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Title: Taboo and Genetics - A Study of the Biological, Sociological and Psychological Foundation of the Family
Author: Knight, Melvin Moses, 1887-1981, Blanchard, Phyllis Mary, Peters, Iva Lowther, 1876-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's note: The irregular footnote markers in this text [numbers]
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A Study of the Biological, Sociological and Psychological Foundation of
the Family





Author of _The Adolescent Girl_

London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd.
New York: Moffat, Yard & Co.




Scientific discovery, especially in biology, during the past two decades
has made necessary an entire restatement of the sociological problem of
sex. Ward's so-called "gynæcocentric" theory, as sketched in Chapter 14
of his _Pure Sociology_, has been almost a bible on the sex problem to
sociologists, in spite of the fact that modern laboratory
experimentation has disproved it in almost every detail. While a
comparatively small number of people read this theory from the original
source, it is still being scattered far and wide in the form of
quotations, paraphrases, and interpretations by more popular writers. It
is therefore necessary to gather together the biological data which are
available from technical experimentation and medical research, in order
that its social implications may be utilized to show the obsoleteness of
this older and unscientific statement of the sex problem in society.

In order to have a thoroughly comprehensive survey of the institutions
connected with sexual relationships and the family and their entire
significance for human life, it is also necessary to approach them from
the ethnological and psychological points of view. The influence of the
primitive sex taboos on the evolution of the social mores and family
life has received too little attention in the whole literature of sexual
ethics and the sociology of sex. That these old customs have had an
inestimable influence upon the members of the group, modern psychology
has recently come to recognize. It therefore seems advantageous to
include these psychological findings in the same book with the
discussion of the sex taboos and other material with which it must so
largely deal.

These fields--biology, ethnology, and psychology--are so complicated and
so far apart technically, although their social implications are so
closely interwoven, that it has seemed best to divide the treatment
between three different writers, each of whom has devoted much study to
his special phase of the subject. This leads to a very simple
arrangement of the material. The first part deals with the physical or
biological basis of the sex problem, which all societies from the most
primitive to the most advanced have had and still have to build upon.
The second part deals with the various ideas man has developed in his
quest for a satisfactory adaptation of this physical basis to his own
requirements. Part three attempts to analyze the effect of this long
history of social experimentation upon the human psyche in its modern
social milieu.

In the social evolution of the human mind, the deepest desires of the
individual have been often necessarily sacrificed to the needs of the
group. Sometimes they have been unnecessarily sacrificed, since human
intelligence is, unfortunately, not omniscient. Nevertheless, the sum
total of human knowledge has now become great enough so that it is at
least well to pause and take account of its bearing on the age-old
problem of family life, in order that our evolution henceforth may be
guarded by rational control rather than trial and error in so far as is
possible. Such a summarization of our actual knowledge of the biology,
sociology and psychology of the foundations of the family institution
this book aims to present, and if it can at the same time suggest a
starting point for a more rationalized system of social control in this
field, its purpose will have been accomplished.








What is sex? A sexual and mixed reproduction. Origin of sexual
reproduction. Advantage of sex in chance of survival. Germ and body
cells. Limitations of biology in social problems. Sex always present in
higher animals. Sex in mammals--the problem in the human species.
Application of the laboratory method.


Continuity of germ plasm. The sex chromosome. The internal secretions
and the sex complex. The male and the female type of body. How removal
of sex glands affects body type. Sex determination. Share of the egg and
sperm in inheritance. The nature of sex--sexual selection of little
importance. The four main types of secretory systems. Sex and sex
instincts of rats modified by surgery. Dual basis for sex. Opposite sex
basis in every individual. The Free-Martin cattle. Partial reversal of
sex in human species.


Intersexes in moths. Bird intersexes. Higher metabolism of males.
Quantitative difference between sex factors. Old ideas of
intersexuality. Modern surgery and human intersexes. Quantitative theory
a Mendelian explanation. Peculiar complication in the case of man.
Chemical life-cycles of the sexes. Functional-reproductive period and
the sex problem. Relative significance of physiological sex differences.


Adaptation and specialization. Reproduction a group--not an individual
problem. Conflict between specialization and adaptation. Intelligence
makes for economy in adjustment to environment. Reproduction, not
production, the chief factor in the sex problem.


Racial decay in modern society. Purely "moral" control dysgenic in
civilized society. New machinery for social control. Mistaken notion
that reproduction is an individual problem. Economic and other factors
in the group problem of reproduction.





Primitive social control. Its rigidity. Its necessity. The universality
of this control in the form of taboos. Connection between the universal
attitude of primitive peoples toward woman as shown in the
Institutionalized Sex Taboo and the magico-religious belief in Mana.
Relation of Mana to Taboo. Discussion of Sympathetic Magic and the
associated idea of danger from contact. Difficulties in the way of an
inclusive definition of Taboo. Its dual nature. Comparison of concepts
of Crawley, Frazer, Marett, and others. Conclusion that Taboo is
Negative Mana. Contribution of modern psychology to the study of Taboo.
Freud's analogy between the dualistic attitude toward the tabooed object
and the ambivalence of the emotions. The understanding of this dualism
together with the primitive belief in Mana and Sympathetic Magic
explains much in the attitude of man toward woman. The vast amount of
evidence in the taboos of many peoples of dualism in the attitude toward
woman. Possible physiological explanation of this dualistic attitude of
man toward woman found in a period before self-control had in some
measure replaced social control, in the reaction of weakness and disgust
following sex festivals.


Taboos of first chapter indicate that in the early ages the fear of
contamination by woman predominated. Later emphasis fell on her mystic
and uncanny power. Ancient fertility cults. Temple prostitution,
dedication of virgins, etc. Ancient priestesses and prophetesses.
Medicine early developed by woman added to belief in her power. Woman's
psychic quality of intuition: its origin--theories--conclusion that this
quality is probably physiological in origin, but aggravated by taboo
repressions. Transformation in attitude toward woman in the early
Christian period. Psychological reasons for the persistence in religion
of a Mother Goddess. Development of the Christian concept. Preservation
of ancient woman cults as demonology. Early Christian attitude toward
woman as unclean and in league with demons. Culmination of belief in
demonic power of woman in witchcraft persecutions. All women affected by
the belief in witches and in the uncleanness of woman. Gradual
development on the basis of the beliefs outlined of an ideally pure and
immaculate Model Woman.


The Taboo and modern institutions. Survival of ideas of the uncleanness
of woman. Taboo and the family. The "good" woman. The "bad" woman.
Increase in the number of women who do not fit into the ancient


Taboo survivals act dysgenically within the family under present
conditions. Conventional education of girls a dysgenic influence.
Prostitution and the family. Influence of ancient standards of "good"
and "bad." The illegitimate child. Effect of fear, anger, etc., on
posterity. The attitude of economically independent women toward





Bearing of modern psychology on the sex problem. Conditioning of the
sexual impulse. Vicarious expression of the sexual impulse. Unconscious
factors of the sex life. Taboo control has conditioned the natural
biological tendencies of individuals to conform to arbitrary standards
of masculinity and femininity. Conflict between individual desires and
social standards.


Social institutions controlling sex activities based on the assumption
that _all_ women are adapted to as well as specialized for reproduction.
Neurotic tendencies which unfit women for marriage--the desire for
domination. Sexual anæsthesia another neurotic trait which interferes
with marital harmony. The conditioning of the sexual impulse to the
parent ideal and the erotic fetish as factors which determine mating.
Homosexual tendencies and their part in the sex problem. The conflict
between the desire for marriage and egoistic ambitions. The social
regulations from the viewpoint of individual psychology.


Mating determined by unconscious psychological motives instead of
eugenic considerations. Some of the best male and female stock refusing
marriage and parenthood. The race is reproduced largely by the inferior
and average stocks and very little by the superior stock. As a
therapeutic measure, society should utilize psychological knowledge as a
new method of control. Romantic love and conjugal love--a new ideal of
love. The solution of the conflict between individual and group







What is sex? Asexual and mixed reproduction; Origin of sexual
reproduction; Advantage of sex in chance of survival; Germ and body
cells; Limitations of biology in social problems; Sex always present in
higher animals; Sex in mammals; The sex problem in the human species;
Application of laboratory method.

Sex, like all complicated phenomena, defies being crowded into a simple
definition. In an animal or plant individual it is expressed by and
linked with the ability to produce egg- or sperm-cells (ova or
spermatozoa). Sexual reproduction is simply the chain of events
following the union of the egg and sperm to produce a new individual.
Looked at from another angle, it is that sort of reproduction which
requires two differentiated individuals: the male, which produces
spermatoza, and the female, which produces ova. In the case of very
simple forms, it would be simply the union or conjugation of a male and
a female individual and the reproductive process involved. Where there
is no differentiation into male and female there is no sex.

An individual which produces both sperm-and egg-cells within its body
is termed an hermaphrodite. Very few hermaphrodites exist among the
vertebrates, although they may be found in one or two species (e.g., the
hagfish). There are no truly hermaphroditic mammals, i.e., individuals
in which both the male and the female germ cells function, except
perhaps in rare instances.

Sexless or asexual reproduction assumes various forms. What is usually
considered the most primitive of these is fission or simple division, in
which the cell divides into two equal, identical parts. There is of
course no suggestion of sex here. It is fairly safe to assume that life
began thus in the world, as neuter or sexless--i.e., with no suggestion
of either maleness or femaleness.[A]

[Footnote A: This asexual type of reproduction has been misinterpreted
by a whole school of non-biological writers, who have followed the lead
of Lester F. Ward, in his classification of these neuter-organisms as
females. Ward says ("Pure Sociology," Ch. 14): "It does no violence to
language or science to say that life begins with the female organism and
is carried on a long distance by means of females alone. In all the
different forms of asexual reproduction from fission to parthenogenesis,
the female may in this sense be said to exist alone and perform all the
functions of life including reproduction. In a word, life begins as
female" (p. 313). Adding to this statement the assertion that the male
developed at first as a mere parasite, in the actual, physical sense,
Ward proceeds to build up his famous Gynæcocentric Theory, which is
familiar to all students of social science, and need not be elaborated
here. It is obvious that a thorough biological knowledge destroys the
fundamental concept on which this theory is founded, for there is no
doubt that life begins as neuter or sexless, and not as female.]

There are a number of other forms of asexual reproduction, or the
"vegetative type" (Abbott's term, which includes fission, budding,
polysporogonia and simple spore formation). Budding (as in yeast) and
spore formation are familiar to us in plants. Such forms are too distant
from man, in structure and function, for profitable direct comparison.
Especially is this true with respect to sex, which they do not possess.

Parthenogenesis includes very diverse and anomalous cases. The term
signifies the ability of females to reproduce in such species for one or
a number of generations without males. Many forms of this class (or more
strictly, these classes) have apparently become specialized or
degenerated, having once been more truly sexual. Parthenogenesis
(division and development of an egg without the agency of male sperm)
has been brought about artificially by Jacques Loeb in species as
complicated as frogs.[1,2]  All the frogs produced were males, so that
the race (of frogs) could not even be theoretically carried on by that

The origin of sexual reproduction in animals must have been something as
follows: The first method of reproduction was by a simple division of
the unicellular organism to form two new individuals. At times, a fusion
of two independent individuals occurred. This was known as conjugation,
and is seen among Paramecia and some other species to-day. Its value is
probably a reinvigoration of the vitality of the individual. Next there
was probably a tendency for the organism to break up into many parts
which subsequently united with each other. Gradually some of these
uniting cells came to contain more food material than the others. As a
result of their increased size, they possessed less power of motion than
the others, and in time lost their cilia (or flagella) entirely and were
brought into contact with the smaller cells only by the motion of the
latter. Finally, in colonial forms, most of the cells in the colony
ceased to have any share in reproduction, that function being relegated
to the activities of a few cells which broke away and united with others
similarly adrift. These cells functioning for reproduction continued to
differentiate more and more, until large ova and small, motile
spermtozoa were definitely developed.

The clearest evidences as to the stages in the evolution of sexual
reproduction is found in the plant world among the green algæ.[3]  In
the lower orders of one-celled algæ, reproduction takes place by simple
cell division. In some families, this simple division results in the
production of several new individuals instead of only two from each
parent cell.  A slightly different condition is found in those orders
where the numerous cells thus produced by simple division of the parent
organism unite in pairs to produce new individuals after a brief
independent existence of their own. These free-swimming cells, which
apparently are formed only to reunite with each other, are called
zoöspores, while the organism which results from their fusion is known
as a zygospore. The zygospore thus formed slowly increases in size,
until it in its turn develops a new generation of zoöspores. In still
other forms, in place of the zoöspores, more highly differentiated
cells, known as eggs and sperms, are developed, and these unite to
produce the new individuals.  Both eggs and sperms are believed to have
been derived from simpler ancestral types of ciliated cells which were
similar in structure and closely resembled zoöspores.[A]

[Footnote A: This evidence, which points to the conclusion that in the
early origin of sexual reproduction the males and females were
differentiated and developed from a uniform type of ancestral cell,
quite controverts Ward's point that the male originated as a kind of

Having once originated, the sexual type of reproduction possessed a
definite survival value which assured its continuation. Sex makes
possible a crossing of strains, which evidently possesses some great
advantage, since the few simple forms which have no such division of
reproductive functions have undergone no great development and all the
higher, more complicated animals are sexual. This crossing of strains
may make possible greater variety, it may help in crossing out or
weakening variations which are too far from the average, or both.

Schäfer[4] thinks that an exchange of nuclear substance probably gives
a sort of chemical rejuvenation and very likely stimulates division. At
any rate, the groups in which the reproductive process became thus
partitioned between two kinds of individuals, male and female, not only
survived, but they underwent an amazing development compared with those
which remained sexless.

There came a time in the evolution of the groups possessing sexual
reproduction, when increasing specialization necessitated the division
into reproductive and non-reproductive cells. When a simple cell
reproduces by dividing into two similar parts, each developing into a
new individual like the parent, this parent no longer exists as a cell,
but the material which composed it still exists in the new ones. The old
cell did not "die"--no body was left behind. Since this nuclear
substance exists in the new cells, and since these generations go on
indefinitely, the cells are in a sense "immortal" or deathless. In a
one-celled individual, there is no distinction between germinal and
bodily functions. In the more complicated organisms, however, there are
innumerable kinds of cells, a few (the germ cells) specialized for
reproduction, the others forming the body which eats, moves, sees,
feels, and in the case of man, _thinks_. But the germ-cells or germplasm
continue to be immortal or deathless in the same sense as in the
simplest organisms. The body, in a historical sense, grew up around the
germ-cells, taking over functions a little at a time, until in the
higher animals nutrition and other activities and a large part even of
the reproductive process itself is carried on by body-cells.

When we think of a man or woman, we think of an individual only one of
whose innumerable activities--reproduction--is carried on by germ-cells,
and this one only at the very beginning of the life of a new individual.
Human societies, needless to remark, are not organized by germplasms,
but by brains and hands--composed of body cells. If these brains and
hands--if human bodies--did not wear out or become destroyed, we should
not need to trouble ourselves so much about the germplasm, whose sole
function in human society is to replace them.

Since the individual human bodies and minds which seek after the things
to which we mortals attach value--moral worth, esthetic and other
pleasure, achievement and the like--do have to be replaced every few
years, the germplasms from which new individuals must come have always
been and always will be of fundamental importance. It is always the
_product_ of the germplasm which concerns us, and we are interested in
the germ-cells themselves only in relation to their capacity to produce
individuals of value to society.

So let us not go erring about in the philosophical ether, imagining that
because the _amoeba_ may not be specialized for anything over and above
nutrition and reproduction that these are necessarily the "main
business" or "chief ends" of human societies. Better say that although
we have become developed and specialized for a million other activities
we are still bound by those fundamental necessities. As to "Nature's
purposes" about which the older sex literature has had so much to say,
the idea is essentially religious rather than scientific. If such
"purposes" indeed exist in the universe, man evidently does not feel
particularly bound by them. We do not hesitate to put a cornfield where
"Nature" had a forest, or to replace a barren hillside by the sea with a

Necessities and possibilities, not "purposes" in nature, claim our
attention--reproduction being one of those embarrassing necessities,
viewed through the eyes of man, the one evaluating animal in the world.
Thus in reasoning from biology to social problems, it is fundamental to
remember that man as an animal is tremendously differentiated in
functions, and that most of the activities we look upon as distinctively
human depend upon the body rather than the germ-cells.

It follows that biology is the foundation rather than the house, if we
may use so crude a figure. The solidity of the foundation is very
important, but it does not dictate the details as to how the
superstructure shall be arranged.

Civilization would not be civilization if we had to spend most of our
time thinking about the biological basis. If we wish to think of
"Nature's" proscriptions or plans as controlling animal life, the
anthropomorphism is substantially harmless. But man keeps out of the way
of most of such proscriptions, has plans of his own, and has acquired
considerable skill in varying his projects without running foul of such
biological prohibitions.

It is time to abandon the notion that biology prescribes in detail how
we shall run society. True, this foundation has never received a surplus
of intelligent consideration. Sometimes human societies have built so
foolishly upon it that the result has been collapse. Somebody is always
digging around it in quest of evidence of some vanished idyllic state of
things which, having had and discarded, we should return to. This little
excursion into biology is made in the full consciousness that social
mandates are not to be found there. Human projects are the primary
material of social science. It is indispensable to check these against
biological fact, in order to ascertain which are feasible and which are
not. The biological basis may _help_ in explaining old social structures
or in planning new ones; but much wild social theory has been born of a
failure to appreciate the limitations of such material.

All the so-called higher animals, mammals and others, are divided into
two sexes, male and female. Besides the differentiation of germ-cells
there are rather obvious differences in the bodies of the two sexes. In
common with many other mammals, the human male has a larger and stronger
body, on an average, than has the human female. This is true also of the
anthropoid apes, the species which most resemble man physically and are
commonly supposed to be his nearest blood relatives in the animal
kingdom. It has been true of man himself as far back as we have any

Such differences are only superficial--the real ones go deeper. We are
not so much interested in how they originated in the world as in how
they _do_ come about in the individual. At least, we can come a good
deal nearer ascertaining the latter than the former. In either case, our
real purpose is to determine as nearly as possible what the unlikeness
really consists of and so help people to sensibly make up their minds
what can be done about it.

To define sex with rigid accuracy as the term applies to human beings,
it is necessary to tell what it is in mammals, since man is a mammal.
The presence of distinct body-cells is not peculiar to mammals, but
there is one respect in which these latter are quite different from
non-mammals: A mammalian individual, beginning like a non-mammal with a
fertilized egg, has a period of intra-maternal development which a
non-mammal has not. That is, a non-mammalian is a fertilized egg _plus_
its parental (or extra-parental) environment; but a mammalian individual
is a fertilized egg, _plus its intra-maternal environment_, plus its
non-parental environment.

Here in a nutshell is the biological basis of sex problem in human
society. Human individuals do wear out and have to be replaced by
reproduction. In the reproductive process, the female, as in mammals
generally, is specialized to provide an intra-maternal environment
(approximately nine months in the human species) for each new
individual, and lactation or suckling afterward. The biological phase of
the sex problem in society consists in studying the nature of that
specialization. From the purely sociological standpoint, the sex problem
concerns the customs and institutions which have grown up or may grow
up to meet the need of society for reproduction.

The point which most concerns us is in how far biological data can be
applied to the sex problem in society. Systematic dissections or
breeding experiments upon human beings, thought out in advance and under
control in a laboratory, are subject to obvious limitations. Surgical
operations, where careful data are kept, often answer the same purpose
as concerns some details; but these alone would give us a fragmentary
record of how a fertilized egg becomes a conscious human being of one
sex or the other. The practice of medicine often throws light on
important points. Observation of abnormal cases plays its part in adding
to our knowledge. Carefully compiled records of what does occur in
inheritance, while lacking many of the checks of planned and controlled
experiments, to some extent take the place of the systematic breeding
possible with animals. At best, however, the limitations in
experimentation with human subjects would give us a rather disconnected
record were it not for the data of experimental biology.

How may such biological material be safely used? Indiscriminately
employed, it is worse than useless--it can be confusing or actually
misleading. It is probably never safe to say, or even to infer directly,
that because of this or that animal structure or behaviour we should do
thus and so in human society. On this point sociology--especially the
sociology of sex--must frankly admit its mistakes and break with much of
its cherished past.

The social problem of sex consists of fitting the best possible
institutions on to the biological foundation _as we find it in the human
species_. Hence all our reasoning about which institution or custom is
preferable must refer directly to the human bodies which compose
society. We can use laboratory evidence about the bodies of other
animals to help us in understanding the physical structure and functions
of the human body; but we must stop trying to apply the sex-ways of
birds, spiders or even cows (which are at least mammals) to human
society, which is not made up of any of these.

It is possible to be quite sure that some facts carefully observed about
mammals in a biological laboratory apply to similar structures in man,
also a mammal. Because of this relationship, the data from medicine and
surgery are priceless. Thus we are enabled to check up our systematic
experimental knowledge of animals by an ascertained fact here and there
in the human material, and to get a fairly exact idea of how great the
correspondence actually is. Gaps thus filled in are narrow enough, and
our certainty of the ground on either side sufficiently great, to give
a good deal of justifiable assurance.

If we use our general biological evidence in this way, merely to help in
clearing up points about _human_ biology, we need not be entirely
limited to mammals. Some sex phenomena are quite general, and may be
drawn from the sexual species most convenient to study and control in
experiments. When we get away from mammalian forms, however, we must be
very sure that the cases used for illustrations are of general
application, are similar in respect to the points compared, or that any
vital differences are understood and conscientiously pointed out.

Too much stress cannot be laid upon the point that such animal data,
carefully checked up with the human material, cannot safely be used for
any other purpose than to discover what the facts are about the human
body. When the discussion of human social institutions is taken up in
Part II, the obvious assumption will always be that these rest upon
human biology, and that we must not let our minds wander into vague
analogies concerning birds, spiders or crustacea.


1. Loeb, Jacques. Artificial Parthenogenesis and Fertilization. Chicago,

2. Loeb, Jacques. The Organism as a Whole. N.Y., 1916, p. 125--brief
summary of results of [1].

3. Bower, Kerr & Agar. Sex and Heredity. N.Y., 1919, 119 pp.

4. Schäfer, E.A. Nature, Origin and Maintenance of Life. Science, n.s.,
Vol. 36, pp. 306 f., 1912.

5. Guyer, M.F. Being Well-Born. Indianapolis, 1916; p. 123.



Continuity of germplasm; The sex chromosome; The internal secretions and
the sex complex; The male and the female type of body; How removal of
sex glands affects body type; Sex determination; Share of egg and sperm
in heredity; Nature of sex--sexual selection of little importance; The
four main types of secretory systems; Sex and sex-instincts of rats
modified by surgery; Dual basis for sex; Opposite-sex basis in every
individual; The Free-Martin cattle; Partial reversal of sex in man.

In Chapter I, the "immortality" of the protoplasm in the germ cells of
higher animals, as well as in simpler forms without distinct bodies, was
mentioned. In these higher animals this protoplasm is known as
_germplasm_, that in body cells as _somatoplasm_.

All that is really meant by "immortality" in a germplasm is continuity.
That is, while an individual may consist of a colony of millions of
cells, all of these spring from one cell and it a germ cell--the
fertilized ovum. This first divides to form a new group of germ cells,
which are within the embryo or new body when it begins to develop, and
so on through indefinite generations. Thus the germ cells in an
individual living to-day are the lineal descendants, by simple division,
of the germ cells in his ancestors as many generations, or thousands of
generations, ago as we care to imagine. All the complicated body
specializations and sex phenomena may be regarded as super-imposed upon
or grouped around this succession of germ cells, continuous by simple

The type of body in each generation depends upon this germplasm, but the
germplasm is not supposed to be in any way modified by the body (except,
of course, that severe enough accidents might damage it). Thus we
resemble our parents only because the germplasm which directs our
development is a split-off portion of the same continuous line of germ
cells which directed their development, that of their fathers, and so on
back. This now universally accepted theory is called the "continuity of
the germplasm."

It will be seen at once that this seems to preclude any possibility of a
child's inheriting from its parents anything which these did not
themselves inherit. The bodies of each generation are, so to speak, mere
"buds" from the continuous lines of germplasm. If we _develop_ our
muscles or our musical talent, this development is of the body and dies
with it, though the physical basis or capacity we ourselves inherited
is still in the germplasm and is therefore passed along to our
children. We may also furnish our children an environment which will
stimulate their desire and lend opportunity for similar or greater
advancement than our own. This is _social inheritance_, or the product
of _environment_--easy to confuse with that of _heredity_ and very
difficult to separate, especially in the case of mental traits.

It will likewise become clear as we proceed that there is no mechanism
or relationship known to biology which could account for what is
popularly termed "pre-natal influence." A developing embryo has its own
circulation, so insulated from that of the mother that only a few of the
most virulent and insidious disease germs can ever pass the barrier. The
general health of the mother is of utmost importance to the vitality,
chances of life, constitution and immunity from disease of the unborn
child. Especially must she be free from diseases which may be
communicated to the child either before or at the time of birth. This
applies particularly to gonorrhoea, one of the most widely prevalent as
well as most ancient of maladies, and syphilis, another disastrous and
very common plague which is directly communicable. As to "birthmarks"
and the like being directly caused by things the mother has seen or
thought about, such beliefs seem to be founded on a few remarkable pure
coincidences and a great deal of folk-lore.

Reproduction in its simplest form is, then, simply the division of one
cell into two parts, each of which develops into a replica of the
original. Division is also the first stage in reproduction in the most
complicated animal bodies. To get an idea of what takes place in such a
division we must remember that a cell consists of three distinct parts:
(a) the protoplasm or cytoplasm, (b) the nucleus, and (c) a small body
known as the centrosome which need not be discussed here.

When a cell division takes place, the nucleus breaks up into a number of
thread-like portions which are known as chromosomes. There are supposed
to be 24 pairs, or 48, in the human cell. All the evidence indicates
that these chromosomes carry the "factors" in inheritance which produces
the characters or characteristics of the individual body.

In mitosis or ordinary cell division, these chromosomes split
lengthwise, so that the new cells always have the same number as the
original one. When the germ-cells of the male and female make the
division which marks the first step in reproduction, however, the
process is different. Half the chromatin material passes into each of
the two cells formed. This is called _maturation_, or the maturation
division, and the new cells have only half the original number of
chromosomes. Each of these divides again by mitosis (the chromosomes
splitting lengthwise), the half or haploid number remaining. The result
is the _gametes_ (literally "marrying cells"--from the Greek _gamé_,
signifying marriage). Those from the male are called sperms or
spermatozoa and those from the female eggs or ova. (The divisions to
form ova present certain complications which need not be taken up in
detail here.) Of the 24 chromosomes in each sperm or egg we are here
concerned with only one, known as the sex chromosome because, in
addition to transmitting other characteristics, it determines the sex of
the new individual.

Neither the ovum nor the spermatozoon (the human race is referred to) is
capable alone of developing into a new individual. They must join in the
process known as fertilization. The sperm penetrates the egg (within the
body of the female) and the 24 chromosomes from each source, male and
female, are re-grouped in a new nucleus with 48 chromosomes--the full

The chances are half and half that the new individual thus begun will be
of a given sex, for the following reason: There is a structural
difference, supposed to be fundamentally chemical, between the cells of
a female body and those of a male. The result is that the gametes (sperm
and eggs) they respectively produce in maturation are not exactly alike
as to chromosome composition. All the eggs contain what is known as the
"X" type of sex chromosome. But only half the male sperm have this
type--in the other half is found one of somewhat different type, known
as "Y." (This, again, is for the human species--in some animals the
mechanism and arrangement is somewhat different.) If a sperm and egg
both carrying the X-type of chromosome unite in fertilization, the
resulting embryo is a female. If an X unites with a Y, the result is a
male. Since each combination happens in about half the cases, the race
is about half male and half female.

Thus sex is inherited, like other characters, by the action of the
chromatin material of the cell nucleus. As Goldschmidt[1] remarks, this
theory of the visible mechanism of sex distribution "is to-day so far
proven that the demonstration stands on the level of an experimental
proof in physics or chemistry." But why and how does this nuclear
material determine sex? In other words, what is the nature of the
process of differentiation into male and female which it sets in motion?

To begin with, we must give some account of the difference between the
cells of male and female origin, an unlikeness capable of producing the
two distinct types of gametes, not only in external appearance, but in
chromosome makeup as well. It is due to the presence in the bodies of
higher animals of a considerable number of glands, such as the thyroid
in the throat and the suprarenals just over the kidneys. These pour
secretions into the blood stream, determining its chemical quality and
hence how it will influence the growth or, when grown, the stable
structure of other organs and cells. They are called endocrine glands or
organs, and their chemical contributions to the blood are known as

Sometimes those which do nothing but furnish these secretions are spoken
of as "ductless glands," from their structure. The hormones (endocrine
or internal secretions) do not come from the ductless glands alone--but
the liver and other glands contribute hormones to the blood stream, in
addition to their other functions. Some authorities think that "every
cell in the body is an organ of internal secretion",[2] and that thus
each influences all the others. The sex glands are especially important
as endocrine organs; in fact the somatic cells are organized around the
germ cells, as pointed out above. Hence the sex glands may be considered
as the keys or central factors in the two chemical systems, the male and
the female type.

These various hormones or chemical controllers in the blood interact in
a nicely balanced chemical system. Taken as a whole this is often
called the "secretory balance" or "internal secretory balance." This
balance is literally the key to the sex differences we see, because it
lies back of them; i.e., there are two general types of secretory
balance, one for males and one for females. Not only are the secretions
from the male and the female sex glands themselves quite unlike, but the
whole chemical system, balance or "complex" involved is different.
Because of this dual basis for metabolism or body chemistry, centering in
the sex glands, no organ or cell in a male body can be exactly like the
corresponding one in a female body.

In highly organized forms like the mammals (including man), sex is
linked up with _all_ the internal secretions, and hence is of the whole
body.[3] As Bell [2, p.5] states it: "We must focus at one and the
same time the two essential processes of life--the individual metabolism
and the reproductive metabolism. They are interdependent. Indeed, the
individual metabolism is the reproductive metabolism."

Here, then, is the reason men have larger, differently formed bodies
than women--why they have heavier bones, tend to grow beards, and so on.
The sex glands are only part of what we may call a well-organized
chemical laboratory, delivering various products to the blood, but
always in the same general proportions for a given sex. The ingredients
which come from the sex glands are also qualitatively different, as has
been repeatedly proved by injections and otherwise.

Each of these sex types, male and female, varies somewhat within itself,
as is true of everything living. The two are not so far apart but that
they may overlap occasionally in some details. For instance, some women
are larger than are some men--have lower pitched voices, etc. The whole
bodily metabolism, resting as it does upon a chemical complex, is
obviously more like the male average in some women than it is in others,
and _vice versa_. But the average physical make-up which we find
associated with the male and female sex glands, respectively, is
distinctive in each case, and a vast majority of individuals of each sex
conform nearly enough to the average so that classification presents no

The extreme as well as the average body types existing in the presence
of the respective types of sex-glands are different. For example, we
find an occasional hen with male spurs, comb or wattles, though she is a
normal female in every other respect, and lays eggs.[4] But we never
find a functional female (which lays eggs) with _all_ the typical
characteristics of the male body. Body variation can go only so far in
the presence of each type of primary sexuality (i.e., sex-glands).

The bodily peculiarities of each sex, as distinguished from the
sex-glands or gonads themselves, are known as _secondary_ sex
characters. To put our statement in the paragraph above in another form,
the primary and secondary sex do not always correspond in all details.
We shall find as we proceed that our original tentative definition of
sex as the ability to produce in the one case sperm, in the other eggs,
is sometimes difficult to apply. What shall we say of a sterile
individual, which produces neither? The problem is especially
embarrassing when the primary and secondary sex do not correspond, as is
sometimes the case.

Even in a fully grown animal, to remove or exchange the sex glands (by
surgery) modifies the bodily type. One of the most familiar cases of
removal is the gelding or desexed horse. His appearance and disposition
are different from the stallion, especially if the operation takes place
while he is very young. The reason he resembles a normal male in many
respects is simply that sexuality in such highly-organized mammals is of
the whole body, not of the sex-glands or organs alone.

Suppose this horse was desexed at two years old. Nearly three years had
elapsed since he was a fertilized egg. During the eleven months or so he
spent within his mother, he developed a very complicated body. Beginning
as a male, with a male-type metabolism (that is, as the result of a
union between an X and a Y chromosome, not two X's), all his glands, as
well as the body structures they control, developed in its presence. Not
only the sex glands, but the liver, suprarenals, thyroid--the whole body
in fact--became adjusted to the male type. He had long before birth what
we call a male sex complex. Complex it is, but it is, nevertheless, easy
enough to imagine its nature for illustrative purposes. It is simply all
the endocrine or hormone-producing organs organized into a balanced
chemical system--adjusted to each other.

