The Sexual Question - A Scientific, psychological, hygienic and sociological study
by August Forel
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Excitation and Cooling of the Sexual Appetite.—Without touching the domain of pathology, I must again dwell on the great individual diversity of the objects of the male sexual appetite. It is usually young but mature female forms of healthy appearance, and especially the sight of the nudity of certain parts of the body which are usually covered, particularly the breasts and sexual organs, which most strongly excite the sexual appetite in man. It is the same with the corresponding odors. The voice, the physionomy, the clothing and many other details may also provoke his desires. There are, however, men who are more excited by thin and pale women.

Certain attributes excite one and not another; for instance, the hair, certain odors, certain forms of face, a certain fashion of clothing, the form of the breasts, etc. The peculiarities, which are absent in women with whom a man has been on familiar terms in his youth are generally those which attract the most. In sexual matters contrasts tend to mutual attraction. Thin people often become enamored of fat, short ones of long ones, and inversely. One cannot, however, fix any rules. One often sees young men excited at the sight of women of older age, and old men enamored of very young women, even of children. All these discrepancies constitute the more important points of origin of sexual pathology. In spite of all, there still exist a great number of tranquil men with monogamous instincts and not fond of change. Lastly, we must not forget that super-abundant feeding and idleness exalt the sexual appetite and tend to polygamy, while hard work, especially physical, and frugal diet diminish it.

It is needless to say that the mental qualities react powerfully on the sexual appetite. A quarrelsome temper, coldness and repulsion on the part of a woman cool the desires of the man, while an ardent sexual desire on the part of the woman, her love and tenderness, tend to increase and maintain them. We are dealing here with purely animal sexual instinct, and we may state that the sexual appetite of woman generally excites strongly that of man, and considerably increases his pleasure during coitus. There are, however, exceptions in the inverse sense, in which coldness and disgust on the part of the woman excite the passion of certain men, who have, however, no taste for libidinous women. All degrees are found in this domain.

Active in the sexual act the man desires corresponding sentiments in the woman. But, on the other hand, all want of natural reserve, and delicate sentiment, and all cynical sexual provocation on the part of a woman, produce in the normal man a repulsive effect. The normal woman possesses an admirable instinct in these matters and knows how to betray her feelings in a sufficiently fine and delicate manner, so as not to hurt those of the man.

A phenomenon, which we shall meet with in Chapter VIII, under the name of psychic impotence, shows the powerful and disturbing interference of thoughts on the automatic action of instinctive sexual activity. A momentary psychic impotence is not necessarily pathological. While voluptuous sensations alternate during coitus with desire and corresponding erotic representations, a sudden idea of the ridiculousness of the situation, signs of pain or of bad temper in the woman, the idea of impotence or of the real object of coitus; finally, anything which acts as a contrast to the sensations and impulses of coitus, may interrupt it, so that the voluptuous sensations and sexual appetite disappear and erection subsides. Voluntary efforts are often incapable of putting things right again. The charm is broken, and only new images and new sentiments associated instinctively with the sexual appetite can be reestablished, by making the subconscious state preponderate over the reasoning consciousness.

Influence of Modern Civilization. Pornography.—Human sexuality has been unfortunately perverted and in part grossly altered by civilization, which has even developed it artificially in a pathological sense. The point has been reached of considering as normal, relations which are in reality absolutely abnormal. For example, it is maintained that prostitution produces normal coitus in man. How can this term be seriously employed in speaking of connection with a prostitute who is absolutely indifferent to it, and who seeks only to excite her clients artificially and to get their money, without mentioning venereal diseases which she so often presents them with! Forgetful of the natural aim of the sexual appetite, civilization has transformed it into artificial enjoyment, and has invented all possible means to increase and diversify it.

As far back as the history of civilization goes we see this state of affairs, and in this sense we are neither better nor worse than our ancestors. But we possess more diverse and more refined measures than barbarian peoples, and than our direct ancestors, to satisfy our unwholesome desires. Modern art in particular often serves to excite eroticism, and we must frankly admit that it often descends to the level of pornography. Hypocritical indignation against those who dare to say this often serves only to cover in the name of art the most indecent excitants of eroticism.

Photography and all the perfected methods of reproduction of pictures, the increasing means of travel which facilitate clandestine sexual relations, the industrial art which ornaments our apartments, the increasing luxury and comfort of dwellings, beds, etc., are, at the present day, so many factors in the science of erotic voluptuousness. Prostitution itself has become adapted to all the pathological excrescences of vice. In a word, the artificial culture of the human sexual appetite has given rise to a veritable high school of debauchery. The artistic and realistic representations of erotic sexual scenes, so widespread at the present day, are much more capable of exciting the sexual appetite than the crude and unnatural pictures of former days, when, however, erotic objects of art generally belonged to a few rich persons or to museums.

Influence of Repeated Sexual Excitations.—The artificial and varied repetition of sexual excitation, by means of objects which provoke it, increases the sexual appetite. This cannot be doubted, for the law of exercise is a general truth in the physiology of the nervous system. This law, which is also called the law of training, shows that every kind of nervous activity is increased by exercise. A man becomes a glutton by accustoming himself to eat too much, a good walker by exercising his legs. The habit of wearing fine clothes or of washing in cold water causes these things to become a necessity. By continually occupying ourselves with a certain thing, we take a liking for it and often become virtuosos. By always thinking of a disease we are led to imagine that we suffer from it. A melody too often repeated often becomes automatic and we whistle or hum it unconsciously.

Inversely, inactivity weakens the effect of irritations which correspond to it. By neglecting certain activities or the provocation of certain sensations, these diminish in intensity, and we cease more and more to be affected by them. We become idle when we are inactive, for the cerebral resistance accumulates, and idleness renders the renewal of the corresponding activity more difficult. It is not surprising, therefore, to find this law in the phenomena of the sexual appetite, which diminishes with abstinence and increases with repeated excitation and satisfaction. However, another force, that of the accumulation of semen in the seminal vesicles, associated with an old natural inherited instinct, often counteracts the law of exercise of the nervous system, as the empty stomach excites the instinct of nutrition. But, however imperious the hunger, and however indispensable its satisfaction for the maintenance of life, this does not impair the truth of the old saying, "Appetite comes by eating."

The exaggerated desire for sleep experienced by idle people is an analogous phenomenon. Although sufficient sleep is a necessity for healthy and productive cerebral activity, an exaggerated desire for sleep may be artificially developed.

These phenomena are of fundamental importance in the question of the sexual appetite. Here, the well-known axiom of moderation which says, "Abuse does not exclude use" finds its application. An English commentator on Cicero erroneously attributes to him the following: "True moderation consists in the absolute domination of the passions and appetites, as well as all wrong desires, by reason. It exacts total abstinence from all things which are not good and which are not of an absolutely innocent character." This definition is excellent, although it is not Cicero's. It excludes, for example, the use of a toxic substance such as alcohol, which is not a natural food, but not the moderate satisfaction of the sexual appetite which is normally intended for the preservation of the species, for this satisfaction may be good or bad, normal or vicious, innocent or criminal, according to circumstances. In this connection, the application of the right measure, and choice of the appropriate object raise delicate and complicated questions. So-called moral sermons lead to nothing in this domain.

After numerous personal observations made on very diverse individuals who have consulted me with regard to sexual questions, I think I can affirm that when a man wishes to be loyal to himself he is generally able to distinguish between natural desire and artificial excitation of the sexual appetite. To be pursued and tormented by sexual images and desires, even when striving against them, and when the legitimate and normal occasion to satisfy them is absent, is not the same thing as to pass the time in inventing means of artificial excitement to pleasure and orgy while leading an idle and egoistic life. I speak here of the normal man and not of certain pathological states in which the sexual appetite takes the character of a perpetual obsession, even against the will of the patient. By serious and persevering work and by avoiding all means of excitation, the sexual appetite can usually be kept within the bounds of moderation.

We have mentioned above pornographic art as one of the means which artificially excite the sexual appetite. Along with the interested exploitation of the habit of taking alcoholic drinks, exploitation of the sexual appetite constitutes one of the largest fields of what may be called social brigandage. Besides pornographic pictures, the principal means employed to artificially excite the sexual weaknesses of man are the following:

Pornographic novels in which sexual desire is excited by all the artifice of the novelist, and in which the illustrations often rival those we have just spoken of to seduce the purchaser.

Alcohol which, by paralyzing the judgment and will as well as moral inhibitory sentiments, excites the sexual appetite and renders it grossly impulsive. Its first fumes make man enterprising, and he falls an easy prey to proxenetism and prostitution, although it soon weakens the sexual power.

But it is the modern arsenal of prostitution which plays the principal role. The proxenets (pimps) exploit both the sexual appetites of men and the weakness and venality of women. Their chief source of gain consisting in the artificial excitation of the male sexual appetite by all possible means, their art consists in dressing their merchandise, the prostitutes, with attractive refinement, especially when dealing with rich clients who pay well. It is on this soil that are cultivated the most disgusting artifices, intended to excite even the most pathological appetites.

