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´╗┐Title: Women As Sex Vendors - or, Why Women Are Conservative (Being a View of the Economic - Status of Woman)
Author: Tobias, R. B. (Roscoe Burdette), 1880-, Marcy, Mary, 1877-1922
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Women As Sex Vendors - or, Why Women Are Conservative (Being a View of the Economic - Status of Woman)" ***

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[Transcriber's Note: I have not modernized spelling that appears
consistent within this book.]




(Being a View of the Economic Status of Woman)






Copyright 1918



  YOUTH AND MAID                     30
  THE FUTURE                         54



We have often heard discussions of the reason we do not find women, as a
sex, in the vanguard of world affairs; why the great educators, strong
figures in progressive or revolutionary movements, are men rather than
women; why these movements, themselves, are made up almost entirely of
men rather than women. People have asked over and over again why, in the
fields of the arts, the sciences, in the world of "practical affairs,"
men, rather than women, generally excel.

We believe the answer lies in the fact that women, as a sex, are the
owners of a commodity vitally necessary to the health and well-being of
man. Women occupy a more fortunate biologic, and in many countries, a
more fortunate economic position, in the increasingly intensified
struggle for existence. And the preferred class, the biologically and
economically favored class, or sex, has rarely been efficient-to-do, has
never been revolutionary to attack a social system that accords
advantage to it.

As a sex, women have rarely been rebels or revolutionists. We do not see
how they can ever be as long as there exists any system of exploitation
to revolt against. Revolt comes from the submerged, never from the group
occupying a favored place. Today the revolutionist is he who has nothing
to sell but his labor power.

The skilled trade union group is least revolutionary among the workers.
The best paid unions are not the most militant in acts calculated to
improve the conditions of even their own group, and are least aggressive
in conduct for improving the conditions of the whole working class. So
long as they occupy a more favorable position in the industrial world,
the trade unions will have something to conserve. They become

We see the small, struggling farmers, who have probably very little to
lose in this world save their debts and their mortgages, counting
themselves in a class of possible property owners and small exploiters,
and generally throwing their support into movements promising petty
reforms, when nothing but the abolition, or downfall of the system of
private ownership in the means of production and distribution, can
possibly help them.

The petty shop-keepers rail more against the "outrageously" high wages
and the short hours of the skilled workers than against the large
business organizations, like the packing interests, or the great
monopolies, that hold them constantly on the edge of failure.
Desperately and consistently, as they behold their competitors forced
out in the irresistible march of centralization, they cling to their
sinking ships, their small deceits and petty ideology in the hope of one
day winning out against the terrific odds opposed to them, and landing
high and dry in the capitalist class.

No shoe dealer in the darkest side street of the smallest village but
hopes some day to leave his dingy shop behind and to climb into the
class economically above him. He counts himself a man of business, and
thinks and acts and goes down to failure, individualistically. He hates
and fears his competitors, ascribes most of his wrongs to them or to the
highly paid skilled workers, and apes and envies the men whom he sees
rising to wealth in the economic conflict.

As a sex, women occupy a position similar to the petty shop-keeper,
because they possess a commodity to sell or to barter. Men, as a sex,
are buyers of, or barterers for, this commodity. The general attitude on
this question of sex may be, and in fact usually is, wholly unconscious;
but the fact remains that men and women meet each other, in the
capitalist system, as buyers and sellers of, or barterers for, a

Scarcely anybody recognizes this fact, and those who sense it fail to
understand the inevitable result upon society and upon women themselves.
There is no office or saloon scrub-woman so displeasing and decrepit, no
stenographer so old and so unattractive, no dish-washer so sodden, that
she does not know, tucked far away in her inner consciousness, perhaps,
that, if the very worst comes and she loses her job, there is the truck
driver or the office clerk, the shaky-legged bar patron on the road to
early locomotor ataxia, or the squint-eyed out-of-town salesman, who can
be counted on to tide her over an emergency--usually for goods

When a man is out of a job and broke, he is flat on his back. His
appetites, his desires cry out for satisfaction exactly as they did when
he had money in his pockets to pay for the satisfaction of these
appetites and these desires.

When a woman loses a job, she has always the sale of her sex to fall
back upon as a last resort.