When the horse had had this body and this gland system for nearly three
years (eleven months within his mother's body and twenty-four outside),
it had become pretty well organised and fixed. When a single chemical
element (the hormones from the sex-glands) was withdrawn, the system
(thus stereotyped in a developed body and glands) was modified but not
entirely upset. The sex complex remained male in many respects. It had
come to depend upon the other chemical plants, so to speak, quite as
much as upon the sex glands. The later the castration is performed--the
more fixed the body and gland type has become--the closer the horse will
resemble a normal male. Much laboratory experimentation now goes to
show that some accident while this horse was still a fertilized egg or
a very small embryo might have upset this male type of body
chemistry--perhaps even caused him to develop into a female instead, if
it took place early enough. This is well illustrated by the so-called
"Free-Martin" cattle, to be described later.

For a long time a controversy raged as to whether sex is determined at
the time of fertilization, before or after. Biologists now generally
prefer to say that a fertilized egg is "predisposed" to maleness or
femaleness, instead of "determined." The word "determined" suggests
finality, whereas the embryo appears to have in the beginning only a
strong tendency or predisposition toward one sex type or the other. It
is now quite commonly believed that this predisposition arises from the
_quantity_ rather than the quality or kind of factors in the chemical
impetus in the nuclei of the conjugating gametes. A later chapter will
be devoted to explaining the quantitative theory of sex.

Hence the modern theory of "sex determination" has become:

1. That the chemical factors which give rise to one sex or the other are
present in the sperm and ovum _before_ fertilization;

2. That a tendency or predisposition toward maleness or femaleness
arises at the time of fertilization, depending upon which type of sperm
unites with the uniform type of egg (in some species the sperm is
uniform while the egg varies);

3. That this predisposition is:

  a. Weaker at first, before it builds up much of a body and gland system
  to fix it;

  b. Increasingly stronger as the new body becomes organized and

  c. Liable to partial or complete upset in the very early stages;

  d. Probably quantitative--stronger in some cases than in others.

The new definition is, then, really a combination and amplification of
the three older points of view.

The term "sex determination" does not mean to the biologist the changing
or determining of the sex at will on the part of the experimenter. This
might be done by what is known as "selective fertilization" artificially
with only the kind of sperm (X or Y as to chromosomes) which would
produce the desired result. There is as yet no way to thus select the
sperm of higher animals. It has been authoritatively claimed that
feeding with certain chemicals, and other methods to be discussed later,
has affected the sex of offspring. These experiments (and
controversies) need not detain us, since they are not applicable to the
human species.

Let us consider this fertilized egg--the contributions of the father and
the mother. The total length of the spermatozoon is only about 1/300 of
an inch, and 4/5 of this is the tail. This tail does not enter the egg,
and has no other known function than that of a propeller. Its movement
has been studied and found to be about 1/8 of an inch per minute. Only
the head and neck enter the egg. This head consists almost entirely of
the nuclear material which is supposed to determine the characters of
the future individual.

The ovum or egg contributed by the mother is much larger--nearly round
in shape and about 1/120 of an inch in diameter. Besides its nucleus, it
contains a considerable amount of what used to be considered as "stored
nutritive material" for the early development of the individual.

In ancient times the female was quite commonly supposed to be a mere
medium of development for the male seed. Thus the Laws of Manu stated
that woman was the soil in which the male seed was planted. In the Greek
_Eumenides_, Orestes' mother did not generate him, but only received and
nursed the germ. These quaint ideas of course originated merely from
observation of the fact that the woman carries the young until birth,
and must not lead us to imagine that the ancients actually separated the
germ and somatic cells in their thinking.

A modern version of this old belief was the idea advanced by Harvey that
the ovum consisted of fluid in which the embryo appeared by spontaneous
generation. Loeuwenhoek's development of the microscope in the 17th
century led immediately to the discovery of the spermatozoon by one of
his students. At the time, the "preformation theory" was probably the
most widely accepted--i.e., that the adult form exists in miniature in
the egg or germ, development being merely an unfolding of these
preformed parts. With the discovery of the spermatozoon the
preformationists were divided into two schools, one (the ovists) holding
that the ovum was the container of the miniature individual, the other
(animalculists) according this function to the spermatozoon. According
to the ovists, the ovum needed merely the stimulation of the
spermatozoon to cause its contained individual to undergo development,
while the animalculists looked upon the spermatozoon as the essential
embryo container, the ovum serving merely as a suitable food supply or
growing place.

This nine-lived notion of male supremacy in inheritance was rather
reinforced than removed by the breeding of domestic animals in the
still more recent past. Attention has been focused on a few great males.
For example, the breed of American trotting horses all goes back to one
sire--Hambletonian 10. The great Orloff Stud Book, registering over a
million individuals, is in the beginning founded on a single horse--a
male. It is not strange that we still find among some breeders vestiges
of the ancient belief that the male predominates in inheritance. A
superior male can impress his characters in a single year upon 100 times
as _many_ colts as a female of equal quality could produce in her
lifetime. So slight an incident in his life is this reproductive process
for each individual that he could if he devoted his life solely to
reproduction stamp his characters upon a thousand times as many colts as
could a female. Thus under artificial breeding conditions, the good
males do have a tremendously disproportionate share in improving the
whole breed of horses, though each single horse gets his qualities
equally from his male and female parents.

Though Mendel knew an astonishing amount about inheritance a
half-century ago, it is worth noting that the foundation upon which
rests our present knowledge of sex has been discovered less than twenty
years before--the reference is, of course, to the chromosomes as the
carriers of inheritance. While from the standpoint of biology the
opinions of two decades ago about sex literally belong to a different
age, some of them have been so persistent in sociological thought and
writings that they must be briefly reviewed in order that the reader may
be on his guard against them. Books which still have a wide circulation
deal with the sex problem in terms of a biology now no more tenable than
the flatness of the earth.

On the one hand were the ancient traditions of male predominance in
inheritance, reinforced by the peculiar emphasis which animal breeding
places upon males. On the other hand, biologists like Andrew Wilson[5]
had argued as early as the seventies of the past century for female
predominance, from the general evidence of spiders, birds, etc. Lester
F. Ward crystallized the arguments for this view in an article entitled
"Our Better Halves" in _The Forum_ in 1888. This philosophy of sex,
which he christened the "Gynæcocentric Theory," is best known as
expanded into the fourteenth chapter of his "Pure Sociology," published
fifteen years later. Its publication at this late date gave it an
unfortunate vitality long after its main tenets had been disproved in
the biological laboratory. Germ-cell and body-cell functions were not
separated. Arguments from social structures, from cosmic, natural and
human history, much of it deduced by analogy, were jumbled together in
a fashion which seems amazing to us now, though common enough thirty
years ago. It was not a wild hypothesis in 1888, its real date, but its
repeated republication (in the original and in the works of other
writers who accepted it as authoritative) since 1903 has done much to
discredit sociology with biologists and, what is more serious, to muddle
ideas about sex and society.

In 1903, Weismann's theory of the continuity of the germplasm was ten
years old. De Vries' experiments in variation and Mendel's rediscovered
work on plant hybridization had hopelessly undermined the older notion
that the evolution or progress of species has taken place through the
inheritance of acquired characters--that is, that the individuals
developed or adapted themselves to suit their surroundings and that
these body-modifications were inherited by their offspring. As pointed
out in Chapter I, biologists have accepted Weismann's theory of a
continuous germplasm, and that this germplasm, not the body, is the
carrier of inheritance. Nobody has so far produced evidence of any trace
of any biological mechanism whereby development of part of the body--say
the biceps of the brain--of the individual could possibly produce such a
specific modification of the germplasm he carries as to result in the
inheritance of a similar development by his offspring.

Mendel's experiments had shown that the characters we inherit are units
or combinations of units, very difficult to permanently change or
modify. They combine with each other in all sorts of complicated ways.
Sometimes one will "dominate" another, causing it to disappear for a
generation or more; but it is not broken up. These characters have a
remarkable way of becoming "segregated" once more--that is, of appearing
intact later on.

While it follows from Weismann's theory that an adaptation acquired by
an individual during his lifetime cannot be transmitted to his
offspring, it remained for De Vries to show authoritatively that
evolution can, and does, take place without this. Once this was
established, biologists cheerfully abandoned the earlier notion. Lester
Ward and the biologists of his day in general not only believed in the
transmission of acquired characters, but they filled the obvious gaps
which occurred in trying to apply this theory to the observed facts by
placing a fantastic emphasis upon sexual selection. That is, much
progress was accounted for through the selection by the females of the
superior males. This, as a prime factor in evolution, has since been
almost "wholly discredited" (Kellogg's phrase) by the careful
experiments of Mayer, Soule, Douglass, Dürigen, Morgan and others. The
belief in sexual selection involved a long string of corollaries, of
which biology has about purged itself, but they hang on tenaciously in
sociological and popular literature. For instance, Ward believed in the
tendency of opposites to mate (tall men with short women, blonds with
brunettes, etc.), although Karl Pearson had published a statistical
refutation in his _Grammar of Science_, which had run through two
editions when the _Pure Sociology_ appeared. The greater variability of
males than females, another gynæcocentric dogma had also been attacked
by Pearson on statistical evidence in 1897 (in the well-known essay on
Variation in Man and Woman, in _Chances of Death_) and has become
increasingly unacceptable through the researches of Mrs.
Hollingworth[6,7,8]. The idea of a vanished age of mother-rule in human
society, so essential to the complete theory, has long since been
modified by anthropologists.

De Vries' experiments showed that a moderately simple fact practically
makes all these complicated theories unnecessary. No two living things
are exactly alike--that is, all living matter is more or less variable.
Some variations are more fortunate than others, and these variants are
the ones which survive--the ones best adapted to their environment.
Given this fact of the constant variation of living matter, natural
selection (i.e., survival of the fittest and elimination of the unfit)
is the mechanism of evolution or progress which best accounts for the
observed facts. Such variation is called "chance variation," not because
it takes place by "chance" in the properly accepted sense of the term,
but because it is so tremendously varied--is evidently due to such
complicated and little-understood circumstances--that it can best be
studied mathematically, using statistical applications of the "theory of

The fine-spun, elaborate theories about sex, so current twenty years
ago, have fallen into almost complete desuetude among scientists. With
the discovery of the place of the chromosomes in inheritance, biologists
began to give their almost undivided attention to a rigid laboratory
examination of the cell. This has included sex phenomena since McClung
and Sutton pointed out the function of the sex chromosome in 1902 and
1903. Present-day "theories" are little more than working hypotheses,
developed, not in a library or study, but with one eye glued to a
high-power microscope.

Besides its faulty foundation as to facts, the old gynæcocentric theory
involved a method of treatment by historical analogy which biologists
have almost entirely discarded. Anyone interested in the relative value
of different kinds of biological data for social problems would do well
to read the opening chapter of Prof. Morgan's "Critique of the Theory of
Evolution"[9], for even a summary of which space is lacking here.
College reference shelves are still stocked with books on sex sociology
which are totally oblivious of present-day biology. For example, Mrs
Gilman (Man-Made World), Mrs Hartley (Truth About Woman) and the
Nearings (Woman and Social Progress) adhere to Ward's theory in
substantially its primitive form, and not even sociologists like
Professor Thomas (Sex and Society) have been able to entirely break away
from it.

The old question of male and female predominance in inheritance has been
to a considerable extent cleared up, to the discomfiture of both sides
to the controversy. Most exhaustive experiments failed to trace any
characters to any other part of either sperm or egg than the nucleus.
Transmission of characteristics seemed to be absolutely equal by the two
parents. The male nucleus enters the egg practically naked. Hence if the
characters are transmitted equally, there is certainly ground for
supposing that only the nucleus of the egg has such functions, and that
the remainder merely provides material for early development. Yet this
does not seem to be strictly true.

Parthenogenesis (development of eggs without agency of male sperm)
proves that in many simple forms the female nucleus alone possesses all
the essential determiners for a new individual. Boveri's classic
experiment[10] proved the same thing for the male nucleus. He removed
the nuclei from sea-urchin eggs and replaced them with male nuclei.
Normal individuals developed. To make things still more certain, he
replaced the female nucleus with a male one from a different variety of
sea-urchin. The resulting individual exhibited the characteristics of
the _male nucleus_ only--none of those of the species represented by the
egg. Here, then, was inheritance definitely traced to the nucleus. If
this nucleus is a male the characters are those of the male line; if a
female those of the female line, and in sexual reproduction where the
two are fused, half and half.

Yet the fact remained that all efforts to develop the spermatozoon alone
(without the agency of any egg material at all) into an individual had
signally failed. Conklin[11] had found out in 1904 and 1905 that the egg
cytoplasm in Ascidians is not only composed of different materials, but
that these give rise to definite structures in the embryo later on. So a
good many biologists believed, and still believe[12,13,14] that the egg
is, before fertilization, a sort of "rough preformation of the future
embryo" and that the Mendelian factors in the nuclei "only impress the
individual (and variety) characters upon this rough block."

If we look at these views from one angle, the apparent conflict
disappears, as Professor Conklin[15] points out. We can still presume
that all the factors of inheritance are carried in the nucleus. But
instead of commencing the life history of the individual at
fertilization, we must date it back to the beginning of the development
of the egg in the ovary. Whatever rude characters the egg possesses at
the time of fertilization were developed under the influence of the
nucleus, which in turn got them half and half from its male and female
parents. These characters carried by the female across one generation
are so rudimentary that they are completely covered up, in the
developing embryo, by those of the new nucleus formed by the union of
the sperm with the egg in fertilization.

In case fertilization does not take place, this rude beginning in the
egg is lost. Since no characteristic sex is assumed until after
fertilization, we may say that life begins as neuter in the individual,
as it is presumed to have done in the world. It will occur to those
inclined to speculation or philosophic analysis that by the word
"neuter" we may mean any one or all of three things: (a) neither male
nor female; (b) both male and female, as yet undifferentiated, or (c)
potentially either male or female. Clearly, the above explanation
assumes a certain _germinal_ specialization of the female to
reproduction, in addition to the body specialization for the
intra-parental environment (in mammals).

A tremendous amount of laboratory experimentation upon animals has been
done in late years to determine the nature of sex. For example,
Goodale[16] castrated a brown leghorn cockerel twenty-three days old
and dropped pieces of the ovary of a female bird of the same brood and
strain into the abdominal cavity. These adhered and built up circulatory
systems, as an autopsy later showed. This cockerel, whose male sex
glands had been exchanged for female ones, developed the female body,
and colouration so completely that expert breeders of the strain
pronounced it a female. He found that simply removing the female sex
glands invariably led to the development of spurs and male plumage. But
simple removal of the male sex glands did not alter plumage. To make
sure, he replaced the male sex glands with female, and found that the
former male developed female plumage.

This obviously signifies that in birds the female is an inhibited
male.[4, p.49.] Either sex when castrated has male feathers--the male has
them either with or without testes, unless they are _inhibited_ by the
presence of (transplanted) ovaries. It will be remembered that the
sociological theory of sex held by Ward, Mrs. Hartley and a host of
others was founded on the supposition that evolution or development of a
species is chiefly due to selection by the females of the better males,
a conclusion based almost entirely on bird evidence. Ward[17] states
that "the change or progress, as it may be called, has been wholly in
the male, the female remaining unchanged"; also that "the male side of
nature shot up and blossomed out in an unnatural, fantastic way...."
Speaking of the highly-coloured males, especially among birds, the same
writer states that "the _normal colour_ (italics ours) is that of the
young and the female, and the colour of the male is the result of his
excessive variability." Goodale's results completely refute this idea,
and should bury for ever the well-known sociological notion of "male

The general doctrine of a stable, "race-type" female and a highly
variable male has been widely circulated. In tracing it back through
voluminous literature, it appears to have been founded on an article
published by W.I. Brooks in the _Popular Science Monthly_ for June,
1879, fourteen years before Weissmann's enunciation of the theory of
continuity of the germ-plasm. Like Wallace, Brooks continued to study
and experiment till the last, and finally withdrew from his earlier
position on sexual selection. However, this has not prevented others
from continuing to quote his discarded views--innocently, of course.

Havelock Ellis[18] and G. Stanley Hall[19] have applied the idea of a
"race-type" female with peculiar insistence to the human race. Goodale
has finally killed the bird evidence upon which earlier workers so
largely founded this doctrine, by showing that the "race type" toward
which birds tend unless inhibited by the female ovarian secretion is the
male type, not the female. There is a great difference in the way the
internal secretions act in birds and in man, as will be pointed out
later. It is so important that such a major point as general variability
must be supported and corroborated by mammalian evidence to prove
anything positively for man. As already noted, the statistical studies
of Pearson and Mrs. Hollingworth _et al._ have yielded uniformly
negative results.

In the utilization of data gathered from non-human species, certain
differences in the systems of internal secretion must be taken into
account. Birds differ from the human species as to internal secretory
action in two vital particulars: (a) In the higher mammals, sex depends
upon a "complex" of all the glands interacting, instead of upon the sex
glands alone as in birds; (b) The male bird instead of the female is
homogametic for sex--i.e., the sperm instead of the eggs is uniform as
to the sex chromosome.

Insects are (in some cases at least) like birds as to the odd
chromosome--the opposite of man. But as to secondary sex-characters they
differ from both. These characters do not depend upon any condition of
the sex organs, but are determined directly by the chemical factors
which determine sex itself.[20]

In crustacea, the male is an inhibited female (the exact opposite of
birds), as shown by the experiments of Giard and Geoffrey Smith on
crabs. A parasite, _Sacculina neglecta_, sometimes drives root-like
growths into the spider crab, causing slow castration. The females thus
desexed do not assume the male type of body, but castrated males vary so
far toward the female type that some lay eggs[3, p.143; 20]. It is the
discovery of such distinctions which makes it necessary to re-examine
all the older biological evidence on the sex problem, and to discard
most of it as insufficiently exact.

The work of Steinach[12, pp.225f.] on rats is another well-known example
of changing sex characters by surgery. Steinach found that an ovary
transplanted into a male body changed its characteristics and instincts
into the female type. The growth of the male sex organs he found to be
definitely inhibited by the ovaries. He went so far as to transplant the
whole uterus and tube into the male body, where it developed normally.
One of the most interesting of his results is the observation of how the
instincts were changed along with the type of body. The feminized males
behaved like normal females toward the other males and toward females.
Likewise they were treated as normal females by the males.

It would be impossible to give here any just idea of the vast amount of
rigid scientific experimentation which has been carried on in this
field, or the certainty of many of the results. Sex is really known,
about as well as anything can be known, to arise from the chemical
causes discussed above. That is, the endocrine explanation is the
correct one.

One of the most significant results of the transplantation experiments
is the evidence that _each individual carries the fundamental bases for
both sexes_. When Goodale changed a male bird into a female as to
secondary characters and instincts by replacing one secretion with
another, he was faced with the following problem: How can a single
secretion be responsible for innumerable changes as to feather length,
form and colouring, as to spurs, comb and almost an endless array of
other details? To suppose that a secretion could be so complicated in
its action as to determine each one of a thousand different items of
structure, colour and behaviour would be preposterous. Besides, we know
that some of these internal secretions are _not_ excessively
complicated--for instance adrenalin (the suprarenal secretion) can be
compounded in the laboratory. We may say that it cannot possibly be that
the ovarian or testicular secretion is composed of enough different
chemical substances to produce each different effect.

There remains only the supposition that the female already possesses the
genetic basis for becoming a male, and _vice versa_. This is in accord
with the observed facts. In countless experiments it is shown that the
transformed female becomes like the male of her own strain and brood--to
state it simply, like the male she would have been if she had not been a
female. If we think of this basis as single, then it must _exhibit_
itself in one way in the presence of the male secretions, in another way
under the influence of the female secretions. In this way a very simple
chemical agent in the secretion might account for the whole
difference--merely causing a genetic basis already present to express
itself in the one or the other manner.

This may be illustrated by the familiar case of the crustacea _Artemia
salina_ and _Artemia Milhausenii_. These are so unlike that they were
long supposed to be different species; but it was later discovered that
the genetic basis is exactly the same. One lives in 4 to 8% salt water,
the other in 25% or over. If, however, the fresh-water variety is put in
the saltier water with the salt-water variety, all develop exactly
alike, into the salt-water kind. Likewise, if the salt-water variety is
developed in fresh water, it assumes all the characteristics of the
fresh-water kind. Thus the addition or subtraction of a single chemical
agent--common salt--makes all the difference.

If this basis for sex is single, it is represented by the male plumage
in domestic birds, the secretions from the sex-glands acting as
modifiers. But a great deal of evidence has been produced to show that
the genetic basis, in man and some other forms at least, is double. That
is, we must think of two genetic bases existing in each individual--each
representing one of the two types of secondary sex characters. The
primary sex (i.e., the sex glands) would then determine which is to
express itself. In the domestic birds described above, the male type of
body appears in the absence of the ovarian secretion, and the female
type in its presence. In man and the more highly organized mammals, we
must use "secretions" in the plural, since a number of them, from
different glands, act together in a "complex." Goodale, experimenting
with birds, was unable to definitely decide whether the basis for sex
was single or double in that material, though he favoured the latter

Dr Bell, the English gynecologist, using human surgical cases as a
basis, commits himself strongly to the dual basis.[2, p.13.] "Every
fertilized ovum," he says, "is potentially bisexual," but has "a
predominating tendency ... toward masculinity or femininity." But "at
the same time," he remarks, "it is equally obvious that latent traits of
the opposite sex are always present." After discussing mental traits
observed in each sex which normally belong to the other, he concludes as
follows: "If further evidence of this bisexuality, which exists in
everyone, were required, it is to be found in the embryological remains
of the latent sex, which always exist in the genital ducts."

In some lower forms, dual sexuality is apparent until the animal is
fairly well developed. In frogs, for example, the sex glands of both
sexes contain eggs in early life, and it is not possible to tell them
apart with certainty, until they are about four months old.[12, p.125.]
Then the eggs gradually disappear in the male.

However, we need not depend upon non-mammalian evidence for either the
secretory explanation or the dual basis. An ideal case would be to
observe the effects of circulating the blood of one sex in a developing
embryo of the other. This blood-transfusion occurs in nature in the
"Free-Martin" cattle.[21]

Two embryos (twins) begin to develop in separate membranes or chorions.
At an early stage in this development, however, the arteries and veins
of the two become connected, so that the blood of each may circulate
through the body of the other. "If both are males or both are females no
harm results from this...," since the chemical balance which determines
the bodily form in each case is of the same type. But if one is a male
and the other a female, the male secretory balance dominates the female
in a very peculiar fashion. The female reproductive system is largely
suppressed. She even develops certain male organs, and her general
bodily appearance is so decidedly masculine that until Dr Lillie worked
out the case she had always been supposed to be a non-functional male.
She is sterile. The blood transfusion not only alters the sex-type of
her body, but it actually modifies the sex glands themselves, so that
the ovary resembles a testicle, though dissection proves the contrary.

Why does not the female become a true, functional male? Perhaps she does
in some cases. Such a one would not be investigated, since there would
be no visible peculiarity. In all the cases examined, the embryo had
begun its female development and specialization under the influence of
a predisposition of the female type in the fertilized egg, before the
transfusion began. There is no absolutely convincing mammalian evidence
of the complete upset of this predisposition, so all one can say is that
it is theoretically possible. Cases of partial reversal, sometimes
called "intersexes," are common enough. In birds and insects, where the
material is less expensive and experimentation simpler, males have been
produced from female-predisposed fertilized eggs and _vice versa_, as we
shall see in the next chapter.

Dr Bell[2, pp.133f.] points out that the so-called human "hermaphrodites"
are simply partial reversals of the sex type from that originally fixed
in the fertilized egg. As has been remarked earlier in these pages,
there is rarely if ever true hermaphroditism in higher animals--i.e.,
cases of _two functional sexes_ in the same individual. In fact, the
pathological cases in the human species called by that name are probably
not capable of reproduction at all.[A]

[Footnote A: _Note on human hermaphroditism_: This subject has been
treated in a considerable medical literature. See, for example, Alienist
and Neurologist for August, 1916, and New York Medical Journal for Oct.
23, 1915. It has been claimed that both human and higher mammalian
"hermaphrodites" have actually functioned for both sexes. Obviously,
absolute certainty about cause and effect in such cases, where human
beings are concerned, is next to impossible, because of lack of
scientific, laboratory control. If a case of complete functional
hermaphroditism in the human species could be established beyond
question, it would indicate that the male secretory balance in man does
not inhibit the female organs to the same extent that it apparently does
in the Free-Martin cattle. If established, the idea of "male dominance"
in the human species would be undermined in a new place. Such cases, if
they occur at all, are exceedingly rare, but are of theoretical
interest. We must not rush to conclusions, as the earlier sociologists
used to do. Such a case would require careful analysis. Its very
uniqueness would suggest that it may not be due to the ordinary causes
of hermaphroditism, but might arise from some obscure and unusual cause
such as the fusion of two embryos at a very early stage. The
biochemistry involved is so intricate and so little understood that any
deduction from the known facts would be purely speculative.]

Like the Free-Martin cattle, some accident has resulted in a mixture of
male and female characteristics. This accident occurs after a certain
amount of embryonic development has taken place under the influence of
the original predisposition of the fertilized egg. The delicate
secretory balance, so complex in man, is upset. With partially developed
organs of one type and with a blood-chemistry of the opposite one, some
curious results follow, as the illustrative plates in Dr Bell's book

It should be remembered that sex in higher mammals is of the whole body,
and depends upon all the secretions. Hence an accident to one of the
other glands may upset the balance as well as one to the sex glands
themselves. For example, 15% of Neugebauer's[22] cases of female tubular
partial hermaphroditism had abnormal growths in the suprarenals.

Thus in the human species, it is possible for one type of sex glands to
exist in the opposite type of body, as we saw it to be in
cattle--though it apparently could not occur unless compensated for in
some way by the other secretions. This is a very great departure from
birds, rats and guinea pigs, whose bodies change over their sex type
when the gonads are transplanted. Birds take on the male appearance when
the sex glands are removed (or retain it, if they are males). This is
not true of man. The chemical life processes of the two sexes after
puberty in the human species are quite characteristic. The male and
female types are both very different from the infantile. When it becomes
necessary to desex men, the resulting condition is _infantile_, not

The desexed man is of course the eunuch of ancient literature. If
desexed near maturity, he might look like a normal man in many respects;
but if the operation were performed before puberty, his development is
simply arrested and remains infantile--incomplete. Only in 1878 was the
practice of desexing boys to get the famous adult male soprano voices
for the Sistine Choir discontinued.

Removal of the ovaries in women likewise produces an infantile
condition, which is pronounced only in case the operation takes place
very young. [24] From his clinical experience, Dr Bell [2, p.160]
concludes that no very definite modifications can be produced in an
adult woman by withdrawal of the ovarian secretion alone. "There must
be," he says, "some gross change in those parts of the endocritic
system, especially apart from the genital glands, which normally produce
masculinity--potentiality that appears to be concentrated in the
suprarenals, the pituitary and probably in the pineal."

What, then, do we mean by "male" and "female" in man? Take Dr Russell
Andrews' patient: photographs[2, plate opposite p.243] show a rounded
bodily outline, hairless face, well-developed mammæ--the female sex
characteristics in every respect which the ordinary person could detect.
Yet an operation proved that the sex glands themselves were male.

Presumably extreme cases like the above are rare. Obviously operations
cannot be performed on all those with female-type bodies who do not bear
children, to determine the primary sex, and conversely with men. This
does, however, point the obvious question: Are not some we classify as
men _more male_ or masculine than others--some we classify as women
_more feminine_ than others? Bearing in mind the fact that the genetic
basis for both sexes exists in each individual, are not some women more
masculine than others, some men more feminine than others? However much
we may object to stating it just that way, the biological fact remains
thus. The Greeks called these intermediate types _urnings_--modern
biology knows them as "intersexes."

Only within the past few years have the general phenomena of
intersexuality been cleared up to any considerable extent--naturally on
the basis of the secretory explanation of sex. This secretory or
endocrine idea has also given us an entirely new view of sex
differences. These are best discussed as functional rather than as
structural. To correlate this material, we must next give a rude sketch
of the quantitative theory of sex.


1. Goldschmidt, R. Intersexuality and the Endocrine Aspect of Sex.
Endocrinology, Vol. I, p. 434, 1917.

2. Bell, Dr Blair. The Sex Complex. London, 1916, p. 98.

3. Paton, D. Noël. Regulators of Metabolism. London, 1913, p. 146.

4. Goodale, H.D. Gonadectomy...Carnegie Pub. 243, 1916, pp. 43f.

5. Wilson, Andrew. Polity of a Pond (essay). Humboldt Lib. of Sc.,
No. 88--reprint, dated 1888.

6. Hollingworth, L.S. Variability as Related to Sex Differences in
Achievement. Am. Jour, of Sociol., XIX., 1914, pp. 510-530.

7. Lowie, R.H. & Hollingworth, L.S. Science and Feminism. Sci. Mthly.,
Sept., 1916, pp. 277-284.

8. Montague, Helen & Hollingworth, L.S. Comparative Variability of the
Sexes at Birth. Am. J. of Sociol. XX, 335-70. 1915.

9. Morgan, T.H. A Critique of the Theory of Evolution. N.Y., 1916,
pp. 1-27.

10. Loeb, Jacques. Artificial Parthenogenesis and Fertilization.
Chicago, 1913, pp. 3, 51f., 240f, 303.

11. Conklin, E.G. Organ-Forming Substances in the Eggs of Ascidians.
U. of Pa. Contrib. from the Zool. Lab. Vol. 12. 1905, pp. 205-230.

12. Loeb, J. The Organism as a Whole. N.Y., 1916, pp. 138f, 151-2.

13. Guyer, M.F. Being Well-Born. Indianapolis, 1916, p. 51.

14. Tower, W.L. (et al.). Heredity and Eugenics. Chicago, 1912,
pp. 164, 254-5.

15. Conklin, E.G. Share of Egg and Sperm in Heredity. Proc. Nat. Acad.
of Sc., Feb., 1917.

16. Goodale, H.D. A Feminized Cockerel. Jour. Exp. Zool. Vol. 20,
pp. 421-8.

17. Ward, Lester F. Pure Sociology. N.Y., 1903, pp. 322f.

18. Ellis, Havelock. Man and Woman, 4th Ed. London, 1904. Ch. XVI.

19. Hall, G. Stanley. Adolescence. N.Y., 1907. Vol. II, pp. 561-2.

20. Morgan, T.H. Heredity and Sex. N.Y., 1913, pp. 155f.

21. Lillie, F.R. Theory of the Free Martin. Science, n.s., Vol. XLIII,
pp. 611-13.

22. Neugebauer, F.L. Hermaphrodismus, Leipzig, 1908.

23. Vincent, S. Internal Secretions and the Ductless Glands. London,
1912, p. 69.

24. Marshall, F.H. Physiology of Reproduction. London, 1910, p. 314.



Intersexes in moths; Bird intersexes; Higher metabolism of males;
Quantitative difference between sex factors; Old ideas of
intersexuality; Modern surgery and human intersexes; Quantitative theory
a Mendelian explanation; Peculiar complication in the case of man;
Chemical life cycles of the sexes; Functional-reproductive period and
the sex problem; Relative significance of physiological sex differences.

Crossing European and Japanese gypsy moths, Goldschmidt [1,2,3,4]
noticed that the sex types secured were not pure--i.e., that certain
crosses produced females which bore a distinctly greater resemblance to
the male type than others, and _vice versa_. One of these hybrids of
"intersexes," as he calls them, would always possess some female and
some male sexual characters. He found that he could separate the males
and females, respectively, into seven distinct grades with respect to
their modification toward the opposite-sex type, and could produce any
one of these grades at will by breeding.

For example, the seven grades of females were roughly as follows:
(1) Pure females; (2) Females with feathered antennæ like males and
producing fewer than the normal number of eggs; (3) Appearance of the
brown (male) patches on the white female wings; ripe eggs in abdomen,
but only hairs in the egg-sponge laid; instincts still female;
(4) Instincts less female; whole sections of wings with male colouration,
interspersed with cuneiform female sectors; abdomen smaller, males less
attracted; reproduction impossible; (5) Male colouration over almost the
entire wing; abdomen almost male, with few ripe eggs; instincts
intermediate between male and female; (6) Like males, but with
rudimentary ovaries and show female traits in some other organs;
(7) Males with a few traces of female origin, notably wing-shape.