Other causes are added to lucre, or are the consequences of it. A boy led to masturbation by pornographic pictures, or by the seduction of a corrupted individual, becomes in his turn the seducer of his comrades. Certain libidinous and unscrupulous women have often persuaded adolescents and schoolboys to sleep with them, thus awakening precocious and unhealthy sexual appetites.

Such habits which excite the sexual appetite and cause it to degenerate artificially, develop in their turn a mode of sexual boasting in men, the effects of which are deplorable. To appear manly, the boy thinks he ought to have a cigar in his mouth, even if it makes him sick. In the same way the spirit of imitation leads youth to prostitution. The fear of not doing as the others and especially the terror of ridicule constitute a powerful lever which is abused and exploited. Fearing mockery, a youth is the more easily seduced by bad example the less he is put on guard by parents or true friends. Instead of explaining to him in time, seriously and affectionately, the nature of sexual connection, its effects and dangers, he is abandoned to the chance of the worst seductions.

In this way the sexual appetite is not only artificially increased and often directed into unnatural channels, but also leads to the poisoning and ruin of youth by venereal diseases, to say nothing of alcoholism.

We have referred especially to educated youth, but the youth of the lower classes are perhaps in a still worse condition, owing to the promiscuity of their life in miserable dwellings. They often witness coitus between their parents, or are themselves trained in evil ways for purposes of exploitation.

It is astonishing that the results of such abominable deviation of the sexual appetite are not worse. No doubt excesses disturb the ties of marriage and of the family, and often provoke impotence and other disorders of the sexual functions. It must, however, be admitted that their satellites, the venereal diseases, and their most common companion, alcoholism, are in reality the greatest destroyers of health, and make much more considerable ravages in society than the artificial increase and abnormal deviations of the sexual appetite itself. However, the latter by themselves very often poison the mind and social morality, as we shall have occasion to see.

Immoderate sexual desire, provoked in men by the artificial excitations of prostitution, etc., is a bad acquisition. It renders difficult the accustomance to marriage, fidelity and ideal and life-long love for the same woman. It is true, that many old roues and habitues of brothels later on become faithful husbands and fathers, especially when they have had the luck to escape venereal disease.

But whoever looks behind the scenes may soon convince himself that the happiness of most unions of this kind is very relative. The degradation of the sexual sentiment of a man who has long been accustomed to live with prostitutes is never entirely effaced, and generally leaves indelible traces in the human brain.

I readily admit that a man with good hereditary dispositions, who has only yielded for a short time to seductive influences, may be reformed by a true and profound love. But even in him, excesses leave traces which later on may easily lead him astray when he becomes tired of the monotony of conjugal relations with the same woman. On the other hand, we must also recognize that sexual relations in themselves, even in marriage, create a habit which often urges a married man to extra-nuptial coitus, even when he had remained continent before marriage.

The tricks which are played on a man by his sexual appetite, especially by his polygamous instincts, must not, however, be confounded with the systematic, artificial and abnormal training of the same appetite. The physical and psychic attractions of a woman are capable of completely diverting the sexual desires of a man from their primary object, and of directing them on the siren who captivates his senses. The elements of the sexual appetite here form an inextricable mixture with those of love, and constitute the inexhaustible theme of novels and most true and sensational love stories.

Hereditary pathological dispositions play a considerable role in many cases of this kind. Also, marriages of sudden and passionate love (we are not dealing here with love marriages concluded after sufficient reflection and deep mutual acquaintanceship) are not more stable than the so-called "mariages de convenance," for passionate natures, usually more or less pathological, are apt to fall from one extreme to the other. The power exercised by sexual passion in such cases is terrible. It produces conditions that may lead to suicide or assassination. In men whose power of reason is neither strong nor independent, opinions and conceptions are frequently changed; love may change to hatred and hatred to love, the sentiment of justice may lead to injustice, the loyal man may become a liar, etc. In fact the sexual appetite is let loose like a hurricane in the brain and becomes the despot of the whole mind. The sexual passion has often been compared to drunkenness or to mental disease. Even in its mildest forms it often renders the husband incapable of sexual connection with his wife.

For example, a man may cherish, respect and even adore his wife, and yet her presence and touch may not appeal to his senses, nor excite his appetite or erection; while some low-minded woman will produce in him an irresistible sensual attraction, even when he experiences neither esteem nor love for her. In such cases sexual appetite is in more or less radical opposition to love. Such extreme phenomena are not rare, but hardly common. Although excited to coitus with the woman in question, the husband would not in any case have her for wife, nor even have children by her, for after the slightest reflection he despises and fears her. Here, the sexual appetite represents the old atavistic animal instinct, attracted by libidinous looks, exuberant charms, in a word by the sensual aspect of woman.

On the contrary, in a higher domain of the human mind, the sentiments of sympathy of true love, deeply associated with fidelity, and with intellectual and moral intimacy, unite against the elementary power of the animal instinct. Here we see dwelling in the same breast (or, to speak more correctly, in the same central nervous system) two souls, which struggle with each other.

We are not dealing here with cases in which a new passion arrives to turn the man from his old affection. No doubt the extreme cases of which we have spoken are not usual, but we see in most men more or less considerable mixtures of analogous sentiments in all possible degrees, especially when the woman loved loses her physical attractions from age or other causes.

The Procreative Instinct.—The sexual appetite of man does not consist exclusively in the desire for coitus. In many cases it is combined, more or less strongly and more or less consciously, with the desire to procreate children. Unfortunately, this desire is far from being always associated with higher sentiments and with love of children or the paternal instinct. In fact, conscious reasoning plays a smaller part than the animal instinct of self-expansion. We shall see later on that the procreative instinct often plays an important role in our present civilization.

The Sexual Appetite in Woman.—In the sexual act the role of the woman differs from that of the man not only by being passive, but also by the absence of seminal ejaculations. In spite of this the analogies are considerable. The erection of the clitoris and its voluptuous sensations, the secretion from the glands of Bartholin which resembles ejaculation in the male, the venereal orgasm itself which often exceeds in intensity that of man, are phenomena which establish harmony in sexual connection.

Although the organic phenomenon of the accumulation of semen in the seminal vesicles is absent in woman, there is produced in the nerve centers, after prolonged abstinence, an accumulation of sexual desire corresponding to that of man. A married woman confessed to me, when I reproached her for being unfaithful to her husband, that she desired coitus at least once a fortnight, and that when her husband was not there, she took the first comer. No doubt the sentiments of this woman were hardly feminine, but her sexual appetite was relatively normal.

Frequency of the Sexual Appetite in Woman.—As regards pure sexual appetite, extremes are much more common and more considerable in woman than in man. In her this appetite is developed much less often spontaneously than in him, and where it is so, it is generally later. Voluptuous sensations are usually only awakened by coitus.

In a considerable number of women the sexual appetite is completely absent. For these, coitus is a disagreeable, often disgusting, or at any rate an indifferent act. What is more singular, at least for masculine comprehension, and what gives rise to the most frequent "quid pro quos," is the fact that such women, absolutely cold as regards sexual sensations, are often great coquettes, over-exciting the sexual appetites of man, and have often a great desire for love and caresses. This is more easy to understand if we reflect that the unsatiated desires of the normal woman are less inclined toward coitus than toward the assemblage of consequences of this act, which are so important for her whole life. When the sight of a certain man awakes in a young girl sympathetic desires and transports, she aspires to procreate children with this man only, to give herself to him as a slave, to receive his caresses, to be loved by him only, that he may become both the support and master of her whole life. It is a question of general sentiments of indefinite nature, of a powerful desire to become a mother and enjoy domestic comfort, to realize a poetic and chivalrous ideal in man, to gratify a general sensual need distributed over the whole body and in no way concentrated in the sexual organs or in the desire for coitus.

Nature of the Sexual Appetite in Woman.—The zone of sexual excitation is less specially limited to the sexual organs in woman than in man. The nipples constitute in her an entire zone and their friction excites voluptuousness. If we consider the importance in the life of woman, of pregnancy, suckling, and all the maternal functions, we can understand why the mixture of her sentiments and sensations is so different from that of man. Her smaller stature and strength, together with her passive role in coitus, explain why she aspires to a strong male support. This is simply a question of natural phylogenetic adaptation. This is why a young girl sighs for a courageous, strong and enterprising man, who is superior to her, whom she is obliged to respect, and in whose arms she feels secure. Strength and skill in man are the ideal of the young savage and uncultured girl, his intellectual and moral superiority that of the young cultivated girl.

