, Murillo, Boecklin; and sculptors such as those of the ancient Greeks or the modern French school.

Art and pure intellect do not form an antinomy; they are associated together in the human mind as thought and sentiment, each preserving its own, though relative, independence. Every artistic representation requires an intellectual foundation, in the same way as every sentiment is connected with ideas. The artist takes his subjects from the external world, from life, and from the events of all ages. He also utilizes the progress of science for the mechanism of his art. But, to transform the material into a complete picture, with a unity of action, where the different sentiments harmonize; to transform the work of art into a symbol of something human; to make the whole work speak to every mind capable of comprehending it, all this can only be the work of a great artist with creative genius.

Art and Morality.—True art is in itself neither moral nor immoral. Here we can well say—to the pure everything is pure. In the mirror of an impure mind, every work of art may appear as a pornographic caricature, while to the high-minded it is the incarnation of the noblest ideal. The fault is not with art and its products, but with nature and the peculiarities of many human brains, which deform everything they perceive, so that the most beautiful works of art only awaken in their pornographic minds cynical sexual images.

Art and Pornography.—After having enunciated the preceding fundamental principles, we must examine the following facts, which have a special importance for the question with which we are dealing. Under the banner of art are grouped a number of human enterprises which are far from deserving this honor. There are few great artists, but thousands of charlatans and plagiarists. Many of those who have never had the least idea of the dignity of art, pander to the lower instincts of the masses and not to their best sentiments. In this connection, erotic subjects play a sad and powerful part. Nothing is too filthy to be used to stimulate the base sensuality of the public. Frivolous songs, licentious novels and plays, obscene dances, pornographic pictures, all without any trace of artistic merit, speculate on the erotic instinct of the masses in order to obtain their money.

In these brothels of art, the most obscene vice is glorified, even pathological. Unfortunately, this obscenity spoils the taste of the public and destroys all sense of true and noble art. At the bottom of all this degeneration of the sentiment of art and its products in the sexual domain, we always find on close examination, corruption by money and brutalism by alcohol. I say advisedly, the sentiment of art and the products of art, for it is not sufficient for true artists to create their masterpieces, it is also necessary for them to find an echo in the public, and be understood by them. The two phenomena go hand in hand, as supply and demand. When the sentiment of art is low among the public, the quality of the artistic production is also low, and inversely. Professor Behrens, director of the Industrial School of Art at Dusseldorf, is in complete accord with me in the debasing effect of alcohol on the artistic sentiment. (Alkohol und Kunst.)

After establishing these facts, we return to the fundamental but delicate question: How is true erotic art to be distinguished from the pornographic? While certain ascetic and fanatical preachers of morality would burn and destroy all the erotic creations of art under the pretext that they are pornographic, other disciples of decadence defend the most ignoble pornography under the shield of art.

I will cite two examples which have already been mentioned previously (Chapter XIII). In a very primitive and bigoted region of the Tyrol, certain undraped, but very innocent, statues of women were erected in the streets. Feeling their modesty deeply wounded, and regarding the representation of the natural human body as a great inducement to misconduct, the peasants of the district broke up these statues. The same with the captain of police at Zurich, who made himself notorious by ordering the removal of the picture by Boecklin, entitled "The Sport of the Waves," regarding the two mermaids in the picture as a danger to the morality and virtue of the citizens of Zurich!

I designate by the term charlatanism, everything which consists in decorating or covering by the term art, all possible perversions of pornography, often pathological. Persons of artistic nature, dominated by emotional sentiments, will no doubt be excused for being often overexcited to a more or less pathological degree, for executing all kinds of fantastic vagaries in their sexual life, and for being capricious and excessive in love. These things are almost inseparable from the artistic temperament. But the systematic education of pornography, and the sexual orgies which are cynically made public, go decidedly beyond what is licit, and cannot be included in the scope of art without degrading it. The individual and pathological failings of artists and the eccentricities to which they often become victims, must not be confounded with art and its products.

On the other hand, we often find eroticism hidden where we should least expect it, for instance in certain books for the edification of the pious. Here also it does not fail to produce its effect, although old maids and pious families place these books in their libraries and recommend them as proper reading. It has been said with reason, that "what is improper in the nudity of a statue is the fig-leaf and not what is underneath." It is, in fact, these fig-leaves—sculptured, painted, written or spoken—which awaken lewdness rather than deaden it. By drawing attention to what they conceal, they excite sensuality much more than simple nudity. In short, the eroticism which plays at hide and seek is that which acts with greatest intensity. The directors of ballets and other similar spectacles know this only too well, and arrange accordingly.