The males showed the same graded approach to the female type. Their
instincts likewise became more and more female as the type was modified
in that direction. That is, a moth would be 12% or 35% female, and so

Goldschmidt watched the crosses which produced seven different grades of
maleness in his females. The moth material, like the birds and mammals,
suggested a dual basis for sex in each individual. The grades of
maleness and femaleness made it seem probable that the factor which
determines sex must be stronger in some instances than in others, i.e.,
that the difference between two of these grades of female is originally
quantitative, not qualitative--in amount rather than in kind.

Mating European moths with European, or Japanese with Japanese, produced
pure, uniform sex-types, male and female. But a cross of European with
Japanese strains resulted in intersexes. Goldschmidt concluded that
(1) all individuals carried the genetic basis for both sexes; and
(2) that these basic factors were two chemicals of enzyme nature. One
of these he called Andrase, enzyme producing maleness, the other Gynase,
enzyme producing femaleness. Further, (3) since each chemical sex
determiner is present in both individuals in every cross, there must be
two chemical "doses" of maleness and two of femaleness struggling for
mastery in each fertilized egg. (4) If the total dose of maleness
exceeds the total dose of femaleness, the sex will be male, and
_vice versa_. (5) These quantities get fixed by natural selection
in a single race which always lives in the same environment, i.e., the
doses of maleness and femaleness in a given sex always bear practically
the same relation to each other. Hence the types are fixed and uniform.
(6) But different races are likely to have a different strength of
chemical sex-doses, so that when they are crossed, the ratios of
maleness to femaleness are upset. Often they are almost exactly equal,
which produces a type half male and half female--or 2/3, or 1/3, etc.
The proof of this theory is that it solved the problems. Goldschmidt
was able to work out the strengths of the doses of each sex in his
various individuals, and thereby to predict the exact grade of
intersexuality which would result from a given cross.

Riddle's work on pigeons [5,6] brings us much nearer to man, and
suggests the results noted by both Goldschmidt and Lillie. As in the
Free-Martin cattle, there is an apparent reversal of the sex
predisposition of the fertilized egg. As in the gypsy moths, different
grades of intersexes were observed. In the pigeons, it was found that
more yolk material tended to produce a larger proportion of females. The
most minute quantitative measurements were made of this factor, to
eliminate any possibility of error.

The chromosome mechanisms practically force us to suppose that about
half the eggs are originally predisposed to maleness, half to
femaleness. A pigeon's clutch normally consists of two eggs, one with a
large yolk and one with a small yolk. But the half-and-half numerical
relation of males to females varies considerably--i.e., not all the
large-yolked eggs produce females or all the small-yolked ones males.

Wild pigeons begin the season by throwing a predominance of males, and
the first eggs of the clutches also tend to produce males all along. In
both cases, the male-producing eggs were found to be the ones with the
smaller yolks. Family crosses also produce small yolks, which hatch out
nearly all males. Some pairs of birds, however, have nearly all female
offspring. Riddle investigated a large number of these cases and found
the amount of yolk material to be large. In other words, there seems to
be a definite relation between the amount of yolk and sex.

A great number of clever experiments were carried out to find out if
eggs originally predisposed to one sex were actually used to produce the
other. Selective fertilization with different kinds of sperm was
impossible, since in these birds there is only one type of sperm--two of
eggs--as to the sex chromosome. For instance, by overworking females at
egg-production, the same birds which had been producing more males than
females were made to reverse that relation.

One of the interesting results of the experiments was the production of
a number of intersexual types of various grades. This was easily
verifiable by colour and other characteristics. To make sure that the
instincts were correspondingly modified, behaviour was registered on
moving-picture films. Where the first egg of a clutch (the one with a
small, normally male-producing yolk) produces a female, she is usually
found to be more masculine than her sister from the second egg with the
larger yolk. This is true both as to appearance and as to behaviour.
Some of these were quite nearly males in appearance and behaviour,
though they laid eggs.

Testicular and ovarian extracts were injected. The more feminine birds
were often killed by the testicular extract, the more masculine by the
ovarian extract. Finally, to make assurance doubly sure, some females
which should theoretically have been the most feminine were dissected
and shown to be so. That is, out-crosses which produced a predominance
of females in the fall were mated with females which had been overworked
at egg production until they threw nearly all females. Dissecting the
females thus produced, they were shown to have _right ovaries_, which
means _double femaleness_, since normally the pigeon is functional only
in the left ovary, like other birds. The right one usually degenerates
before or at hatching and is wholly absent in the week-old squab.

In pigeons, Riddle thinks the "developmental energy" of the eggs is in
an inverse ratio to their size. The last and largest eggs of the season
develop least and produce most females. The second egg of a clutch is
larger than the first, but develops less and the bird produced is
shorter-lived. Overworking and other conditions tending to produce large
eggs and females also throw white mutants and show other signs of
weakness. Old females lay larger eggs than do young ones. These eggs
produce more females. They store more material, have a lower metabolism
and less oxidizing capacity than do the earlier male-producing eggs.

It would be unsafe to draw specific conclusions about mammals from these
bird and insect experiments. Both the secretory action and the
chromosome mechanisms are different. The quantitative nature of sex, and
also the existence of intersexual types, between males and females,
would seem to be general phenomena, requiring rather slight
corroboration from the mammals themselves. We have such mammalian cases
as the Free-Martin cattle, and some convincing evidence of
intersexuality in the human species itself, which will be reviewed

The notion of more "developmental energy" or a higher metabolism in
males is borne out in the human species. Benedict and Emmes[7] have
shown by very careful measurements that the basal metabolism of men is
about 6% higher than that of women. Riddle cites the work of Thury and
Russell on cattle to show that a higher water value (as he found in the
pigeon eggs), associated with increased metabolism, helps to produce

In males, the secretion of the sex glands alone seems to be of
particular importance, again suggesting this idea of "strength" which
comes up over and over again. Removal of these glands modifies the male
body much more profoundly than it does the female.[8] It is quite
generally supposed that the action of this one secretion may have much
to do with the superior size and vigour of males. For example, Paton
says[9]: "The evidence thus seems conclusive that in the male the gonad,
by producing an internal secretion, exercises a direct and specific
influence upon the whole soma, increasing the activity of growth,
moulding the whole course of development, and so modifying the
metabolism of nerve and muscle that the whole character of the animal is
altered." It used to be said that the male was more "katabolic," the
female more "anabolic." These expressions are objectionable, inasmuch as
they hint that in a mature organism, with metabolism rather stable,
tearing down, or katabolism, could go on faster than building up, or
anabolism, or that one of two phases of the same process might go on
faster than the other. It seems safer to say merely that a lower
metabolism in the female is accompanied by a tendency to store

A long time will doubtless be required to work out the details of
differences in metabolism in the two sexes. Some of the main facts are
known, however, and the general effects of the two diverse chemical
systems upon the life cycles of the sexes are quite obvious. What we
call the "quantitative theory of sex" has, besides a place in exact
science, an interesting relation to the history of biological thought,
especially as applied to society. It is thus in order to state as
clearly as possible what it now is; then, so that no one may confuse it
with what it is not, to run over some of the old ideas which resemble

Experiments with transplanted sex glands, with sex-gland extracts
(testicular and ovarian) and the observation of infusions of a male-type
blood-stream into a female body, as occurs in nature in some cattle and
in the so-called human "hermaphrodites," indicate a gross chemical
difference between the respective determiners for femaleness and for
maleness. So the chemicals involved, though not yet isolated, must be
presumed to be _qualitatively_ different, since they produce such
different results.

But such experiments also indicate that both determiners must be present
in some proportions in every individual of either sex. The basis for
both sexes being present, the one which shall predominate or be
expressed in the individual must depend upon the _quantitative_ relation
between the determiners which come together at fertilization. The
quantitative theory merely means that this predominance of one factor or
the other (maleness or femaleness--Gynase or Andrase) is more pronounced
in some cases than in others.

In brief, then, the quantitative theory of sex is merely the most
reasonable explanation of the known fact that intersexes exist--that is,
females with some male characteristics, or with all their characters
more like the female type than the average, and _vice versa_. Laboratory
biology has established the phenomena of intersexuality beyond question,
and the word "inter-sex" has become a scientific term. But the fact that
this word and the idea it represents are new to _exact science_ does not
mean that it is new in the world.

Intersexes in the human species--not only the extreme pathological cases
represented by the so-called "hermaphrodites," but also merely masculine
women and effeminate men--have been the subject of serious remarks as
well as literary gibes from the earliest times. The Greeks called these
people _urnings_. Schopenhauer was interested in the vast ancient
literature and philosophy on this subject. The 19th century produced a
copious psychological treatment of warped or reversed sexual impulses by
such men as Moll, Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis. Otto Weiniger[10]
collected a mass of this philosophy, literature, psychology, folklore
and gossip, tied it together with such biological facts as were then
known (1901) and wove around it a theory of sex _attraction_.[A] The
same material was popularized by Leland[11], Carpenter[12] and W.L.
George[13] to support quite different views.

[Footnote A: NOTE: Weiniger thought he could pick, merely by observing
physical type, people who would be sexually attracted to each other.
There is much ground for scepticism about this. To begin with, the
biological experiments indicate that intersexes are peculiarly likely to
appear where two or more races are mixed. So far, there is no exact
knowledge about the amount or kind of sex difference in each race. As
Bateson remarks (Biol. Fact & the Struct. of Society, p.13), one
unversed in the breeds even of poultry would experience great difficulty
and make many mistakes in sorting a miscellaneous group of cocks and
hens into pairs according to breed. If this is true in dealing with pure
breeds, "in man, as individuals pure-bred in any respect are very rare,
the operation would be far more difficult." In the human species sexual
attraction also obviously depends upon many factors which are not purely
biological; it is rather a complicated sentiment than an instinct.]

George's statement that "there are no men and ... no women; there are
only sexual majorities"[p.61, op. cit.] has been widely quoted. The
feminists, he adds, "base themselves on Weininger's theory, according to
which the male principle may be found in woman, and the female principle
in man." Unfortunately, George does not make clear what he means by
"principle," so his theory, if he has one, is impossible to appraise in
biological terms. From the embryonic idea expressed above, he deduces a
very positive social philosophy of sex. The feminists, he says,
"recognize no masculine or feminine '_spheres_' and ... propose to
identify absolutely the conditions of the sexes." So, while George seems
to think much more highly of women than does Weininger, their
philosophies come together, for quite different reasons, on the
practical procedure of disregarding reproduction and letting the race go
hang[10, p.345]. Weininger seems to recognize the dual basis for sex;
George evidently does not quite follow him. Both entirely misconceived
the real issues involved, as well as the kind of evidence required to
settle them, as we shall see later in discussing adaptation and

Dr Blair Bell[14,15] has collected a mass of evidence on intersexes in
the human species. This includes his own surgical and other cases, as
well as many treated by his colleagues, and a very considerable review
of the medical literature. He not only believes in degrees of femininity
in women, but has worked out classifications which he claims to have
found of great practical value in surgery.[14, pp.166-7] As noted above,
Riddle discovered that his more feminine female pigeons were often
killed by a dose of testicular extract which was practically harmless to
a partially masculinized female. Sex in the human species being a matter
of all the glands organized into a complex, the quantitative "strength"
of that complex would be useful to know before removing any one
secretion from it. Dr Bell states that the oöphorectomy operation
(removal of ovaries) may be performed upon a masculine type of woman
with "little disturbance of the metabolism..." But he thinks that the
degree of masculinity should always be carefully observed before
undertaking such operations, which in some cases have most undesirable

At one end of the scale, this surgeon places the typically feminine
woman in all her characteristics--with well-formed breasts, menstruating
freely and feminine in instincts--he says "mind." The intermediate
grades consist, he says, of women whose metabolism leans toward the
masculine type. Some have sexual desires but no maternal impulse. Others
desire maternity but take no interest in sex activity, or positively
shun it. The physical manifestations of masculine glandular activity
take the form of pitch of voice, skin texture, shape and weight of
bones, etc. Some of the inter-grades are a little hard to define--the
human species is such an inextricable mixture of races, etc.; but Dr
Bell does not hesitate to describe the characteristically masculine
woman of the extreme type, who "shuns both sexual relations and
maternity...(She) is on the fringe of femininity. These women are
usually flat-breasted and plain. Even though they menstruate, their
metabolism is often for the most part masculine in character:
indications of this are seen in the bones which are heavy, in the skin
which is coarse, and in the aggressive character of the mind...If a
woman have well-developed genitalia, and secondary characteristics, she
usually is normal in her instincts. A feebly menstruating woman with
flat breasts and coarse skin cannot be expected to have strong
reproductive instincts, since she is largely masculine in type..."

The glandular and quantitative explanation of sex, instead of being
abstruse and complicated, brings the subject in line with the known
facts about inheritance generally. The dual basis for femaleness and
maleness in each individual simply means that both factors are present,
but that only one expresses itself fully. The presence of such a dual
basis is proved by the fact that in castration and transplantation
experiments both are exhibited by the same individual in a single
lifetime. In the case of the Free-Martin cattle, even the female
sex-glands are modified toward the male type to such an extent that they
were long mistaken for testes. The same applies to some glands found in
human "hermaphrodites," as Dr Bell's plates show.

The peculiar complication of the chemical complex determining sex in
these mammalian forms, involving all the glands and hence the entire
body, makes it problematical whether a complete (functional) reversal is
possible, at least after any development whatever of the embryo has
taken place. On the other hand, the fact that such complete
transformations have not so far been observed by no means proves their
non-existence. Their being functional, and hence to all external
appearances normal, would cause such animals to escape observation.

Latent traits of the opposite sex of course immediately suggest
recessive or unexpressed characters in the well-known Mendelian
inheritance phenomena. In the bird-castration cases, we saw that to
remove the inhibiting sex glands caused previously latent characters to
act like dominant or expressed ones. The case of horns in sheep,
investigated by Professor Wood[16], is so similar that it seems worth
summarizing, by way of illustration.

Both sexes in Dorset sheep have well-developed horns; in the Suffolk
breed both sexes are hornless. If the breeds are crossed, all the rams
in the first (hybrid) generation have horns and all the ewes are
hornless. If these hybrids are mated, the resulting male offspring
averages three horned to one hornless; but the females are the reverse
of this ratio--one horned to three hornless. This is an example of
Mendel's principle of segregation--factors may be mixed in breeding, but
they do not lose their identity, and hence tend to be sorted out or
segregated again in succeeding generations.

In the horned Dorsets, we must suppose that both males and females carry
a dual factor for horns--technically, are _homozygous_ for horns. The
hornless Suffolks, on the contrary, are homozygous for _absence_ of
horns. Thus the dual factor in the zygotes or fertilized eggs at the
basis of the first filial (hybrid) generation consists of a single
factor for horns and a single factor for their absence. If we represent
horns by _H_ and absence of horns by _A_, Dorsets have a factor _HH_,
Suffolks _AA_ and the hybrids _HA_.

All the males in this generation have horns, which means that a single
"dose" of the factor _H_ will produce horns in a male, or that they are
_dominant_ in males. But a single dose will not produce horns in a
female--that is, horns are _recessive_ in females--the factor is present
but unexpressed.

Mating two _HA_ hybrids, the _H_ and _A_ of course split apart in the
formation of the gametes, as the _HH_ and _AA_ did in the previous
generation; so that we get an equal number of single _H_ and _A_
factors. In reuniting in fertilized eggs, the chance is just half and
half that an _H_ will unite with another _H_ or with an _A_--that an
_A_ will unite with an _H_ or another _A_. Thus we have two chances of
getting _HA_ to each chance of getting either _AA_ or _HH_. Half the
zygotes will be _HA_, one-fourth _HH_ and one-fourth _AA_.

If we consider four average males, one will have two _A's_ (absence of
the factor for horns) and will thus be hornless. One will have two
_H's_, or the double factor for horns, and hence will exhibit horns--as
will also the two _HA's_ since a single dose of horns expresses them in
a male. So we have the three-to-one Mendelian ratio.

But four females with exactly the same factors will express them as
follows: The one _HH_ (double factor for horns) proves sufficient to
express horns, even in a female. The _AA_, lacking the factor entirely,
cannot have horns. Nor will the two _HA_ females have horns, a single
dose being insufficient to express them in a female. Again we get our
three-to-one Mendelian ratio, but this time it is three hornless to one

Especially Goldschmidt's carefully graded experiments point to a similar
difference in the strength of the dose or doses of the sex factors.
Instead of the two doses of horns required to express them in the
presence of the female secretory balance in Professor Wood's sheep,
Goldschmidt found it took six doses of maleness to completely express it
on a female basis in his moths. But even with three doses, the female
was incapable of reproduction. A single dose in excess of the ordinary
combination to produce normal females modified the type of body, also
reducing the number of eggs.

In the case of the horns, only two types were possible, absence or
presence of the character. Likewise there are only two types of primary
sex, i.e., of sex glands proper. But seven different types or grades of
body for each sex were found to exhibit themselves in the moths. In more
complicated bodies, we should of course expect many more, and where many
races (instead of two) are mixed, as in man, a classification merely on
the basis of physical characteristics would be much more complicated.
Indeed, we may well be sceptical as to the possibilities of cataloguing
differences of the sort between men and women by body type alone.

In society, however, we are much more interested in the mental than the
purely physical qualities of the two types of bodies, especially since
the use of machines has so largely replaced brute strength with skill.
Most employments do not even require a muscular skill beyond that
possessed by ordinary individuals of both sexes.

Even this ignores the primary consideration in the sex problem in
society, the first of the following two parts into which the whole
problem may be divided: (1) _How to guarantee the survival of the group
through reproduction_ of a sufficient number of capable individuals; and
(2) How to make the most economical use of the remaining energies, first
in winning nutrition and protection from the environment, second in
pursuing the distinctly human values over and above survival. The sex
problem as a whole is concerned with adjusting two different general
types of individuals, male and female, to the complicated business of
such group life or society. The differences between these two sex-types
being fundamentally functional, the best way to get at them is to trace
the respective and unlike life cycles.

We have already shown in rude outline how a difference (apparently
chemical) between two fertilized eggs starts them along two different
lines of development in the embryonic stage. One develops the
characteristic male primary and secondary sex characters, the other the
female. Throughout the embryonic or intra-maternal stage this
differentiation goes on, becoming more and more fixed as it expresses
itself in physical structures. Childhood is only a continuation of this
development--physically separate from the mother after the period of
lactation. Until puberty, when sex ceases to be merely potential and
becomes functional (about 12-14 in girls and 14-16 boys), the
differences in metabolism are not very marked. Neither are they in old
age, after sex has ceased to be functional. It is during the period when
sex is functional (about 35 years in women and considerably longer in
men) that the gross physiological differences manifest themselves.

Before puberty in both sexes, calcium or lime salts are retained in the
tissues and go to build up the bony skeleton. (A mere sketch of calcium
metabolism is all that can be given here--for details consult such works
as 15 and 17 in bibliography; summary in 14; pp. 34f. & 161f.) Note that
puberty comes earlier in girls than in boys, and that the skeleton
therefore remains lighter. During the reproductive period in women these
salts are heavily drawn upon for the use of the reproductive system. The
male reproductive system draws upon them as well, though the drain is
very slight as compared to that in women. In old age these salts produce
senility through deposit in the tissues, especially in the arteries.

At the pubertal age in girls begins the phenomenon known as
menstruation, in which there is a large excretion of calcium salts. In
pregnancy these are needed for building the skeleton of the foetus, and
at delivery go to the breasts to assist in lactation. Bell states that
there is a noticeable connection between early menstruation and short
stature, and _vice versa_. What is commonly known as menstruation lasts
only a few days, and is merely the critical period in a monthly cycle or
periodicity which goes with the female sex specialization. This period
involves the gradual preparation of the uterus or womb for a guest,
together with the maturing of the ova. Then the Graafian follicles
containing the ova break and these latter enter the uterus for

If fertilization takes place, the fertilized egg buries itself in the
wall and development of the embryo proceeds. Menstruation stops, the
calcium salts being required for the growing embryo. There is likely to
be no menstruation for a considerable time after delivery if the child
is nursed, as is normal. This gives the uterus time for devolution to
the normal, before a surplus of calcium salts sets the periodicity going
again. If the egg which passes from the ovary to the uterus is not
fertilized, it is excreted, the uterus goes through another monthly
cycle of preparation for the period of intra-maternal environment, and
so on indefinitely until the climacteric.

This climacteric or decay of sexuality is a rather critical time,
especially in women. It marks the period at which the metabolism can no
longer support the strain of reproduction. A surplus of calcium brings
on senility, as noted above. Withdrawal of the interests which centre in
sex, together with the marked accompanying physical changes, involves a
shift of mental attitude which is also frequently serious. A British
coroner stated in the _British Medical Journal_ in 1900 (Vol. 2, p.792)
that a majority of 200 cases of female suicide occurred at this period,
while in the case of younger women suicide is peculiarly likely to occur
during menstruation. Krugelstein and Lombroso, respectively, remark the
same tendencies.[18]

It is a matter of almost everyday observation that men and women in the
neighbourhood of fifty suddenly find themselves disoriented in the
world. Tolstoi, for example, who had written passionately of passion in
his earlier years, suddenly awoke, according to his "Confessions," from
what seemed to him afterward to have been a bad dream. In this case, the
result was a new version of religion as a new anchorage for the man's
life. It may be pacifism, prohibition, philanthropy, or any one of a
very large number of different interests--but there must usually be
something to furnish zest to a life which has ceased to be a sufficient
excuse for itself.

If freed from worry about economic realities, it is not infrequently
possible for the first time for these people to "balance" their
lives--to find in abstraction a rounded perfection for which earlier in
life we seek in vain as strugglers in a world of change. Thus old people
are often highly conservative, i.e., impatient of change in their social
environment, involving re-orientation; they wish the rules of the game
let alone, so they can pursue the new realities they have created for

Socially, the old are of course a very important factor since a changed
metabolism sets them somewhat outside the passionate interests which
drive people forward, often in wrong directions, in the prime of life.
Hence in a sense the old can judge calmly, as outsiders. Like youth
before it has yet come in contact with complicated reality, they often
see men and women as "each chasing his separate phantom."

While such conservatism, in so far as it is judicial, is of value to
society, looking at it from the viewpoint of biology we see also some
bad features. _Senex_, the old man, often says to younger people, "These
things you pursue are valueless--I too have sought them, later abandoned
the search and now see my folly;" not realizing that if his blood were
to resume its former chemical character he would return to the quest.

Elderly people, then, biological neuters, come especially within the
problem of the economical use of the social as distinguished from the
biological capacities of the race. They affect the sex problem proper,
which applies to a younger age-class, only through their opinions. Some
of these opinions are hangovers from the time in their own lives when
they had stronger sexual interests, and some are peculiar to people of
their readjusted glandular activity. Their reproductive contribution to
society has been made.

Pre-pubertal childhood and youth, on the contrary, has its biological
contributions to society still before it. The glandular activity of boys
and girls is perhaps not so unlike as to justify society in giving them
a different kind of education and preparation for group life. The excuse
for two sorts of training is that the two sexes will not do the same
work after puberty. Hence the question of youthful training is
sociological almost entirely--not biological--or rather, it rests upon
the biology, not of childhood but of the reproductive period, which
society anticipates.

Instead of scattering attention over the whole history of the universe,
then, or even over the general field of biology, in dealing with sex as
a social problem, the emphasis must be upon the human life cycle during
the functional-reproductive period. Other biological data than that
which concerns this period is merely introductory or explanatory. The
extent to which the sociological problem involved is linked up with
general biological considerations like natural selection, adaptation and
specialization will be summarized in a separate chapter.

Earlier female maturity and puberty, as well as lighter structure, have
already been accounted for by the metabolism, especially of the calcium
salts. These have also been shown to be the key fact in the monthly
periodicity of the mammalian female. Nearly all of the anatomical and
physiological sex differences catalogued by such pioneer workers as
Ellis, Ploss, Thomas and Bucura are simply what we should expect from
the less active and in some ways peculiar metabolism of woman.

Among such differences are the size and shape of bones and other body
structures, the more plentiful hæmoglobin in male blood during the
reproductive period, and such blood peculiarities as the production of
more carbonic acid or the higher specific gravity in the male. The
greater percentage of fat as compared with muscle in women[19], if it is
generally true, is what we should expect from a lower metabolism and a
tendency to store materials. The long list of diseases which are more or
less sex-limited [20; 14, pp.160f.; 18] are largely endocrine. Even those
which do not primarily concern the internal secretory system would be
expected to work somewhat differently in the presence of unlike blood
streams. As to the greater average weight of the male brain, this is
true of the whole body. Brain weight, either absolute or relative to
body weight, is not positively known to be in any way correlated (in
normal people) with mental capacity.

A library might be stocked with the vast literature devoted to
summarizing and cataloguing sex differences; and most of it would be
useless from the standpoint of sociology. Unaccompanied by the
criticisms a biologist would have to make on the method of their
ascertainment and validity, not to mention their significance, such
lists can easily do--and probably have done--more harm than good. One
simple and reasonable criterion would reduce this catalogue to fairly
modest proportions, so far as social science is concerned: _Which ones
have an obvious or even probable social significance?_ Over and above
that, while such contrasts may be of speculative interest, they lead
imaginative people to argue from them by analogy and thus cloud the real

What are the outstandingly significant sex differences which application
of the above criterion leaves? (1) A less active and more uneven
metabolism of woman; (2) Associated with this, less physical strength on
the average--hence an inferior adaptability to some kinds of work,
resulting in a narrower range of choice of occupation, disadvantageous
in competitive society; (3) But the one fundamental difference, to which
all the others are as nothing, is the specialization of the mammalian
female body and metabolism to furnish the intra-maternal environment
(approximately nine months in the human species) for the early
development of the young and lactation for some months afterward.

This last may be said to include the former two, which were arbitrarily
placed first because they are always in evidence, whether reproduction
is undertaken or not. This takes us out of cell and endocrine biology
and into the general problem in group adjustment to environment which
that specialization entails.


1. Goldschmidt, R. Experimental Intersexuality and the Sex Problem.
Amer. Naturalist, 1916. Vol. 50, pp. 705f.

2. Goldschmidt, R. Preliminary Report on Further Experiments in
Inheritance and Determination of Sex. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sc, 1916.
Vol. II, No. 1, pp. 53f.

3. Goldschmidt, R. A Case of Facultative Parthenogenesis. Biol.
Bulletin, 1917. Vol. XXXII, No. 1, p. 38.

4. Goldschmidt, R. Intersexuality and the Endocrine Aspect of Sex.
Endocrinology, Vol. I, p. 434. 1917. Fine summary of the work done on
moths, birds and various forms by many biologists.

5. Riddle, Dr Oscar. Quantitative Basis of Sex as indicated
by the Sex-Behaviour of Doves from a Sex-Controlled Series. Science,
n.s., Vol. 39, p. 440, 1914.

6. Riddle, Dr Oscar. Sex Control and Known Correlations in Pegeons.
Amer. Nat. Vol. L, pp. 385-410.

7. Benedict, F.G. & Emmes, L.E. A Comparison of the Basal Metabolism of
Men and Women. Jour. Biol. Chem. Vol. 20. No. 3. 1914.

8. Schäfer, Sir E.A. Endocrine Glands and Internal Secretions. Stanford
University, 1914, p. 91.

9. Paton, D. Noël. Regulators of Metabolism. London, 1913, p. 146.

10. Weininger, Otto. Sex and Character. London & N.Y., 1906. Eng. trans.
of Geschlecht u. Charakter, Vienna & Leipzig, 1901 & 1903.

11. Leland, C.G. The Alternate Sex. London, 1904.

12. Carpenter, Edw. Love's Coming of Age. London, 1906.

13. George, W.L. The Intelligence of Woman, Boston, 1916.

14. Bell, Dr Blair. The Sex Complex, London, 1916.

15. Bell, Dr. Blair. Gynæcology. London, 1919.

16. Bateson, W. Mendel's Principles of Heredity. 1909, pp. 169-70.

17. Marshall, F.H. A Physiology of Reproduction. London, 1910.

18. Ellis, Havelock. Man and Woman. 1904 ed., pp. 284f

19. Thomas, W.I. Sex and Society. 1907, p. 19.

20. Schäfer, Sir Edw. An Introduction to the Study of Internal
Secretions. London, 1916, pp. 106f.



Adaptation and specialization; Reproduction a group not an individual
problem; Conflict between specialization and adaptation; Intelligence
makes for economy in adjustment to environment; Reproduction, not
production, the chief factor in the sex problem.

From the facts briefly stated in the preceding chapters it is quite
evident that the general superiority of man over woman or _vice versa_
cannot be proven by biology. Such an idea arises from a careless and
unscientific use of language. Superiority is a term which, when used to
express the rather exact ideas of biology, is employed in a carefully
limited and specific, not in a general, sense. That is, superiority,
even if an apparently general idea like survival value is referred to,
always implies a given, understood environment where such is not
specifically mentioned. Wolves, for example, might be found to possess
superior chances for survival over foxes, beaver or partridges in a
given environment. A biologist would probably use more exact and less
ambiguous terms to express such a fact, and say that wolves were the
best _adapted_ to the given surroundings. If all these animals continued
to live side by side in the given environment, they could be compared
only as to specific details--size, strength, cunning, fleetness in
running, swimming or flying, concealment from enemies, etc. Then the
biologist would probably make his meaning perfectly clear by stating
that one is _specialized_ in one direction or another.

Especially is general superiority a vague idea when the things compared
are different but mutually necessary or complementary. If their
functions overlap to some extent (i.e., if certain acts can be performed
by either), we may say that one is better adapted to a certain activity
than the other. Thus it may be that women are generally better adapted
to caring for young children than are men, or that men are on the whole
better adapted to riveting boiler plates, erecting skyscrapers, or
sailing ships. Where their activities do not overlap at all, even the
word adaptation hardly applies. For example, women are not better
"adapted" to furnishing the intra-maternal environment for the young,
since men are not adapted to it at all. It is a case of female

Men being neither specialized nor adapted, to any extent whatever, to
this particular activity, any attempt at comparison is obviously
fruitless, since one term is always zero. This specialization,
absolutely necessary to the survival of human groups, is either present
or it is absent in a given individual. Any attempt to formulate a
general proposition about superiority either attaches purely arbitrary
values to different kinds of activity or is absurd from the standpoint
of the most elementary logic.

From the standpoint of biology, reproduction is not an individual but a
group problem, however many problems of detail it may give rise to in
individual lives. Sex involves the division of the reproductive process,
without the exercise of which any human group would perish very shortly,
into two complementary, mutually necessary but unequal parts. (This
statement applies only to the reproductive process, as obviously the
male and female gametes contribute equally to the formation of the new
individual). Neither part (the male or the female) of this process is
more necessary than the other, both being _absolutely_ necessary. But
the female specialization for furnishing the intra-maternal environment
makes her share more burdensome.

Biologically considered, not even two individuals (male and female),
together with their offspring, can be more than an arbitrary "unit" as
concerns sex, since inbreeding eventually impoverishes the stock. Hence
outcrosses are necessary. To intelligibly consider the sex problem in
the human species, then, we must always predicate a considerable _group_
of people, with such organization and division of activities as to
guarantee that all the processes necessary to survival will be carried
on. Sex is a group problem. Considering the mutual interdependence and
the diversity of activities in human society, to make the generalization
that one sex is superior to the other is on a par with saying that roots
and branches are superior to trunks and leaves. It is sheer foolishness.
Yet oceans of ink have flowed in attempts to establish one or the other
of two equally absurd propositions.

Since the specialization to furnish the intra-maternal environment for
the young makes the female part of the reproductive process essentially
and unavoidably more burdensome than the male, it results that an
economical division of the extra-reproductive activities of any group
must throw an unequal share upon the males. This specialization to carry
the young during the embryonic period is thus at the base of the
division of labour between the sexes. It is the chief factor involved in
the problems of sex, and gives rise, directly or indirectly, to most of
the others.

But the sex problem as a whole is one of adaptation as well as of
specialization. An incident of the female specialization is a type of
body on the average smaller, weaker and less well adapted to some other
activities than is the male body, even when reproduction is not
undertaken. A great complication is added by the fact that some women,
and also some men, are better adapted than others to nonreproductive
activities. This is another way of saying that the type of body
associated with either type of sex glands varies a good deal, for
reasons and in respects already pointed out.