As a rule women are much more the slaves of their instincts and habits than men. In primitive peoples, hardiness and boldness in men were qualities which made for success. This explains why, even at the present day, the boldest and most audacious Don Juans excite most strongly the sexual desires of women, and succeed in turning the heads of most young girls, in spite of their worst faults in other respects. Nothing is more repugnant to the feminine instinct than timidity and awkwardness in man. In our time women become more and more enthusiastic over the intellectual superiority of man, which excites their desire. Without being indifferent to it, simple bodily beauty in man excites the appetite of women to a less extent. It is astonishing to see to what point women often become enamored of old, ugly or deformed men. We shall see later on that the normal woman is much more particular than man in giving her love. While the normal man is generally attracted to coitus by nearly every more-or-less young and healthy woman, this is by no means the case in the normal woman with regard to man. She is also much more constant than man from the sexual point of view. It is rarely possible for her to experience sexual desire for several men at once; her senses are nearly always attracted to one lover only.

The instinct of procreation is much stronger in woman than in man, and is combined with the desire to give herself passively, to play the part of one who devotes herself, who is conquered, mastered and subjugated. These negative aspirations form part of the normal sexual appetite of woman.

A peculiarity of the sexual sentiments of woman is an ill-defined pathological phenomenon with normal sensations, a phenomenon which in man, on the contrary, forms a very marked contrast with the latter; I refer to the homosexual appetite, in which the object is an individual of the same sex. Normally, the adult man produces on another man an absolutely repulsive effect from the sexual point of view; it is only pathological subjects, or those excited by sexual privation who are affected with sensual desires for other men. But in woman a certain sensual desire for caresses, connected more or less with unconscious and ill-defined sexual sensations, is not limited to the male sex but extends to other women, to children, and even to animals, apart from pathologically inverted sexual appetites. Young normal girls often like to sleep together in the same bed, to caress and kiss each other, which is not the case with normal young men. In the male sex such sensual caresses are nearly always accompanied and provoked by sexual appetite, which is not the case in women. As we have already seen, man may separate true love from the sexual appetite to such an extent that two minds, each feeling in a different way, may inhabit the same brain. A man may be a loving and devoted husband and at the same time satisfy his animal appetites with prostitutes. In woman, such sexual dualism is much more rare and always unnatural, the normal woman being much less capable than man of separating love from sexual appetite.

These facts explain the singular caprices of the sexual appetite and orgasm in the normal woman, in whom these phenomena are not easily produced without love.

The same woman who loves one man and not another is susceptible to sexual appetite and voluptuous sensations when she cohabits with the first, while she is often absolutely cold and insensible to the most passionate embraces of the second. This fact explains the possibility of prostitution as it exists among women. The worst prostitutes, who have connection with innumerable paying clients without feeling the least pleasure, generally have a "protector" with whom they are enamored and to whom they devote all their love and sincere orgasms, all the time allowing themselves to be plundered and exploited by him.

What the normal woman requires from man is love, tenderness, a firm support for life, a certain chivalrous nature, and children. She can renounce the voluptuous sensations of coitus infinitely more easily than the exigencies I have just indicated, which are for her the principal things. Nothing makes a woman more indignant than the indifference of her husband, when, for instance, he treats her simply as a housekeeper. Some have maintained that the average woman is more sensual than man, others that she is less so. Both these statements are false: she is sensual in another manner.

All the peculiarities of the sexual appetite in woman are thus the combined product of: (1) the profound influence of the sexual functions on her whole existence; (2) her passive sexual role; (3) her special mental faculties. By these, and more especially by her passive sexual role, are explained her instinctive coquettishness, her love of fiery and personal adornment, in a word her desire to please men by her external appearance, by her looks, movements and grace. These phenomena betray the instinctive sexual desires of the young girl, which as we have just seen, do not normally correspond to a direct desire for coitus.

While a virgin experiences in her youth the sensations we have just described, things change after marriage, and as a general rule after repeated sexual connections. If these do not provoke voluptuous sensations in some women, they do in the majority, and this is no doubt the normal state of affairs. Habit, then, produces an increasing desire for coitus and its sensations, and it is not rare, in the course of a long life in common, for the roles to be reversed and the woman become more libidinous than the man. This partly explains why so many widows are anxious to remarry. They easily attain their object, as men quickly succumb to the sexual desire of woman when it is expressed in an unequivocal manner.

In widows, two strong sentiments struggle against each other, with variable results in different individuals; on the one hand, feminine constancy in love, and the memory of the deceased; on the other hand, the acquired habit of sexual connection and its voluptuous sensations, which leaves a void and appeals for compensation. The sexual appetite being equal, the first sentiment prevails generally in religious women or those of a deeply moral or sentimental character, while the second prevails in women of more material or less-refined nature, or in those simply guided by their reason. In these internal struggles, the more delicate sentiments and the stronger will of the woman result from the fact that when she wishes she can overcome her appetites much better than man. But, in spite of this, the power of the sexual appetite plays an important part in the inward struggle we have just mentioned. When this appetite is absent there is no struggle, and the widow's conduct is dictated either by her own convenience, or by the instinct which naturally leads a woman to yield to the amorous advances of a man.

At the critical age, that is the time when menstruation ceases, neither the sexual appetite nor voluptuous sensations disappear, although desire diminishes normally as age advances. In this respect it is curious to note that old women possess no sexual attraction for men, while they often feel libidinous desires almost as strongly as young women. This is a kind of natural anomaly.

As we have already stated, individual differences in the sexual appetite are much greater in woman than in man. Some women are extremely excitable, and from their first youth experience violent sexual desire, causing them to masturbate or to throw themselves onto men. Such women are usually polyandrous by nature, although the sexual appetite in woman is normally much more monogamous than that of man. Such excesses in woman take on a more pathological character than in man, and go under the name of nymphomania. The insatiability of these females, who may be met with in all classes of society, may become fabulous. Night and day, with short interruptions for sleeping and eating, they are, in extreme cases, anxious for coitus. They become less exhausted than men, because their orgasm is not accompanied by loss of semen.

Although in the normal state woman is naturally full of delicacy and sentiments of modesty, nothing is easier than to make these disappear completely by training her systematically to sexual immodesty or to prostitution. Here we observe the effects of the routine and suggestible character of feminine psychology, of the tendency of woman to become the slave of habit and custom, as well as of her perseverance when her determined will pursues a definite end. Prostitution gives us sad proofs of this fact.

The psychology of prostitutes is very peculiar. Attempts to restore them to a moral life nearly always fail hopelessly; it is rare to see them permanently successful. Most of these women have a heredity of bad quality and are of weak character, idle and libidinous. They find it much easier to gain their living by prostitution, and forget their work, if they have ever learned any. The poverty, drunkenness and shame which follow seduction and illegitimate birth have no doubt driven more than one prostitute to her sad trade, but the naturally evil dispositions of these women constitute without any doubt the principal cause. Alcohol, venereal diseases and bad habits, combined with continually repeated sexual degradation, afterwards determine progressive decadence.

Some of these women, however, of better quality, only surrender themselves to prostitution by compulsion; they suffer from this existence and strive to escape from it. The grisettes and lorettes[2] form a group intermediate between prostitution and natural love; they are women who hire themselves for a time to one man in particular, and are maintained and paid by him in return for satisfying his sexual appetites. Here again, sexual desire only exceptionally plays the chief role. The conduct of these women results from their loose character and pecuniary interest.

If, therefore, we admit on the one hand that the sexual excesses of the female sex are especially grafted on hereditary disposition of character, or are primarily due to strong appetites, we are obliged on the other hand to recognize that the great role played by sexuality in the brain of woman renders it more difficult for her than for man to return to better ways when she has once prostituted herself, or when she has surrendered in any way to sexual licentiousness, even when her original quality was not bad.

In man the sexual appetite is much more easily separated than in woman from other instincts, sentiments and intellectual life in general, and possesses in him, however powerful it may be, a much more transient character, which prevents it dominating the whole mental life.

I have dwelt so much on this point because it is essential to know the differences which exist between man and woman in this respect, and to take them into account if we wish to give a just and healthy judgment on the sexual question from the social point of view. The more it is our duty to give the same rights to both sexes, the more absurd it is to disregard the profoundness of their differences and to imagine that these can ever be effaced.

Flirtation.—If we look in an English dictionary for the meaning of the word flirt, we find it equivalent to coquetry. But this English term has become fixed and modernized in another sense which has become international, to express the old idea of a series of well-known phenomena which must be clearly distinguished from coquetry.

Coquetry, an especially feminine attribute, is not in itself dependent on the sexual appetite; it is an indirect irradiation, purely psychical, and we shall speak of it later on. Flirtation, as we now understand the term, is directly connected with the sexual appetite, and constitutes its external impression in all the wealth of its forms, as much in man as in woman. In a word, flirtation is a polymorphous language which clearly expresses the sexual desires of an individual to the one who awakens these desires, actual coitus alone excepted.