Please understand that this is in no way a criticism of the conduct of
women. We desire to lay no stigma upon them. We lay no stigma upon any
class or sex or group, for down at bottom, men and women do what they do
because they have to do it. The more we understand the economic and
biological status of any group, the more we see they are compelled to
act, under the circumstances, and in the environment they occupy,
precisely as they do act. In the struggle for existence today the
laurels are only to those who use any and all methods to save

We only want to point out that women =are able= to save themselves because
of their "favored" position in the biological world. Since economic
interest and economic control are at the basis of all social
institutions, we want to show some of the results of this sex monopoly
possessed by women, and required by men.

Every group which possesses anything which is necessary to the health
and well-being of any other group, is bound to be pursued, wooed,
bribed, paid. The monopolistic class, or sex, in turn, learns to
withhold, to barter, to become "uncertain, coy and hard to please," to
enhance and raise the price of her commodity, even though the economic
basis of the transaction be utterly concealed or disguised. All this is
exactly as natural and inevitable as a group of wage workers demanding
all they can get in payment for their labor power, or the land-owner
holding up the farm renters for all the tenants will bear, or the broker
selling to the highest bidder. No one is to be blamed.

The private possession of a commodity necessary to man, the lower cost
of living for women, are the natural causes of lower wages for women
than for men, and explains why women are actually able to live on lower
wages, as a sex, than men.

Few people speak frankly about sex matters today. And still fewer
understand them and their economic basis. The subject of sex is clothed
in pretense. We discuss women philosophically, idealistically, sometimes
from the viewpoint of biology, but never from an economic =and= a
biological standpoint, which is the only scientific basis from which to
regard them.

Everywhere in the animal world except among humankind, the male
possesses the gay and attractive plumage, the color and form to please
the eye. Naturally he should possess them. But this is not so in the
world of man. Here we find the woman decorating herself in the colorful
garb. Woman has ceased to ask, "Is he beautiful?" She asks "What does he
=own=?" or, "How much can he =pay=?"

Men love to dress their women in expensive clothes, to provide them with
luxurious surroundings, because this advertises to the world the fact
that they are able to purchase a superior, i. e., a higher priced
commodity. Women give much time and spend money extravagantly in
articles of conspicuous waste for the simple reason that by so doing
they announce the fact that =they= are finer than other women, higher
priced, of a fancier brand, possessed of better wares.

Everybody knows that the office clerk who aspires to the affections of
an artistically gowned, jewel decked young woman, often spends most of
his wages upon her in the hope of winning her attention. His office
associates may describe her as "fancy," or speak of her as "an expensive
package." And so the twenty dollar-a-week clerk magnifies his "income"
in order to bribe the young lady into "giving herself" to him in
exchange for his name and some sort of life-long support, provided he
can produce it.

How many young wives have learned, to their chagrin, of the deceits thus
practiced upon them by their husbands! Alas! The scenes that are enacted
when it is discovered, after the ceremony, that the diamond engagement
ring is not yet paid for, and that the mahogany furniture in the new
flat so joyously selected by the young bride-elect, was bought upon the
installment plan! That John earns only twenty dollars a week in the
shipping room instead of the fifty a week he had declared, as assistant
manager! Here the man has not paid as promised and every one feels that
the woman has made a "bad bargain."

On the other hand, women disguise the economic basis of the deal in
every possible way; lie, cheat and compete in a life and death struggle
with others of their sex. A thousand illusions, tricks, subtleties,
hypocrisies are employed to cover the bald fact that wares are being
displayed, are being bidden for by other men. The deal is smothered in
chivalrous urbanities and sentimental verbiage. Unnumbered
circumlocutions are resorted to, to conceal the salesmanship of one who
has a commodity to sell.


When certain strong men found themselves able to garner a larger share
of property than their fellows, they rebelled against the communistic
ownership of property, and the state, with the system of =private=
ownership, was evolved, came into being to protect the private owners in
their private ownership =against= the community, or the mass, which
possessed no private property. Wealthy men then began to desire to leave
their fortunes to their own children and so the marriage system, with
theoretical monogamy for both sexes and practical monogamy for wives,
arose. Men of property then felt tolerably certain that their wealth
would descend to their own sons and to the sons of no others.