The most important fact about this reproductive specialization is that
beyond fertilization it is _exclusive_ in the female. Since the males
cannot furnish the intra-parental environment for the young, the entire
burden must fall on half the group. If this aggregation is to even hold
its own numerically, its women must have, on an average, two children
each, _plus about one more_ for unavoidable waste--death in infancy or
childhood, sterility, obvious unfitness for reproduction, etc., i.e.,
_three_ in all. If one woman has less than her three children, then
another must have more than three, or the group number will decrease.
_Group survival is the fundamental postulate in a problem of this kind._

The above figure is for civilized society. In primitive groups, the
terrific wastage makes a much higher birth-rate necessary, several times
as high in many cases. If we suppose such a group, where child
mortality, lack of sanitation, etc., necessitates an average of eight
children per woman (instead of three), the biological origin of the
division of labour between the sexes is much more clearly seen than it
is in civilized societies.

If men are better hunters or fighters than women, the latter could
nevertheless hunt and fight--it is a question of superior or inferior
adaptation to particular activities. But it is more than that. _Only_
the women are biologically specialized to the chief reproductive burden
(intra-parental environment and lactation). If half the women should
withdraw from child-bearing, the remainder would be obliged to average
_sixteen_ apiece. But even this is not all. Unfortunately, the half of
the women who would be found best adapted to hunting and fighting would
be the more vigorous half. The new generation would thus be born from
the leftovers, and would be poor quality. Such a division of labour
within a group would be fatally foolish and entirely uncalled for--since
there are plenty of men adapted to hunting and fighting, but entirely
unspecialized to child-bearing and nursing.

Group survival being the fundamental thing, the group is obliged to
develop a division of labour which directs the activities of the
individuals composing it to providing for its necessities, regardless
of any interference with their own desires. That is, if group survival
requires that woman use her specialization to child-bearing instead of
any adaptation she may possess in other directions, one of two things
inevitably result: (1) Either the group finds or evolves some social
control machinery which meets the necessity, or (2) it must give way to
some other group which can do so. In either case, the result is a
division of labour, which we see more clearly in primitive peoples. The
less efficient group is not necessarily exterminated, but if it loses
out in the competition until some other group is able to conquer it and
impose _its_ division of labour the result is of course the extinction
of the conquered group as an integral part of society. This is simply
natural selection working on groups. Natural selection works chiefly in
this manner on the human species, _because that species lives in
groups_. Such group control of the component individuals as has been
described has led to a division of labour between the sexes in every
primitive society. All this means is that the group adopting such a
division has greater survival value, and hence is more likely to be
represented in later ages.

It must not be supposed that such systems of control were always
logically thought out or deliberately planned. Even animals which live
in herds or colonies have divisions of labour.

Through an infinite slaughter of the least fit, such groups arrive at
some kind of instinctive adjustment to produce and protect the young.
The crudest human intelligence must have eliminated much of the waste
involved, by comprehending obvious cause-and-effect relations which
animals have to arrive at through trial and error methods.

For example, an intelligence capable of employing artificial weapons is
also able to see that the wielder of these for group defence cannot be
encumbered with baggage or children when the group is in movement. Hence
women became the burden bearers, and took care of the children, even
after the nursing period. War parties could not generally be mixed, for
the obvious reasons that such women as did not have young children would
be pregnant a good deal of the time, or likely to become so. Moreover, a
hunter and fighter must not have his courage, ferocity and physical
initiative undermined by unsuitable employments and associations.

In a semi-settled group, the hunter and warrior cannot be relied upon to
keep hearth-fires burning or tend crops, even though he may occasionally
have time for such activities. These duties are therefore relegated to
the women, whose child-bearing functions impose upon them a more
sedentary existence. Women must reproduce practically up to their full
capacity to fill up the gaps made by war, accident and disease as well
as death from old age. To this biological service which they alone can
perform are added those which lie nearest it and interfere least with
carrying it out.

We must therefore keep in view _all_ the activities of any group in
which the sex problem is being studied. There is a certain tendency to
disregard the female specialization to child-bearing, and to regard the
sex question as one merely of adaptation to extra-biological services.
In every group which has survived, some machinery--a "crust of custom,"
reinforced by more arbitrary laws or regulations--has sought to
guarantee reproduction by keeping women out of lines of endeavour which
might endanger that fundamental group necessity. Primitive societies
which got stabilized within a given territory and found their birth-rate
dangerously _high_ could always keep it down by exposing or destroying
some of the unfit children, or a certain per cent of the female
children, or both.

In primitive groups, the individual was practically _nil_. But modern
civilized society is able to survive without the rigid control of
individual activities which the old economy entailed. Man comes to
choose more and more for himself individually instead of for the group,
uniformity weakens and individualism becomes more pronounced. As
control of environment becomes more complete and easy, natural selection
grows harder to detect. We turn our interests and activities toward the
search for what we want and take survival largely for granted--something
the savage cannot do. Natural selection becomes unreal to us, because
the things we do to survive are so intricately mixed up with those we do
for other reasons. Natural selection in gregarious animals operates upon
groups rather than upon individuals. Arrangement of these groups is
often very intricate. Some have territorial boundaries and some have
not. Often they overlap, identical individuals belonging to several.
Hence it is not strange that natural selection phenomena often escape

But this must not lead us to suppose that natural selection is wholly
inoperative in civilized society. We see some nations outbreeding
others, or dominating them through superior organization. Within
nations, some racial and religious groups outbreed others and thus
gradually supplant them--_for the future is to those who furnish its



Racial decay in modern society; Purely "moral" control dysgenic in
civilized society; New machinery for social control; Mistaken notion
that reproduction is an individual problem; Economic and other factors
in the group problem of reproduction.

From the discussion in the preceding chapter, it becomes apparent that
for the half of the female element in a savage society possessing the
most vigor and initiative to turn away from reproduction would in the
long run be fatal to the group. Yet this is what occurs in large measure
in modern civilized society. Reproduction is a biological function. It
is non-competitive, as far as the individual is concerned, and offers no
material rewards. The breakdown of the group's control over the detailed
conduct and behaviour of its members is accompanied by an increasing
stress upon material rewards to individuals. So with growing
individualism, in the half of the race which can both bear children and
compete in the social activities offering rewards, i.e., the women who
are specialized to the former and adapted to the latter, there is a
growing tendency among the most successful, individualized strains, to
choose the social and eschew the biological functions.

Racial degeneration is the result. Recorded history is one succession of
barbarous races, under strong, primitive breeding conditions, swamping
their more civilized, individualized neighbours, adopting the dysgenic
ways of civilization and then being swamped in their turn by barbarians.
This is especially pronounced in our own times because popularized
biological and medical knowledge makes it possible for a tremendous
class of the most successful and enlightened to avoid reproduction
without foregoing sex activity.

In primitive groups, a "moral" control which kept all women at
reproduction was neither eugenic nor dysgenic unless accompanied by
systematic destruction of the least fit children. By "moral" control is
meant the use of taboo, prejudice, religious abhorrence for certain acts
and the like. The carefully nurtured moral ideas about sex and
reproduction simply represent the system of coercion which groups have
found most effective in enforcing the division of reproductive and other
activities among the individual members. When this social machinery grew
up, to regulate sexual activity was in general to regulate
reproduction. The natural sex desire proved sufficiently powerful and
general to still seek its object, even with the group handicaps and
regulations imposed to meet the reproductive necessity. But
contraceptive knowledge, etc., has now become so general that to
regulate sex activity is no longer to regulate reproduction. The taboo
or "moral" method of regulation has become peculiarly degenerating to
race quality, because the most intelligent, rationalized individuals are
least affected by it.

There is no turning back to control by ignorance. Even theoretically,
the only way to stop such a disastrous selection of the unfit would be
to rationalize reproduction--so that _nobody_ shall reproduce the
species through sheer ignorance of how to evade or avoid it. This done,
some type of social control must be found which will enable civilized
societies to breed from their best instead of their worst stock. Under
the old scheme, already half broken down, natural selection favours
primitive rather than civilized societies through decreased birth-rates
and survival of the unfit in the latter. Even this is true only where
the savage groups are not interfered with by the civilized, a condition
rapidly disappearing through modern occidental imperialism and the
inoculation of primitive peoples with "civilized" diseases such as
syphilis, rum-drinking and rampant individualism.

To continually encourage the racially most desirable women to disregard
their sexual specialization and exploit their social-competitive
adaptation must, obviously destroy the group which pursues such a
policy. The only way to make such a course democratic is to carefully
instruct all women, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, in the methods of
avoiding reproduction and to inject the virus of individualism in all
alike. Then the group can get its population supply only by a new system
of control. To remove any economic handicaps to child-bearing is
certainly not out of harmony with our ideas of justice.

In removing the economic handicaps at present connected with the
reproductive function in women, care must also be taken that the very
measures which insure this do not themselves become dysgenic influences.
Such schemes as maternity insurance, pensions for mothers, and most of
the propositions along this line, may offer an inducement to women of
the poorer classes to assume the burdens connected with their
specialization for child-bearing. But their more fortunate sisters, who
find themselves so well adapted to modern conditions that they are even
moderately successful in the competition for material rewards, will
hardly find recompense thus for turning from their social to their
biological functions. To these highly individualized modern women must
be presented more cogent reasons for taking upon themselves the burden
of reproducing the group.

It is obvious that from just this energetic female stock we should
obtain a large part of the next generation if we are at all concerned
over the welfare of the group and its chances of survival. One
suggestion is that we may be able to turn their very individualism to
account and use it as a potent factor in the social control of their
reproductive activities. If we can demonstrate on the basis of sound
biological data that the bearing of children is necessary for the full
and complete development of the individual woman, physically and
mentally, we shall have gone a long way toward securing voluntary
motherhood. Only such argument will induce the highly individualized,
who may also be the most vital, woman to turn of her own accord from
competitive social activities to the performance of the biological
function for which she is specialized. This is especially true, as has
been intimated above, since contraceptive knowledge now permits the
exercise of sexual functions without the natural consequences, and the
avoidance of motherhood no longer involves the denial of expression to
the sexual urge.

Even if we are able to utilize this method of control, it will not
obtain the requisite number of offspring to maintain the eugenic quality
of the group, since the bearing of one or two children would be all that
individual development would require. If the group must have on the
average three children from each of its women in order to replace
itself, the larger part of the reproductive activities will still be
confined to the more ignorant, or if they also make use of contraceptive
knowledge, the group will simply die out from the effects of its own
democratic enlightenment. Thus it becomes apparent that we must find
some more potent force than this narrow form of self-interest to
accomplish the social purposes of reproduction. When reproduction is
generally understood to be as thoroughly a matter of group survival as
for example the defensive side in a war of extermination, the same
sentiment of group loyalty which now takes such forms as patriotism can
be appealed to. If the human race is unsocial it will perish anyway. If
it has not become unsocial--and it does not display any such tendency,
but only the use of such impulses in mistaken directions--then a group
necessity like reproduction can be met. Whatever is required of the
individual will become "moral" and "patriotic"--i.e., it will be
wreathed in the imperishable sentiments which group themselves around
socially necessary and hence socially approved acts everywhere and

In whatever races finally survive, the women of good stock as well as
poor--perhaps eventually the good even more than the poor--will
reproduce themselves. Because of our ideals of individual liberty, this
may not be achieved by taboo, ignorance or conscription for motherhood.
But when it is found to be the personal interest to bear children, both
as a means of complete physical and mental development and as a way of
winning social approval and esteem, it will become as imperative for
woman to fulfil the biological function to which she is specialized as
it was under the old system of moral and taboo control. The increasing
emphasis on the necessity of motherhood for the maintenance of a normal,
health personality, and the growing tendency to look upon this function
as the greatest service which woman can render to society, are manifest
signs that this time is approaching. There is little doubt that woman
will be as amenable to these newer and more rationalized mores as human
nature has always been to the irrationally formed customs and traditions
of the past.

To ignore the female specialization involved in furnishing the
intramaternal environment for three children, on an average, to the
group, is simply foolish. If undertaken at maturity--say from
twenty-two to twenty-five years of age--and a two-year interval left
between the three in the interest of both mother and children, it puts
woman in an entirely different relation toward extra-reproductive
activities than man. It does imply a division of labour.

In general, it would seem socially expedient to encourage each woman to
have her own three children, instead of shifting the burden upon the
shoulders of some other. If such activities of nursing and caring for
the very young can be pooled, so much the better. Doubtless some women
who find them distasteful would be much more useful to society at other
work. But let us not disregard fundamentals. It is obviously
advantageous for children of normal, able parents to be cared for in the
home environment. In a _biologically healthy_ society the presumption
must be that the average woman has some three children of her own. Since
this obviously includes nurses and governesses, we see at once the
futility of the oft-proposed class solution of hiring single women to
care for the children of the fortunate. If such a servant is
undesirable, she is not hired; if normal, in a biologically healthy
society she would have her own children.

The female handicap incident to reproduction may be illustrated by the
case of Hambletonian 10 mentioned in Chapter II. We saw that a female
could not have borne the hundredth part of his colts. This simply means
that the effort or individual cost of impressing his characters upon the
new generation is less than one one-hundredth that required of a female.

Among domestic animals this is made use of to multiply the better males
to the exclusion of the others, a valuable biological expedient which we
are denied in human groups because it would upset all our social
institutions. So we do the next best thing and make the males do more
than half in the extra-biological activities of society, since they are
by their structure prevented from having an equal share in the
reproductive burden. This is an absolutely necessary equation, and there
will always be some sort of division of labour on the basis of it.

Since reproduction is a group, not an individual, necessity, whatever
economic burden it entails must eventually be assumed by society and
divided up among the individuals, like the cost of war or any other
group activity. Ideally, then, from the standpoint of democracy, every
individual, male or female, should bear his share as a matter of course.
This attitude toward reproduction, as an individual duty but a group
economic burden, would lead to the solution of most of the problems
involved. Negative eugenics should be an immediate assumption--if the
state must pay for offspring, the quality will immediately begin to be
considered. A poor race-contribution, not worth paying for, would
certainly be prevented as far as possible.

Some well-meaning radical writers mistakenly suppose that the
emancipation of women means the withdrawal by the group of any interest
in, or any attempt to regulate, such things as the hours and conditions
of female labour. That would simply imply that the group takes no
interest in reproduction--in its own survival. For if the group does not
make some equation for the greater burden of reproduction upon women,
the inevitable result will be that that particular service will not be
rendered by those most desirable to be preserved.

Given the fundamental assumption that the group is to survive--to be
perpetuated by the one possible means--if it withdraws all solicitude
about the handicap this entails to women as a whole, introducing a
spirit of laissez-faire competition between men and women, the women
with sense enough to see the point will not encumber themselves with
children. For each one of these who has no children, some other woman
must have six instead of three. And some people encourage this in the
name of democracy!

The most involved problems must inevitably centre around the women who,
to quote Mrs. Hollingworth, "vary from the mode," but are yet
functional for sex. Some have no sex desires at all, some no craving for
or attachment to children, some neither of these. It is a question still
to be solved whether some of them ought, in the interest of the race, to
be encouraged to reproduce themselves. In less individualized primitive
society, seclusion, taboo and ignorance coerced them into reproduction.
Any type of control involving the inculcation of "moral" ideas is open
to the objection that it may work on those who should not reproduce
themselves as well as those who should.

In a sense, this problem will tend to solve itself. With the
substitution of the more rationalized standards of self-interest and
group loyalty for the irrational taboo control of reproductive
activities, there will be as much freedom for women to choose whether
they will accept maternity as there is now, in the period of transition
from the old standards to the new. The chief difference will be that
many of the artificial forces which are acting as barriers to motherhood
at the present time--as for example the economic handicap involved--will
be removed, and woman's choice will therefore be more entirely in
harmony with her native instinctive tendencies. Thus those women endowed
with the most impelling desire for children will, as a rule, have the
largest number. In all probability their offspring will inherit the
same strong parental instinct. The stocks more poorly endowed with this
impulse will tend to die out by the very lack of any tendency to
self-perpetuation. It is only logical to conclude, therefore, that as we
set up the new forces of social control outlined in this chapter, we are
at the same time providing more scope for natural selection, and that
the problem of aberrant types consequently becomes only a transitory







Primitive social control; Its rigidity; Its necessity; Universality of
this control in the form of taboos; Connection between the universal
attitude of primitive peoples towards woman as shown in the
Institutionalized Sex Taboo and the magic-religious belief in Mana;
Relation of Mana to Taboo; Discussion of Sympathetic Magic and the
associated idea of danger from contact; Difficulties in the way of an
inclusive definition of Taboo; Its dual nature; Comparison of concepts
of Crawley, Frazer, Marett and others; Conclusion that Taboo is Negative
Mana; Contribution of modern psychology to the study of Taboo; Freud's
analogy between the dualistic attitude toward the tabooed object and the
ambivalence of the emotions; The understanding of this dualism together
with the primitive belief in Mana and Sympathetic Magic explains much in
the attitude of man toward woman; The vast amount of evidence in the
taboos of many peoples of dualism in the attitude toward woman. Possible
physiological explanation of this dualistic attitude of man toward woman
found in a period before self-control had in some measure replaced
social control, in the reaction of weakness and disgust following sex

A study of the elaborate, standardized, and authoritative systems of
social control found among all primitive peoples gives a vivid
impression of the difficulty of the task of compelling man to die to
himself, that is, to become a socius. The rigors and rituals of
initiation ceremonies at adolescence impressed the duties of sociality
at that impressionable period. The individual who refused to bow his
head to the social yoke became a vagabond, an outcast, an excommunicate.
In view of the fierceness of the struggle for food and the attitude
toward the stranger among all primitives, the outcast's life chances
were unenviable. It was preferable to adapt one's self to the social
order. "Bad" traits were the more easily suppressed in return for the
re-enforcement of power which was the striking feature of group life;
power over enemies, power over nature, and a re-enforcement of the
emotional life of the individual which became the basis on which were
built up the magico-religious ceremonies of institutionalized religion.

It is the purpose of this study to consider a phase of social life in
which there can be traced a persistence into modern times of a primitive
form of control which in a pre-rational stage of group life made
possible the comparatively harmonious interplay of antagonistic forces.
This form of control is called Taboo. A student of the phenomenon, a
recognized authority on its ethnological interpretation, says of it: "To
illustrate the continuity of culture and the identity of the elementary
human ideas in all ages, it is sufficient to point to the ease with
which the Polynesian word _tabu_ has passed into modern
language."[1, p.16]

We shall attempt to show that at least one form of taboo, the
Institutionalized Sex Taboo, is co-extensive with human social
experience, and exists to-day at the base of family life, the socialized
form of sex relationship. The family as a social institution has been
scarcely touched until a very recent historical period by the
rationalizing process that has affected religious and political
institutions. Economic changes resultant upon the introduction of an
industrial era which showed the importance of women in diverse social
relations were causes of this new effort at adaptation to changing
conditions. It became apparent that taboos in the form of customs,
ceremonials, beliefs, and conventions, all electrically charged with
emotional content, have guarded the life of woman from change, and with
her the functions peculiar to family life. There has doubtless been
present in some of these taboos "a good hard common-sense element." But
there are also irrational elements whose persistence has resulted in
hardship, blind cruelty, and over-standardization.

In order to comprehend the attitude of early man toward sex and
womanhood, and to understand the system of taboo control which grew out
of this attitude, it is only reasonable to suppose that the prehistoric
races, like the uncivilized peoples of the present time, were inclined
to explain all phenomena as the result of the action of spiritistic
forces partaking of both a magical and religious nature. This
supernatural principle which the primitive mind conceived as an
all-pervading, universal essence, is most widely known as _mana_,
although it has been discussed under other names.[A]

Certain persons, animals and objects[B] are often held to be imbued to
an unusual degree with this _mana_, and hence are to be regarded as holy
and held in awe. Inasmuch as man may wish to use this power for his own
purposes, a ceremonial cult would naturally grow up by which this would
become possible. Otherwise, to come in contact with these objects
directly or indirectly, besides profaning their sanctity would be
exceedingly dangerous for the transgressor, because of this same power
of transmission of a dread and little understood force. Therefore, all
such persons, animals or objects are taboo and must be avoided. Under
these circumstances it can be seen that taboos are unanalyzed,
unrationalized "Don'ts," connected with the use and wont which have
crystallized around the wish of man to manipulate the mysterious and
often desirable features of his environment, notably those connected
with possession, food, and sex.

[Footnote A: The Australians call it Arunkulta, the Iroquis Indians
Orenda and other North American tribes Wakonda, the Melanesians Mana.]

[Footnote B: Dr F.B. Jevons[2] says: "These things ... are alike taboo:
the dead body; the new-born child; blood and the shedder of blood; the
divine being as well as the criminal; the sick, outcasts, and
foreigners; animals as well as men; women especially, the married woman
as well as the sacred virgin; food, clothes, vessels, property, house,
bed, canoes, the threshing floor, the winnowing fan, a name, a word, a
day; all are or may be taboo because dangerous. This short list does not
contain one-hundredth part of the things which are supposed to be
dangerous; but even if it were filled out and made tolerably complete,
it would, by itself, fail to give any idea of the actual extent and
importance of the institution of taboo."]

The idea of the transmission of _mana_ through contact is concomitant
with the notion of _sympathetic magic_, defined as the belief that the
qualities of one thing can be mysteriously transferred to another. The
most familiar illustration is that of the hunter who will not eat the
heart of the deer he has killed lest he become timid like that animal,
while to eat the heart of a lion would be to gain all the fierce courage
of that beast.[A] This belief becomes so elaborated that the qualities
of one object are finally thought to be transferred to another which has
never come into direct contact with the first, the transition being
accomplished through the agency of a third object which has been in
contact with both the others and thus acts as the conducting medium
through which the qualities of one pass into the other.

[Footnote A: E.B. Tylor[3] has called attention to the belief that the
qualities of the eaten pass into the eater as an explanation of the food
taboos and prejudices of savage peoples.]

Just as the holy thing, which is to be feared as the seat of a mystic,
supernatural force, is to be avoided lest harm befall from contact with
it, or lest it be denied by human touch and its divine essence be
affected, so the unclean thing is also made taboo lest it infect man
with its own evil nature. Even as the savage will not have his idol
polluted by contact with his own personality, however indirect, so he
would himself avoid pollution in similar fashion by shunning that which
is unclean. Here also the avoidance of the tabooed person or thing is
based on the principle of sympathetic magic understood as a method of
transference of qualities, and on belief in the possibility of infection
by contact.

The dual nature of taboo as the avoidance of both the sacred and the
unclean is noted by authorities on the subject who differ in other
respects as to the definition of taboo, such as in the relation of taboo
to the magical ceremonies by which man undertook to mould his
environment to his wishes. Whether the tabooed object be regarded in one
light or the other, the breaking of taboo is associated with dread of
the unknown--besides the fear of infection with the qualities of the
tabooed object according to the laws of sympathetic magic. There is
also the fear of the mysterious and supernatural, whether conceived as
the mana force or as a principle of "bad magic."

Dr. J.G. Frazer has collected into the many volumes of "The Golden
Bough" a mass of evidence concerning the taboos of primitive society. On
the basis of his definition of magic as "a misapplication of the ideas
of association by similarity and contiguity," Dr. Frazer divided magic
into "positive magic," or charms, and "negative magic," or taboo.
"Positive magic says, 'Do this in order that so and so may happen.'
Negative magic or taboo says 'Do not do this lest so and so should
happen.'"[4, p.111, v.I.]

But Dr. Frazer's conclusion, which he himself considered only tentative,
was not long left unassailed. Prof. R.R. Marett in his essay "Is Taboo a
Negative Magic?"[5] called attention to the very evident fact that Dr.
Frazer's definition would not cover the characteristics of some of the
best known taboos, the food taboos of Prof. Tylor to which we have
previously alluded in this study, as a consequence of which "the flesh
of timid animals is avoided by warriors, but they love the meat of
tigers, boars, and stags, for their courage and speed."[3, p.131.] Are
not these food taboos rather, Dr. Marett asks, a "misapplication of the
ideas of association by similarity and contiguity" amounting to the
sympathetic taboos so carefully described by such writers on Magic as
MM. Hubert and Mauss of L'Année Sociologique? Still another kind of
taboos mentioned by Dr. Frazer but amplified by Mr. Crawley in "The
Mystic Rose," the taboos on knots at childbirth, marriage, and death,
are much better described by the term "sympathetic taboo." Moreover, if
taboo were a form of magic as defined by Dr. Frazer, it would be a
somewhat definite and measurable quantity; whereas the distinguishing
characteristic of taboo everywhere is the "infinite plus of awfulness"
always accompanying its violation. As Dr. Marett observes, there may be
certain definite results, such as prescribed punishment for violations
against which a legal code is in process of growth. There may be also
social "growlings," showing the opposition of public opinion to which
the savage is at least as keenly sensitive as the modern. But it is the
"infinite plus" always attached to the violation of taboo that puts it
into the realm of the mystical, the magical. It would seem that Dr.
Frazer's definition does not include enough.

It is when we turn to the subject of this study that we see most clearly
the deficiencies in these explanations--to the "classic well-nigh
universal major taboo" of the woman shunned. Dr. Marett uses her as his
most telling argument against the inclusiveness of the concepts of Dr.
Frazer and of MM. Hubert and Mauss. He says: "It is difficult to
conceive of sympathy, and sympathy only, as the continuous, or even the
originally efficient cause of the avoidance." Mr Crawley had called
attention to the fact that savages fear womanly characteristics, that
is, effeminacy, which is identified with weakness. While noting with
great psychological insight the presence of other factors, such as the
dislike of the different, he had gone so far as to express the opinion
that the fear of effeminacy was probably the chief factor in the Sex
Taboo. This is probably the weakest point in Mr. Crawley's study, for he
shows so clearly the presence of other elements, notably mystery, the
element that made woman the potential witch against whom suspicion
concentrated in so tragical a fashion up to a late historical period.

Because of the element of mystery present in taboo we are led to
conclude that taboo is more than negative magic if we accept so definite
a concept as "a false association of ideas." The presence of power in
the tabooed object turns our attention to _mana_ as giving us a better
understanding of why man must be wary. Mana must however be liberally
interpreted if we are to see to the bottom of the mystery. It must be
thought of as including good as well as evil power, as more than the
"black magic" of the witch-haunted England of the 17th century, as is
shown by the social position of the magicians who deal with the Mana of
the Pacific and with the Orenda of the Iroquois. It implies
"wonder-working," and may be shown in sheer luck, in individual cunning
and power, or in such a form as the "uncanny" psychic qualities ascribed
to women from the dawn of history. With this interpretation of mana in
mind, taboo may be conceived as negative mana; and to break taboo is to
set in motion against oneself mystic wonder-working power.

Our study thus far has made it clear that there are mystic dangers to be
guarded against from human as well as extra-human sources. There is
weakness to be feared as well as power, as shown by the food and sex
taboos. And once again there is mystery in the different, the unusual,
the unlike, that causes avoidance and creates taboos. Man's dislike of
change from the old well-trodden way, no matter how irrational, accounts
for the persistence of many ancient folkways[6] whose origins are lost
in mystery.[A] Many of these old and persistent avoidances have been
expanded in the development of social relationships until we agree with
Mr. Crawley that taboo shows that "man seems to feel that he is treading
in slippery places." Might it not be within the range of possibility
that in the study of taboo we are groping with man through the first
blind processes of social control?[B]

[Footnote A: Prof. Franz Boas explains this tendency: "The more
frequently an action is repeated, the more firmly it will become
established ... so that customary actions which are of frequent
repetition become entirely unconscious. Hand in hand with this decrease
of consciousness goes an increase in the emotional value of the omission
of these activities, and still more of the performance of acts contrary
to custom."[7]]

[Footnote B: No study of the tabu-mana theory, however delimited its
field, can disregard the studies of religion and magic made by the
contributors to L'Année Sociologique, notably MM. Durkheim and
Levy-Bruhl, and in England by such writers as Sir Gilbert Murray, Miss
Harrison, Mr A.B. Cook, Mr F.M. Cornford, and others. In their studies
of "collective representations" these writers give us an account of the
development of the social obligation back of religion, law, and social
institutions. They posit the sacred as forbidden and carry origins back
to a pre-logical stage, giving as the origin of the collective emotion
that started the representations to working the re-enforcement of power
or emotion resulting from gregarious living. This study is concerned,
however, with a "social" rather than a "religious" taboo,--if such a
distinction can somewhat tentatively be made, with the admission that
the social scruple very easily takes on a religious colouring.]

It is worthy of note that the most modern school of analytical
psychology has recently turned attention to the problem of taboo. Prof.
Sigmund Freud, protagonist psychoanalysis, in an essay, Totem und Tabu,
called attention to the analogy between the dualistic attitude toward
the tabooed object as both sacred and unclean and the ambivalent
attitude of the neurotic toward the salient objects in his environment.
We must agree that in addition to the dread of the tabooed person or
object there is often a feeling of fascination. This is of course
particularly prominent in the case of the woman tabooed because of the
strength of the sex instinct. As Freud has very justly said, the tabooed
object is very often in itself the object of supreme desire. This is
very obvious in the case of the food and sex taboos, which attempt to
inhibit two of the most powerful impulses of human nature. The two
conflicting streams of consciousness called ambivalence by the
psychologist may be observed in the attitude of the savage toward many
of his taboos. As the Austrian alienist cannily remarks, unless the
thing were desired there would be no necessity to impose taboo
restrictions concerning it.

It is by a knowledge of the mana concept and the belief in sympathetic
magic, clarified by recognition of the ambivalent element in the
emotional reaction to the thing tabooed, that we can hope to understand
the almost universal custom of the "woman shunned" and the sex taboos of
primitive peoples. This dualism appears most strongly in the attitude
toward woman; for while she was the natural object of the powerful
sexual instinct she was quite as much the source of fear because she was
generally supposed to be endowed with spiritistic forces and in league
with supernatural powers. During the long period when the fact of
paternity was unrecognized, the power of reproduction which was thus
ascribed to woman alone made of her a mysterious being. Her fertility
could be explained only on the basis of her possession of an unusually
large amount of mana or creative force, or by the theory of impregnation
by demonic powers. As a matter of fact, both explanations were accepted
by primitive peoples, so that woman was regarded not only as imbued with
mana but also as being in direct contact with spirits. Many of the
devices for closing the reproductive organs which abounded among savage
tribes were imposed as a protection against spirits rather than against
the males of the human species. The tradition of impregnation by gods or
demons was not confined to savage tribes, but was wide-spread in the
days of Greece and Rome and lasted into biblical times, when we read of
the sons of heaven having intercourse with the daughters of men.

In addition to this fear of the woman as in possession of and in league
with supernatural powers, there was an additional motive to avoidance in
the fear of transmission of her weakness through contact, a fear based
on a belief in sympathetic magic, and believed with all the "intensely
realized, living, and operative assurance" of which the untutored mind
is capable. Crawley masses an overwhelming amount of data on this point,
and both he and Frazer show the strength of these beliefs. Indeed, in
many cases violation proved to be "sure death," not by the hand of man,
but from sheer fright. As a result, just as woman was considered to have
both the tendency and power to impart her characteristics through
contact, so the sexual act, the acme of contact, became the most potent
influence for the emasculation of the male.