Flirtation may be practiced in a more or less unconscious manner. It is by itself neither a psychic attribute nor sexual appetite, for a human being may so hide and overcome his appetites that no one remarks them; and on the contrary, he may simulate sexual appetite without feeling it, or at any rate behave in such a way as to excite it in his partner. Flirtation thus consists in an activity calculated to disclose the eroticism of the subject as well as to excite that of others. It is needless to say that the nature of coquetry disposes to flirtation.

Flirtation comprises all the sport of love, kisses, caresses and all kinds of sexual excitation even to orgasm, without reaching the consummation of coitus. All degrees may be noted; and, according to temperament, flirtation may be limited to slight excitation of the sexual appetite or may extend to violent and rapidly increasing emissions. The considerable individual differences which exist in sexual sensibility result in the same perception or the same act having little effect on one individual, while it excites another to a high degree. In the latter case, especially in man, flirtation may even lead to venereal orgasm without coitus, and even without any manipulations which resemble it. A woman of exuberant form, assuming sensual and voluptuous attitudes, may thus provoke an ejaculation by the slight and repeated friction of her dress against the penis of an excitable dancer.

The same thing often occurs when a passionate couple caress and embrace each other without the genital organs being touched or even exposed. In this respect the woman is better protected than the man, but when she is very excitable an orgasm may be produced in her during the caresses of a passionate flirtation by the pressure or friction of her legs against each other (a variety of masturbation in woman).

As a rule, however, things do not go so far as this in flirtation. The sight and touch are used alternately. The eyes play an important part, for they may express much and consequently act powerfully. A pressure of the hands, an apparently chance movement, touching the dress and the skin, etc., are the usual means of flirtation. In situations where people are close together or pressed against each other, as in railway carriages, or at table, the legs play a well-known part, by pressure of the knees and feet.

This dumb conversation of the sexual appetite begins at first in a prudent and apparently innocent manner, so that the acting party does not risk being taxed with impropriety; but as soon as he who began the flirtation perceives that his slight invitations are welcome he grows bolder, a tacit mutual agreement is established, and the game continues without a single word betraying the reciprocal sensations. Many who practice flirtation, both men and women, avoid betraying themselves by words, and they take pleasure in this mutual excitation of their genital sensibility, however incomplete it may be.

Flirtation may assume very different forms according to education and temperament. The action of alcohol on the brain develops the coarsest forms of flirtation. Every one knows the clumsy embraces of semi-intoxicated persons which can often be seen at night or on Sundays and holidays, in the street or in railway carriages, etc. I designate these by the term "alcoholic flirtation." Even in the best and most refined society flirtation loses its delicacy even under the effect of the slightest degree of alcoholic intoxication.

Flirtation assumes a more delicate and more complicated character, rendering it gracious and full of charm, in persons of higher education, especially when they are highly intellectual or artistic.

We must also mention the intellectual variety of flirtation which is not expressed by sight or touch, but only by language. Delicate allusions to sexual matters and somewhat lascivious conversation excite eroticism as much as looks and touch. According to the education of the persons concerned, this talk may be coarse and vulgar, or on the contrary refined and full of wit, managed with more or less skill, or clumsily. Here the natural finesse of woman plays a considerable part. Men wanting in tact are clumsy and offensive in their attempts at flirtation, and thus extinguish instead of exciting the woman's eroticism. The manner in which alcoholic flirtation manifests itself in cynical, dull, obtrusive and stupid conversation, corresponds to its other forms of expression. Woman desires flirtation; but does not wish it to assume an unbecoming form.

One can say anything to a woman; all depends on the way in which it is said. I have seen lady doctors with whom one could discuss the most ticklish subjects, profoundly shocked by the misplaced pleasantries of a tactless professor. In themselves these pleasantries were quite innocent for medical ears, as my lady colleagues were finally obliged to admit, when I pointed out to them the specially feminine character of their psychic reaction, proving to them that they listened without a frown to things ten times worse, when the lecturer gave them a moral tone.

Men also generally feel disgusted with the dull, cynical or clumsy form of female eroticism, although they are not usually over-refined themselves in this respect.

This last phenomenon leads us to distinguish between flirtation in man and in woman. For woman it constitutes the only permissible way of expressing erotic sentiments, and even then much restraint is imposed on her. Circumstances develop in her the art of flirtation and give it remarkable finesse. Unless she exposes herself to great danger, woman can only leave her sensuality to be guessed. Every audacious and tactless provocation fails in its object; it drives away the men and destroys a young girl's reputation. Even when possessed by the most violent erotic desire woman cannot ostensibly depart from her passive role without compromising herself. Nevertheless, she succeeds on the whole very easily in exciting the passions of man, by the aid of a few artifices. No doubt she does not entirely dominate him by this means. She must be very delicate and adroit, at any rate at first, in the provocative art of flirtation. These frivolities are greatly facilitated by her whole nature and by the character of her habitual eroticism. Man, on the other hand, may be more audacious in the expression of his passion. This brings us back to what has been said concerning the sexual differences.

A whole volume could be written on the forms of flirtation, which is the indispensable expression of all sexual desire. Among engaged couples it assumes a legal character and even a conventional form. The way in which barmaids flirt with their customers is also somewhat conventional, although in quite a different way. In society, flirtation is generally seasoned with more Attic salt, whether it is not allowed to exceed certain limits, or whether it leads to free liaisons after the manner of the Greek hetaira. In the country, among peasant girls and boys it takes a grosser form, if not more sensual, than among the cultivated classes; in the latter, language takes the principal part. Among rich idlers in watering places, large hotels, and even in some sanatoriums, flirtation takes a dominant place and constitutes, in all its degrees, the chief occupation of a great number of the visitors. It grows like a weed wherever man has a monotonous occupation or suffers from the ennui of idleness.

In certain individuals, flirtation takes the place of coitus from the sensual, and love from the sentimental point of view. There are modern crazy natures who spend their existence in all kinds of artificial excitation of the senses, creatures of both sexes incapable of a useful action.

As a momentary and transient expression of all the necessities of love, flirtation has a right to existence; but, when cultivated on its own account and always remaining as flirtation, it becomes a symptom of degeneration or sexual depravity, among idle, crazy and vicious persons of all kinds.


[2] The terms grisette and lorette are now obsolete, and the names given to this class of women constantly varies. I shall, nevertheless, employ them in the course of this work because they clearly define certain special varieties of remunerated concubinage.



Generalities. Jealousy.—We have seen that the mechanism of the appetites consists in instincts inherited from our animal ancestors by mnemic engraphia and selection, and that it is situated in the primordial or lower cerebral centers (basal ganglia, spinal cord, etc.). In some of the lower animals we already find other instinctive nervous reactions which constitute the indirect effects or derivatives of the sexual appetite. The most evident of these is jealousy, or the feeling of grief and anger produced in an individual when the object of his sexual appetite is disputed by another individual of the same sex. Jealousy may also arise from other instincts, such as those of nutrition, ambition, etc.; but it forms one of the most typical complements of the sexual appetite, and leads, as we know, to furious combats, especially between males, sometimes also between females.

Owing to its profoundly hereditary origin, this passion has a very instinctive character, and might quite as well have been mentioned in the preceding chapter. I deal with it here because it is naturally associated with other irradiations of the sexual appetite, and because it has a peculiarly mental character.

Relation Between Love and Sexual Appetite. Sympathy.—Having entered the higher brain, or organ of mind, and become modified, complicated, and combined with the different branches of psychic activity, the sexual appetite takes the name of love, properly so-called. In order to better understand the relations of love to the sexual appetite we must refer to Chapter II. Let us begin with a short exposition of the phylogeny of the sentiments of sympathy, or the altruistic and social sentiments.

In the lower animals with no separate sexes egoism reigns absolutely. Each individual eats as much as it wants, then divides, buds or conjugates, thus fulfilling the sole object of its existence. The same principle holds in the lower stages of reproduction by separate sexes. Spiders give us a good example. In these, copulation is a dangerous act for the male, for if he is not extremely careful he is devoured by the female, sometimes even before having attained his object, often soon afterward, in order that nothing may be lost. However, the female shows a certain consideration for her eggs, and sometimes even for the young after they are hatched.

In higher stages of the animal kingdom sentiments of sympathy may be observed, derived from the sexual union of individuals. These are sentiments of attachment of the male for the female, and especially of the female (sometimes the male also) for their progeny.

Such sentiments become developed and may be transformed into intense love between the sexes, of long duration. Birds, for instance, often remain faithful for many years, and even for life. From these simple facts is evolved the intimate relationship which exists between sexual love and other sentiments of sympathy, that is to say affection, or love in the more vague and more extended sense of the term.