We are not inclined to believe this was due to the prevalence of any
so-called =paternal= instinct. Paternal instinct is, we suspect, a minus,
rather than a plus, quantity. It seems to us that fathers more often
learn to love their children through following the conduct prescribed by
good form and pretending to love them, or through love of display, pride
or by =association=, than through any "natural tendency."

The almost universality of the maternal instinct is proven by the
peoples in the world today, for scarcely anybody would have a chance
for existence if it were not for the care of the mothers.

Generally the coming of children is a handicap to a woman in the market
in which Nature and the present system have placed her. Where this is
the case, it is here that society, customs and laws speak for the
family, in ways built up, sometimes blindly, sometimes consciously, to
preserve the species, and upon the old biological and economic

It is generally granted that women with children are more conservative
than women without children. We believe this is true only when they and
their children are provided for. When a mother is left with no one to
support her children, she becomes more predatory than other women in the
pursuit of a new provider. Our jails and workhouses are full of
unsuccessful mothers of this class, convicted of crimes against

Mothers are conservative when their children are secure; more predatory
when they are in want. Mothers often compete successfully in making
their wares attractive and in binding the male by habits and
associations that hold him and induce him to continue to pay.

Among men, the possession of, and ability to support a woman in
perpetuity, whom no other may touch, is honorific, a high sign of
display. It announces to the world that such a man is able to hold a
trophy in the struggle for existence. A monogamous wife is, in fact, an
emblem of well-off-ness, and greatly to be desired.

A man does not wish to be one among a corporation of men owning a woman
any more than he desires to be owner of a sixth part of an automobile.
Not because there is anything more intrinsically wrong in purchasing
one-sixth than six-sixths, but because, in a world where the ownership
of private property is the greatest of all good things, individual
ownership denotes respectability, comfort, ability to buy outright.
Hence we have monogamy for wives and mistresses in general, and polygamy
for men.

For if it is honorific to possess one woman, it is still more proof of
one's buying power to support half a dozen different establishments.
Besides, biologically, a man may require many women for the satisfaction
of his desires.


Why do young girls remain chaste before the importunities of their
lovers and, perhaps, against their own desires, if not for the purpose
of forcing or inducing them to offer the sure and permanent price of

Do not all respectable and well-meaning parents (and others not so
respectable) seek gently to guide their daughters into safe matrimonial
harbors where they barter themselves for a respectable meal-ticket, or
an income, presumably, for life? They would be shocked beyond measure if
you told them that back of all their exalted mummeries, they desired to
see their daughters barter their sex for the highest and most enduring
stake rather than to see them selling their labor or brain power for
wages, or selling their sex on the installment, or retail plan, to the
chance purchaser. Yet these are the facts.

And it is this hope of bartering their sex privileges for permanent
support and the title of "wife" that keeps the girls of the working
class in the same category as the small shop-keeper. Nearly every
ordinary woman under ninety hopes some day to find a man who will marry
her and support her for the rest of her days. Instead of fitting herself
for a trade or a profession, young women, and old women, devote their
time to schemes for prevailing upon some man, to pay the ultimate price
and marry them.

And so women, not every individual, but as a =sex=, are ever
individualistic, ever competing among themselves, ever displaying their
wares, ever looking for a possible purchaser of the commodity they have
to sell, ever endeavoring to keep the purchaser satisfied and willing to
pay more.

Human beings are human =animals= however much we may pretend to the
contrary. In the rest of the animal world the fact of the mating season
is frankly acknowledged. It has never been recognized among humankind
within the period of written history. Is it possible that when women are
released from economic and social coercion, this periodic mating
instinct in the woman of the species may assert, or reassert, itself?

Wives and mistresses often submit to their husbands or lovers only
through fear of losing economic security to the ever alert competitor.
It is certain that when all men and all women have gained individual
economic opportunity and security, social institutions will change also.
May it not be possible that the jealousies now prevalent, because of the
economic import or the social standing that the private claim on the
individual brings, may vanish also?


But do not imagine for a single moment that women are inferior to men.
Biology has long since proven that daughters inherit the same natural
tendencies from their fathers and their grandfathers, their mothers and
their grandmothers that sons do. In the case of the girls it is only as
it would be if the sons in a family all inherited a share in the
monopoly of a commodity that half the human race requires.