If we wish for proof that the primitive attitude toward women was
essentially that which we have outlined, we have only to glance at the
typical taboos concerning woman found among ancient peoples and among
savage races of our own day. Nothing could be more indicative of the
belief that the power to bring forth children was a manifestation of the
possession of mana than the common avoidance of the pregnant woman. Her
mystic power is well illustrated by such beliefs as those described by
the traveller Im Thurn, who says that the Indians of Guiana believe that
if a pregnant woman eat of game caught by hounds, they will never be
able to hunt again. Similarly, Alfred Russell Wallace wrote of the
aborigines of the Amazon: "They believe that if a woman during her
pregnancy eats of any meat, any other animal partaking of it will
suffer; if a domestic animal or tame bird, it will die; if a dog, it
will be for the future incapable of hunting; and even a man will be
unable to shoot that particular kind of game for the future."[8] In
Fiji a pregnant wife may not wait upon her husband.[9] In the
Caroline Islands men may not eat with their wives when pregnant, but
small boys are allowed to do so.[10]

The avoidance of the menstruous woman is an even more widespread custom
than the shunning of pregnancy, probably because this function was
interpreted as a symptom of demonic possession. Primitive man had no
reason to know that the phenomenon of menstruation was in any way
connected with reproduction. The typical explanation was probably very
much like that of the Zoroastrians, who believed that the menses were
caused by the evil god Ahriman. A woman during the period was unclean
and possessed by that demon. She must be kept confined and apart from
the faithful, whom her touch would defile, and from the fire, which her
very look would injure. To this day there is in the house of the Parsee
a room for the monthly seclusion of the women, bare of all comforts, and
from it neither sun, moon, stars, fire, water, nor any human being can
be seen.[11]

All the ancient civilizations had such taboos upon the menstruous woman.
According to Pliny, the Romans held that nothing had such marvellous
efficacy as, or more deadly qualities than, the menstrual flow. The
Arabs thought that a great variety of natural powers attached
themselves to a woman during the menstrual period.[12, p.448] Rabbinic
laws demand that "a woman during all the days of her separation shall be
as if under a ban." The epithet Niddah, applied to a woman at that time,
means "to lay under a ban." The reconstruction of the ancient Assyrian
texts shows that the law of the unclean taboo on the woman in her
courses holds for them. Up to the present time the Semitic woman is
carefully segregated from the rest of the tribe, often for a long time,
and becomes taboo again on each successive occasion.[13] Peoples in the
eastern Mediterranean region will not permit a woman in her courses to
salt or pickle; whatever she might prepare would not keep. This belief
survives among the folk to-day in America, and was evidently brought
early in the history of the country, for it is common among pioneer

There are very similar taboos among the savage races. Among the Tshi
peoples of West Africa women are not allowed to remain even in the town
but retire at the period to huts erected for the purpose in the
neighbouring bush, because they are supposed to be offensive to the
tribal deities at that time.[14] The Karoks of California have a
superstition like that of the Israelites. Every month the woman is
banished without the village to live in a booth by herself. She is not
permitted to partake of any meat, including fish. If a woman at this
time touches or even approaches any medicine which is about to be given
to a sick man, it will cause his death.[15] Amongst other Indian tribes
of North America women at menstruation are forbidden to touch men's
utensils, which would be so defiled by their touch that their subsequent
use would be attended by certain misfortune. The Canadian Dénés believe
that the very sight of a woman in this condition is dangerous to
society, so that she wears a special skin bonnet to hide her from the
public gaze.[16] In western Victoria a menstruous woman may not take
anyone's food or drink, and no one will touch food that has been touched
by her.[17] Amongst the Maoris, if a man ate food cooked by a menstrous
woman, he would be "tapu an inch thick."[18] Frazer quotes the case of
an Australian blackfellow who discovered that his wife had lain on his
blanket at her menstrual period, and who killed her and died of terror
himself within a fortnight.[19] Australian women at this time are
forbidden on pain of death to touch anything that men use or even to
walk on a path that men frequent.[20] Among the Baganda tribes a
menstruous woman is not permitted to come near her husband, cook his
food, touch any of his weapons, or sit on his mats, bed, or seat.[21]

By some twist in the primitive way of thinking, some "false association
by similarity and contiguity," the function of childbirth, unlike that
of pregnancy, where the emphasis seems to have been placed in most cases
on the mana principle, was held to be unclean and contaminating, and was
followed by elaborate rites of purification. It may be that the pains of
delivery were ascribed to the machinations of demonic powers, or
possession by evil spirits,--we know that this has sometimes been the
case. The use of charms and amulets, and the chanting of sacred formulæ
at this dangerous time all point to such beliefs. At any rate, although
the birth of the child would seem in every respect except in the
presence of blood to be more closely connected with the phenomena of
pregnancy than with that of menstruation, as a matter of fact the taboos
on the woman in child-bed were intimately associated with those on
menstruous women.

Among the ancients, the Zoroastrians considered the woman unclean at
childbirth as at menstruation.[22] In the Old Testament, ritual
uncleanness results from contact with a woman at childbirth.[23]

Likewise among savage tribes the same customs concerning childbirth
prevail. Among the Australian aborigines women are secluded at childbirth
as at menstruation, and all vessels used by them during this seclusion
are burned.[20] The Ewe-speaking people think a mother and babe unclean
for forty days after childbirth.[24] At menstruation and childbirth
a Chippeway wife may not eat with her husband; she must cook
her food at a separate fire, since any one using her fire would fall
ill.[10, v. ii, p.457] The Alaskan explorer Dall found that among the
Kaniagmuts a woman was considered unclean for several days both after
delivery and menstruation; in either case no one may touch her and she
is fed with food at the end of a stick.[25] Amongst the tribes of the
Hindu Kush the mother is considered unclean for seven days after the
birth of her child, and no one will eat from her hand nor will she
suckle her infant during that period. In the Oxus valley north of the
Hindu Kush the period is extended to forty days.[26]

This attitude which primitive man takes toward woman at the time of her
sexual crises--menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth--are but an
intensification of the feeling which he has toward her at all times.
Conflicting with his natural erotic inclinations are the emotions of awe
and fear which she inspires in him as the potential source of contagion,
for there is always some doubt as to her freedom from bad magic, and it
is much safer to regard her as unclean.[27] Thus the every-day life of
savage tribes is hedged in by all manner of restrictions concerning the
females of their group. The men have their own dwelling in many
instances, where no woman may enter. So, too, she may be barred out from
the temples and excluded from the religious ceremonies when men worship
their deity. There are people who will not permit the women of their
nation to touch the weapons, clothing, or any other possessions of the
men, or to cook their food, lest even this indirect contact result in
emasculation. The same idea of sympathetic magic is at the root of
taboos which forbid the wife to speak her husband's name, or even to use
the same dialect. With social intercourse debarred, and often no common
table even in family life, it is veritably true that men and women
belong to two castes.

Of the primitive institution known as the "men's house," Hutton Webster
says: "Sexual separation is further secured and perpetuated by the
institution known as the men's house, of which examples are to be found
among primitive peoples throughout the world. It is usually the largest
building in a tribal settlement ... Here the most precious belongings of
the community, such as trophies and religious emblems, are preserved.
Within its precincts ... women and children ... seldom or never
enter ... Family huts serve as little more than resorts for the
women and children."[28]

Many examples among uncivilized peoples bear out this description of
the institution of the men's house. Amongst the Indians of California
and in some Redskin tribes the men's clubhouse may never be entered by a
squaw under penalty of death. The Shastika Indians have a town lodge for
women, and another for men which the women may not enter.[15] Among the
Fijis women are not allowed to enter a _bure_ or club house, which is
used as a lounge by the chiefs. In the Solomon Islands women may not
enter the men's _tambu_ house, and on some of the islands are not even
permitted to cross the beach in front of it.[29] In the Marquesas
Islands the _ti_ where the men congregate and spend most of their time
is taboo to women, and protected by the penalty of death from the
pollution of a woman's presence.[30]

Not only is woman barred from the men's club house, but she is also
often prohibited from association and social intercourse with the
opposite sex by many other regulations and customs. Thus no woman may
enter the house of a Maori chief,[31] while among the Zulus, even if a
man and wife are going to the same place they never walk together.[32]
Among the Baganda wives are kept apart from the men's quarters.[21] The
Ojibway Indian Peter Jones says of his people: "When travelling the men
always walk on before. It would be considered a great presumption for
the wife to walk by the side of her husband."[33] In many islands of the
South Seas the houses of important men are not accessible to their
wives, who live in separate huts. Among the Bedouins a wife may not sit
in any part of the tent except her own corner, while it is disgraceful
for a man to sit under the shadow of the women's _roffe_ (tent
covering).[34] Among the Hindus, no female may enter the men's
apartments. In the Society and Sandwich Islands the females were
humiliated by taboo, and in their domestic life the women lived almost
entirely by themselves. The wife could not eat the same food, could not
eat in the same place, could not cook by the same fire. It was said that
woman would pollute the food.[35] In Korea a large bell is tolled at
about 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. daily, and between these hours only are women
supposed to appear in the streets.[36] In the New Hebrides there is a
curious segregation of the sexes, with a dread among the men of eating
anything female.[37]

Among many tribes this segregation of the women and the separation of
the sexes begin at an early age, most often at the approach of puberty,
which is earlier in primitive peoples than in our own race.[38] The boys
usually go about with the father, while the girls remain with the
mother. This is true in Patagonia, where the boys begin to go with the
father at ten, the daughters with the mother at nine.[39] In Korea boys
and girls are separated at seven. From that time the Korean girl is
absolutely secluded in the inner court of her father's home. Mrs Bishop
says: "Girl children are so successfully hidden away that ... I never
saw one girl who looked above the age of six ... except in the women's
rooms."[36] Among the northern Indian girls are from the age of eight or
nine prohibited from joining in the most innocent amusements with
children of the opposite sex, and are watched and guarded with such an
unremitting attention as cannot be exceeded by the most rigid discipline
of an English boarding-school.[40] Similar arrangements are reported
among the Hill Dyaks,[41] certain Victorian tribes,[17] and many others.
As already instanced, the separation of the sexes extends even to
brothers and sisters and other close relatives. Thus in Fiji brothers
and sisters are forbidden by national and religious custom to speak to
each other.[9] In Melanesia, according to Codrington, the boy begins to
avoid his mother when he puts on clothing, and his sister as soon as she
is tattooed.[42] In the exclusive Nanburi caste of Travancore brothers
and sisters are separated at an early age.

Women are more often than not excluded also from religious worship on
account of the idea of their uncleanness. The Arabs in many cases will
not allow women religious instruction. The Ansayrees consider woman to
be an inferior being without a soul, and therefore exclude her from
religious services.[34] In the Sandwich Islands women were not allowed
to share in worship or festivals.[35] The Australians are very jealous
lest women should look into their sacred mysteries. It is death for a
woman to look into a Bora.[20] In Fiji women are kept away from worship
and excluded from all the temples.[9] The women of some of the Indian
hill-tribes may not sacrifice nor appear at shrines, nor take part in
religious festivals. In New Ireland women are not allowed to approach
the temples.[43] In the Marquesas Islands the Hoolah-hoolah ground,
where festivals are held, is taboo to women, who are killed if they
enter or even touch with their feet the shadow of the trees.[30] Women
are also excluded from the sacred festivals of the Ahts.[44] In the
Amazon region, the women are not even permitted to see the objects used
in important ceremonies. If any woman of the Uaupes tribe happens to see
the masks used in the tribal ceremony she is put to death.[45]

Crawley has explained the taboos on the sexes eating together and on the
cooking of food by women for men as due to the superstitious belief
that food which has come in contact with or under the influence of the
female is capable of transmitting her properties. Some southern Arabs
would die rather than accept food from a woman.[12] Among the old
Semites it was not the custom for a man to eat with his wife and
children. Among the Motu of New Guinea when a man is helega, he may not
eat food that his wife has cooked.[46] South Australian boys during
initiation are forbidden to eat with the women, lest they "grow ugly or
become grey."

It was probably some fear of the charm-weaving power of woman which lay
at the root of the rules which forbade her to speak her husband's name,
the implication being that she might use it in some incantation against
him. For instance, a Zulu woman was forbidden to speak her husband's
name; if she did so, she would be suspected of witchcraft.[47] Herodotus
tells us that no Ionian woman would ever mention the name of her
husband, nor may a Hindu woman do so.[48]

Frazer says that the custom of the Kaffir woman of South Africa not to
speak the name of her own or husband's relations has given rise to an
almost entirely different language from that of the men through the
substitution of new words for the words thus banned. Once this "women's
speech" had arisen, it would of course not be used by the men because of
the universal contempt for woman and all that pertained to her. This may
have been the origin of the use of different dialects in some tribes,
such as the Japanese, the Arawaks, some Brazilian tribes, and

Although the division of labour between the sexes had a natural
biological basis, and indeed had its beginning in the animal world long
before man as such came into existence, the idea of the uncleanness of
woman was carried over to her work, which became beneath the dignity of
man. As a result, there grew up a series of taboos which absolutely
fixed the sphere of woman's labour, and prohibited her from encroaching
on the pursuits of man lest they be degraded by her use, quite as much
as they barred man from her specific activities. In Nicaragua, for
example, it is a rule that the marketing shall be done by women. In
Samoa, where the manufacture of cloth is allotted to the women, it is
taboo for a man to engage in any part of the process.[30] Among the
Andamanese the performance of most of the domestic duties falls to the
lot of the women and children. Only in cases of stern necessity will the
husband procure wood or water.[50] An Eskimo even thinks it an indignity
to row in an _umiak_, the large boat used by women.

They also distinguish very definitely between the offices of husband
and wife. For example, when a man has brought a seal to land, it would
be a stigma on his character to draw it out of the water, since that is
the duty of the female.[51] In the Marquesas Islands, the use of canoes
in all parts of the islands is rigorously prohibited to women, for whom
it is death even to be seen entering one when hauled on shore; while
Tapa-making, which belongs exclusively to women, is taboo to men.[30]
Among the Betchuanas of South Africa the men will not let women touch
the cattle.[52] The Baganda think that if a woman steps over a man's
weapons they will not aim straight or kill until they have been
purified.[21] Among many South African tribes, if a wife steps over her
husband's assegais, they are considered useless from that time and are
given to the boys to play with. This superstition rings many changes and
is current among the natives of all countries.

The taboos which have thus been exemplified and reviewed are based on
the feeling that woman is possessed of a demonic power, or perhaps of a
_mana_ principle which may work injury; or else upon the fear that she
may contaminate man with her weakness. It is very probable that many of
these taboos originated even as far back as the stage of society in
which the line of descent was traced through the mother. There seems
little doubt that the framework of ancient society rested on the basis
of kinship, and that the structure of the ancient gens brought the
mother and child into the same gens. Under these circumstances the gens
of the mother would have some ascendancy in the ancient household. On
such an established fact rests the assumption of a matriarchate, or
period of Mutterrecht. The German scholar Bachofen in his monumental
work "Das Mutterrecht" discussed the traces of female "authority" among
the Lycians, Cretans, Athenians, Lemnians, Lesbians, and Asiatic
peoples. But it is now almost unanimously agreed that the matriarchal
period was not a time when women were in possession of political or
economic power, but was a method of tracing descent and heritage. It is
fairly well established that, in the transition from metronymic to
patronymic forms, authority did not pass from women to men, but from the
brothers and maternal uncles of the women of the group to the husbands
and sons. Such a method of tracing descent, while it doubtless had its
advantages in keeping the woman with her child with her blood kindred,
would not prevent her from occupying a degraded position through the
force of the taboos which we have described.[53]

With the development of the patriarchal system and the custom of
marriage by capture or purchase, woman came to be regarded as a part of
man's property, and as inviolate as any other of his possessions. Under
these circumstances virginity came to be more and more of an asset,
since no man wished his property to be denied by the touch of another.
Elaborate methods for the preservation of chastity both before and after
marriage were developed, and in many instances went so far as to
consider a woman defiled if she were accidentally touched by any other
man than her husband. Here we have once more the working of sympathetic
magic, where the slightest contact works contamination.

We have in other connections alluded to the seclusion of young girls in
Korea, among the Hindus, among the North American Indians, and in the
South Seas. One of the most beautiful examples of this custom is found
in New Britain. From puberty until marriage the native girls are
confined in houses with a bundle of dried grass across the entrance to
show that the house is strictly taboo. The interior of these houses is
divided into cells or cages in each of which a girl is confined. No
light and little or no air enters, and the atmosphere is hot and

The seclusion of women after marriage is common among many peoples. In
the form in which it affected western civilization it probably
originated among the Persians or some other people of central Asia, and
spread to the Arabs and Mohammedans. That it did not originate with the
Arabs is attested by students of their culture. It was common among the
Greeks, whose wives were secluded from other men than their husbands. In
modern Korea it is not even proper to ask after the women of the family.
Women have been put to death in that country when strange men have
accidentally touched their hands.[36, p.341]

The saddest outcome of the idea of woman as property was the status of
widows. In uncivilized society a widow is considered dangerous because
the ghost of her husband is supposed to cling to her. Hence she must be
slain that his spirit may depart in peace with her, as well as with the
weapons and other possessions which are buried with him or burned upon
his funeral pyre. The Marathi proverb to the effect that "the husband is
the life of the woman" thus becomes literally true.

The best known case of widow slaying is of course the custom of "suttee"
in India. The long struggle made against this custom by the British
government is a vivid illustration of the strength of these ancient
customs. The Laws of Manu indicate that the burning of widows was
practised by primitive Aryans. In the Fiji Islands, where a wife was
strangled on her husband's grave, the strangled women were called "the
carpeting of the grave."[54] In Arabia, as in many other countries,
while a widow may escape death, she is very often forced into the class
of vagabonds and dependents. One of the most telling appeals made by
missionaries is the condition of child widows in countries in which the
unfortunates cannot be killed, but where the almost universal stigma of
shame is attached to second marriages. A remarkable exception to this,
when in ancient Greece the dying husband sometimes bequeathed his widow
to a male friend, emphasized the idea of woman as property.

Although the taboos which are based on the idea of ownership are
somewhat aside from the main theme of our discussion, they nevertheless
reinforce the other taboos of the seclusion and segregation of woman as
unclean. Moreover, as will be shown in a later chapter, the property
idea has certain implications which are important for the proper
understanding of the status of woman and the attitude toward her at the
present time.

In the face of the primitive aversion to woman as the source of
contamination through sympathetic magic, or as the seat of some mystic
force, whether of good or evil, it may well be asked how man ever dared
let his sexual longings overcome his fears and risk the dangers of so
intimate a relationship. Only by some religious ceremonial, some act of
purification, could man hope to counteract these properties of woman;
and thus the marriage ritual came into existence. By the marriage
ceremonial, the breach of taboo was expiated, condoned, and socially
countenanced.[1, p.200] This was very evident in the marriage customs of
the Greeks, which were composed of purification rites and other
precautions.[55] The injunctions to the Hebrews given in Leviticus
illustrate the almost universal fact that even under the sanction of
marriage the sexual embrace was taboo at certain times, as for example
before the hunt or battle.

We are now prepared to admit that throughout the ages there has existed
a strongly dualistic or "ambivalent" feeling in the mind of man toward
woman. On the one hand she is the object of erotic desire; on the other
hand she is the source of evil and danger. So firmly is the latter
feeling fixed that not even the sanction of the marriage ceremony can
completely remove it, as the taboos of intercourse within the marital
relationship show.

There are certain psychological and physiological reasons for the
persistence of this dualistic attitude in the very nature of the sex act
itself. Until the climax of the sexual erethism, woman is for man the
acme of supreme desire; but with detumescence the emotions tend to
swing to the opposite pole, and excitement and longing are forgotten in
the mood of repugnance and exhaustion. This tendency would be very much
emphasized in those primitive tribes where the _corroboree_ with its
unlimited indulgence was common, and also among the ancients with their
orgiastic festivals. In the revulsion of feeling following these orgies
woman would be blamed for man's own folly. In this physiological swing
from desire to satiety, the apparent cause of man's weakness would be
looked upon as the source of the evil--a thing unclean. There would be
none of the ethical and altruistic element of modern "love" to protect
her. Students agree that these elements in the modern sentiment have
been evolved, "not from the sexual instinct, but from the companionship
of the battlefield."[56] It is therefore probable that in this
physiological result of uncontrolled sex passion we shall find the
source of the dualism of the attitude toward sex and womanhood present
in taboo.


1. Crawley, A.E. The Mystic Rose. 492 pp. Macmillan. London, 1902.

2. Jevons, F.B. History of Religion. 443 pp. Methuen & Co. London, 1896.

3. Tylor, E.B. Early History of Mankind, 3d. ed. 388 pp. J. Murray.
London, 1878.

4. Frazer, J.G. The Golden Bough: Part I, The Magic Art and the
Evolution of Kings. 2 vols. Macmillan. London, 1911.

5. First published in Anthropological Essays presented to E.B. Tylor in
honour of his 75th birthday. Oct. 2, 1907. 416 pp. The Clarendon Press,
Oxford, 1907.

6. Sumner, W.G. Folkways. 692 pp. Ginn & Co. Boston, 1907.

7. Boas, Franz. The Mind of Primitive Man. 294 pp. Macmillan. N.Y.,

8. Wallace, Alfred Russel. Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio
Negro. 541 pp. Reeve & Co., London, 1853.

9. Williams, Thomas, and Calvert, James. Fiji and the Fijians. 551 pp.
Appleton. N.Y., 1859.

10. Ploss, Dr Hermann H. Das Weib. 2 vols. Th. Grieben's Verlag.
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11. Greiger, Ostiranische Kultur. Erlangen, 1882. Quoted from Folkways
[6], p. 513.

12. Robertson Smith, W. Religion of the Semites. 508 pp. A. & C. Black.
Edinburgh, 1894.

13. Thompson, R.C. Semitic Magic. 286 pp. Luzac & Co. London, 1908.

14. Ellis, A.B. Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa.
343 pp. Chapman & Hall. London, 1887.

15. Powers, Stephen. Tribes of California. Contributions to North
American Ethnology, Third Volume. Washington, 1877.

16. Morice, Rev. Father A.G. The Canadian Dénés. Annual Archeological
Report, 1905. Toronto, 1906. Quoted from Frazer, Taboo and the Perils of
the Soul.

17. Dawson, James. Australian Aborigines. 111 pp., with Appendix. George
Robertson. Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, 1881. Citation from Latin
note to Chap. XII.

18. Tregear, Edward. The Maoris of New Zealand. Journal of the
Anthropological Institute, v. xix, 1889.

19. Armit, Capt. W.E. Customs of the Australian Aborigines. Jour. Anthr.
Inst., ix, 1880, p. 459. See also [18].

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21. Roscoe, Rev. John. Manners and Customs of the Baganda. Jour. Anthr,
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22. Zend-Avesta. Sacred Books of the East Series. Oxford 1880, 1883.

23. Leviticus xii.

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25. Dall, W.H. Alaska and Its Resources. 627 pp. Lee & Shepard. Boston,

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27. Frazer, J.G. The Golden Bough: Part II, Taboo and the Perils of the
Soul. 446 pp. Macmillan. London, 1911.

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35. Ellis, Rev. Wm. Polynesian Researches. 4 vols. G. Bohn. London,

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37. Somerville, Lieut. Boyle T. The New Hebrides. Jour. Anthr. Inst.,
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38. Hall, G. Stanley. Adolescence. 2 vols. Appleton, N.Y., 1904.

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41. Low, Hugh. Sarawak. 416 pp. Richard Bentley. London, 1848.

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Trübner & Co. London, 1870.

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Archibald Constable & Co. Westminster, 1896.

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Anthr. Inst., xii, 1882.

51. Crantz, David. History of Greenland. Trans, fr. the German, 2 vols.
Longmans, Green. London, 1820.

52. Holub, E. Central South African Tribes. Jour. Anthr. Inst., x, 1881.

53. Morgan, Lewis H. Ancient Society. 560 pp. Henry Holt & Co. N.Y.,
1907. (First edition, 1877).

54. Fison, Rev. Lorimer. Figian Burial Customs, jour. Anthr. Inst., x.

55. Rohde, Erwin. Psyche. 711 pp. Freiburg und Leipzig, 1894.

56. Benecke, E.F.M. Women in Greek Poetry. 256 pp. Swan Sonnenschein &
Co. London, 1896.



Taboos of first chapter indicate that in the early ages the fear of
contamination by woman predominated; Later, emphasis fell on her mystic
and uncanny power; Ancient fertility cults; Temple prostitution,
dedication of virgins, etc.; Ancient priestesses and prophetesses;
Medicine early developed by woman added to belief in her power; Woman's
psychic quality of intuition: its origin--theories--conclusion that this
quality is probably physiological in origin, but aggravated by taboo
repressions; Transformation in attitude toward woman in the early
Christian period; Psychological reasons for the persistence in religion
of a Mother Goddess; Development of the Christian concept; Preservation
of ancient women cults as demonology; Early Christian attitude toward
woman as unclean and in league with demons; Culmination of belief in
demonic power of woman in witchcraft persecutions; All women affected by
the belief in witches and in the uncleanness of woman; Gradual
development on the basis of the beliefs outlined of an ideally pure and
immaculate Model Woman.

From the data of the preceding chapter, it is clear that the early ages
of human life there was a dualistic attitude toward woman. On the one
hand she was regarded as the possessor of the mystic _mana_ force,
while on the other she was the source of "bad magic" and likely to
contaminate man with her weaknesses. Altogether, the study of primitive
taboos would indicate that the latter conception predominated in savage
life, and that until the dawn of history woman was more often regarded
as a thing unclean than as the seat of a divine power.

At the earliest beginnings of civilization man's emotions seem to have
swung to the opposite extreme, for emphasis fell on the mystic and
uncanny powers possessed by woman. Thus it was that in ancient nations
there was a deification of woman which found expression in the belief in
feminine deities and the establishment of priestess cults. Not until the
dawn of the Christian era was the emphasis once more focussed on woman
as a thing unclean. Then, her mystic power was ascribed to demon
communication, and stripped of her divinity, she became the witch to be
excommunicated and put to death.

All the ancient world saw something supernatural, something demoniacal,
in generation. Sometimes the act was deified, as in the phallic
ceremonials connected with nature worship, where the procreative
principle in man became identified with the creative energy pervading
all nature, and was used as a magic charm at the time of springtime
planting to insure the fertility of the fields and abundant harvest,[1]
It was also an important part of the ritual in the Phrygian cults, the
cult of the Phoenician Astarte, and the Aphrodite cults. These mystery
religions were widely current in the Græco-Roman world in pre-Christian
times. The cult of Demeter and Dionysius in Greece and Thrace; Cybele
and Attis in Phrygia; Atagartes in Cilicia; Aphrodite and Adonis in
Syria; Ashtart and Eshmun (Adon) in Phoenicia; Ishtar and Tammuz in
Babylonia; Isis, Osiris and Serapis in Egypt, and Mithra in Persia--all
were developed along the same lines.[2] The custom of the sacrifice of
virginity to the gods, and the institution of temple prostitution, also
bear witness to the sacred atmosphere with which the sex act was
surrounded among the early historic peoples.[3] It was this idea of the
mysterious sanctity of sex which did much to raise woman to her position
as divinity and fertility goddess.

The dedication of virgins to various deities, of which the classic
example is the institution of the Vestal Virgins at Rome, and the fact
that at Thebes and elsewhere even the male deities had their priestesses
as well as priests, are other indications that at this time woman was
regarded as divine or as capable of ministering to divinity. The
prophetic powers of woman were universally recognized. The oracles at
Delphi, Argos, Epirus, Thrace and Arcadia were feminine. Indeed the
Sibylline prophetesses were known throughout the Mediterranean basin.[A]

[Footnote A: Farnell[4] found such decided traces of feminine divinity
as to incline him to agree with Bachofen that there was at
one time an age of Mutterrecht which had left its impress on
religion as well as on other aspects of social life. As we have
said before, it is now fairly well established that in the transition
from metronymic to patronymic forms, authority did not pass
from women to men but from the brothers and maternal uncles
of the women of the group to husbands and sons. This fact
does not, however, invalidate the significance of Farnell's data
for the support of the view herein advanced, i.e., that woman
was at one time universally considered to partake of the divine.]

The widespread character of the woman-cult of priestesses and
prophetesses among the peoples from whom our culture is derived is
evidenced in literature and religion. That there had been cults of
ancient mothers who exerted moral influence and punished crime is shown
by the Eumenides and Erinyes of the Greeks. The power of old women as
law-givers survived in Rome in the legend of the Cumæan Sibyl.[5] An
index of the universality of the sibylline cult appears in the list of
races to which Varro and Lactantius say they belonged: Persian, Libyan,
Delphian, Cimmerian, Erythrian, Trojan, and Phrygian.[6] These sibyls
were believed to be inspired, and generations of Greek and Roman
philosophers never doubted their power. Their carmina were a court of
last resort, and their books were guarded by a sacred taboo.

Among the Greeks and neighbouring nations the women of Thessaly had a
great reputation for their charms and incantations.[7] Among the writers
who speak of a belief in their power are: Plato, Aristophanes, Horace,
Ovid, Virgil, Tibullus, Seneca, Lucan, Menander, and Euripides.

All of the northern European tribes believed in the foresight of future
events by women. Strabo says of the Cimbri that when they took the field
they were accompanied by venerable, hoary-headed prophetesses, clothed
in long, white robes. Scandinavians, Gauls, Germans, Danes and Britons
obeyed, esteemed and venerated females who dealt in charms and
incantations. These sacred women claimed to foretell the future and to
interpret dreams, and among Germans, Celts and Gauls they were the only
physicians and surgeons. The druidesses cured disease and were believed
to have power superior to that of the priests.[8] The Germans never
undertook any adventure without consulting their prophetesses.[9] The
Scandinavian name for women endowed with the gift of prophecy was
_fanae_, _fanes_. The English form is _fay_. The ceremonies of fays or
fairies, like those of the druidesses, were performed in secluded

[Footnote A: Joan of Arc was asked during her trial if she were a fay.]

Magic and medicine went hand in hand in ancient times, and remained
together down to the middle ages. Old herbals largely compiled from the
lore of ancient women form a link in the chain of tradition, the first
ring of which may have been formed in Egypt or in Greece. There is no
doubt that women from an early date tried to cure disease. Homer makes
mention of Hecamede and her healing potions. There seems little doubt
that there were Greek women who applied themselves to a complete study
of medicine and contributed to the advance of medical science. This
traditional belief in the power of women to cure disease survives in the
folk to-day.[10]

In view of the widespread veneration of a peculiar psychic quality of
woman, a power of prophecy and a property of divinity which has made her
an object of fear and worship, it may be well to review the modern
explanations of the origin of this unique feminine power. Herbert
Spencer was of the opinion that feminine penetration was an ability to
distinguish quickly the passing feelings of those around and was the
result of long ages of barbarism during which woman as the weaker sex
was obliged to resort to the arts of divination and to cunning to make
up for her lack of physical force and to protect herself and her
offspring.[11] In like vein Käthe Schirmacher, a German feminist, says:
"The celebrated intuition of woman is nothing but an astonishing
refinement of the senses through fear.... Waiting in fear was made the
life task of the sex."[12]

Lester F. Ward had a somewhat different view.[13] He thought that
woman's psychic power came from the sympathy based on the maternal
instinct, which "though in itself an entirely different faculty, early
blended with or helped to create, the derivative reason-born faculty of
altruism." With Ward's view Olive Schreiner agrees, saying: "We have no
certain proof that it is so at present, but woman's long years of
servitude and physical subjection, and her experience as childbearer and
protector of infancy, may be found in the future to have endowed her ...
with an exceptional width of human sympathy and instinctive

In all probability Lombroso came nearer to the truth in his explanation
of feminine penetration. "That woman is more subject to hysteria is a
known fact," he says, "but few know how liable she is to hypnotic
phenomena, which easily opens up the unfoldment of spiritual
faculties.... The history of observation proves that hysteria and
hypnotism take the form of magic, sorcery, and divination or prophecy,
among savage peoples. 'Women,' say the Pishawar peoples, 'are all
witches; for several reasons they may not exert their inborn powers.'
... In the Slave Coast hysterical women are believed to be possessed
with spirits. The Fuegians believed that there had been a time when
women wielded the empire through her possession of the secrets of
sorcery."[8, pp.85f.]

The history of modern spiritualism has so well confirmed this view of
Lombroso's that we are safe in accepting it as the partial explanation
of the attribute of a mysterious and uncanny power which man has always
given to the feminine nature. The power of prophecy and divination which
was possessed by women at the dawn of history and for some time
thereafter was probably not different in its essentials from the
manifestations of hysterical girls who have puzzled the wisest
physicians or the strange phenomena of those spiritualistic mediums who
have been the subject of research well into our own times.[15]

If we wish to push our inquiry still further and ask why woman should be
so much more subject than man to hysterical seizures and to hypnotic
suggestion, we shall probably find that it is an essential part of her
femininity. Modern psychology and physiology have pointed out that the
menstrual cycle of woman has a vast influence not only on her emotional
nature but on her whole psychic life, so that there are times when she
is more nervously tense, more apt to become hysterical or to yield to
the influence of suggestion. Moreover, because of the emphasis on
chastity and the taboos with which she was surrounded, any neurotic
tendencies which might be inherent in her nature were sure to be
developed to the utmost.

As Lombroso suggests, hysteria and other neurotic phenomena are classed
as evidence of spirit possession by the untutored mind. Thus it happened
that observing the strange psychic manifestations to which woman was
periodically subject, the ancient peoples endowed her with
spiritualistic forces which were sometimes held to be beneficent and at
other times malefic in character. Whatever the attitude at any time
whether her _mana_ were regarded as evil or benignant, the savage and
primitive felt that it was well to be on his guard in the presence of
power; so that the taboos previously outlined would hold through the
swing of man's mind from one extreme to the other.