To every sentiment of sympathy between two individuals (sympathy forms part of the sentiments of pleasure) there is a corresponding contrary correlative sentiment of grief, when the object of sympathy dies, becomes sick, takes flight or is carried off. This sentiment often takes the form of simple sadness, but it may attain a degree of incurable melancholy. Among certain monkeys and parrots, we often see the death of one of the conjoints lead to the refusal of all food and finally to death of the survivor, after increasing sadness and depression. Removal of the young produces a profound sadness in the female ape. But when an animal discovers the cause of the grief, when, for instance, a stranger attempts to take away his mate or his young, a mixed reaction of sentiment is produced, that is to say anger or even fury against the perpetrator of the deed.

Jealousy is only a special form of this anger. The sentiment of anger and its violent and hostile expression constitute the natural reaction against one who disturbs a sentiment of pleasure, a reaction which tends to reestablish the latter. The power of the sentiment of anger increases with the offensive and defensive faculties, while, in weak and peaceful beings, terror and sadness to a great extent take their place. On the other hand, the sight of defenseless prey suffices to provoke, in the rapacious who are strong and well armed, by simple reflex association, a cruel sentiment of voluptuous anger, which is also observed in man.

Sentiment of Duty.—Another derivative of the sentiment of sympathy is that of duty, that is the moral sense. All sentiment of love or sympathy urges the one who loves to certain acts destined to increase the welfare of the object loved. This is why the mother nourishes her young and plucks feathers and hairs to make them a soft bed; and why the father brings food to his wife and young, and defends them against their enemies. All these acts, which are not to the advantage of the individual but to the object or objects of his sympathy, exact more or less laborious efforts, courage in the face of danger, etc. They thus provoke an internal struggle between the sentiment of sympathy and egoism, or the unpleasantness of undertaking things which are troublesome and disagreeable for the individual himself. From this struggle between two opposed series of sentiments is derived a third group of complex or mixed sentiments, that of duty, or moral conscience. When the sentiment of sympathy prevails, when the animal does his duty toward his young and his conjoint, he feels a sentiment of pleasure, of duty accomplished. If, on the contrary, he has been negligent, the egoistic instincts having for the moment prevailed, the remorse of conscience results, that is the painful uneasiness which follows all disobedience to the instinctive sentiments of sympathy. This uneasiness accumulates in the brain in the form of self-discontent, and may lead to an accentuated sentiment of repentance.

These phenomena exist both in the male and in the female, and if it was not so, the accomplishment of duty would be impossible; the cat would run away instead of defending her young; would eat her prey instead of giving it to them, etc. We thus see the elements of human social sentiment already very marked in many animals. Remorse and repentance can only be formed on the basis of preexisting sentiments of sympathy.

Sentiment of Kinship.—A higher degree of the sentiments of sympathy is developed when these do not remain limited to a temporary union, but when the union of the sexes is transformed into durable or even life-long marriage, as we see in monkeys and in most birds. In another manner the sentiments of sympathy are developed by extension of the family community to a greater number of individuals, who are grouped together for the common defense, as we see in swallows, crows, and to a higher degree, in the large organized communities of social animals, as the beavers, bees, ants, etc. In the latter, the sentiment of sympathy and duty nearly always affects all the individuals of the community, while anger and jealousy are extended toward every being which does not form part of it.

We must be blinded by prejudice not to comprehend that these same general facts, revealed by the study of biology and animal psychology, are repeated in the human mind. Some animals are even superior to the majority of men in the intensity of their sentiments of sympathy and duty, as well as in love and conjugal fidelity—monkeys and parrots, for example. In the social insects, such as the ants and bees, with their communities so solidly organized and so finely coordinated on the basis of instinct, the sentiment of social duty has almost entirely replaced the individual sentiments of sympathy. An ant or a bee only loves, so to speak, the whole assemblage of his companions. It does not sacrifice itself for any one of them in particular, but only for the community. In these animals the individual is only regarded as a number in the community whose motto is—one for all, but never all for one.

In bees especially, the degree of sympathy extended to a member or a class of the hive is exactly proportional to the utility of this member to the community. The working bees will kill themselves or die of hunger in order to nourish their queen, while in the autumn they ruthlessly massacre all the males or drones which have become useless.

Sentiments of Patriotism and Humanity.—The human brain, so powerful and so complicated, contains a little of all these things, with enormous individual variations. In man, the sentiments of sympathy and duty relate especially to the family, that is to say, they are to a great extent limited to individuals interested in a sexual community, viz., the conjoints and children, as occurs generally in mammals. It follows that sentiments of sympathy connected with larger communities such as remote relatives, the clan, the community, the country, those who speak the same language, etc., are relatively much weaker, and result from education and custom rather than from instinct. The weakest sentiment is certainly that of humanity, which regards each man as a brother and companion, and from which is evolved the general sentiment of solidarity or social duty. How can it be otherwise in a species which has lived for thousands or perhaps millions of years as small hostile tribes, separated from each other? Primitive men were so destitute of all humanitarian sentiment that they not only killed one another and practiced mutual slavery, but also martyred, tortured and even devoured one another.

In spite of all this, and as the result of custom and life in common, the individual sentiments of sympathy in man are easily extended to members of other races, especially as regards different sexes, so much so that enemies conquered and taken prisoners often became later on, owing to life in common, the friends or mates of their conquerors.

Antipathy.—Inversely, individual antipathies and enmity often occur not only between members of the same tribe but even between those of the same family. The latter may lead to parricide, fratricide, infanticide, or assassination of a conjoint.

Phylogeny of Love.—The social life of ants offers us some instructive analogies. In spite of the intense hostility of different colonies of ants among themselves, there may be obtained by habitude, often after many desperate combats, alliances between colonies which were hitherto enemies, even between colonies of different species. These alliances henceforth become permanent. This is very curious to observe at the time when the alliance begins to be formed. We then see certain individual hatreds persist, to a varying extent, for several days. Certain individuals of the weaker party are maltreated by other individuals of the conquering party. They cut off their limbs and antennae and often martyrize them to death with a rabidness that sadly resembles human sentiments! Hatred and dispute between individuals of the same colony of ants are, on the other hand, extremely rare. I can guarantee the correctness of all these observations, having often repeated them myself and having recorded them in my works on the habits of ants. Moreover, they have since been confirmed by other writers.

After what we have just said, and especially if we take into consideration the numerous observations which have been made in biology, we can hardly doubt that the sentiment of sexual attraction, or the sexual appetite, has been the primary source of nearly all, if not all, the sentiments of sympathy and duty which have been developed in animals and especially in man. Many of these sentiments are no doubt little by little completely differentiated and rendered entirely independent of sexual sentiment, forming a series of corresponding conceptions adapted to divers social objects in the form of sentiments of amity. The latter in their turn have often become the generators of social formations and of a more generalized altruism. Many others, however, have remained more or less consciously associated with the sexual appetite, as is certainly the case in man.

This short sketch which we have given of the phylogenetic history of love and its derivatives is sufficient to show the immense influence which sexual life has exercised on the whole development of the human mind.

On the other hand, we must avoid exaggerating the actual importance of this influence. Young children, who possess neither sexual appetite nor corresponding sensations, already give evidence not only of intense sentiments of sympathy and antipathy, anger and jealousy, but also of commiseration, when they see those whom they love suffer; they may even show that they already possess the sentiment of duty or disinterested devotion. All these phylogenetic derivatives of the sentiments of sexual attraction are thus developed in the individual long before the sexual instinct itself, from which they have become absolutely independent. This does not prevent them being powerfully influenced by the sexual instinct when this awakes, or from being associated with its direct derivatives when the sexual appetite, properly so-called, is absent. Thus we see absolutely cold women become loving and devoted wives and mothers, and possessing a highly developed sense of kinship. Maternal love is a sentiment of sympathy derived from the sexual sentiment, adapted directly to children, who are the products of sexual life.

Constellations.—From all this results the immense complication of the peculiarities of the human mind which are connected with love. Individual variations of the disposition to sexual appetite are combined with individual dispositions to the higher qualities of mind—general sentiments, intelligence and will—to form the most diverse individual combinations, which we may call constellations. Moreover, inherited individual dispositions are combined in man with a great number of experiences and remembrances, acquired in all domains in the course of his life, accumulating them in his brain by what is called education or adaptation to environment. From the immense complexity of energies resulting from hereditary dispositions combined with acquired factors, the resolutions and acts of man are derived, without his being able to account for the infinite multiplicity of causes which determine them.

It is thus that a man may be a model of conduct or morality, simply from the fact that his sexual appetite is almost nil. Another, on the contrary, suffers from an exaggerated sexual appetite, but is devoted, conscientious, and even scrupulous; this results in violent internal struggles, from which he does not always emerge victorious. A third is moderate in his appetites; if his sentiment of duty is strong and he possesses a strong will, he will resist his desires, while if his will is weak or his moral sense defective, he will succumb to the first temptation.

Love and sexual appetite may be intimately connected or completely separated in the same individual. In the same way that a cold woman may be a good mother, a very sensual woman may be a bad one, but the inverse may also be met with.