The son of your butcher may have all the nervous and intellectual
capacities of Thomas Edison, or Dr. E. L. Thorndyke. Perhaps he has.
But the economic environment in which he is born will give him small
opportunity to so prove himself.

Women are intellectually capable of all that men can do. They always
will be because the paternal branch of the family bequeathes to its
daughters the same natural tendencies and capacities that are the
heritage of its sons. It is biologically impossible for sons to inherit
the cumulative capacities of their fathers =alone= just as it is
biologically impossible for the daughters to inherit from their mothers
alone. So that, at birth, it appears that both sexes must remain on an
equal footing so far as heredity is concerned. But the social and
economic environment differentiates. Boys and girls =learn= to differ more
than they differ physically at birth.

We believe it is due to the fact that woman, biologically possessed of a
necessary commodity, something to sell besides her labor power, leans
and reckons upon this ownership, which prevents her, not individually,
but as a sex, from taking an active and permanent part in the affairs
and workshops of the world today. There are exceptions to the rule, of
course. And often, unconsciously, perhaps, she seeks to excel in the
fields occupied by the men who surround her, for the purpose of
enhancing her wares.

It is to be remembered that in nearly all phases of the relations
between men and women, both are almost always at least partially
unconscious of the economic basis of the bargain they make, although,
legally, marriage is a contract. Here society and social institutions
protect the possible future mothers of the race.

We are in no way denying the existence of affection between the sexes.
We see undoubted instances of self-sacrifice (in the economic sense) on
the part of women everywhere. We are not gainsaying these. We only
claim that the root of the relation of the sexes in America is today the
economic basis of buyers and sellers of a commodity and that this basis
of sex, sold as a commodity, affects every phase of our social life, and
all of our social institutions, and that we fail to recognize these
economic roots because of the leaves upon the social tree.

Why, do you imagine, the woman who brings to a penniless husband, not
only herself but a fortune as well, is looked down upon in many
countries? Why is the woman of the streets, who spends her sex earnings
upon her lover, scorned universally? Is it not because both are
unconsciously violating the =code=, or the trade "understandings," in
=giving= not only of themselves, but their substance as well? These women
are selling below the market, or scabbing on the job.


It is customary to speak of Youth as the period of rebellion or revolt.
But to us it seems to be the normal age of conquest. Youth is the
world's eternal and undaunted conqueror. No matter what the odds, no
matter how slim the chances of success in any undertaking, Youth dares.
Experience and wisdom =know=, fear and hesitate. Youth rushes in
and--sometimes--finds a way.

People speak of the colossal egotism of Youth. It is not egotism; it is
unfathomable ignorance. The youth knows neither himself, the world nor
his adversaries. He is unafraid because he does not know the strength of
the forces he would conquer. But society learns from the threshings
about of its individuals. And it is the young who thresh about. Mailed
in their own ignorance, and propelled by their own marvelous energy, the
young go forth to conquer. And so the world learns many things.

Youth rebels only when it is thwarted in entering the lists and may then
turn the flood of its activities into channels of rebellion or revolt
against authority. The boy revolts when his father declines to permit
him to accomplish the impossible, to invent, discover, explore, to
overwhelm. It seems to him that if he received encouragement and help
instead of censure at home, the son of the house would soon be
recognized by the world as one of the Great Ones of the Earth.

When he finds his talents unappreciated, he usually decides to write a
book that will influence the whole future course of human events, or a
novel that will alter dynasties and change social systems; or he decides
to become a powerful political leader, or the silver-tongued orator of
the times. Thwarted youth may aspire to become the world's greatest
rebel, or the most heroic victim of despotic authority. Even in
rebellion youth aspires to conquer the heights, though it be through the
depths. A boy finds consolation in planning to become the world's
greatest hero or martyr when he is thwarted in becoming an epoch-making
inventor, or discoverer. This on the male side of the house.

The daughter aspires to beauty, lovely clothes, charm, or to stardom on
the theatrical or operatic stage, achievements and characteristics which
mean popularity and the ultimate disposal of her wares to the highest
available bidder.

Listen to a group of boys talking among themselves. You will probably
add some useful knowledge to your mental equipment, for you will hear
them discussing feats in civil engineering, problems in electricity,
mechanics, physics, chemistry, surgery, as well as events in the world
of sports. On the other hand, the conversations among girls are almost
entirely on the subject of boys, men, clothes and the theatre.