I have seen at the Paris Exposition an Arab woman perform the erotic dance called the "danse du ventre," in which the various movements of coitus are imitated by movements of the hips and loins. I do not think, however, that this pantomime, as cynical as it is coarse, produces on the spectators such an erotic effect as the decollete costumes of society ladies, or even certain amorous scenes of religious ecstasy in words or pictures (vide Chapter XII). As the "danse du ventre" was produced under the head of ethnology, it was witnessed by society ladies without their being in the least degree wounded in their sentiments of modesty! It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to define the limit between art and pornography. I will attempt to give an example.

In his novels and romances, Guy de Maupassant has given perhaps the finest and most true descriptions which exist of the psychology of love and the sexual appetite. Although he has depicted the most ticklish sexual situations, often most recherche, we can say that with few exceptions he has not written in a pornographic spirit. His descriptions are profound and true, and he does not attempt to make attractive what is ugly and immoral, although he cannot be blamed for moralizing.

We have seen that the old hypocritical eroticism consisted essentially in the art of describing sexual forbidden fruit and making it as desirable as possible, at the same time covering it with pious phrases which were only a transparent mask. Vice was condemned, but described in such a way as to make the reader's mouth water. There is nothing of this in Guy de Maupassant, nor in Zola. By their tragic descriptions, they provoke disgust and sadness in the reader, rather than sensuality. It is otherwise with the illustrations which de Maupassant's publisher has added to his works and which are frankly pornographic. These are not fair to the author.

Another comparison shows, perhaps, still better the uncertainty of the line of demarcation between pornography and art. If we compare Heine with de Maupassant, I think we must admit that, in spite of the refinement of his art, the pornographic trait is incomparably stronger in the former, because Heine continually loses the thread of moral sense which impregnates most of the works of de Maupassant. The latter author emphasizes evil and injustice in the sexual question.

The refined art of the Greeks contains much eroticism and much nudity, but there is nothing whatever immoral in either. Innocence and beauty are so apparent that no one can think of evil. When we look at the antique statues of the Greek sculptors; when we read Homer, especially the story of Ares and Aphrodite; when we read the bucolic idyll of Daphnis and Chloe, we can no longer have any doubt on the point. It is not nudity, it is not the natural description of sexual life, but the obscene intention of the artist, his improper and often venal object, which has a demoralizing effect.

Finally, I repeat that the purest artistic creation may serve as a pornographic theme for every individual who is accustomed to introduce into his parodies his own depravity, immorality and obscene sentiments. I do not deny that in antiquity, especially at the time of the decadence of Rome, pornography and cynical coarseness often ruled in the sexual domain. History and the ruins of Pompeii give abundant evidence of it. But such phenomena occurred at the periods of decadence. Who then can decide where art ends and pornography begins, or how far eroticism may without danger be expressed in art? This question is so difficult and delicate that I am unable to answer it with sufficient competence. I think that when the reign of capitalism and alcohol has come to an end, the danger of pornography will be reduced enormously. I believe we ought to avoid extremes in both directions. Wherever pornography manifests itself in a purely cynical way, denuded of all art, society can and should suppress it. When it appears under an artistic mantle, it should be possible in each particular case to weigh the artistic merit of the work against its immoral tendencies, taking all other accessory circumstances into account, in order to decide the real weight of each of these elements. The corrupting action should also be carefully considered, which experience proves to have been exerted on the public by certain so-called works of art, or artistic exhibitions, as for example certain cafes chantants, etc.

Pathological Art.—The progressively pathological nature of certain productions of modern art constitute without any doubt a vicious feature; a fact of special importance in the sexual question. Witness what I have said concerning the poet Baudelaire. Erotic art ought not to become a hospital for perverts and sexual patients, and should not lead these individuals to regard themselves as interesting specimens of the human race. It should not make heroes of them, for in acting thus, it only confirms their morbid state, and often contaminates healthy-minded people.

A great number of novels, and even modern pictures, deserve the reproach of being pornographic works. In these are described, or painted, beings that we meet in hospitals for nervous diseases, or even in lunatic asylums, but more often phantoms which only exist in the pathological mind of the author. No doubt, art should not allow itself to be instructed in morality by pedagogues and ascetics; but, on the other hand, artists ought not to forget the high social mission of their art, a mission which consists in elevating man to the ideal, not in letting him sink into a bog.

The Moral Effect of Healthy Art.—Art has great power, for man is directed by sentiment much more than by reason. Art should be healthy; it should rise toward the heavens and show the public the road to Olympus—not the Olympus of superstition, but that of a better humanity. It is not necessary for this that it should diminish the energy of its eternal theme—love. No truly moral man would wish to eliminate the seasoning of eroticism whenever artistic necessity requires it, but art should never prostitute itself in the service of venal obscenity and degeneration.

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