Love.—I speak here of the true love of a higher nature of one sex for the other, or sexual love, which is not simple friendship, but is combined with sexual appetite. To write on love is almost to pour water into the ocean, for literature is three parts composed of dissertations on love. There can be no doubt that the normal man feels a great desire for love. The irradiations of love in the mind constitute one of the fundamental conditions of human happiness and one of the principal objects of life. Unfortunately, the question is too often treated with exaggerated sentiment, or on the other hand, with sensual cynicism; it is examined from one side only, or else it is misunderstood.

First of all, love appears to be usually kindled by the sexual appetite. This is the celebrated story of Cupid's arrow. One falls in love with a face, a look, a smile, a white breast, a sweet and melodious voice, etc. However, the relations between love and sexual appetite are extremely delicate and complex. In man, the second may exist without the first and love may often persist without appetite, while in woman the two things are difficult to separate, and in any case, in her, the original appetite without love is much more rare. The two things are thus not identical; even the most materialistic and libidinous egoist will agree to this, if he is not too narrow-minded.

It may also happen that love precedes appetite, and this often leads to the most happy unions. Two characters may have extreme mutual sympathy, and this purely intellectual and sentimental sympathy may at first develop without a shadow of sensuality. This is nearly always the case when it exists from infancy. In modern society an enormous number of sexual unions, or marriages, are consummated without a trace of love, and are based on pure speculation, conventionality or fortune. Here it is tacitly assumed that the normal sexual appetite combined with custom will cement the marriage and render it durable. As the normal man has not, as a rule, extreme sentiments, such prevision is usually realized on the whole, the conjoints becoming gradually adapted to one another, more or less successfully according to the discoveries which are made after marriage.

Even when they are relatively true, love stories generally deal with exceptional cases, often even pathological; for the average marriage does not appear to the novelist sufficiently piquant or interesting to captivate his readers. We are not concerned here with extremes, or with the tragic situations met with in novels, but with normal and ordinary love, as it most often occurs in reality.

After what we have just said, it is clear that love is derived from two factors: (1) momentary sexual passion; (2) the hereditary and instinctive sentiments of sympathy which are derived from the primordial sexual appetite of our animal ancestors, but which have become completely independent of this appetite. Between these two terms are placed the sentiments of sympathy experienced by the individual in his former life, which have most often been provoked by sexual desire for an individual of the opposite sex, and which may be evoked by the aid of remembrance, kindled afresh, and contribute strongly to maintain constancy of love. These different sentiments pass into each other in all possible shades, and continually react on each other. Sexual appetite, for example, awakens sympathy, and is awakened by the latter in its turn; on the contrary, it is cooled or extinguished under the influence of bad conduct on the part of the person loved.

Let us here recall a law of the sentiments of sympathy, a law which is well known, but generally forgotten in human calculations. Man loves best those to whom he devotes himself, and not those from whom he receives benefits.[3] It is easy to be convinced of the reality of this fact in the relations of parents to their children, as well as in marriage. When one of the conjoints in marriage adulates the other, the latter may easily find this adulation quite natural, and may love the other conjoint much less than a spoilt child, to which is devoted all the transports of an unreasonable affection. The spoilt child, the object of such blind affection, more often responds to it by indifference, or even by ingratitude, disdain and impertinence. We find everywhere this play of sentiments, which considerably impedes mutuality in love. It may even concern inanimate objects. We like a garden, a house or a book over which we have taken much pains, and we remain indifferent to the most beautiful and precious gifts which come by themselves without our making any effort to obtain them. In the same way, the child becomes attached to some toy which he has made himself, and disdains the costly presents given by his parents. As a poet has said: "Man only enjoys for long and without remorse the goods dearly paid for by his efforts." (Sully-Prudhomme: "Le Bonheur.")

There is, therefore, a profound psychology in the old and wise saying that true love expresses itself as often by refusal as by compliance, and should always associate itself with reason. No doubt this is not primitive love; it is a love elevated and purified by its combination with the elements of intelligence.

In marriage, more than one husband thinks he ought to be separated from his wife and children so as not to spoil them. There is no need of a long explanation to show the fallacy of this idea. To be complete, love should be reciprocal, and to remain mutual it requires mutual education in marriage. Every husband should above all be separated from himself, and not from his wife. If each one did all in his power to promote the happiness of the other, this altruistic effort would strengthen his own sentiments of sympathy. This requires a constant and loyal effort on each side, but it avoids the illusion of a false love, provoked by the senses, vanishing like smoke or becoming changed to hatred. Without being blind to the weaknesses of his partner he must learn to like them as forming part of the person to whom he has devoted his heart, and employ all his skill in correcting them by affection, instead of increasing his own weakness by leaning on them. It is necessary, therefore, neither to admire nor to dislike the defects of the loved one, but to try and attenuate them by aid of integral love.

Love has been defined as "dual egoism." The reciprocal adulation of two human beings easily degenerates into egoistic enmity toward the rest of the human race, and this often reacts harmfully on the quality of love. Human solidarity is too great, especially at the present day, for such exclusivism in love not to suffer.

I would define ideal love as follows: After mature consideration, a man and a woman are led by sexual attraction, combined with harmony of character, to form a union in which they stimulate each other to social work, commencing this work with their mutual education and that of their children.

Such a conception of love refines this sentiment and purifies it to such an extent that it loses all its pettiness, and it is pettiness which so often causes it to degenerate, even in its most loyal forms. The social work in common of a man and woman united by true affection, full of tenderness and devotion for one another, mutually encouraging each other to perseverance and to action, will easily triumph over petty jealousies and all other instinctive reactions of the phylogenetic exclusiveness of natural love. The sentiments of love will thus become ever more ideal, and will no longer provide egoism with the soil of idleness and comfort on which it grows like a weed.

Inconvenience of Abstinence from Sexual Connection Between Married Couples by Medical Orders.—It is a matter of common observation that in marriage, at least during mature life, sexual connection strengthens and maintains love, even when it only constitutes part of that which cements tenderness and affection. In many cases I have observed that medical orders, given no doubt with good intentions, and forbidding sexual connection, on account of certain morbid conditions, have had the effect of cooling the sentiments of love and sympathy and producing indifference which soon becomes incurable. Physicians should always bear this in mind in their prescriptions, of which they too often see the immediate object only. The medical prohibition of sexual connection in marriage should be reserved for cases of absolute necessity. For example: A virtuous and capable man marries for love an intelligent but somewhat ill-developed girl. The marriage is happy and they have several children. But after a time certain local disorders in the woman induce the medical man to forbid sexual connection with her husband. They begin to sleep in separate rooms, and little by little intimate love becomes so far cooled that the renewal of sexual relations later on becomes impossible. The husband's sentiments are so much affected as to render him unfaithful to his moral principles, and to lead him occasionally to visit prostitutes. Although they have become essentially strangers to each other, the husband and wife continue to live together an apparently happy life; but this is far from always the case.

Durable Love.—It may be stated as a principle that true and elevated love is durable, and that the sudden passion which lets loose the sexual appetite toward an individual of the opposite sex, hitherto a stranger, in no way represents the measure of true love. Passion warps the judgment, conceals the most evident faults, colors everything in celestial purple, renders the lovers blind, and veils the true character of each from the other. We are only speaking here of cases where each is loyal and where the sexual appetite is not associated with the cold calculations of egoism. Reason only returns when the first tempest of a passion which seemed insatiable has subsided, when the honeymoon of marriage, or of a free union, has passed. Then only is it possible to see if what remains is true love, indifference, hatred or a mixture of these three sentiments, capable or not of becoming more or less adaptable and tolerable. This is why sudden amours are always dangerous, and why only long and profound mutual acquaintance before marriage can lead to a happy and lasting union.

Even in this case the unforseen is not absent, for it is very rarely that one knows a man and his ancestry; moreover, acquired diseases or mental anomalies may cause his character to degenerate later on.

Let us now examine some psychic phenomena more or less connected with love. For reasons which we have mentioned the irradiations of sexual love are on the whole less developed in man than in woman.


Masculine Audacity.—In the normal male the sentiment of sexual power favors self-exaltation, while the contrary sentiment of impotence, or even that of mediocre sexual power, depresses this sentiment of exaltation. Yet, in reality, the sexual power of man has not the capital importance for a normal and virgin woman that men imagine, influenced as they are by self-exaltation; what imposes on women is especially masculine audacity, and in sexual matters this increases with experience and practice. The company of prostitutes often renders men incapable of understanding feminine psychology, for prostitutes are hardly more than automata trained for the use of male sensuality. When men look among these for the sexual psychology of woman they only find their own mirror.

Man's flirtation, and his art of paying court to women are naturally combined with his audacity, as we have already observed in birds and mammals, and some of the lower animals. The male seeks to please the female to gain her favors. The brilliant colors of butterflies and birds, song, skill and proof of strength, often come to the aid of the male sexual instinct. Even in certain animals supplicant and plaintive sounds assist the male after his repeated refusal, apparently or in reality, by the female. We shall see in Chapter VI that savage men have a much greater tendency to tattoo and adorn themselves than have the women.