The psychology of the sexes in youth is totally different. The ideas of
the average young man are those of one who expects to become some day a
=producer= or at least a =worker=; the ideas of the average young woman
are those of one who =expects= and =intends= (for here, too, Youth sees
only personal victory) to rise into the leisure, non-producing or
=supported= class.

The small boy sent forth to play with his comrades with his hair done up
in curls by a fond mama, would encounter the jeers of the whole
neighborhood. From babyhood, the ribbons, curls, frills and silks are
for the girls, who are thereby rendered deeply conscious of their
appearance and taught above all things to keep themselves clean and
"looking nice."

Nothing is sacred from the invasion of small boys, who climb in, and
under and over all obstacles to discover what makes the wheels go
around, while the small girls sit about and take care of their clothes
and learn to count them of supreme importance.

And the matter of clothes =is= a vital one to the woman of today. Clothes
are the frame that enhances the picture as well as its price tag; they
are the carton wrapping the package in the show window, the case that
best displays the jewel for sale within.

All our social institutions encourage girls and young women, and all
women up to the age of ninety, or more, in believing that it is the
supreme good for a woman to make the best possible matrimonial bargain.
On the stage, in our press, and pulpit, in the books and magazines
produced for the consumption of the young people in this country,
marriage is nearly always represented as the safe, ultimate and
greatly-to-be-desired haven for a woman.

Hence, young women, intent upon securing the best the world has to
offer, rarely take any sort of work seriously. They regard jobs as
merely temporary conveniences, or inconveniences.

The wise employer hires ugly women stenographers, when he cannot afford
to engage men, because he knows they usually possess more brains than
their lovely sisters, and because they remain longer. The beautiful
woman sees no need for intelligence nor for understanding because she
has always been able to outstrip her less attractive competitors in
making the best match and securing the rich husbands. And so her
neurones rarely "connect," or react, except to stimuli pertaining to
things that will enhance her charms and increase her selling price.

The young man expects to accomplish something in the world, to earn much
money, or "high position," in order to be able to marry the most
charming girl. The "most charming girl," if she be temporarily forced to
earn her own living, =expects= to find somebody who will marry her, give
her more luxuries than she has been accustomed to, and lift her far
above her companions. She hopes to become a member of the leisure class
even if she never attains it.

Arnold Bennett says that men usually marry through the desire to mate,
while women marry for economic reasons. It seems to us that this is
often true.

Women are =potential= parasites even if they never become real ones, and
this is the gist of the matter we are discussing. Why are nearly all
small farmers reactionary, individualistic, distrustful, competitive?
Because they hope some day to become gentleman farmers. Why are most
small business men narrow, egoistic, conservative? For the reason that
they hope one day to become men of Big Business. The young woman in
America today possesses the same psychology. Being young, she not only
=hopes=, she =expects=, to rise into the leisure class when some young man
asks her for the privilege of supporting her through life.

We are making no claim that the lot of millions of housekeeping mothers,
married to working men, is more enviable than is the condition of their
husbands. We merely wish to point out that millions of women,
potentially, actually, or psychologically, =are= "of the leisure class,"
and that =fact= and =expectation= keep women, as a sex, allied to the
forces of reaction. When a woman is competing in a life and death
struggle among a score of other young women, to make a permanent legal
bargain which entails the promise of an income or support for life, she
has little leisure or energy to spare in making over, or revolutionizing
the present social system.

The mind of the average woman today is that of the petty shop-keeper.
Entertaining, ofttimes, impossible dreams, these dreams, are,
nevertheless, productive of a conservative and bourgeois ideology of a
life of leisure and non-productiveness.

It was the machine process in production that permitted the rise of a
parasitical, or leisure, class. As long as both men and women were
forced to produce things in order to live, an exploiting class, that
lives off the labor of others, was impossible. But as spinning, weaving,
canning, soap-making, butter, bread, candle, clothes-making and a
hundred other functions formerly performed by women in the home, were
absorbed into the factories, the young girls often followed the old task
into the new plant. This was also true of the boys on the farms, who
turned toward the cities and entered factories, where hogs were
slaughtered, farm machines manufactured, or where shoes were made.

