Historical Reprints Health Related Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume 6

Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume 6

Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume 6
Catalog # SKU1331
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Havelock Ellis


Studies In The
Psychology of Sex

Volume VI

Sex In Relation To Society

Havelock Ellis

In discussing sexual questions which are very largely matters of social hygiene we shall thus still be preserving the psychological point of view. Such a point of view in relation to these matters is not only legitimate but necessary. --- Some ask us why we would republish a series that might be outdated. Why? Earlier writings on this subject were not purely sterile and medicinal in content, but included a spiritual aspect that modern psychology and medicine overlook. These include a view of romanticism lacking in most modern books on these subjects.


A man's sexual nature, like all else that is most essential in him, is rooted in a soil that was formed very long before his birth. In this, as in every other respect, he draws the elements of his life from his ancestors, however new the recombination may be and however greatly it may be modified by subsequent conditions.

A man's destiny stands not in the future but in the past. That, rightly considered, is the most vital of all vital facts. Every child thus has a right to choose his own ancestors. Naturally he can only do this vicariously, through his parents. It is the most serious and sacred duty of the future father to choose one half of the ancestral and hereditary character of his future child; it is the most serious and sacred duty of the future mother to make a similar choice.1 In choosing each other they have between them chosen the whole ancestry of their child. They have determined the stars that will rule his fate.

In the past that fateful determination has usually been made helplessly, ignorantly, almost unconsciously. It has either been guided by an instinct which, on the whole, has worked out fairly well, or controlled by economic interests of the results of which so much cannot be said, or left to the risks of lower than bestial chances which can produce nothing but evil. In the future we cannot but have faith-for all the hope of humanity must rest on that faith-that a new guiding impulse, reinforcing natural instinct and becoming in time an inseparable accompaniment of it, will lead civilized man on his racial course. Just as in the past the race has, on the whole, been moulded by a natural, and in part sexual, selection, that was unconscious of itself and ignorant of the ends it made towards, so in the future the race will be moulded by deliberate selection, the creative energy of Nature becoming self-conscious in the civilized brain of man. This is not a faith which has its source in a vague hope.

The problems of the individual life are linked on to the fate of the racial life, and again and again we shall find as we ponder the individual questions we are here concerned with, that at all points they ultimately converge towards this same racial end.

Since we have here, therefore, to follow out the sexual relationships of the individual as they bear on society, it will be convenient at this point to put aside the questions of ancestry and to accept the individual as, with hereditary constitution already determined, he lies in his mother's womb.

It is the mother who is the child's supreme parent. At various points in zoölogical evolution it has seemed possible that the functions that we now know as those of maternity would be largely and even equally shared by the male parent. Nature has tried various experiments in this direction, among the fishes, for instance, and even among birds. But reasonable and excellent as these experiments were, and though they were sufficiently sound to secure their perpetuation unto this day, it remains true that it was not along these lines that Man was destined to emerge.

Among all the mammal predecessors of Man, the male is an imposing and important figure in the early days of courtship, but after conception has once been secured the mother plays the chief part in the racial life. The male must be content to forage abroad and stand on guard when at home in the ante-chamber of the family. When she has once been impregnated the female animal angrily rejects the caresses she had welcomed so coquettishly before, and even in Man the place of the father at the birth of his child is not a notably dignified or comfortable one. Nature accords the male but a secondary and comparatively humble place in the home, the breeding-place of the race; he may compensate himself if he will, by seeking adventure and renown in the world outside. The mother is the child's supreme parent, and during the period from conception to birth the hygiene of the future man can only be affected by influences which work through her.

Fundamental and elementary as is the fact of the predominant position of the mother in relation to the life of the race, incontestable as it must seem to all those who have traversed the volumes of these Studies up to the present point, it must be admitted that it has sometimes been forgotten or ignored. In the great ages of humanity it has indeed been accepted as a central and sacred fact. In classic Rome at one period the house of the pregnant woman was adorned with garlands, and in Athens it was an inviolable sanctuary where even the criminal might find shelter.

Even amid the mixed influences of the exuberantly vital times which preceded the outburst of the Renaissance, the ideally beautiful woman, as pictures still show, was the pregnant woman. But it has not always been so. At the present time, for instance, there can be no doubt that we are but beginning to emerge from a period during which this fact was often disputed and denied, both in theory and in practice, even by women themselves. This was notably the case both in England and America, and it is probably owing in large part to the unfortunate infatuation which led women in these lands to follow after masculine ideals that at the present moment the inspirations of progress in women's movements come mainly to-day from the women of other lands. Motherhood and the future of the race were systematically belittled.

Paternity is but a mere incident, it was argued, in man's life: why should maternity be more than a mere incident in woman's life? In England, by a curiously perverted form of sexual attraction, women were so fascinated by the glamour that surrounded men that they desired to suppress or forget all the facts of organic constitution which made them unlike men, counting their glory as their shame, and sought the same education as men, the same occupations as men, even the same sports. As we know, there was at the origin an element of rightness in this impulse.2 It was absolutely right in so far as it was a claim for freedom from artificial restriction, and a demand for economic independence. But it became mischievous and absurd when it developed into a passion for doing, in all respects, the same things as men do; how mischievous and how absurd we may realize if we imagine men developing a passion to imitate the ways and avocations of women.

Freedom is only good when it is a freedom to follow the laws of one's own nature; it ceases to be freedom when it becomes a slavish attempt to imitate others, and would be disastrous if it could be successful.

590+ pages - 8 x 6.5 inches SoftCover


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