The art which man employs to seduce and conquer woman has been described to satiety in romances and novels, as well as in ethnographic works; so that we shall not dwell on it here. On the contrary, we shall show that in higher civilizations man is in general more sought after than woman, so that the latter has surpassed him in the art of flirtation or sexual conquest.

It is also important to remark to what extent the increase of man's mental complexity transforms his sexual tactics. The simple, natural, and at the same time bashful, modest manner, in which a naive young man seeks to conquer a heart, usually produces no effect on the fashionable young lady, experienced in all refined pleasures and saturated with unhealthy novels. These young women are much more easily seduced by the art of Don Juan and the old roues, who are more adequate to deal with them because they have studied practically the psychology of the modern woman.

Instinct of Procreation.—Another irradiation of the male sexual instinct, connected with the preceding, is the instinct of procreation. If there were no other difficulties or consequences, man would without the least doubt be instinctively inclined to copulate with as many women as he could, and procreate as many children as possible. The more he is capable of satisfying his procreative instinct, the more he becomes self-exalted, as he thus sees himself multiplied and feels his power extended by the possession of a great number of wives and children. This is one of the principal causes which urge rich men and polygamous peoples to possess many women.

Coitus without object, like that of prostitution, can only assuage the sexual appetite and does not satisfy any of its higher irradiations. It is well known that a happy betrothal, reposing on true love, and not on pecuniary interests, often transforms a young man from pessimism to optimism, from misogyny to philogyny. Skeptics smile at this transformation and regard it as only the transient intoxication of love. This may be true in some cases, but, as we have seen above, when love is ennobled by deep understanding and mutual education, when each knows and respects the other, the transformation remains definite, and is strengthened so much that the honeymoon of the silver wedding is often happier and more exalted than that which followed marriage. We can then say that the optimism created by sexual union cemented by true love rests on the normal accomplishment of the object of life. I cannot too often repeat that work in common, especially social work, on the part of the conjoints, is necessary for their happiness to be complete, and to survive in the one who remains after the decease of the other.

Jealousy.—The worst irradiation, or rather the worst reaction of contrast of love, which we have inherited from our animal ancestors, and that which is the most deeply rooted, is jealousy. Jealousy is a heritage of animals and barbarism; that is what I would say to all those who, in the name of offended honor, would grant it rights and even place it on a pedestal. It is ten times better for a woman to marry an unfaithful than a jealous husband. From the phylogenetic point of view, jealousy originates in the struggle for the possession of woman, at a period when right depended only on brute force. Cunning and violence contended with each other, and when the conqueror was in possession of a female, he had to guard her jealously to prevent her being abducted. Furious combats ensued. As soon as an unaccustomed approach, a look or anything else awakened the least suspicion of the presence of a rival, the male was tormented with a continual and instinctive feeling of defiance and distrust, often increased by the remembrance of the sadness of former defeats and the impotent rage which followed.

The results of male jealousy in the history of marriage are truly incredible. I may mention the iron girdles with locks—the so-called girdles of chastity—which we still see in certain museums, which the knights of the Middle Ages put on their wives when they set off to the wars, in order to appease their jealousy. Many savage peoples do not content themselves with severely punishing adultery in woman, even by death, but even simple conversations with a strange man. Jealousy transforms marriage into a hell. It is often exalted in man to the point of a mania for persecution, to which it is analogous. It is also a very common symptom of alcoholism. Then the life of the unfortunate woman who is the object of it becomes a continual martyrdom. Perpetual suspicion accompanied by insults, threats and violent words, and even homicide may be the result of this atrocious passion.

Even in its more moderate and normal form, jealousy is a torment, for distrust and suspicion poison love. We often hear of justified jealousy; I maintain, on the contrary, that jealousy is never justified, and that it is only the brutal stupidity of an atavistic heritage, or a pathological symptom. A reasonable man who has doubts as to the fidelity of his wife has certainly the right to assure himself of their correctness. But of what use is it to be jealous? If he finds his suspicions false he has, by his manner, made his wife unnecessarily unhappy and destroyed conjugal confidence and happiness. If, on the contrary, his suspicions are well founded he has only to choose between one of two ways. If it is a case of amorous intoxication suggested by another man to his wife, who is often very unhappy about it, she may then be restored to her husband and pardoned, for in this case affection only can cure her, never jealousy. If, however, love for her husband is entirely extinguished in her, or if she is only a false intriguer without character, jealousy is even more absurd, for the game is not worth the candle, and immediate divorce is necessary.

Unfortunately, man only possesses very little control over his feelings when these are violent. The jealous person by nature, that is by heredity, is generally incurable and poisons his own existence at the same time as that of his wife. Such individuals should never marry.

In lunatic asylums, in law, and in novels jealousy plays an important part, for it is one of the most fruitful sources of tragedies and human unhappiness. The combined and persevering efforts of education and selection are necessary to gradually eliminate it from the human brain. We often hear it said of man and woman that they are not jealous enough, because they are too indulgent toward the extra-nuptial inclinations of their conjoint. When such indulgence rests on cynical indifference or on pecuniary interests, it is not the want of jealousy but the want of moral sense which is to blame. If it arises from real and reasoned love, it should on the contrary be highly respected and praised. I would wish all heroes of offended honor and all defenders of jealousy to reflect on the following case:

A man of high position, and the father of five children, lived in the most happy union. One day he made the acquaintance of a friend of his wife, a very intelligent and well-educated lady. Frequent visits and long conversations led to intimacy which developed into violent reciprocal love. However, the lady refused to abandon herself entirely. The husband confessed everything to his wife, even to the smallest details, and the lady did the same. Instead of becoming jealous, the wife had the good sense and the courage to treat the two lovers not only with indulgence, but a true and profound affection. The loyalty of each of the parties interested greatly facilitated the gradual denouement of a difficult situation, without the family affections suffering. But the denouement would have been quite as peaceful if the lady had yielded to sexual connection with the husband. In fact, the wife herself considered this question very seriously and calmly, in case the fire could not be otherwise extinguished.

I ask in all sincerity, if such mild and humane treatment of an unfortunate love affair, in which the three interested parties each strove to avoid all scandal and everything which could damage their mutual reputation, I ask if this good and loyal treatment is not, from the moral standpoint, far superior to scenes of jealousy, duels, divorces and all their consequences, things which are all sanctioned and even sanctified by custom?

I also know many cases where the husbands of women who have fallen in love with other men have conducted themselves in an equally noble and reasonable manner, even when their wives had been completely unfaithful, and the results have always been good. It is needless to say that I do not wish to maintain that a husband should tolerate indefinitely the bad conduct of his wife, nor a woman that of her husband; but this is another thing.

Sexual Braggardism.—Let us pass on to another irradiation of the male sexual appetite—sexual braggardism. This arises from self-exaltation evolved from the sexual power of man. Like jealousy, this sentiment is no doubt inherited from our animal ancestors, and it finds its analogy, or rather its caricature, in the cock, the peacock, the turkey, and in general among the richly adorned males of polygamous species. Although on the whole more innocent, the results of this atavistic instinct are no more elevated than those of jealousy. The sentiment of sexual power induces men, especially those of lower mental caliber, to boast of their sexual conquests and exaggerate them. It is needless to say that success does not go to the unskillful boaster, but to the one who relates his audacious exploits in a casual way. The Don Juan experienced in the art of seduction approaches women with audacity and aplomb, and usually imposes on them considerably, whatever his ignorance of other things. He has instinctively learnt one thing: viz., the weakness of woman in the face of the male form, theatrical effect, uniforms, an audacious act, a fierce mustache, etc. He has learnt that these fireworks hypnotize her and silence her reason, and that she is then capable of enthusiasm for the most doubtful cavalier and delivers herself to him bound hand and foot, provided his self-assurance does not desert him.

I may say here that it is most often men of low intellect, weak in judgment and principles, who think themselves most superior to the feminine sex, and who behave as tyrants to their wives.

Sexual braggardism has, moreover, grave consequences for the man himself, for it urges him to excesses which far exceed his appetites and especially his natural wants. In spite of other advantages, he wishes to shine by these excesses among his fellows and even among the grisettes whose minds are full of sexual matters.

Male sexual braggardism contributes with sexual appetite to entice reserved and high-minded young men toward prostitutes, against their better instincts, their reason and their moral sense. Alcohol especially facilitates the degeneration of sexual life.