But the farm youths expected to become permanent producers in the shops
and mills; they sought to become able to support a woman, and, perhaps,
children. The girls entering the factories, on the other hand, did so to
earn money to help pay their expenses at home until they married, or in
order to buy gay and expensive clothes, unconsciously, perhaps, for
advertising as well as decorative purposes.


Undoubtedly the early savages drew together for self-protection against
their forest enemies. And out of this necessity grew the love of
society. Man became a gregarious animal.

Promiscuity in sexual intercourse among these herds was another factor
for holding the tribes, or groups together.

In his "Origin of the Family," Frederick Engels says:

"The development of the family is founded on the continual contraction
of the circle, originally comprising the whole tribe, within which
marital intercourse between both sexes was general. By the continual
exclusion, first of near, then of ever remoter relatives, including
finally even those who were simply related legally, all group marriage
becomes practically impossible. At last only one couple, temporarily and
loosely united, remains ... even from this we may infer how little the
sexual love of the individual in the modern sense of the word had to do
with the origin of monogamy."

Any casual student of sociology can prove that marriage and the family
have not always been what they are today. Lewis J. Morgan, in his
well-known work, "Ancient Society," says:

"When the fact is accepted that the family has passed through four
successive forms, and is now in a fifth, the question at once arises
whether this form can be permanent in the future. The only answer that
can be given is that it must advance as society advances, and change as
society changes, even as it has done in the past. It is the creature of
the social system and will reflect its culture."

Engels says:

"We have three main forms of the family, corresponding in general to the
three main stages of human development. For savagery group marriage, for
barbarism the pairing family, for civilization, monogamy supplemented by
adultery and prostitution."


"A certain pairing for a longer or shorter term took place even during
the group marriage or still earlier. A man had his principal wife among
other women, and he was to her the principal husband among others....
Such a habitual pairing would gain ground the more the gens developed
and the more numerous the classes of "brothers" and "sisters" became who
were not permitted to marry one another....

"By this increasing complication of marriage restrictions, group
marriage became more and more impossible; it was displaced by the
pairing family.

"The communistic household, in which most or all the women belong to one
and the same gens, while the husbands come from different gentes, is the
cause and foundation of the general and widespread supremacy of women in
primeval times.

"It is one of the most absurd notions derived from eighteenth century
enlightenment that in the beginning of society woman was the slave of
man. Among all savages and barbarians of the lower and middle stages,
sometimes even of the higher stage, women not only have freedom but are
held in high esteem."

In writing of the pairing family among the Iroquois, Arthur Wright says:

"As to their families, at a time when they still lived in their old long
houses (communistic households of several families) ... a certain clan
(gens) always reigned so that the women chose their husbands from other
clans. The female part generally ruled the house; the provisions were
held in common; but woe to the luckless husband or lover who was too
indolent or too clumsy to contribute his share to the common stock. No
matter how many children or how much private property he had in the
house, he was liable at any moment to receive a hint to gather up his
belongings and get out. And he could not dare to venture any resistance;
the house was made too hot for him and he had no other choice but to
return to his own clan or, as was mostly the case, to look for another
wife in some other clan. The women were the dominating power in the
clans and everywhere else."

Bachofen discovered that in the communistic household, the supremacy of
woman was caused by the fact that the women all belonged to the same
gens while the men came from different gentes.

During this period the children belonged to the same gens as the mother
and took her name. At this time man's tools and weapons were yet crude
and they were his only possession. The woman owned the household goods
and utensils, the value of which for the preservation and preparation of
food was very great.

Bachofen has shown how women were strong factors in the demand for
monogamy through this and the earlier periods.

Man learned to till the soil and to domesticate animals; he captured
enemies from neighboring tribes and learned to make slaves instead of
food of them. And the conqueror became a master, and the slave an
instrument of production. It was the men who were lucky enough to be
first to enslave the enemy, to acquire more precious metals and larger
flocks, who evolved the state, to protect them against the commune, or
the mass, in their ownership of private property.

At the death of the father his own children were disinherited, in the
matriarchy. As increasing wealth strengthened the position of man, he
began to desire to overthrow the old maternal law and to establish a new
one that would permit inheritance in favor of his children. And so
monogamy became the law, and descent was traced by male instead of
female lineage. Engels says that "the downfall of maternal law was the
historic defeat of the female sex."