As goddess, priestess and prophetess, woman continued to play her rôle
in human affairs until the Christian period, when a remarkable
transformation took place. The philosophy of dualism that emanated from
Persia had affected all the religions of the Mediterranean Basin and had
worked its way into Christian beliefs by way of Gnosticism,
Manicheanism, and Neo-Platonism. Much of the writing of the church
fathers is concerned with the effort to harmonize conflicting beliefs
or to avoid the current heresies. To one who reads the fathers it
becomes evident to what extent the relation of man to woman figures in
these controversies.[16]

The Manicheanism which held in essence Persian Mithraism and which had
so profound an influence on the writings of St. Augustine gave body and
soul to two distinct worlds and finally identified woman with the body.
But probably as a result of the teachings of Gnosticism with its
Neo-Platonic philosophy which never entirely rejected feminine
influence, some of this influence survived in the restatement of
religion for the folk. When the restatement was completed and was
spreading throughout Europe in the form which held for the next
millennium, it was found that the early goddesses had been accepted
among the saints, the priestesses and prophetesses were rejected as
witches, while the needs of men later raised the Blessed Virgin to a
place beside her son.

Modern psychology has given us an explanation of the difficulty of
eradicating the worship of such a goddess as the Great Mother of Asia
Minor from the religion of even martial peoples who fear the
contamination of woman's weakness; or from a religion obsessed with
hatred of woman as unclean by men who made the suppression of bodily
passions the central notion of sanctity. The most persistent human
relationship, the one charged with a constant emotional value, is not
that of sex, which takes manifold forms, but that of the mother and
child. It is to the mother that the child looks for food, love, and
protection. It is to the child that the mother often turns from the
mate, either because of the predominance of mother love over sex or in
consolation for the loss of the love of the male. We have only recently
learned to evaluate the infantile patterns engraved in the neural tissue
during the years of childhood when the mother is the central figure of
the child's life. Whatever disillusionments may come about other women
later in life, the mother ideal thus established remains a constant part
of man's unconscious motivations. It is perhaps possible that this
infantile picture of a being all-wise, all-tender, all-sacrificing, has
within it enough emotional force to create the demand for a
mother-goddess in any religion.

To arrive at the concept of the Madonna, a far-reaching process of
synthesis and reinterpretation must have been carried out before the
Bible could be brought into harmony with the demands made by a cult of a
mother goddess. Just as the views brought into the church by celibate
ideals spread among heathen people, so the church must have been in its
turn influenced by the heathen way of looking at things.[17] One of the
great difficulties was the reconciliation of the biological process of
procreation with divinity. But there had for ages been among primitive
peoples the belief that impregnation was caused by spirit possession or
by sorcery. This explanation had survived in a but slightly altered form
in the ancient mythologies, all of which contained traditions of heroes
and demi-gods who were born supernaturally of a divine father and a
human mother. In the myths of Buddha, Zoroaster, Pythagoras and Plato,
it was intimated that the father had been a god or spirit, and that the
mother had been, and moreover remained after the birth, an earthly
virgin. These old and precious notions of the supernatural origin of
great men were not willingly renounced by those who accepted the new
religion; nor was it necessary to make such a sacrifice, because men
thought that they could recognize in the Jewish traditions something
corresponding to the heathen legends.[18]

The proper conditions for the development of a mother cult within
Christianity existed within the church by the end of the second century.
At the Council of Nicæa (325 A.D.) it was settled that the Son was of
the same nature as the Father. The question of the nature of Mary then
came to the fore. The eastern fathers, Athanasius, Ephraim Syrus,
Eusebius and Chrysostom, made frequent use in their writings of the
term Theotokos, Mother of God. When Nestorius attacked those who
worshipped the infant Christ as a god and Mary as the mother of God
rather than as the mother of Christ, a duel began between Cyril of
Alexandria and Nestorius "which in fierceness and importance can only be
compared with that between Arius and Athanasius."[19]

In 431 A.D. the Universal Church Council at Ephesus assented to the
doctrine that Mary was the Mother of God. Thus Ephesus, home of the
great Diana, from primitive times the centre of the worship of a goddess
who united in herself the virtues of virginity and motherhood, could
boast of being the birthplace of the Madonna cult. And thus Mary, our
Lady of Sorrows, pure and undefiled, "the church's paradox," became the
ideal of man. She was "a woman, virgin and mother, sufficiently high to
be worshipped, yet sufficiently near to be reached by affection. ... If
we judge myths as artistic creations we must recognize that no god or
goddess has given its worshippers such an ideal as the Mary of Christian
art and poetry."[19: p.183] [20: v. ii., pp.220f.]

Although Christianity thus took over and embodied in its doctrines the
cult of the mother-goddess, at the same time it condemned all the rites
which had accompanied the worship of the fertility goddesses in all the
pagan religions. The power of these rites was still believed in, but
they were supposed to be the work of demons, and we find them strictly
forbidden in the early ecclesiastical laws. The phallic ceremonials
which formed so large a part of heathen ritual became marks of the
devil, and the deities in whose honour they were performed, although
losing none of their power, were regarded as demonic rather than divine
in nature. Diana, goddess of the moon, for example, became identified
with Hecate of evil repute, chief of the witches. "In such a fashion the
religion of Greece, that of Egypt, of Phoenicia and Asia Minor, of
Assyria and of Persia, became mingled and confused in a simple

In addition to the condemnation of Pagan deities and their ritualistic
worship, there was a force inherent in the very nature of Christianity
which worked toward the degradation of the sex life. After the death of
Christ, his followers had divorced their thoughts from all things
earthly and set about fitting themselves for their places in the other
world. The thought of the early Christian sects was obsessed by the idea
of the second coming of the Messiah. The end of the world was incipient,
therefore it behooved each and every one to purge himself from sin. This
emphasis on the spiritual as opposed to the fleshly became fixated
especially on the sex relationship, which came to be the symbol of the
lusts of the body which must be conquered by the high desires of the
soul. Consequently the feelings concerning this relation became
surcharged with all the emotion which modern psychology has taught us
always attaches to the conscious symbol of deeply underlying unconscious
complexes. In such a situation man, who had come to look with horror on
the being who reminded him that he was flesh as well as spirit saw in
her "the Devil's gateway," or "a fireship continually striving to get
along side the male man-of-war to blow him up into pieces."[22][A]

[Footnote A: Dr Donaldson, translator of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, says:
"I used to believe ... that woman owes her present position to
Christianity ... but in the first three centuries I have not been able
to see that Christianity had any favourable effect on the position of

With the rejection of the idea of the sanctity of sex as embodied in the
phallic rituals of the pagan cults, the psychic power of woman became
once more a thing of fear rather than of worship, and her uncleanness
was emphasized again more than her holiness, even as in primitive times.
The power of woman to tell the course of future events which in other
days had made her revered as priestess and prophetess now made her hated
as a witch who had control of what the Middle Ages knew as the Black
Art.[23] The knowledge of medicine which she had acquired through the
ages was now thought to be utilized in the making of "witch's brew," and
the "ceremonies and charms whereby the influence of the gods might be
obtained to preserve or injure"[21: v.1, p.12] became incantations to the
evil one. In addition to her natural erotic attraction for the male,
woman was now accused of using charms to lure him to his destruction.
The asceticism of the church made it shameful to yield to her
allurements, and as a result woman came to be feared and loathed as the
arch-temptress who would destroy man's attempt to conform to celibate
ideals. This sex antagonism culminated in the witchcraft persecutions
which make so horrible a page of the world's history.

Among the pagans, witches had shared with prophetesses and priestesses a
degree of reverence and veneration. Medea had taught Jason to tame the
brazen-footed bulls and dragons which guarded the Golden Fleece. Hecate
was skilled in spells and incantations. Horace frequently mentions with
respect Canidia, who was a powerful enchantress. Gauls, Britons and
Germans had obeyed and venerated women who dealt in charms and
incantations. The doctrines of Christianity had changed the veneration
into hatred and detestation without eradicating the belief in the power
of the witch. It was with the hosts of evil that she was now believed to
have her dealings, however. When this notion of the alliance between
demons and women had become a commonplace, "the whole tradition was
directed against woman as the Devil's instrument, basely seductive,
passionate and licentious by nature."[24] Man's fear of woman found a
frantic and absurd expression in her supposed devil-worship. As a
result, the superstitions about witchcraft became for centuries not only
a craze, but a theory held by intelligent people.

Among the female demons who were especially feared were: Nahemah, the
princess of the Succubi; Lilith, queen of the Stryges; and the Lamiæ or
Vampires, who fed on the living flesh of men. Belief in the Vampires
still persists as a part of the folklore of Europe. Lilith tempted to
debauchery, and was variously known as child-strangler, child-stealer,
and a witch who changed true offspring for fairy or phantom children.[A]
The figure of the child-stealing witch occurs in an extremely ancient
apocryphal book called the Testament of Soloman, and dates probably from
the first or second century of the Christian Era.[25]

[Footnote A: The name of Lilith carries us as far back as Babylon, and
in her charms and conjurations we have revived in Europe the reflection
of old Babylonian charms.]

Laws against the malefici (witches) were passed by Constantine. In the
Theodosian Code (_Lib. 9. Tit. 16. Leg. 3._) they are charged with
making attempts by their wicked arts upon the lives of innocent men, and
drawing others by magical potions (philtra et pharmaca) to commit
misdemeanours. They are further charged with disturbing the elements,
raising tempests, and practising abominable arts. The Council of
Laodicea (343-381. _Can_. 36) condemned them. The Council of Ancyra
forbade the use of medicine to work mischief. St. Basil's canons
condemned witchcraft. The fourth Council of Carthage censured
enchantment.[26] John of Salisbury tells of their feasts, to which they
took unbaptized children. William of Auverne describes the charms and
incantations which they used to turn a cane into a horse. William of
Malmesbury gives an account of two old women who transformed the
travellers who passed their door into horses, swine or other animals
which they sold. From some of the old Teuton laws we learn that it was
believed that witches could take a man's heart out of his body and fill
the cavity with straw or wood so that he would go on living.

One of the famous witchcraft trials was that of the Lady Alice
Kyteler,[27] whose high rank could not save her from the accusation. It
was claimed that she used the ceremonies of the church, but with some
wicked changes. She extinguished the candles with the exclamation, "Fi!
Fi! Fi! Amen!" She was also accused of securing the love of her
husbands, who left much property to her, by magic charms. These claims
were typical of the accusations against witches in the trials which took

By the sixteenth century, the cumulative notion of witches had
penetrated both cultivated and uncultivated classes, and was embodied in
a great and increasing literature. "No comprehensive work on theology,
philosophy, history, law, medicine, or natural science could wholly
ignore it," says Burr, "and to lighter literature it afforded the most
telling illustrations for the pulpit, the most absorbing gossip for the
news-letter, the most edifying tales for the fireside."[28]

As a result of this belief in the diabolic power of woman, judicial
murder of helpless women became an institution, which is thus
characterized by Sumner: "After the refined torture of the body and
nameless mental sufferings, women were executed in the most cruel
manner. These facts are so monstrous that all other aberrations of the
human race are small in comparison.... He who studies the witch trials
believes himself transferred into the midst of a race which has
smothered all its own nobler instincts, reason, justice, benevolence and

Any woman was suspect. Michelet, after a thirty years' study, wrote:
"Witches they are by nature. It is a gift peculiar to woman and her
temperament. By birth a fay, by the regular recurrence of her ecstasy
she becomes a sibyl. By her love she grows into an enchantress. By her
subtlety ... she becomes a witch and works her spells."[29]

Just how many victims there were of the belief in the power of women as
witches will never be known. Scherr thinks that the persecutions cost
100,000 lives in Germany alone.[30] Lord Avebury quotes the estimate of
the inquisitor Sprenger, joint author of the "Witch Hammer," that during
the Christian period some 9,000,000 persons, mostly women, were burned
as witches.[31] Seven thousand victims are said to have been burned at
Treves, 600 by a single bishop of Bamburg, 800 in a single year in the
bishopric of Wurtzburg. At Toulouse 400 persons perished at a single
burning.[29: ch.1] [20: v.1. ch.1] One witch judge boasted that he
executed 900 witches in fifteen years. The last mass burning in Germany
was said to have taken place in 1678, when 97 persons were burned
together. The earliest recorded burning of a witch in England is in
Walter Mapes' _De Nugis Curialium_, in the reign of Henry II. An old
black letter tract gloats over the execution at Northampton, 1612, of a
number of persons convicted of witchcraft.[32] The last judicial
sentence was in 1736, when one Jane Wenham was found guilty of
conversing familiarly with the devil in the form of a cat.[33]

The connection between the witchcraft delusion and the attitude toward
all women has already been implied.[34] The dualistic teaching of the
early church fathers, with its severance of matter and spirit and its
insistence on the ascetic ideal of life, had focussed on sexuality as
the outstanding manifestation of fleshly desires. The contact of the
sexes came to be looked upon as the supreme sin. Celibacy taught that
through the observance of the taboo on woman the man of God was to be
saved from pollution. Woman was the arch temptress who by the natural
forces of sex attraction, reinforced by her evil charms and
incantations, made it so difficult to attain the celibate ideal. From
her ancestress Eve woman was believed to inherit the natural propensity
to lure man to his undoing. Thus the old belief in the uncleanness of
woman was renewed in the minds of men with even greater intensity than
ever before, and in addition to a dangerous adventure, even within the
sanction of wedlock the sex act became a deed of shame. The following
quotations from the church fathers will illustrate this view:

Jerome said, "Marriage is always a vice; all we can do is to excuse and
cleanse it. ... In Paradise Eve was a virgin. Virginity is natural
while wedlock only follows guilt."[35]

Tertullian addressed women in these words: "Do you not know that you are
each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age.
... You are the devil's gateway. ... You destroy God's image,
Man."[35: Bk.1.]

Thus woman became degraded beyond all previous thought in the teaching
of the early church. The child was looked upon as the result of an act
of sin, and came into the world tainted through its mother with sin. At
best marriage was a vice. All the church could do was to cleanse it as
much as possible by sacred rites, an attempt which harked back to the
origin of marriage as the ceremonial breaking of taboo. Peter Lombard's
Sentences affirmed marriage a sacrament. This was reaffirmed at Florence
in 1439. In 1565, the Council of Trent made the final declaration. But
not even this could wholly purify woman, and intercourse with her was
still regarded as a necessary evil, a concession that had to be
unwillingly made to the lusts of the flesh.

Such accounts as we have of the lives of holy women indicate that they
shared in the beliefs of their times. In the account of the life of a
saint known as the Blessed Eugenia preserved in an old palimpsest[36] we
read that she adopted the costume of a monk,--"Being a woman by nature
in order that I might gain everlasting life." The same account tells of
another holy woman who passed as a eunuch, because she had been warned
that it was easier for the devil to tempt a woman. In another collection
of lives of saints is the story[37] of a holy woman who never allowed
herself to see the face of a man, even that of her own brother, lest
through her he might go in among women. Another holy virgin shut herself
up in a tomb because she did not wish to cause the spiritual downfall of
a young man who loved her.

This long period of religious hatred of and contempt for woman included
the Crusades, the Age of Chivalry,[38] and lasted well into the
Renaissance.[39] Students of the first thousand years of the Christian
era like Donaldson,[22] McCabe,[40] and Benecke argue that the social
and intellectual position of women was probably lower than at any time
since the creation of the world. It was while the position of woman as
wife and mother was thus descending into the slough which has been
termed the Dark Age of Woman that the Apotheosis of the Blessed Virgin
was accomplished. The attitude toward human love, generation, the
relation of the earthly mother to the human child because of Eve's sin,
all made the Immaculate Conception a logical necessity. The doctrine of
the virgin birth disposed of sin through the paternal line. But if Mary
was conceived in sin or was not purified from sin, even that of the
first parent, how could she conceive in her body him who was without
sin? The controversy over the Immaculate Conception which began as early
as the seventh century lasted until Pius IX declared it to be an article
of Catholic belief in 1854. Thus not only Christ, but also his mother
became purged of the sin of conception by natural biological processes,
and the same immaculacy and freedom from contamination was accorded to
both. In this way the final step in the differentiation between earthly
motherhood and divine motherhood was completed.

The worship of the virgin by men and women who looked upon the celibate
life as the perfect life, and upon the relationship of earthly
fatherhood and motherhood as contaminating, gave the world an ideal of
woman as "superhuman, immaculate, bowing in frightened awe before the
angel with the lily, standing mute and with downcast eyes before her
Divine Son."[41] With all its admitted beauty, this ideal represented
not the institution of the family, but the institution of the church.
Chivalry carried over from the church to the castle this concept of
womanhood and set it to the shaping of The Lady,[42] who was finally
given a rank in the ideals of knighthood only a little below that to
which Mary had been elevated by the ecclesiastical authorities. This
concept of the lady was the result of the necessity for a new social
standardization which must combine beauty, purity, meekness and angelic
goodness. Only by such a combination could religion and family life be
finally reconciled. By such a combination, earthly motherhood could be
made to approximate the divine motherhood.

With the decline of the influence of chivalry, probably as the result of
industrial changes, The Lady was replaced by a feminine ideal which may
well be termed the "Model Woman." Although less ethereal than her
predecessor, The Lady, the Model Woman is quite as much an attempt to
reconcile the dualistic attitude, with its Divine Mother cult on the one
hand, and its belief in the essential evil of the procreative process
and the uncleanness of woman on the other, to human needs. The
characteristics of the Model Woman must approximate those of the Holy
Virgin as closely as possible. Her chastity before marriage is
imperative. Her calling must be the high art of motherhood. She must be
the incarnation of the maternal spirit of womanhood, but her purity must
remain unsullied by any trace of erotic passion.

A voluminous literature which stated the virtues and duties of the
Model Woman blossomed out in the latter part of the eighteenth and first
half of the nineteenth century.[43] The Puritan ideals also embodied
this concept. It was by this attempt to make woman conform to a
standardized ideal that man sought to solve the conflict between his
natural human instincts and desires and the early Christian teaching
concerning the sex life and womanhood.


1. Frazer, J.G. The Golden Bough. A Study in Magic and Religion. Part I.
The Magic Art. 2 vols. Macmillan. London, 1911. Part V. Spirits of the
Corn and of the Wild. 2 vols. London, 1912.

2. Farnell, L.R. Evolution of Religion. 235 pp. Williams and Norgate.
London, 1905. Crown Theological Library, Vol 12.

3. Frazer, J.G. Part IV. of The Golden Bough; Adonis, Attis, and Osiris.
Chaps. III and IV. Macmillan. London, 1907.

---- Sumner, W.G. Folkways. 692 pp. Ginn & Co. Boston, 1907. Chap. XVI,
Sacral Harlotry.

---- Lombroso, Cesare, and Lombroso-Ferrero, G. La donna delinquente. 508
pp. Fratelli Bocca. Milano, 1915.

4. Farnell, L.R. Sociological Hypotheses Concerning the Position of
Woman in Ancient Religion. Archiv für Religionswissenschaft. Siebenter
Band, 1904.

5. Fowler, W. Warde. The Religious Experiences of the Roman People. 504
pp. Macmillan. London, 1911.

6. For a description of these sibyls with a list of the works in which
they are mentioned, see:

---- Fullom, Steven Watson. The History of Woman. Third Ed. London, 1855.

---- Rohmer, Sax. (Ward, A.S.) The Romance of Sorcery. 320 pp. E.P.
Dutton & Co., New York, 1914.

7. Maury, L.F. La Magie et L'Astrologie dans l'Antiquité et au Moyen
Age. Quatrieme éd. 484 pp. Paris, 1877.

8. Lombroso, Cesare. Priests and Women's Clothes. North American Review.
Vol. 192, 1910.

9. For an extensive compilation of facts from ancient literature and
history concerning sacred women, see:

---- Alexander, W. History of Women from the Earliest Antiquity to the
Present Time. 2 vols. W. Strahan. London, 1779.

10. Mason, Otis T. Woman's Share in Primitive Culture. 295 pp. Appleton.
New York, 1894.

---- Dyer, T.F.S. Plants in Witchcraft. Popular Science Monthly. Vol. 34,
1889, pp. 826-833.

---- Donaldson, Rev. James. Woman, Her Position and Influence in Ancient
Greece and Rome. 278 pp. Longmans, Green. London, 1907.

11. Spencer, Herbert. Study of Sociology. 431 pp. Appleton. N.Y., 1880.

12. Schirmacher, Käthe. Das Rätsel: Weib. 160 pp. A Duncker. Weimar,

13. Ward, Lester F. Psychic Factors in Civilization. 369 pp. Ginn & Co.,
Boston and New York, 1906. Chap. XXVI.

---- Pure Sociology. 607 pp. Macmillan. N.Y., 1903.

14. Schreiner, Olive. Woman and Labour. 299 pp. Frederick A. Stokes Co.
N.Y., 1911.

15. Hall, G. Stanley. Adolescence. 2 vols. Appleton. N.Y., 1904.

---- Dupouy, Edmund. Psychologie morbide. Librairie des Sciences
Psychiques, 1907.

16. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Translation by the Rev. Alexander Roberts
and James Donaldson, LL.D., and others. American Reprint of the
Edinburgh Edition. Buffalo, 1889.

17. Hatch, Edwin. Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian
Church. Ed. by A.M. Fairbairn. 4th ed. London, 1892. Hibbert Lectures,

18. Gilbert, George Holley. The Greek Strain in Our Oldest Gospels.
North American Review. Vol. 192, 1910.

19. Hirn, Yrjo. The Sacred Shrine. 574 pp. Macmillan. London, 1912.

20. Lecky, W.E.H. Rationalism in Europe. 2 vols. Appleton. N.Y. and
London, 1910. Vol. II, pp. 220 f.

21. Wright, Thomas. Narratives of Sorcery and Magic. 2 vols. R. Bentley.
London, 1851.

22. Donaldson, Rev. James. The Position of Woman Among the Early
Christians. Contemporary Review. Vol. 56, 1889.

23. Bingham, Joseph. Antiquities of the Christian Church. 2 vols.
London, 1846.

24. Sumner, W.G. Witchcraft. Forum. Vol. 41, 1909, pp. 410-423.

25. Gaster, M. Two Thousand Years of a Charm Against the Child-stealing
Witch. Folklore. Vol. XI, No. 2, June, 1900.

26. For discussion of the dates of the Church Councils see Rev. Charles
J. Hefele, Councils of the Church. Trans, fr. the German by C.W. Bush,

27. Alice Kyteler. A contemporary narrative of the Proceedings against
Dame Alice Kyteler, prosecuted for sorcery by Richard de Ledrede, Bishop
of Ossory, 1324. Edited by Thomas Wright. London, 1843.

28. Burr, George L. The Literature of Witchcraft. Papers of the American
Historical Association. Vol IV, pp. 37-66. G.P. Putnam's Sons. N.Y.,

29. Michelet, J. La Sorcière. 488 pp. Paris, 1878. Trans. of
Introduction by L.J. Trotter.

30. Scherr, Johannes. Deutsche Frauenwelt. Band II.

31. Avebury, Right Hon. Lord (Sir John Lubbock). Marriage, Totemism and
Religion. 243 pp. Longmans, Green. London, 1911. Footnote, p. 127.

32. Wood, Wm. Witchcraft. Cornhill Magazine. Vol. V, 1898.

---- Lea, H.C. Superstition and Force. 407 pp. Philadelphia, 1866.

33. Bragge, F. Jane Wenham. 36 pp. E. Curll. London 1712.

34. Paulus, Nikolaus. Die Rolle der Frau in der Geschichte des
Hexenwahns. Historisches Jahrbuch. XXIX Band. München. Jahrgang 1918.

35. Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian
Church. 2d. series. Vol. 6, Letter xxii, Ad Eustachium.

36. Studia Sinaitica No. IX. Select Narratives of Holy Women from the
Syro-Antiochene or Sinai Palimpsest as written above the old Syriac
Gospels by John the Stylite, of Beth-Mari Ianun in A.D. 778. Edited by
Agnes Smith Lewis, M.R.A.S. London, 1900.

37. Lady Meux Mss. No. VI. British Museum. The Book of Paradise, being
the Histories and Sayings of the Monks and Ascetics of the Egyptian
Desert by Palladius, Hieronymus and others. English Trans. by E.A.
Wallis Budge. (From the Syriac.) Vol. I.

38. Gautier, Emile Théodore Léon. La Chevalerie. 850 pp. C. Delagrave.
Paris, 1890.

39. Maulde la Clavière, R. de. The Women of the Renaissance. Trans. by
G.H. Ely. 510 pp. Swan Sonnenschein, 1900.

40. McCabe, Joseph. Woman in Political Evolution. Watts & Co. London,

41. Barnes, Earl. Woman in Modern Society. 257 pp. B.W. Huebsch. N.Y.,

42. Putnam, Emily James. The Lady. 323 pp. Sturgis & Walton Co. N.Y.,

43. Excellent examples of this literature are Kenrick's "The Whole Duty
of a Woman, or A Guide to the Female Sex," published some time in the
eighteenth century (a copy in the Galatea Collection, Boston Public
Library); and Duties of Young Women, by E.H. Chapin. 218 pp. G.W.
Briggs. Boston, 1848.



The taboo and modern institutions; Survival of ideas of the uncleanness
of woman; Taboo and the family; The "good" woman; The "bad" woman;
Increase in the number of women who do not fit into the ancient

With the gradual accumulation of scientific knowledge and increasing
tendency of mankind toward a rationalistic view of most things, it might
be expected that the ancient attitude toward sex and womanhood would
have been replaced by a saner feeling. To some extent this has indeed
been the case. It is surprising, however, to note the traces which the
old taboos and superstitions have left upon our twentieth century social
life. Men and women are becoming conscious that they live in a world
formed out of the worlds that have passed away. The underlying principle
of this social phenomenon has been called the principle of "the
persistence of institutions."[1] Institutionalized habits, mosaics of
reactions to forgotten situations, fall like shadows on the life of
to-day. Memories of the woman shunned, of the remote woman goddess, and
of the witch, transmit the ancient forms by which woman has been
expected to shape her life.

It may seem a far cry from the savage taboo to the institutional life of
the present; but the patterns of our social life, like the infantile
patterns on which adult life shapes itself, go back to an immemorial
past. Back in the early life of the peoples from which we spring is the
taboo, and in our own life there are customs so analogous to many of
these ancient prohibitions that they must be accounted survivals of old
social habits just as the vestigial structures within our bodies are the
remnants of our biological past.

The modern preaching concerning woman's sphere, for example, is an
obvious descendant of the old taboos which enforced the division of
labour between the sexes. Just as it formerly was death for a woman to
approach her husband's weapons, so it has for a long time been
considered a disgrace for her to attempt to compete with man in his line
of work. Only under the pressure of modern industrialism and economic
necessity has this ancient taboo been broken down, and even now there is
some reluctance to recognize its passing. The exigencies of the world
war have probably done more than any other one thing to accelerate the
disappearance of this taboo on woman from the society of to-day.

A modern institution reminiscent of the men's house of the savage races,
where no woman might intrude, is the men's club. This institution, as Mr
Webster has pointed out,[2] is a potent force for sexual solidarity and
consciousness of kind. The separate living and lack of club activity of
women has had much to do with a delay in the development of a sex
consciousness and loyalty. The development of women's organizations
along the lines of the men's clubs has been a powerful factor in
enabling them to overcome the force of the taboos which have lingered on
in social life. Only through united resistance could woman ever hope to
break down the barriers with which she was shut off from the fullness of

Perhaps the property taboo has been as persistent as any other of the
restrictions which have continued to surround woman through the ages.
Before marriage, the girl who is "well brought up" is still carefully
protected from contact with any male. The modern system of chaperonage
is the substitute for the old seclusion and isolation of the pubescent
girl. Even science was influenced by the old sympathetic magic view that
woman could be contaminated by the touch of any other man than her
husband, for the principle of telegony, that the father of one child
could pass on his characteristics to offspring by other fathers,
lingered in biological teaching until the very recent discoveries of the
physical basis of heredity in the chromosomes. Law-making was also
influenced by the idea of woman as property. For a long time there was a
hesitancy to prohibit wife-beating on account of the feeling that the
wife was the husband's possession, to be dealt with as he desired. The
laws of coverture also perpetuated the old property taboos, and gave to
the husband the right to dispose of his wife's property.

The general attitude towards such sexual crises as menstruation and
pregnancy is still strongly reminiscent of the primitive belief that
woman is unclean at those times. Mothers still hesitate to enlighten
their daughters concerning these natural biological functions, and as a
result girls are unconsciously imbued with a feeling of shame concerning
them. Modern psychology has given many instances of the rebellion of
girls at the inception of menstruation, for which they have been ill
prepared. There is little doubt that this attitude has wrought untold
harm in the case of nervous and delicately balanced temperaments, and
has even been one of the predisposing factors of neurosis.[3]

The old seclusion and avoidance of the pregnant woman still persists.
The embarrassment of any public appearance when pregnancy is evident,
the jokes and secrecy which surround this event, show how far we are
from rationalizing this function.

Even medical men show the influence of old superstitions when they
refuse to alleviate the pains of childbirth on the grounds that they are
good for the mother. Authorities say that instruction in obstetrics is
sadly neglected. A recent United States report tells us that preventable
diseases of childbirth and pregnancy cause more deaths among women than
any other disease except tuberculosis.[4]

The belief in the possession by woman of an uncanny psychic power which
made her the priestess and witch of other days, has crystallized into
the modern concept of womanly intuition. In our times, women "get
hunches," have "feelings in their bones," etc., about people, or about
things which are going to happen. They are often asked to decide on
business ventures or to pass opinions on persons whom they do not know.
There are shrewd business men who never enter into a serious negotiation
without getting their wives' intuitive opinion of the men with whom they
are dealing. The psychology of behaviour would explain these rapid fire
judgments of women as having basis in observation of unconscious
movements, while another psychological explanation would emphasize
sensitiveness to suggestion as a factor in the process. Yet in spite of
these rational explanations of woman's swift conclusions on matters of
importance, she is still accredited with a mysterious faculty of

A curious instance of the peculiar forms in which old taboos linger on
in modern life is the taboos on certain words and on discussion of
certain subjects. The ascetic idea of the uncleanness of the sex
relation is especially noticeable. A study of 150 girls made by the
writer in 1916-17 showed a taboo on thought and discussion among
well-bred girls of the following subjects, which they characterize as
"indelicate," "polluting," and "things completely outside the knowledge
of a lady."

1. Things contrary to custom, often called "wicked" and "immoral."

2. Things "disgusting," such as bodily functions, normal as well as
pathological, and all the implications of uncleanliness.

3. Things uncanny, that "make your flesh creep," and things suspicious.

4. Many forms of animal life which it is a commonplace that girls will
fear or which are considered unclean.

5. Sex differences.

6. Age differences.

7. All matters relating to the double standard of morality.

8. All matters connected with marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth.

9. Allusions to any part of the body except head and hands.

10. Politics.

11. Religion.

It will be noted that most of these taboo objects are obviously those
which the concept of the Model Woman has ruled out of the life of the
feminine half of the world.

As might well be expected, it is in the marriage ceremony and the
customs of the family institution that the most direct continuation of
taboo may be found. The early ceremonials connected with marriage, as Mr
Crawley has shown, counteracted to some extent man's ancient fear of
woman as the embodiment of a weakness which would emasculate him.
Marriage acted as a bridge, by which the breach of taboo was expiated,
condoned, and socially countenanced. Modern convention in many forms
perpetuates this concept. Marriage, a conventionalized breach of taboo,
is the beginning of a new family. In all its forms, social, religious,
or legal, it is an accepted exception to the social injunctions which
keep men and women apart under other circumstances.

The new family as a part of the social order comes into existence
through the social recognition of a relationship which is considered
especially dangerous and can only be recognized by the performance of
elaborate rites and ceremonies. It is taboo for men and women to have
contact with each other. Contact may occur only under ceremonial
conditions, guarded in turn by taboo, and therefore socially recognized.
The girl whose life from puberty on has been carefully guarded by
taboos, passes through the gateway of ceremonial into a new life, which
is quite as carefully guarded. These restrictions and elaborate rituals
which surround marriage and family life may appropriately be termed
institutional taboos. They include the property and division of labour
taboos in the survival forms already mentioned, as well as other
religious and social restrictions and prohibitions.

The foundations of family life go far back of the changes of recent
centuries. The family has its source in the mating instinct, but this
instinct is combined with other individual instincts and social
relationships which become highly elaborated in the course of social
evolution. The household becomes a complex economic institution. While
the processes of change may have touched the surface of these relations,
the family itself has remained to the present an institution established
through the social sanctions of communities more primitive than our
own. The new family begins with the ceremonial breach of taboo,--the
taboo which enjoins the shunning of woman as a being both sacred and
unclean. Once married, the woman falls under the property taboo, and is
as restricted as ever she was before marriage, although perhaps in
slightly different ways. In ancient Rome, the wife was not mistress of
the hearth. She did not represent the ancestral gods, the lares and
penates, since she was not descended from them. In death as in life she
counted only as a part of her husband. Greek, Roman and Hindu law, all
derived from ancestor worship, agreed in considering the wife a

These practices are of the greatest significance in a consideration of
the modern institutional taboos which surround the family. Students
agree that our own mores are in large part derived from those of the
lowest class of freedmen in Rome at the time when Christianity took over
the control which had fallen from the hands of the Roman emperors. These
mores were inherited by the Bourgeoisie of the Middle Ages, and were
passed on by them as they acquired economic supremacy. Thus these
practices have come down to us unchanged in spirit even if somewhat
modified in form, to fit the changed environment of our times.