The Pornographic Spirit.—The term eroticism is given to the state of excitation of the sexual appetite. When a person cultivates it artificially and abandons himself to purely animal sensuality, without combining it with higher intellectual or moral aspirations, there develop in the mind irradiations which may be designated by the term pornographic spirit. The entire circle of ideas of such individuals is so impregnated with eroticism that all their thoughts and sentiments are colored by it. They see everywhere, even in the most innocent objects, the most lewd allusions. Woman is only regarded by them as an object of sexual enjoyment, and her mind only appears to such satyrs as an ignoble erotic caricature, which is disgusting to every man capable of lofty sentiments.

Owing to its usually sensual and gross nature, male eroticism has succeeded in modeling a whole class of women in whom ideal character in their desires is wanting. Instead of recognizing his own work and the vile image of his own person in these unnatural women, the libertine, as we have already seen, imagines them as the normal type of woman. From the height of his presumption, he then despises woman and does not perceive that it is himself whom he despises; for on the whole, from the sexual point of view, the dependent woman of to-day conforms herself to man and becomes what he makes her. The number of coitus, their details, the size and form of the sexual organs, the pleasure of having cut out other men, and especially the pathological perversions of the sexual appetite, form the chief object of the thoughts and conversations of pornographic minds. Each tries to outdo the others in sexual enormities, and the virtuosity of these gentlemen in this domain is only surpassed by their ignorance and incapacity in all others.

Prostitution and all the modern sexual degeneration which marches under the hypocritical flag of Christianity, civilization and monogamy, have so far developed the pornographic spirit that men living in centers of debauchery, centers which are unfortunately extending more and more from town to country, lose all conception of the noble qualities natural to the feminine sentiment and to true love, or only preserve a few shreds of it which they treat with ridicule. Many men have admitted this to me, after being much astonished when I was obliged to give them quite another conception of love and woman, without introducing the least trace of religion. No doubt certain better individuals, fallen by chance into debauchery, speak respectfully of a mother or a sister, for whom they profess an almost religious worship. They regard these as beings apart, as species of a lost race of demigods, and they do not perceive that they discredit them and drag them in the mud by their contempt and pornographic conception of woman in general, a conception which is moreover often altered to profound pessimism.

In the relatively moral circles of society, our description would no doubt be taxed with exaggeration, because natures a little more refined have the habit of acting like the ostrich who hides his head in the sand, that is to say of turning their eyes away from the pornographic swamp with disgust so as not to see it, and thus avoid it instinctively. But this maneuver serves no purpose: the facts remain as they are.

Eroticism is no more a vice than sexual anaesthesia is a virtue. Even when they are chaste, men of libidinous nature require a strong will to resist all the artificial seductions which excite their sensuality. This is why the bog of debauchery engulfs so many men of a naturally good nature. In this sense, cold natures are better off; they can cover themselves with the glory of a "virtue" the resplendent rays of which become lost in a penumbra of defects and weaknesses from which these natures suffer in other domains.

Sexual Hypocrisy.—Hypocrisy is a peculiarity deeply rooted in the human mind. We can affirm that whoever pretends never to have been a hypocrite lies, quite as much as one who swears he has never lied. But nowhere, save perhaps in the domain of religion, does hypocrisy play a greater part than in the sexual domain. Nowhere is there so much falsehood, and men who are most honest on other points make no scruple of deceiving their wives in this respect. I do not speak here of the simulation of sentiments of love, for it is too banal, and there is no need to be too exacting over this point, for there are strong attenuating circumstances.

First of all, erotic feelings are capable of blinding man for the moment, as far as persuading him of the eternal duration of love and fidelity which he promises the object of his appetites, as well as of the reality of the celestial qualities under which this object appears to him, or with which it pleases him to adorn it. Two persons mutually excited by sexual passion are fascinated by the illusions of a mirage, which often vanishes soon afterward, so that it is not rare to see them on the following day hurling the most violent abuse at each other.

Those who have not been witnesses of such events may hardly believe them. It is sufficient, however, to be a magistrate or to read the reports of lawsuits between debased persons as the result of love quarrels, broken engagements or marriages, seductions, etc., to study the letters that the two parties have written before and after their quarrel, in order to be convinced of the correctness of what we have said above. In the first letters the lovers adulate each other and adorn each other with the most hyperbolic epithets, swearing eternal love and fidelity, and deluding each other in the most absurd manner. In letters written sometimes only a few days later we are astonished to see the same individuals grossly insulting each other and mutually covering themselves with ignoble calumnies. This is how passion without reason passes through the furnaces of love and hatred, dragging after it all the artificial scaffolding of what man imagines to be his right based on logic, but which is in reality only a tissue of ridiculous contradictions, the automatic and inept product of his emotional state. Such contrasts are so frequent that we can easily recognize the expression of a psychological law, due to the mirages of the amorous passions on the one hand and the inverse reaction on the other.

Nevertheless hypocrisy has its good side. It has been said not without reason that "hypocrisy is a concession which vice makes to virtue." In their nakedness human thoughts are often so sadly vulgar and so offensive that a little varnish improves them. In this sense, and when it comes from a feeling of shame or good-will, hypocrisy deserves a good deal of the eulogy which Mark Twain has heaped on it in his charming satire, "The Decadence of the Art of Lying."

In the sexual question hypocrisy is directly provoked by the tyranny and barbarism of what are called good manners, often even by the law. In this sense it constitutes a response of human nature to the forms and customs derived from the right of the stronger or from religious superstitions, as well as from the dogmas resulting from them.

By the term sexual hypocrisy I do not mean the repugnant forms of hypocrisy pure and simple, in which man only exploits love indirectly for an interested end, for instance when he simulates love to obtain a rich wife. I only speak of the forms of hypocrisy which are directly evolved from the sexual appetite or from love.

It is from this point of view that we must judge sexual hypocrisy, and if I have laid special stress on its good points, it is in view of marriage, where it assists the education of noble and elevated sentiments even in the hypocrite. By praising the virtues of his helpmate with a little exaggeration, these are made to appear more noble. If the time is spent in saying disagreeable truths, love is soon stifled and killed. On the contrary, if each conjoint attributes to the other as fine qualities as possible, each is finally persuaded that the other really possesses them, and then realizes them himself, at any rate in part.

The worst of hypocrisies is that which is the product of base pecuniary interests, or of a gross sexual appetite without love, or lastly by the pressure of conventional or religious customs. Good hypocrisy consists in the repression of all that is base in the sentiments, inclinations and passions; in the fact that one strives to hide it from others, even from one's self, and to suggest in its place as many amiable qualities as possible, so as to strengthen in a disinterested manner the object of one's love in noble sentiments. This kind of hypocrisy is in reality an indirect product of altruistic sentiments. One perceives with pain on reflecting, either the absence of spontaneous sentiments of sympathy, or the presence of disgust and bad temper, and one strives to hide the thing by sympathetic expressions for which one seeks an object, and to which one would wish to give a durable character. Loyal efforts made in this direction often succeed in correcting the egoistic humor with which one is affected, and in giving rise to the sentiments one desires to experience. One must not, however, by only looking at one side of the question, allow such efforts to degenerate into maladroit blindness, which will only have the effect of spoiling the person one loves.

Egoistic Love.—It is obvious that the psychic irradiations of the sexual sense are strongly influenced by the individuality of the one who loves. The egoist loves in a manner naively egoistic. He is not wanting in fine words, but in his opinion all sentiment and respect is due to his person, while he reduces to a minimum his duties toward the object of his love. He exacts much from the other and gives little. The good man with altruistic sentiments feels things in an inverse way; he exacts little from others, and much from himself.

Love differs in different natures, according as they are calm or lively, imbecile or intelligent, well educated or otherwise: the will plays a great part here. Weakness and impulsiveness are found in love, as well as energy and perseverance. In the last point woman is superior, owing to the greater constancy of her love. There is thus no domain of the mind which is not influenced by love, and which does not react on love in its turn.

Intellectual occupations are facilitated by a happy love, while they are usually hindered by the sorrows of love. Even men of science, so proud of their calmness, are often more influenced than one would think in their scientific opinions by their emotional sentiments. Without a man being aware of it, his sentiments insinuate themselves into the opinions which he believes to be of a purely intellectual nature, and direct them unconsciously with much more power than he generally imagines. Such influences act chiefly on individuals disposed to sentimentality. In love, these individuals resemble two-edged swords; the intensity of their emotional reactions and sentiments drives them from one extreme to another, from foolish happiness to despair or fury. The situation becomes still more grave when such storms burst among impulsive persons of weak will and limited intelligence. Under such circumstances ill-assorted alliances are formed which lead to violent quarrels, and sometimes even to crime. When jealousy comes on the scene the man often kills the woman and commits suicide.

It would seem that such crime can only arise from egoism; this is often the case, but not always. Despair may often lead to such acts, without any motive of vengeance, or even of jealousy. The storm of passion drives weak-minded persons to impulsive actions, the motives of which are very difficult to analyze. After these tragedies of murder preceding suicide, when the murderer survives, he often expresses himself as follows: "I was in such a state of despair and excitement that I saw no other issue than death for both of us."

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