In order to insure the faithfulness of the wife, and the reliability of
paternal lineage, the women were given absolutely into the power of the
men. Husbands had power of life and death over their wives. In certain
countries today it is only the man who can dissolve the marriage bonds
and cast off his wife.

But gradually the old standards which were applied to men and women are
changing. New laws are written on our statute books. Civil laws
protecting male rule apply only to the wealthy classes and their
intercourse with the working class. In sex relations the sentiment, in
America particularly, has swung around in favor of woman.

Undoubtedly her growing economic independence, arising from her ability
to support herself in shop and factory, has had some influence on this
social attitude. Also, one can imagine the feelings of the tax-payers of
a small community when the father of several small children deserted his
wife and the expenses of supporting his family devolved upon them. It
would call for little imagination to picture these respectable members
of society scrambling to pass laws for the punishment of the errant one
and to force him back to his wife and support-producing labor. But,
basically, the legal favoritism which has arisen in the past thirty
years in America, is probably due to a desire on the part of the
employing class to protect and make secure the mothers of children for
the sake of the future labor supply. Only recently a great national
reform body, dedicated to child welfare, declared frankly that there are
"no illegitimate" children; that the misdeeds of parents can remove
nothing from the legality of birth and that unmarried mothers must be
granted some legal status and a measure of economic security for the
sake of the future supply of labor.

It is evident, whether due to one cause or to many, that the law, which
usually protects those who possess bestowable favors, has gradually
built up strong protective measures for women. Among the rich, men and
women find protection for their property in the laws, according to the
measure of their economic power, but among the wage working and middle
classes, woman occupies a privileged legal position.

As long as a husband possesses anything, his wife may be certain of
support or an "adequate" income at least. The husband may be punished
for his lack of possessions, or his failure to produce an income.


Of course, every one knows that marriage is a legal contract; but whom
does it bind? Certainly not the woman, nor any woman in America. For she
may easily free herself and even divorce and penalize her husband if she
is dissatisfied either with him or his earnings; or she may evade all
the obligations she is supposed to meet, almost always with absolute

Whatever she may do or leave undone in the marriage relation, if it but
be with sufficient pretense and discretion, in America, at least, the
world and the courts absolve her from all blame.

If she be discreet, she may entertain lovers galore; she may refuse to
perform any of the theoretical duties of the home; she may refuse to
bear children or to surrender to her husband, without censure, and often
without the knowledge of the world. If she be addicted to drunkenness,
people will divine that her husband must have treated her brutally; if
she be seen with other men, folks suspect that he neglects her.

If her husband seeks satisfaction for his desires elsewhere, she may
divorce him and secure alimony; if he deserts her the law will return
him to her side, if it can find him. If he fails to bring home the
wherewithall to provide for her, she may have him sent to jail. If she
discovers that he is getting the affection and the sex life which she
has denied him, outside of his home, and if she buys a revolver and
murders him in cold blood, the jury will exonerate her.

If a wife deserts her husband and her children, the law does not make
her a criminal; for wife abandonment, the husband is held criminally

No matter what the offense of the woman, custom and public opinion
demand that every "decent" man permit his wife to accuse him on "just
grounds" and to secure the divorce and call on the law to force him to
pay her alimony for the rest of their natural lives.

No matter what the provocation, legally or sentimentally, no man can be
exonerated for killing a woman. No matter how little the provocation,
legally or sentimentally, any woman may kill almost any man, and the
jury will render a verdict of Not Guilty. She has only to say that he
"deceived her."

A husband may become crippled or invalided and there is no law even
suggesting that it is the duty of his wife to support him; most
communities would lynch a man who neglected a sick or helpless wife, and
the law would certainly deal most harshly with him. The law throws no
safeguards about the man, to protect him against his wife's failure to
live up to her theoretical marital obligations, to protect him when he
is ill, or in the enjoyment of separate maintenance, alimony, or against
non-support or abandonment.

The laws today protect the owners of property and the economically
powerful. The more economic power a group, or a class, or a sex
possesses, the more the state throws the mantle of its protective laws
about it. Women are owners of a commodity for which men are buyers or
barterers, and our modern laws protect woman at the expense of man.