The standardization of the family with its foundations embedded in a
series of institutional taboos, added its weight to the formulation of
the Model Woman type referred to at the close of the preceding chapter.
The model wife appears in the earliest literature. In _The Trojan
Women_, Hecuba tells how she behaved in wedlock. She stayed at home and
did not gossip. She was modest and silent before her husband. The
patient Penelope was another ideal wife. To her, her son Telemachus

"Your widowed hours apart, with female toil, And various labours of the
loom, beguile, There rule, from palace cares remote and free, That care
to man belongs, and most to me."

The wifely type of the Hebrews is set forth in Proverbs xxxi, 10-31. Her
virtues consisted in rising while it was yet night, and not eating the
bread of idleness. In her relation to her husband, she must never
surprise him by unusual conduct, and must see that he was well fed.

The Romans, Hindus, and Mohammedans demanded similar virtues in their
wives and mothers. The wives of the medieval period were to remain
little girls, most admired for their passive obedience. Gautier puts
into the mouth of a dutiful wife of the Age of Chivalry the following

"I will love no one but my husband. Even if he loves me no longer, I
will love him always. I will be humble and as a servitor. I will call
him my sire, or my baron, or domine..."[6]

The modern feminine ideal combines the traits demanded by the worship of
the madonna and the virtues imposed by the institutional taboos which
surround the family. She is the virgin pure and undefiled before
marriage. She is the protecting mother and the obedient, faithful wife
afterward. In spite of various disrupting influences which are tending
to break down this concept, and which will presently be discussed, this
is still the ideal which governs the life of womankind. The average
mother educates her daughter to conform to this ideal woman type which
is the synthesized product of ages of taboo and religious mysticism.
Home training and social pressure unite to force woman into the mould
wrought out in the ages when she has been the object of superstitious
fear to man and also a part of his property to utilize as he willed.
Being thus the product of wholly irrational forces, it is little wonder
that only in recent years has she had any opportunity to show what she
in her inmost soul desired, and what capabilities were latent within her

In sharp contrast to the woman who conforms to the standards thus
created for her, is the prostitute, who is the product of forces as
ancient as those which have shaped the family institution. In the
struggle between man's instinctive needs and his mystical ideal of
womanhood, there has come about a division of women into two
classes--the good and the bad. It is a demarcation as sharp as that
involved in the primitive taboos which set women apart as sacred or
unclean. In building up the Madonna concept and requiring the women of
his family to approximate this mother-goddess ideal, man made them into
beings too spiritual to satisfy his earthly needs. The wife and mother
must be pure, as he conceived purity, else she could not be respected.
The religious forces which had set up the worship of maternity had
condemned the sex relationship and caused a dissociation of two elements
of human nature which normally are in complete and intimate harmony. One
result of this divorce of two biologically concomitant functions was the
institution of prostitution.

Prostitution is designed to furnish and regulate a supply of women
outside the mores of the family whose sex shall be for sale, not for
purposes of procreation but for purposes of indulgence. In the ancient
world, temple prostitution was common, the proceeds going to the god or
goddess; but the sense of pollution in the sex relation which came to be
so potent an element in the control of family life drove the prostitute
from the sanctuary to the stews and the brothel, where she lives to-day.
She has become the woman shunned, while the wife and mother who is the
centre of the family with its institutional taboos is the sacred woman,
loved and revered by men who condemn the prostitute for the very act for
which they seek her company. Such is the irrational situation which has
come to us as a heritage from the past.

Among the chief causes which have impelled women into prostitution
rather than into family life are the following: (1) Slavery; (2)
poverty; (3) inclination. These causes have been expanded and re-grouped
by specialists, but the only addition which the writer sees as necessary
in consequence of the study of taboo is the fact that the way of the
woman transgressor is peculiarly hard because of the sex taboo, the
ignorance and narrowness of good women, and the economic limitations of
all women. Ignorance of the results of entrance into a life which
usually means abandonment of hope may be a contributing cause. Boredom
with the narrowness of family life and desire for adventure are also

That sex desire leads directly to the life of the prostitute is
unlikely. The strongly sexed class comes into prostitution by the war of
irregular relationships with men to whom they have been attached, and
who have abandoned them or sold them out. Many authorities agree on the
frigidity of the prostitute. It is her protection from physical and
emotional exhaustion. This becomes evident when it is learned that these
women will receive thirty men a day, sometimes more. A certain original
lack of sensitiveness may be assumed, especially since the
investigations of prostitutes have shown a large proportion, perhaps
one-third, who are mentally inferior. It is an interesting fact that
those who are sensitive to their social isolation defend themselves by
dwelling on their social necessity. Either intuitively or by a trade
tradition, the prostitute feels that "she remains, while creeds and
civilizations rise and fall, blasted for the sins of the people." A
beautiful young prostitute who had been expelled from a high grade house
after the exposures of the Lexow Investigation, once said to the writer:
"It would never do for good women to know what beasts men are. We girls
have got to pay."

The lady, dwelling on her pedestal of isolation, from which she commands
the veneration of the chivalrous gentleman and the adoration of the
poet, is the product of a leisure assured by property. At the end of the
social scale is the girl who wants to be a lady, who doesn't want to
work, and who, like the lady, has nothing to sell but herself. The life
of the prostitute is the nearest approach for the poor girl to the life
of a lady with its leisure, its fine clothes, and its excitement. So
long as we have a sex ethics into which are incorporated the taboo
concepts, the lady cannot exist without the prostitute. The restrictions
which surround the lady guard her from the passions of men. The
prostitute has been developed to satisfy masculine needs which it is not
permitted the lady to know exist.

But in addition to the married woman who has fulfilled the destiny for
which she has been prepared and the prostitute who is regarded as a
social leper, there is a large and increasing number of unmarried women
who fall into neither of these classes. For a long time these
unfortunates were forced to take refuge in the homes of their luckier
sisters who had fulfilled their mission in life by marrying, or to adopt
the life of the religieuse. Economic changes have brought an alteration
in their status, however, and the work of the unattached woman is
bringing her a respect in the modern industrial world that the "old
maid" of the past could never hope to receive.

Although at first often looked upon askance, the working woman by the
sheer force of her labours has finally won for herself a recognized
place in society. This was the first influence that worked against the
old taboos, and made possible the tentative gropings toward a new
standardization of women. The sheer weight of the number of unattached
women in present day life has made such a move a necessity. In England,
at the outbreak of the war, there were 1,200,000 more women than men. It
is estimated that at the end of the war at least 25% of English women
are doomed to celibacy and childlessness. In Germany, the industrial
census of 1907 showed that only 9-1/2 millions of women were married, or
about one-half the total number over eighteen years of age. In the
United States, married women constitute less than 60% of the women
fifteen years of age and over.

The impossibility of a social system based on the old sex taboos under
the new conditions is obvious. There must be a revaluation of woman on
the basis of her mental and economic capacity instead of on the manner
in which she fits into a system of institutional taboos. But the old
concepts are still with us, and have shaped the early lives of working
women as well as the lives of those who have fitted into the old
grooves. Tenacious survivals surround them both, and are responsible for
many of the difficulties of mental and moral adjustment which make the
woman question a puzzle to both conservative and radical thinkers on the


1. Davis, Michael M. Psychological Interpretations of Society. 260 pp.
Columbia University. Longmans. Green & Co. N.Y., 1909.

2. Webster, Hutton. Primitive Secret Societies. 227 pp. Macmillan. N.Y.,

3. Blanchard, Phyllis. The Adolescent Girl. 243 pp. Kegan Paul & Co.,
London, 1921.

---- Peters, Iva L. A Questionnaire Study of Some of the Effects of
Social Restrictions on the American Girl. Pedagogical Seminary,
December, 1916, Vol. XXIII, pp. 550-569.

4. Report of the U.S. Children's Bureau, 1917.

5. Fowler, W. Warde. The Religious Experience of the Roman People. 504
pp. Macmillan. London, 1911.

---- Fustel de Coulanges, Numa Denis. The Ancient City. Trans. from the
latest French edition by Willard Small. 10th ed. Lee and Shepard.
Boston, 1901. 529 pp.

6. Gautier, Emile Théodore Léon. La Chevalerie. 850 pp. C. Delagrave.
Paris, 1890.



Taboo survivals act dysgenically within the family under present
conditions; Conventional education of girls a dysgenic influence;
Prostitution and the family; Influence of ancient standards of "good"
and "bad." The illegitimate child; Effect of fear, anger, etc., on
posterity; The attitude of economically independent women toward

It is evident that in the working of old taboos as they have been
preserved in our social institutions there are certain dysgenic
influences which may well be briefly enumerated. For surely the test of
the family institution is the way in which it fosters the production and
development of the coming generation. The studies made by the Galton
Laboratory in England and by the Children's Bureau in Washington combine
with our modern knowledge of heredity to show that it is possible to cut
down the potential heritage of children by bad matrimonial choices. If
we are to reach a solution of these population problems, we must learn
to approach the problem of the sex relation without that sense of
uncleanness which has led so many generations to regard marriage as
giving respectability to an otherwise wicked inclination. The task of
devising a sane approach is only just begun. But the menace of
prostitution and of the social diseases has become so great that society
is compelled from an instinct of sheer self-preservation to drag into
the open some of the iniquities which have hitherto existed under cover.

In the first place, the education of girls, which has been almost
entirely determined by the standardized concepts of the ideal woman, has
left them totally unprepared for wifehood and motherhood, the very
calling which those ideals demand that they shall follow. The whole
education of the girl aims at the concealment of the physiological
nature of men and women. She enters marriage unprepared for the
realities of conjugal life, and hence incapable of understanding either
herself or her husband. When pregnancy comes to such a wife, the old
seclusion taboos fall upon her like a categorical imperative. She is
overwhelmed with embarrassment at a normal and natural biological
process which can hardly be classified as "romantic." Such an attitude
is neither conducive to the eugenic choice of a male nor to the proper
care of the child either before or after its birth.

A second dysgenic influence which results from the taboo system of
sexual ethics is the institution of prostitution, the great agency for
the spread of venereal disease through the homes of the community, and
which takes such heavy toll from the next generation in lowered vitality
and defective organization.

The 1911 report of the Committee on the Social Evil in Baltimore showed
that at the time there was in that city one prostitute to every 500
inhabitants. As is the case everywhere, such statistics cover only
prostitutes who have been detected. Hospital and clinic reports for
Baltimore gave 9,450 acute cases of venereal disease in 1906 as compared
with 575 cases of measles, 1,172 cases of diphtheria, 577 of scarlet
fever, 175 of chickenpox, 58 of smallpox and 733 cases of tuberculosis.

Statistics on the health of young men shown by the physical examinations
of the various draft boards throughout the country give us a more
complete estimate of the prevalence of venereal disease among the
prospective fathers of the next generation than any other figures for
the United States. In an article in the _New York Medical Journal_ for
February 2, 1918, Dr. Isaac W. Brewer of the Medical Reserve Corps
presents tables showing the percentage of rejections for various
disabilities among the applicants for enlistment in the regular army
from January 1, 1912, to December 31, 1915. Among 153,705 white and
11,092 coloured applicants, the rejection rate per 1,000 for venereal
disease was 196.7 for whites and 279.9 for coloured as against 91.3 for
whites and 75.0 for coloured for heart difficulties, next on the list.
In foreshadowing the results under the draft, Dr. Brewer says: "Venereal
disease is the greatest cause for rejection, and reports from the
cantonments where the National Army has assembled indicate that a large
number of the men had these diseases when they arrived at the camp. It
is probably true that venereal diseases cause the greatest amount of
sickness in our country."

Statistics available for conditions among the American Expeditionary
Forces must be treated with great caution. Detection of these diseases
at certain stages is extremely difficult. Because of the courtesy
extended to our men by our allies, cases were treated in French and
English hospitals of which no record is available. But it is fairly safe
to say that there was no such prevalence of disease as was shown by the
Exner Report to have existed on the Mexican Border. It may even be
predicted that the education in hygienic measures which the men received
may in time affect favourably the health of the male population and
through them their wives and children. But all who came in contact with
this problem in the army know that it is a long way to the
understanding of the difficulties involved before we approach a
solution. We do know, on the basis of the work, of Neisser, Lesser,
Forel, Flexner and others, that regulation and supervision seem to
increase the incidence of disease. Among the reasons for this are: (1)
difficulties of diagnosis; (2) difficulties attendant on the
apprehension and examination of prostitutes; (3) the infrequency of
examination as compared with the number of clients of these women; and
perhaps as important as any of these reasons is the false sense of
security involved.

The model woman of the past has known very little of the prostitute and
venereal disease. It is often stated that her moral safety has been
maintained at the expense of her fallen and unclean sister. But such
statements are not limited as they should be by the qualification that
her moral safety obtained in such a fashion is often at the expense of
her physical safety. If the assumption has a basis in fact that there is
a relation between prostitution and monogamic marriage, the complexity
of the problem becomes evident. It is further complicated by the
postponement of marriage from economic reasons, hesitation at the
assumption of family responsibilities at a time of life when ambition as
well as passion is strong, when the physiological functions are
stimulated by city life and there is constant opportunity for relief of
repression for a price. It is here that the demarcation between the
man's and the woman's world shows most clearly. It may well be that the
only solution of this problem is through the admission of a new
factor--the "good" woman whom taboo has kept in ignorance of a problem
that is her own. If it be true that the only solution for the double
standard whose evils show most plainly here is a new single standard
which has not yet been found, then it is high time that we find what
that standard is to be, for the sake of the future.

The third dysgenic influence which works under cover of the
institutional taboo is akin to the first in its ancient standards of
"good" and "bad." We are only recently getting any standards for a good
mother except a man's choice and a wedding ring. Men's ideals of
attractiveness greatly complicate the eugenic situation. A good
matchmaker, with social backing and money, can make a moron more
attractive than a pushing, energetic girl with plenty of initiative,
whose contribution to her children would be equal or superior to that of
her mate. A timid, gentle, pretty moron, with the attainment of a girl
of twelve years, will make an excellent match, and bring into the world
children who give us one of the reasons why it is "three generations
from shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves." For such a girl, the slave to
convention, exactly fits the feminine ideal which man has built up for
himself. And she will be a good wife and mother in the conventional
sense all her life. This following of an ideal feminine type conceived
in irrational processes in former days inclines men to marry women with
inferior genetic possibilities because they meet the more insistent
surface requirements. The heritage of our children is thus cut down, and
many a potential mother of great men remains unwed.

The same survival of ancient sex taboos is seen in the attitude toward
the illegitimate child. The marriage ceremony is by its origin and by
the forms of its perpetuation the only sanction for the breaking of the
taboo on contact between men and women. The illegitimate child, the
visible symbol of the sin of its parents, is the one on whom most
heavily falls the burden of the crime. Society has for the most part
been utterly indifferent to the eugenic value of the child and has
concerned itself chiefly with the manner of its birth. Only the
situation arising out of the war and the need of the nations for men has
been able to partially remedy this situation.

The taboos on illegitimacy in the United States have been less affected
by the practical population problems growing out of war conditions than
those of other countries. As compared with the advanced stands of the
Scandinavian countries, the few laws of progressive states look
painfully inadequate. Miss Breckinridge writes:[1]

"The humiliating and despised position of the illegitimate child need
hardly be pointed out. He was the son of nobody, filius nullius, without
name or kin so far as kinship meant rights of inheritance or of
succession. In reality this child of nobody did in a way belong to his
mother as the legitimate child never did in common law, for, while the
right of the unmarried mother to the custody of the child of her shame
was not so noble and dignified a thing as the right of the father to the
legitimate child, she had in fact a claim, at least so long as the child
was of tender years, not so different from his and as wide as the sky
from the impotence of the married mother. The contribution of the father
has been secured under conditions shockingly humiliating to her, in
amounts totally inadequate to her and the child's support. In Illinois,
$550 over 5 years; Tennessee, $40 the first year, $30 the second, $20
the third. (See studies of the Boston Conference on Illegitimacy,
September, 1914, p. 47.) Moreover, the situation was so desperate that
physicians, social workers and relatives have conspired to save the
girl's respectability at the risk of the child's life and at the cost of
all spiritual and educative value of the experience of motherhood. This
has meant a greatly higher death rate among illegitimate infants, a
higher crime and a higher dependency rate."

The fifth of the dysgenic influences which has been fostered by the
institutional taboo is uncovered by recent studies of the effect of
certain emotions on the human organism. The life of woman has long been
shadowed by the fact that she has been the weaker sex; that even when
strong she has been weighted by her child; and that throughout the
period of private property she has been the poor sex, dependent on some
male for her support. In an age of force, fear has been her strong
emotion. If she felt rage it must be suppressed. Disappointment and
discouragement had also to be borne in silence and with patience. Of
such a situation Davies says:

"The power of the mind over the body is a scientific fact, as is
evidenced by hypnotic suggestion and in the emotional control over the
chemistry of health through the agency of the internal secretions. The
reproductive processes are very susceptible to chemic influences. Thus
the influences of the environment may in some degree carry through to
the offspring."[2]

The studies of Drs Crile and Cannon show that the effects of fear on the
ganglionic cells are tremendous. Some of the cells are exhausted and
completely destroyed by intensity and duration of emotion. Cannon's
experiments on animals during fear, rage, anger, and hunger, show that
the entire nervous system is involved and that internal and external
functions change their normal nature and activity. The thyroid and
adrenal glands are deeply affected. In times of intense emotion, the
thyroid gland throws into the system products which cause a quickened
pulse, rapid respiration, trembling, arrest of digestion, etc. When the
subjects of experiments in the effect of the emotions of fear, rage,
etc., are examined, it is found that the physical development,
especially the sexual development, is retarded. Heredity, age, sex, the
nervous system of the subject, and the intensity and duration of the
shock must all have consideration. Griesinger, Amard and Daguin
emphasize especially the results of pain, anxiety and shock, claiming
that they are difficult or impossible to treat.

To the bride brought up under the old taboos, the sex experiences of
early married life are apt to come as a shock, particularly when the
previous sex experiences of her mate have been gained with women of
another class. Indeed, so deeply has the sense of shame concerning the
sexual functions been impressed upon the feminine mind that many wives
never cease to feel a recurrent emotion of repugnance throughout the
marital relationship. Especially would this be intensified in the case
of sexual intercourse during the periods of gestation and lactation,
when the girl who had been taught that the sexual functions existed only
in the service of reproduction would see her most cherished illusions
rudely dispelled. The effect of this long continued emotional state with
its feeling of injury upon the metabolism of the female organism would
be apt to have a detrimental effect upon the embryo through the blood
supply, or upon the nursing infant through the mother's milk. There can
be no doubt that anxiety, terror, etc., affect the milk supply, and
therefore the life of the child.

The sixth dysgenic effect of the control by taboos is the rebellion of
economically independent women who refuse motherhood under the only
conditions society leaves open to them. The statistics in existence,
though open to criticism, indicate that the most highly trained women in
America are not perpetuating themselves.[3] Of the situation in England,
Bertrand Russell said in 1917: "If an average sample were taken out of
the population of England, and their parents were examined, it would be
found that prudence, energy, intellect and enlightenment were less
common among the parents than in the population in general; while
shiftlessness, feeble-mindedness, stupidity and superstition were more
common than in the population in general ... Mutual liberty is making
the old form of marriage impossible while a new form is not yet

It must be admitted that to-day marriage and motherhood are subject to
economic penalties. Perhaps one of the best explanations of the strength
of the present struggle for economic independence among women is the
fact that a commercial world interested in exchange values had refused
to properly evaluate their social contribution. A new industrial system
had taken away one by one their "natural" occupations. In the modern
man's absorption in the life of a great industrial expansion, home life
has been less insistent in its claims. His slackening of interest and
attention, together with the discovery of her usefulness in industry,
may have given the woman of initiative her opportunity to slip away from
her ancient sphere into a world where her usefulness in other fields
than that of sex has made her a different creature from the model woman
of yesterday. These trained and educated women have hesitated to face
the renunciations involved in a return to the home. The result has been
one more factor in the lessening of eugenic motherhood, since it is
necessarily the less strong who lose footing and fall back on marriage
for support. These women wage-earners who live away from the traditions
of what a woman ought to be will have a great deal of influence in the
changed relations of the sexes. The answer to the question of their
relation to the family and to a saner parenthood is of vital importance
to society.


1. Breckinridge, Sophonisba P. Social Control of Child Welfare.
Publications of the American Sociological Society. Vol. XII, p. 23 f.

2. Davies, G.R. Social Environment. 149 pp. A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago,

3. Popenoe, Paul. Eugenics and College Education. School and Society,
pp. 438-441. Vol. VI. No. 146.

4. Russell, Bertrand. Why Men Fight. 272 pp. The Century Co., N.Y.,







Bearing of modern psychology on the sex problem; Conditioning of the
sexual impulse; Vicarious expression of the sexual impulse; Unconscious
factors of the sex life; Taboo control has conditioned the natural
biological tendencies of individuals to conform to arbitrary standards
of masculinity and femininity; Conflict between individual desires and
social standards.

An adequate treatment of the sex problem in society must necessarily
involve a consideration of the sexual impulse in the individual members
of that society. Recent psychological research, with its laboratory
experiments and studies of pathology has added a great deal of
information at this point. The lately acquired knowledge of the warping
effect of the environment upon the native biological endowment of the
individual by means of the establishment of conditioned reflexes, the
discovery that any emotion which is denied its natural motor outlet
tends to seek expression through some vicarious activity, and the
realization of the fundamental importance of the unconscious factors in
shaping emotional reactions,--such formulations of behaviouristic and
analytic psychology have thrown a great deal of light upon the nature
of the individual sex life.

There are certain modifications of the erotic life which are explicable
only when we recollect that under environmental influences situations
which originally did not call up an emotional response come later to do
so. This fact, which was first noted by Setchenov, was experimentally
demonstrated by Pavlov and his students.[7] They found that when some
irrelevant stimulus, such as a musical tone or a piece of coloured paper
was presented to a dog simultaneously with its food for a sufficiently
long period, the presentation of the tone or paper alone finally caused
the same flow of saliva that the food had originally evoked. The
irrelevant stimulus was named a _food sign_, and the involuntary motor
response of salivary secretion was called a _conditioned reflex_ to
differentiate it from the similar response to the biologically adequate
stimulus of food, which was termed an _unconditioned reflex_.

"The significance of the conditioned reflex is simply this, that an
associated stimulus brings about a reaction; and this associated
stimulus may be from any receptor organ of the body; and it may be
formed of course not merely in the laboratory by specially devised
experiments, but by association in the ordinary environment."[1] Thus it
is evident that the formation of conditioned reflexes takes place in
all fields of animal and human activity.

Watson has recently stated that a similar substitution of one stimulus
for another occurs in the case of an emotional reaction as well as at
the level of the simple physiological reflex response.[8] This means
that when an emotionally exciting object stimulates the subject
simultaneously with one not emotionally exciting, the latter may in time
(or even after one joint stimulation) arouse the same emotional response
as the former. Kempf considers this capacity of the emotion to become
thus conditioned to other than the original stimuli "of the utmost
importance in determining the selections and aversions throughout life,
such as mating, habitat, friends, enemies, vocations, professions,
religious and political preferences, etc."[5]

Just as Pavlov and his followers found that almost anything could become
a food sign, so the study of neurotics has shown that the sexual emotion
can be fixed upon almost any love object. For example, a single
characteristic of a beloved person (e.g.,--eye colour, smile posture,
gestures) can become itself a stimulus to evoke the emotional response
originally associated only with that person. Then it happens that the
affection may centre upon anyone possessing similar traits. In most
psychological literature, this focussing of the emotion upon some
particular characteristic is termed _fetishism_, and the stimulus which
become capable of arousing the conditioned emotional response is called
an _erotic fetish_. In extreme cases of fetishism, the sexual emotions
can only be aroused in the presence of the particular fetish involved.
Krafft-Ebing[6] and other psychopathologists describe very abnormal
cases of erotic fetishism in which some inanimate object becomes
entirely dissociated from the person with whom it was originally
connected, so that it serves exclusively as a love object in itself, and
prevents a normal emotional reaction to members of the opposite sex.

The development of romantic love has depended to a great extent upon the
establishment of a wide range of stimuli capable of arousing the erotic
impulses. As Finck has pointed out, this romantic sentiment is
inseparable from the ideals of personal beauty.[3] As criteria of beauty
he lists such characteristics as well-shaped waist, rounded bosom, full
and red underlip, small feet, etc., all of which have come to be
considered standards of loveliness because the erotic emotion has been
conditioned to respond to their stimulation. Literature is full of
references to such marks of beauty in its characters (_Jane Eyre_ is
almost the only well-known book with a plain heroine), and is therefore
one of the potent factors in establishing a conditioned emotional
reaction to these stimuli.

The erotic impulse may have its responses conditioned in many other ways
than the building up of erotic fetishes. Kempf has observed that the
affective reactions of the individual are largely conditioned by the
unconscious attitudes of parents, friends, enemies and teachers. For
instance, one boy is conditioned to distrust his ability and another to
have confidence in his powers by the attitude of the parents. Similarly,
the daughter whose mother is abnormally prudish about sexual functions
will surely be conditioned to react in the same manner towards her own
sexual functions, unless conditioned to react differently by the
influence of another person.[5] Through the everyday associations in the
social milieu, therefore, the erotic impulse of an individual may become
modified in almost any manner.

Just as an emotional reaction may become conditioned to almost any other
stimulus than the one which originally called it forth, so there is a
tendency for any emotion to seek a vicarious outlet whenever its natural
expression is inhibited. Were any member of the group to give free play
to his affective life he would inevitably interfere seriously with the
freedom of the other members. But the fear of arousing the disapproval
of his fellows, which is rooted in man's gregarious nature, inhibits the
tendency to self-indulgence. "A most important factor begins to exert
pressure upon the infant at birth and continues throughout its life,"
says Kempf. "It is the incessant, continuous pressure of the herd ... to
conventionalize its methods of acquiring the gratification of its
needs."[5] The emotions thus denied a natural outlet seek other channels
of activity which have received the sanction of social approval.

It is obvious that the rigid social regulations concerning sexual
activities must enforce repression of the erotic impulses more
frequently than any others. The love which is thus denied its biological
expression transmutes itself into many forms. It may reach out to
envelop all humanity, and find a suitable activity in social service. It
may be transformed into the love of God, and find an outlet in the
religious life of the individual. Or it may be expressed only in
language, in which case it may stop at the stage of erotic fantasy and
day-dream, or may result in some really great piece of poetry or prose.
This last outlet is so common that our language is full of symbolic
words and phrases which have a hidden erotic meaning attached to them.

According to Watson, the phenomena seen in this tendency of emotions
inhibited at one point to seek other outlets are too complex to be
explained on the basis of conditioned reflex responses. All that we can
say at present is that too great emotional pressure is drained off
through whatever channel environmental and hereditary factors make
possible.[8] This vicarious mode of expression may become habitual,
however, and interfere with a return to natural activities in a manner
analogous to that in which the development of the erotic fetish often
prevents the normal reaction to the original stimulus.

Because the conditioned emotional reactions and substitutions of
vicarious motor outlets take place at neurological and physiological
levels outside the realm of consciousness, they are called unconscious
activities of the organism. There are many other unconscious factors
which also modify the sex life of the human individual. The most
fundamental of these are the impressions and associations of the infancy
period, which may well be classed as conditioned reflex mechanisms, but
are sufficiently important to receive separate consideration.

It is generally conceded by students of child psychology that the social
reactions of the child are conditioned by the home environment in which
the earliest and most formative years of its life are passed. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the ideal of the opposite sex which the boy
or girl forms at this time should approximate the mother or father,
since they are the persons best loved and most frequently seen. The
ideals thus established in early childhood are very often the
unconscious influences which determine the choice of a mate in adult
life. Or the devotion to the parent may be so intense as to prevent the
transference of the love-life to another person and thus entirely
prohibit the entrance upon the marital relation. Elida Evans has given
some very convincing cases in illustration of these points in her recent
book, "The Problem of the Nervous Child."[2]

On the other hand, in those unfortunate cases where the father or mother
is the object of dislike, associations may be formed which will be so
persistent as to prevent the normal emotional reaction to the opposite
sex in later years. This, too, results in the avoidance of marriage and
the establishment of vicarious outlets for the sexual emotions, or less
often in homosexual attachments or perversions of the sex life.
Conditioned emotional reactions such as these play a dominant role in
the social problem of sex, as will become apparent in succeeding

In addition to the influences which naturally act to condition the
original sexual endowment of the individual, there are artificial forces
which still further qualify it. The system of taboo control which
society has always utilized in one form or another as a means of
regulating the reproductive activities of its members, has set up
arbitrary ideals of masculinity and femininity to which each man and
woman must conform or else forfeit social esteem. The feminine standard
thus enforced has been adequately described in Part II of this study. Dr
Hinkle has also described this approved feminine type, as well as the
contrasting masculine ideal which embodies the qualities of courage,
aggressiveness, and other traditional male characteristics. From her
psychoanalytic practice, Dr Hinkle concludes that men and women do not
in reality conform to these arbitrarily fixed types by native biological
endowment, but that they try to shape their reactions in harmony with
these socially approved standards in spite of their innate tendencies to

The same conclusion might be arrived at theoretically on the grounds of
the recent biological evidence of intersexuality discussed in Part I,
which implies that there are no absolute degrees of maleness and
femaleness. If there are no 100% males and females, it is obvious that
no men and women will entirely conform to ideals of masculine and
feminine perfection.

In addition to the imposition of these arbitrary standards of
masculinity and femininity, society has forced upon its members
conformity to a uniform and institutionalized type of sexual
relationship. This institutionalized and inflexible type of sexual
activity, which is the only expression of the sexual emotion meeting
with social approval, not only makes no allowance for biological
variations, but takes even less into account the vastly complex and
exceedingly different conditionings of the emotional reactions of the
individual sex life. The resulting conflict between the individual
desires and the standards imposed by society has caused a great deal of
disharmony in the psychic life of its members. The increasing number of
divorces and the modern tendency to celibacy are symptomatic of the
cumulative effect of this fundamental psychic conflict.


1. Burnham, W.H. Mental Hygiene and the Conditioned Reflex. Ped. Sem.
Vol. XXIV, Dec, 1917, pp. 449-488.

2. Evans, Elida. The Problem of the Nervous Child. Kegan Paul & Co.,
London, 1920.

3. Finck, H.T. Romantic Love and Personal Beauty. Macmillan, N.Y., 1891.

4. Hinkle, Beatrice M. On the Arbitrary Use of the Terms "Masculine" and
"Feminine." Psychoanalyt. Rev. Vol. VII, No. 1, Jan., 1920, pp. 15-30.

5. Kempf, E.J. The Tonus of the Autonomic Segments as Causes of
Abnormal Behaviour. Jour. Nerv. & Ment. Disease, Jan., 1920, pp. 1-34.

6. Krafft-Ebing, R. Psychopathia Sexualis. Fuchs, Stuttgart, 1907.

7. Pavlov, J.P. L'excitation Psychique des Glandes Salivaires. Jour de
Psychologie, 1910, No. 2, pp. 97-114.

8. Watson, J.B. Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviourist.
Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1919.



Social institutions controlling sex activities based on the assumption
that _all_ women are adapted to as well as specialized for reproduction;
Neurotic tendencies which unfit women for marriage--the desire for
domination; Sexual anæsthesia another neurotic trait which interferes
with marital harmony; The conditioning of the sexual impulse to the
parent ideal and the erotic fetish as factors which determine mating;
Homosexual tendencies and their part in the sex problem; The conflict
between the desire for marriage and egoistic ambitions; The social
regulations from the viewpoint of individual psychology.

The institutionalized forms of social control into which the old sex
taboos have developed impose upon all members of the group a uniform
type of sexual relationship. These socially enforced standards which
govern the sex life are based upon the assumption that men and women
conform closely to the masculine and feminine ideals of tradition. The
emphasis is much more strongly placed on feminine conformity, however;
a great many sexual activities are tolerated in the male that would be
unsparingly condemned in the female. Thus the sex problem becomes in
large measure a woman's problem, not only because of her peculiar
biological specialization for reproduction, which involves an enormous
responsibility but also because her life has for so many generations
been hedged in by rigid institutionalized taboos and prohibitions.

The traditional conception of marriage and the family relation implies
that all women are adapted to as well as specialized for motherhood. In
reality, if the biological evidence of intersexuality be as conclusive
as now appears, there are many women who by their very nature are much
better adapted to the activities customarily considered as pre-eminently
masculine, although they are still specialized for childbearing. There
is no statistical evidence of any high correlation between the sexual
and maternal impulses. Indeed, a great many traits of human behaviour
seem to justify the inference that these two tendencies may often be
entirely dissociated in the individual life. Dr Blair Bell (as noted in
Part I, Chapter III) believes that it is possible to differentiate women
possessing a maternal impulse from those lacking such tendencies by the
very anatomical structure. It is obvious that a woman endowed with a
strong erotic nature requires a kind of sexual relationship different
from one whose interests are predominantly in her children. And both the
sexual and maternal types require different situations than the woman
who combines the two instincts in her own personality for a normal
expression of their emotional life.

According to social tradition, sexual activity (at least in the case of
women) is to be exercised primarily for the reproduction of the group.
Thus the institutions of marriage and the family in their present form
provide only for the woman who possesses both the sexual and maternal
cravings. Contraceptive knowledge has enabled a small number of women
(which is rapidly growing larger) to fit into these institutions in
spite of their lack of a desire for motherhood. There have been a few
hardy theorists who have braved convention to the extent of suggesting
the deliberate adoption of unmarried motherhood by women who are
consumed by the maternal passion but have no strongly erotic nature.
Whether their problem will be solved in this manner, only the course of
social evolution in the future can show.

Besides the differences in natural instinctive tendencies which make it
difficult for many women to fit into a uniform type of sexual
relationship, modern society, with its less rigid natural selection,
has permitted the survival of many neurotic temperaments which find
marriage a precarious venture. The neurotic constitution, as Adler[1,2]
has pointed out, is an expression of underlying structural or functional
organic deficiency. It is a physiological axiom that whenever one organ
of the body, because of injury, disease, etc., becomes incapable of
properly discharging its functions, its duties are taken over by some
other organ or group of organs. This process of organic compensation,
whereby deficiency in one part of the body is atoned for by additional
labours of other parts, necessarily involves the nervous mechanism in
ways which need not be discussed in detail here.

In children the process of compensation, with its formation of new
nervous co-ordinations, is manifest in the inability to cope with their
companions who have a better biological endowment. This gives rise to a
feeling of inferiority from which the child tries to free itself by
every possible means, ordinarily by surpassing in the classroom the
playmates whom it cannot defeat on the playground. The feeling of
inferiority continues throughout life, however, although the mechanism
of physiological compensation may have become so perfected that the
functioning of the organism is quite adequate to the needs of the
environment. As a result, the ruling motive of the conduct becomes the
desire to release the personality from this torturing sense of inability
by a constant demonstration of the power to control circumstances or to
dominate associates.

This abnormal will to power finds expression in the marital relationship
in the desire for supremacy over the mate. The domineering husband is a
familiar figure in daily life. The wife who finds it more difficult to
rule her husband by sheer mastery achieves the same ends by developing a
fit of hysterical weeping or having a nervous headache when denied her
own way in family affairs.

By far the easiest way for the woman to satisfy her craving for power is
the development of an interesting illness which makes her the centre of
attention. The history of nervous disease furnishes many cases of
neurosis where this uncontrollable longing for domination is the chief
factor in the etiology of the illness. It is not at all unusual to meet
wives who hold their husbands subservient to every whim because of
"delicate nervous organizations" which are upset at the slightest
thwarting of their wishes so that they develop nervous headaches,
nervous indigestion, and many other kinds of sickness unless their
preferences meet with the utmost consideration. This tendency often
becomes a chronic invalidism, which, at the same time that it brings
the longed-for attention, incapacitates the individual for sexual and
maternal activities and makes the married life an abnormal and unhappy

Another more or less neurotic trait which acts as a cause of disharmony
in the marital relationship is the sexual anæsthesia which is not at all
uncommon in modern women. The absence of any erotic passion is held to
be a matter of physiological makeup by many authorities, but it is
probably more often due to the inhibition of natural tendencies in
accordance with concepts built up by social tradition. In order to
understand how social suggestion can have so powerful an effect upon the
reactions of the individual, we must revert once more to the principles
of behaviouristic psychology.

According to Watson,[4] whenever the environmental factors are such that
a direct expression of an emotion cannot occur, the individual has to
have recourse to implicit motor attitudes. The best example in everyday
life is probably seen in the case of anger, which can seldom be
permitted to find an outlet in the natural act of striking, etc. It is
apparent, however, in the facial expression and in a certain muscular
posture which can best be described as a "defiant" attitude. Another
good example is the submissive attitude which often accompanies the
emotion of fear. It is manifest in shrinking, avoiding movements,
sometimes of the whole body, but more often of the eyes or some other
special organ.

"In the sphere of love," Watson remarks, "there are numerous attitudes
as shown by the popular expressions lovelorn, lovesick, tenderness,
sympathy. More fundamental and prominent attitudes are those of shyness,
shame, embarrassment, jealousy, envy, hate, pride, suspicion,
resentment, anguish, and anxiety."[4]

The significant fact is that these attitudes function by limiting the
range of stimuli to which the person is sensitive. The attitude of shame
concerning their sexual functions, which has been impressed upon women
as a result of ages of thinking in harmony with taboo standards, thus is
able to prevent the normal biological response to a situation which
should call out the emotions of love. In women who have an unstable
nervous system this shameful feeling often results in a definite
physiological shrinking from the physical manifestations of sexuality
and renders the individual insensitive to all erotic stimulation.

This attitude of shame in connection with the love life came into
existence as a socially conditioned emotional reaction set up under the
influence of the traditional ideal of the "model woman" who was pictured
as a being of unearthly purity and immaculacy. It has been passed on
from generation to generation through an unconscious conditioning of the
daughter's attitude by suggestion and imitation to resemble that of the
mother. Thus it happens that although an increasing amount of liberty,
both social and economic, and a more rational and scientific
understanding of the womanly nature, have quite revoked this ideal in
theory, in actual practice it still continues to exert its inhibitory
and restrictive influence.

Because the standardized family relationship involves so much more
radical a readjustment in the life of woman than of man, it has almost
always been the feminine partner who has taken refuge in neurotic
symptoms in order to escape the difficulties of the situation. After the
marriage ceremony, the man's life goes on much as before, so far as his
social activities are concerned, but woman takes up the new duties
connected with the care of the home and her child-bearing functions.
Moreover, the sexual life of woman is in many ways more complex than
that of man. She has been subjected to more repressions and inhibitions,
and as a result there has been more modification of her emotional
reactions in the field of love. This greater complexity of her love life
makes adaptation to marriage more problematical in the case of woman.

Although the neurotic tendencies of modern women have been an important
factor for the production of disharmony in the family life, there are
certain variations of the individual sex life which are more universally
significant. The conditioned emotional reactions which environmental
influences have built up around the sexual impulse of each member of
society invariably determine the choice of the mate and give rise to
extremely complicated problems by the very nature of the selective
process. It is largely a matter of chance whether the mate chosen in
accordance with the ideals of romantic love and because of some
fascinating trait which acts as an erotic fetish or in conformity with a
parental fixation will prove a congenial companion through life.

But the complexity of the situation lies in the fact that the erotic
impulses may become conditioned to respond to an indefinite number of
substituted stimuli. For example, the parental fixation may become
reconditioned by focussing upon some special characteristic of the
father or mother, which becomes an erotic fetish. If the mate is
selected on the basis of this fetishistic attraction, he (or she) may
prove to be so unlike the parent in other respects as to lose all the
affection which was originally inspired. A concrete illustration of
these conflicting emotional reactions is the case of the girl who
declared that she feared her fiancé as much as she loved him, but felt
that she must marry him nevertheless. An investigation showed that her
almost compulsive feeling about her lover was due to the fact that his
gestures and manner of regarding her, in fact his whole bearing,
reminded her of her dead father, while in other respects he was totally
repugnant to her because his character traits were so far removed from
those of her father ideal.

The conflict between the parental ideal and other phases of the sexual
impulse is even more pronounced in men than in women, for two reasons.
In the first place, the mother plays by far the largest part in the life
of her children, so that the son's fixation upon her is necessarily more
intense than the daughter's affection for the father. Yet on the other
hand, the sexual desire of the male is more easily aroused than that of
the female, and is more apt to centre upon some member of the opposite
sex who possesses certain physical attractiveness but is not at all like
the mother ideal. Thus it happens that men often enshrine on their
hearthstone the woman who approximates the worshipped mother, while they
seek satisfaction for their erotic needs outside the home. In other
words, in the masculine psyche there is often a dissociation of the
sexual impulse in its direct manifestations and the sentiment of love in
its more idealistic aspects. This partially explains the fact that it
is possible for a man to be "unfaithful" to his wife while actually
loving her devotedly all the time.

A different solution of the unconscious conflict between the mother
fixation and the sexual desires at lower levels is seen in those cases
in which the man impulsively marries the woman who has this transient
attraction for him. When the first passion of such an alliance has worn
away, there is no lasting bond to take its place, and the man must find
solace in some such way as an intimate friendship with a woman who
recalls the maternal impressions of his childhood. A famous example of
this is found in the beautiful affection of Auguste Comte for his
idolized Clotilde de Vaux. Although Comte was bound to a woman whom he
had married in the flush of erotic desire and whom he found entirety
uncongenial, Clotilde became the inspiration of his later life, and held
his affection without the aid of any material bond because she so
closely resembled the dead mother whom he adored.[3]

It is evident that the selection of a mate who is erotically attractive,
but proves to be very similar to a parent who was disliked instead of
loved, is as unfortunate as the choice of a partner who is utterly
unlike a beloved father or mother. Indeed, when all the possible
complications are clearly visualized, taking into account the numerous
ways in which the sexual emotions can be modified, it is plain that
these unconscious factors which determine the choice of a mate are not
always conducive to a happy married life.

Quite recently the tendency to homosexuality has been emphasized as an
important factor in the psychological problem of sex. At the
International Conference of Medical Women (New York, 1919) it was stated
that homosexual fixations among women are a frequent cause of female
celibacy and divorce. This view was upheld by such authorities as Dr.
Constance Long of England, and other prominent women physicians.
Although a certain percentage of female homosexuality is congenital, it
is probable that by far the largest part is due to a conditioning of the
sexual impulse by the substitution of members of the same sex as the
erotic stimulus in place of the normal response to the opposite sex.

This substitution is facilitated by certain facts in the social life of
women. The frequent lack of opportunity to be with men during adolescent
school days, and a certain amount of taboo on male society for the
unmarried woman, are in direct favour of the establishment of homosexual
reactions. There is also an increasing sex antagonism, growing out of
woman's long struggle for the privilege of participating in activities
and sharing prerogatives formerly limited to men, which acts as an
inhibitory force to prevent the transference of the sexual emotion to
its normal object in the opposite sex. Moreover, the entrance of woman
into a manner of living and lines of activity which have heretofore been
exclusively masculine, has brought out certain character traits which in
other times would have been repressed as incompatible with the social
standards of feminine conduct, but which are conducive to the formation
of homosexual attachments, since the qualities admired in men can now be
found also in women.

In this connection the term _homosexuality_ is used very loosely to
denote any type of emotional fixation upon members of the same sex which
is strong enough to prevent a normal love life with some individual of
the opposite sex. Among American women, at least, this tendency is
seldom expressed by any gross physical manifestations, but often becomes
an idealized and lofty sentiment of friendship. It is abnormal, however,
when it becomes so strong as to prevent a happy married life.

The tendency of emotions to seek a vicarious outlet must also be
considered in any inclusive attempt to explain the homosexual attachment
of women. The woman who, on account of lack of attraction for men or for
any other reason, is denied the normal functioning of the love life in
marriage, is forced to find some other expression for her erotic
emotions, and it is only natural that she should find it in an affection
for other women. Again, the voluntary celibacy of a large class of
modern women, who prefer to retain their economic independence rather
than to enter into family life, also necessitates finding vicarious
emotional activities. Whenever their work throws a number of these women
into constant association, it is almost inevitable that homosexual
attachments will spring up.

We meet all these types of homosexual fixations in daily life. The
college girl who is isolated from men for four years has her sworn
comrade among the girls, and is sure that she will never marry but will
love her chum always. Very often it is some time after she leaves
college before she begins to take an interest in male companionship. The
young professional woman looks up to the older woman in her line of work
with the same admiration for her courage and brilliancy that used to be
reserved for the husband alone in the days when women were permitted
only a strictly feminine education and occupation. The business woman
refuses to give up her high salaried position for marriage, and consoles
herself with her feminine friends. These are the common manifestations
characteristic of female homosexuality. As has been suggested, the term
is loosely applied to such cases as these, but the tendency of recent
psychological literature is to consider them as highly sublimated
expressions of this tendency.

As has been intimated, the modern woman who has entered into the
economic competition is often reluctant to abandon this activity for the
responsibilities of wifehood and motherhood, which involve a withdrawal
from the business world. Just as the materialistic rewards of economic
activities often prove more attractive than the emotional satisfactions
of family life, so, too, the intellectual ambitions of the professional
woman may deter her from the exercise of her reproductive functions.
Thus the egoistic and individualistic tendencies which modern social
organization fosters in the personality of its feminine members makes
them unwilling to sacrifice their ambitious plans in the performance of
their natural biological functions.

In the present speeding up of competition, the entrance upon family life
becomes almost as burdensome to man as to woman, although in a different
manner. Free as he is from the biological responsibilities connected
with childbearing which fall to a woman's lot, he finds the economic
responsibilities which the care of children entails equally grilling.
His choice of a profession can no longer be decided by his own
preferences, but must be determined by the economic returns. He can
never afford to sacrifice financial gain for personal recognition,
because of his obligation to provide for his family. Thus it happens
that marriage often presents a situation in which no outlet for personal
ambitions is possible and the egoistic desires and emotions must be
sternly repressed. There is therefore an increasing hesitancy on the
part of the men of to-day to assume responsibilities so grave and
involving so much personal sacrifice.

It is evident from even such a casual inquiry as this, that there are
many facts of individual psychology which have not been taken into
account by society in the development of the mores which govern the
sexual relationships of its members. The traditional institution of the
family, which would shape all women into model wives and mothers, has
neglected to consider the fact that not all women are biologically
adapted for these particular activities. The choice of a mate which is
determined by irrational and unconscious motives may or may not prove to
be a wise selection, as we have seen in the course of our discussion.
Most significant of all for the social problem of sex, is the
overwhelming tendency to individuation which is making both men and
women frankly question whether marriage and parenthood are worth while
when they involve so much personal sacrifice.

From the viewpoint of psychology, we may briefly summarize the whole
situation by saying that society has imposed upon its members a uniform
and inflexible type of sexual relationships and reproductive activities
with a total disregard of individual differences in its demand for
conformity to these traditions. When the infinite number of variations
and modifications possible in the sexual life of different individuals
is taken into consideration, it is obvious that there must be a certain
disharmony between personal inclinations and social standards. Because
the power of the group control is very great, its members usually
repress emotions which are not in accord with its regulations, and shape
their conduct to meet with its approval. If such a restriction of the
personality and emotional life of the individual is necessary for the
welfare of the whole race and for social progress, its existence is
entirely justified. It is our next task, therefore, to determine in what
respects a rigid and irrational social control is conducive to human
betterment, and wherein, if at all, it fails to achieve this purpose.


1. Adler, Alfred. The Neurotic Constitution. Moffat, Yard, N.Y., 1917.
(Kegan Paul & Co., 1921.)

2. Adler, Alfred. A Study of Organic Inferiority and Its Psychic
Compensation. Nervous & Mental Disease Pub. Co., N.Y., 1917.

3. Blanchard, P. A Psychoanalytic Study of Auguste Comte. Am. Jour.
Psy., April, 1918.

4. Watson, J.B. Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviourist.
Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1919.



Mating determined by unconscious psychological motives instead of
eugenic considerations; Some of the best male and female stock refusing
marriage and parenthood; The race is reproduced largely by the inferior
and average stocks and very little by the superior stock; As a
therapeutic measure, society should utilize psychological knowledge as a
new method of control; Romantic love and conjugal love--a new ideal of
love; The solution of the conflict between individual and group

From the viewpoint of group welfare, the present psychological situation
of human reproductive activities undoubtedly has its detrimental
aspects. As we have seen, the choice of a mate is determined by
irrational motives which lie far below the levels of consciousness.
These unconscious factors which govern sexual selection far outweigh the
more rational considerations of modern eugenic thought. The marks of
personal beauty around which romantic love centres and which therefore
play a prominent part in mating are not necessarily indicative of
physical and mental health that will insure the production of sound
offspring. The modern standards of beauty (at least in so far as
feminine loveliness is concerned) have gone far from the ancient Grecian
type of physical perfection. Influenced perhaps by the chivalric ideals
of "the lady," the demand is rather for a delicate and fragile
prettiness which has come to be regarded as the essence of femininity.
The robust, athletic girl must preserve this "feminine charm" in the
midst of her wholesome outdoor life, else she stands in great danger of
losing her erotic attraction.

Surface indications of the truth of this statement are easily
discovered. The literature which before the war ran riot with athletic
heroines pictured them with wind-blown hair and flushed cheeks receiving
the offer of their male companion's heart and hand. The golf course or
the summer camp was simply a charming new setting for the development of
the eternal love theme. Even fashion has conspired to emphasize the
feminine charm of the girl who goes in for sports, as a glance at the
models of bathing costumes, silken sweaters, and graceful "sport" skirts
plainly reveals.

Just as the love which is directed in accordance with an emotional
reaction conditioned to respond to some erotic fetishism or to a parent
ideal may be productive of individual unhappiness, so it is also
entirely a matter of chance whether or not it leads to a eugenic mating.
Like romantic love, it is quite as apt to focus upon a person who does
not conform to eugenic ideals as upon one who does. The mate selected
upon the basis of these unconscious motives is very likely to bequeath a
neurotic constitution or an otherwise impaired physical organism to the
offspring of the union, since those possibilities were not taken into
consideration in making the choice.

It becomes apparent that while certain forces in the life of the
individual and in the social inheritance have united to condition the
emotional reactions of the sex life, these conditionings have not always
been for the benefit of the race. Indeed, it would almost seem that
society has been more concerned with the manner of expression of the
love life in the individual members than in its effects upon the next
generation. In its neglect or ignorance of the significance of
artificial modifications of the emotions, it has permitted certain
dysgenic influences to continue in the psychic life of generation after
generation, regarding with the utmost placidity a process of sexual
selection determined by irrational and irresponsible motives.

The most potent dysgenic influence in the present phase of the sex
problem is the conflict between the interests of the individual and the
group regulations. The traditional type of marriage and family life has
a cramping effect upon the personal ambitions which lessens its
attractiveness materially. The enterprising young business or
professional man has no desire to restrict his opportunities by the
assumption of the responsibilities that accompany family life. He must
be free to stake all his resources on some favourable speculation
without the thought that he cannot take chances on impoverishing his
wife and children. Or if he has professional aspirations, he must be
able to take the long difficult pathway of scientific research with no
anxiety about the meagre salary that is insufficient for the support of
a home. Thus the most vital and aggressive male stocks as well as the
most highly intelligent tend to avoid the hampering effects of family
life, and their qualities are often lost to the next generation, since
even if they marry they will feel that they cannot afford offspring.

As women enter more and more into the competition for economic and
social rewards, this becomes equally applicable in their case. Indeed,
it would be strange were there not an even greater tendency to shun the
ties of family life on the part of ambitious women than of men, since
it involves greater sacrifices in their case on account of their
biological specialization for motherhood. It appears, therefore, that we
are losing the best parental material for the coming generations on both
the paternal and maternal sides. Thus the conflict between the egoistic
desires and the social institution of the family is segregating just
those energetic, successful individuals from whom the race of the future
should spring if we hope to reproduce a social organism capable of
survival in the inter-group struggle.

If it be true that the best stock, both male and female, for various
reasons refuses to assume the duty of reproduction, the group will
necessarily be replaced from individuals of average and inferior (but
not superior) eugenic value. Even within these limits there is at
present no conscious eugenic selection, and the irrational and
unconscious motives which govern sexual selection at the present time
may induce the choice of a mate from among the weaker individuals. Once
again it becomes a matter of chance whether or not the matings prove to
be for the welfare of the group and of the race.

It might be contended that the very fact that certain individuals
withdraw from reproductive activities is sufficient proof of their lack
of normal emotional reactions adapting them to the performance of those
functions. But a clearer insight shows that the group standards permit
the exercise of the reproductive activities only in accord with
arbitrary regulations which have coalesced in the institutions of
marriage and the family. These institutions have been developed to fit a
definite ideal of manhood and womanhood which grew up out of a manner of
thinking in accord with taboo control and ignorant superstitions rather
than in harmony with the actual facts of the situation. Now that we are
facing reality and trying to rationalize our thinking, we find that the
variation from these masculine and feminine ideals does not necessarily
imply biological or psychological abnormality, since the ideals were
themselves established without reference to biological and psychological

The traditional marriage and family arrangement tends to enforce a
selection of individuals who conform most nearly to these artificial
types as parents for the succeeding generations. It is not at all
certain that such a selection is advantageous to the group. It would
seem rather that in so complex a social system as that of the present
day with its increasing division of labour on other than purely sexual
distinctions, we need a variety of types of individuals adapted to the
varied activities of modern life.

If society is to successfully meet the present situation it must
utilize its psychological insight to remedy conditions which are
obviously dysgenic and detrimental to the welfare of the race. If the
egoistic and highly individualized modern man and woman are induced to
sacrifice personal ambitions in the interests of reproduction, for
instance, it will only be because society has learned to turn those same
egoistic impulses to its own ends. This will never be accomplished by
the forces of tradition or by any such superimposed method of control as
conscription for parenthood. There is too much of a spirit of freedom
and individual liberty in the social mind to-day for any such measure to
meet with success. The same spirit of freedom which formerly burst the
bonds of superstition and entered into the world of science is now as
impatient of restraint of its emotional life as it formerly was of
restriction of its intellectual search for the truth.

Therefore society can no longer depend upon taboo standards crystallized
into institutionalized forms as a means of control. It must appeal to
more rational motives if it expects to have any degree of influence over
its most intelligent and energetic members. Only when the production of
eugenic offspring brings the same social approval and reward that is
meted out for other activities will the ineradicable and irrespressible
egoistic desires that now prevent individuals from assuming the
responsibilities of family life be enlisted in the very cause to which
they are now so hostile. When the same disapproval is manifested for the
shirking of reproductive activities by the eugenically fit that is now
directed toward lack of patriotism in other lines, the number of
voluntary celibates in society will be materialy decreased.

The greatest triumph of society in the manipulation of the sexual and
reproductive life of its members will come when it is able to condition
the emotional reaction of the individual by the substitution of the
eugenic ideal for the parental fixation and to focus the sentiment of
romantic love upon eugenic traits. When this is accomplished, the
selection of the mate will at least be favourable for racial
regeneration even if individual disharmonies are not entirely
eliminated. That there are great difficulties in the way of this
accomplishment may be admitted at the outset. The conditioned responses
to be broken down and replaced are for the most part formed in early
childhood, and have had a long period in which to become firmly
impressed upon the organism. But psychological experiments have proven
that even the best established conditioned reactions can be broken down
and others substituted in their place, so that the situation is not so
hopeless. When we recollect that for ages the traditional ideals of
masculinity and femininity have been conditioning the emotional life of
men and women to respond to their requirements with a remarkable degree
of success, there is ground for the belief that the same forces of
suggestion and imitation may be turned to more rational ends and
utilized as an effective means of social therapy.

If we are to have a more rationalized form of social control, then, it
will undoubtedly take into consideration the necessity of forming the
socially desirable conditionings of the emotional life. The importance
of the emotional reactions for social progress has been very well
summarized by Burgess, who says that emotion can be utilized for
breaking down old customs and establishing new ones, as well as for the
conservation of the mores. Society can largely determine around what
stimuli the emotions can be organized, this author continues, and the
group has indeed always sought to control the stimuli impinging upon its
members. One policy has been to eliminate objectionable stimuli, as in
the outlawing of the saloon. The other is to change the nature of the
affective response of the individual to certain stimuli in the
environment where the natural or organic responses would be at variance
with conduct considered socially desirable.[3]

Modern psychological knowledge enables us to understand the mechanism
of this last method of social control as the building up of the
conditioned emotional response. If our civilization is to endure it must
learn to apply this method of control to the sex life of the individual
so that reproduction will fall to the lot of the most desirable eugenic
stock instead of being left to the workings of chance as it is at the
present time.

From the viewpoint of individual psychology, one of the principal
problems of the erotic life is to find a smooth transition from the
romantic love of the courtship period to the less ethereal emotions of
the married state. Indirectly, this is also socially significant,
because of the overwhelming effect of the home environment in shaping
the reactions of the next generation. As a rule, only the children who
have grown up in a happy and wholesome atmosphere of sincere parental
comradeship and affection can have an entirely sane and healthy reaction
to their own erotic functions in later years.

Although romantic love in its present expression may often lead to
uncongenial marriages and even involve dysgenic mating, its æsthetic and
refining influences are such as to make it desirable in spite of these
drawbacks. Its influence upon literature has been noted by Bloch[2]
while its potency in the formation of a deep and tender feeling between
men and women has been elaborately discussed by Finck.[4] Thus it is
evident that its individual and social advantages more than balance its

Unfortunately, with the entrance into the marital relationship and the
release of the erotic emotion into natural channels so that it no longer
seeks the vicarious outlets which were partly supplied in the
idealization of the lovers, there is a tendency for this romantic
element to fade from their affection. The conjugal affection which
replaces it is built on quite other foundations. It is not composed of
day dreams about the beloved, but is wrought out of mutual interests, of
joys and sorrows shared together, of the pleasure of unrestricted
companionship, and of the common care of offspring. The danger lies in
the possibility that these foundations for conjugal love will not have
been lain by the time that romantic sentiments begin to grow dim. It is
this crisis in the married life which seems disappointing in the
afterglow of the engagement and honeymoon.

Of late there have been attempts to build up a new conception of love
which shall incorporate the best features of romantic love and at the
same time make the transition to the conjugal affection less difficult.
This new conception has grown up through the increasing freedom of
women and the constant association of the sexes in the educational and
business world as well as in the social life. This free companionship of
men and women has done much to destroy the illusions about each other
which were formerly supposed to be so necessary a component of romantic
love, but it has also created the basis for a broader sympathy and a
deeper comradeship which is easily carried over into the married

The new ideal of love which is being thus developed combines complete
understanding and frankness with erotic attraction and the tenderness of
romanticism. It implies a type of marital relationship in which there is
preservation of the personality and at the same time a harmony and union
of interests that was often absent from the old-fashioned marriage, when
the wife was supposed to be more limited in her interests than her
husband. It may well be that the evolution of this new ideal of love,
which grants personal autonomy even within the marriage bond, will solve
a great deal of the present conflict between the individualistic
impulses and the exercise of the erotic functions as permitted by the

It is, of course, an open question as to how far the interests of the
individual and the group can be made to coincide. Group survival demands
that the most vital and intelligent members shall be those to carry on
the reproductive functions. Therefore from the social viewpoint, it is
quite justified in setting up the machinery of social approval and in
establishing emotional attitudes by this means that will insure that
this takes place. On the other hand, it may be that the individuals who
will be thus coerced will be as rebellious against new forms of social
control as they are restless under the present methods of restraint.

If we free ourselves from a manner of thinking induced by inhibitions
developed through ages of taboo control, and look at the problem
rationally, we must admit that the chief interest of society would be in
the eugenic value of the children born into it. At the present time,
however, the emphasis seems to be chiefly upon the manner of birth, that
is, the principal concern is to have the parents married in the
customary orthodox fashion. Only in view of the necessities of the
recent war have the European nations been forced to wipe out the stain
of illegitimacy, and in America we are still blind to this necessity.
Only Scandinavia, under the leadership of such minds as Ellen Key's, was
roused to this inconsistency in the mores without external pressure, and
enacted legislation concerning illegitimacy which may well serve as a
model to the whole world. The main points of the Norwegian Castberg bill
are as follows: The child whose parents are unmarried has a right to
the surname of the father, and the right of inheritance from a
propertied father; the court has full power to clear up the paternity of
the child; the man is held responsible for the child's support even if
other men are known to have had intercourse with the mother. In order to
discourage immorality in women for the purpose of blackmailing wealthy
men, the mother is also compelled to contribute to the child's

No psychologist of discernment, in insisting on eugenic standards rather
than a marriage certificate as the best criterion for parenthood would
encourage any tendency to promiscuous mating. The individual suffering
involved in such a system of sexual relationships would be too great to
permit its universal adoption even if it should be found to have no
deleterious social effects. But the very fact that transient mating does
involve so much human agony, especially on the part of the woman, is all
the more reason why it is needless to add artificial burdens to those
already compelled by the very nature of the emotional life.

The study of child psychology, too, would tend to discourage any general
tendency to temporary sexual relationships. Modern research has shown
that nothing is more necessary for the normal development of the child's
emotional life than a happy home environment with the presence of both
father and mother. Only in these surroundings, with the love of both
parents as a part of the childhood experience, can the emotional
reactions of the child be properly conditioned to respond to the social
situations of adult life.

In one respect, at least, society can do a great deal to better the
existing situation, and to solve the struggle between the individual and
group interests. At the same time that it endeavours to set up emotional
responses that shall be conducive to eugenic mating and to a happy love
life, as well as for the welfare of the child, it should also leave a
wide margin of personal liberty for the individuals concerned to work
out a type of sexual relationship which is in harmony with their natural
inclinations. The institution of monogamy is too deeply founded in the
needs of the individual and of the child to suffer from this increase in
freedom and responsibility. Were it so frail a thing as to need the
protection of the church and state as well as public opinion to insure
its survival, it would be so little adapted to the needs of humanity
that it might better disappear.

There are no indications that there would be any wider deviation from
the monogamous relationship were variations frankly recognized that now
take place in secret. By its present attitude, society is not
accomplishing its purpose and preventing all sexual relationships except
those which conform to its institutionalized standards. It is merely
forcing what should be always the most dignified of human relationships
into the shamefulness of concealment and furtiveness. Moreover, because
it visits its wrath on the child born of unions which are not strictly
conventionalized, it prevents the birth of children from mothers who
might be of great eugenic value, but whom fear of social disapproval
keeps from the exercise of their maternal functions but not of their
sexual activities.

In the final analysis, it will probably be demonstrated that for a
certain type of personality there can be no compromise which will
resolve the conflict between the egoistic inclinations and the interests
of the group. For those whose deepest desires are so out of harmony with
the social life of the times there is no alternative but to sacrifice
their personal desires or to forfeit the pleasure of feeling in complete
rapport with their fellows. In such natures, the ultimate course of
conduct will be determined by the relative strengths of the
individualistic and gregarious impulses, other things being equal. In
some instances this will mean the choice of a line of conduct out of
harmony with the general trend of group life; in others, it will mean
the repression of personal inclinations and conformity to social

For the majority of people, however, it is likely that a more rational
form of social control, freed from the long ages of taboo restrictions,
and based upon accurate biological and psychological knowledge, will
solve the disharmony between the individual and the group to a great
extent. Such a rationalization will take into account the value of a new
ideal of love which shall be built up from a sane relationship between
the sexes and in accordance with eugenic standards. It will also grant a
great deal of personal autonomy in the determination of sexual
relationships in so far as this can be correlated with the welfare of
the children of the race. Last of all, it will attempt to condition the
emotional reactions to respond to stimuli which shall insure eugenic
mating naturally and without the intervention of legislation.

Unless modern civilization can set up some such form of rational control
for the sexual and reproductive life of its members, the present
conflict between individuation and socialization will continue and the
dysgenic factors now operative in society will steadily increase. In the
end, this internal conflict may become so powerful as to act as an
irresistible disintegrating force that will shatter the fabric of modern
social organization. Only the evolution of a rationalized method of
control can avert this social catastrophe.


1. Anthony, Katharine. Feminism in Germany and Scandinavia. Henry Holt,
N.Y., 1915.

2. Bloch, Ivan. Sexual Life of Our Time. Rebman, London, 1908.

3. Burgess, E.W. The Function of Socialization in Social Evolution.
Univ. Chicago Press, 1916.

4. Finck, H.T. Romantic Love and Personal Beauty. Macmillan, N.Y., 1891.

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