In his "Origin of the Family," Engels says:

"The supremacy of man in marriage is simply the consequence of his
economic superiority and will fall with the abolition of the latter."

In a large per cent of the American homes, man no longer possesses any
economic superiority. He has four vital needs to satisfy while woman has
only three, and woman possesses, for barter, for sale, or for gift, the
wherewithall to satisfy one of these.

Few men any longer possess any property worthy of the name; hence, they
are forced to sell their labor power for wages to keep from starving.
And men are not always able to secure jobs.

The propertyless woman today is rarely reduced to starvation. If the
price (or wages) offered for the sale of her laboring power are
unsatisfactory, she may always supplement them through the barter or
sale of her sex. That there are no women hoboes in the civilized world
today is incontestable proof of the superiority of the economic status
of woman over man.


We still hear people talk about the relations of the sexes, the family
and marriage, as though these human and social relationships had always
been and were bound to remain what they are today, whereas they have
undergone far-reaching modifications within the period of our own lives.

Every change taking place in industry is always bound to send out
infinite ramifications through every branch of our social institutions.
The increasing specialization in industry, drawing more and more of the
household arts out of the home and into factory, mill and shops, and the
following of the jobs by women into the mills and factories, thus
freeing woman from economic dependence on man, has already colored
every branch of our social fabric. Having become more independent, woman
has grown more exacting. She demands a better bargain when she marries,
or, refusing to barter, she chooses a mate.

In the early days of America, when the home was the economic unit, and
almost all industry was performed in the home and on the farm, women
were economically dependent on men. Then woman's place was undoubtedly
in the home, since there was no place else where she could earn a
living. Modern industry has changed all that.

Women compete for jobs with men today, force down wages to a lower level
and demand more from men before they will marry. And yet we see $25.00 a
week stenographers giving up their positions to barter themselves,
presumably for life, to $35.00 a week clerks or salesmen, rarely because
of the mating instinct, but usually because of the personal triumph
this means in the competition between members of the sex, and the
social approbation which marriage brings.

The only certain thing the wisest man may say about our social
institutions is that they have changed in the past and that they will
continue to change, or be modified, or to pass away, in the future. In
one short year, the war has altered some of our old institutions beyond
recall. We believe that a continuation of the war for a considerable
period will mean economic and social changes that will rock the world.
And out of the storm and stress of things we doubt very much whether any
of our existing social institutions will emerge intact--if it emerge at

The family as it is known in America today, the marriage contract, the
relations of the sexes are bound to alter as they reflect changed
economic conditions. Some of the old "pillars of the social structure"
in Russia have already crumbled away.

Women are becoming ever more necessary and important in the role they
play in industry. With this growing economic importance, and with the
increasing need of capitalism for more children to augment the labor and
military supply, the power of women will probably increase marvelously
during the next few years. Governments will reward the surrender of
woman to man, while employers compete among themselves for her labor
power. Much will be offered to women.

This, we believe, for only a brief period, for we cannot but think that
the final results of this war--the fruit of the present system of
production and distribution--will be the utter collapse of the system
itself--making way for a New Society wherein the only aristocracy shall
be that of Labor and of Merit.

Undoubtedly, in the New Society, conditions will be very much changed
for women. But they will also be greatly changed for men. What the
future sex relations will be, we do not pretend to know. Perhaps the
statement by Frederick Engels in his "Origin of the Family," is as good
a forecast as any. He says:

"What we may anticipate about the adjustment of sexual relations after
the impending downfall of capitalist production is mainly of a negative
nature and mostly confined to elements that will disappear. But what
will be added? That will be decided after a new generation has come to
maturity: a race of men who never in their lives have had any occasion
for buying with money or other economic means of power the surrender of
a woman; a race of women who have never had any occasion for
surrendering to any man for any other reason but love, or for refusing
to surrender to their lover from fear of economic consequences. Once
such people are in the world, they will not give a moment's thought to
what we today believe should be their course. They will follow their
own practice and fashion their own public opinion about the individual
practice of every person--only this and nothing more."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Women As Sex Vendors - or, Why Women Are Conservative (Being a View of the Economic - Status of Woman)" ***

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