Each sex has the instincts, emotions and mental powers related to the kind of life that it will have to lead, and the corresponding limitation in selecting and rejecting. For instance, the male as the active participator in coition is the wooer and initiator; he has to awaken desire for himself in the female, and finds his pleasure in these roles. The female finds pleasure in being captivated, in surrendering herself, in yielding to initiation, provided that she approves of the male.
In his role of initiator, man develops boldness, leadership, the habit of dominance, responsibility, originality, independence. In her role of passive participator, woman develops shyness, prudery and coyness, sequaciousness, irresponsibility, imitativeness, dependence. (These are the oldest psychical consequences of sexual dimorphism and probably antecede by millions of years the qualities of mind which are associated with parenthood.)
The active role in procreation leads to the rivalry of other males, and develops courage, fighting powers and a marked tendency to violent jealousy in the male, particularly when he is old. But the female, finding her sex-adaptations normally arranged for her, will not need to fight, nor will she develop courage and jealousy to the same extent as the male at this stage.
Happiness will be pursued by each sex in trying to fulfill the specialized functions that derive from its own role. And if the object be to make either sex miserable, this will be best achieved by compelling them to break bounds. Sexual desire is thus the need to perform a specialized function, and love for the opposite sex is attachment to the sexual object which makes this performance possible. Happiness comes with performance.
Each sex will find pleasure in the adaptations peculiar to its own role, and will pursue happiness by seeking those adaptations. The female will find pleasure in exhibitionism, while the male will find pleasure in voyeurism or, to put in plainly, in feasting his eyes. If the wooing has been successful—that is to say, if the female has been captivated—each sex will display its instincts to the full. There will be increased preliminary exhibitionism on the part of the female, and a corresponding increase of pleasure for her. In the same way there will be increased male voyeurism, and a like increase of pleasure for him. There will be a short period of increasing familiarity, the play of the sexes, which may be confined merely to secondary sexual characteristics. This will all be natural and clean. It has its basis deep down in the ancestors of the mammalia, and we cannot now eradicate the instincts that urge us to it. And during this time, while eagerness and pleasure will increase for both, barriers will break down. Each will then find further and greater joy in his or her particular part in the consummation. The passive, yielding role, if it is ably directed by the male, will be enjoyed the female, while the violent active role, if he is versed in the arts of life, will be enjoyed by the male, and each will be grateful and proud . . .
History, science, fiction, the lives of all great peoples, the experience of every one of us—evidence of every kind and from every corner of the compass tells us convincingly how fundamental and how wonderful this relationship is. Some of the greatest and noblest acts of heroism have been performed precisely for the sake of this love which unites two people of different sexes, and examples could be multiplied ad infinitum to show the extremes of devotion, fidelity and happiness which it inspires. (Man: An Indictment, pp. 15–18)
The history of most cultures seems to teach the following moral: that the relation of the sexes is always a fluctuating balance of male and female elements, and that at every stage in social development the bisexual components of each man and each woman tend to assert themselves to the utmost of their capacity, within the limits allowed by the values and the customs of the people. The check upon the expression by the male of his latent femininity thus consists of: (a) virile values, (b) masculine pursuits, (c) the single-minded preoccupation with male problems, and (d) the process of selection, which, operating through the taste imposed by the values, tends to keep down the proportion of males with prominent feminine characteristics. Thus the femininity of the male, where such checks exist, becomes what psychologists term recessive and may remain latent for centuries.
The check upon the expression by the female of her latent masculinity consists of: (a) her male environment, (b) the feminine pursuits, (c) the single-minded preoccupation with female problems, and (d) the process of selection, which, operating through the taste imposed by values, tends to keep down the proportion of females with pronounced masculine characteristics. Thus the masculinity of the female, where such checks exist, also becomes recessive and may remain latent for centuries.
Surrounded by males who maintain masculine standards, and who are capable of giving the highest expression to masculine ability and taste, the male elements in women tend to grow furtive, timid and averse from expression. A woman then knows that she only make herself ridiculous by trying to measure her rudimentary maleness against masculinity of the full-fledged brand. In an environment of masculine men, therefore, her femininity tends to be expressed with boldness, and selection operates in favour of females with only latent masculinity.
The moment, however, she finds, as she does in periods of male degeneracy, that the expression of her latent masculinity does not make her appear ridiculous—that is to say, that the amount of her masculinity can, without appearing absurd by comparison, be measured against the masculinity of her menfolk—there is no longer anything to make her male elements recessive, and her maleness is likely to become developed at the cost of her femaleness, while the process of selection will operate in favour of a multiplication of females with excessive masculinity, and vice versa.
This does not mean that the female with strong male elements is necessarily to be deprecated. For, provided her male environment is always sufficiently beyond her in masculinity to make her male side recessive, no harm is likely to arise, and the multiplication of maleish women then contributes without evil results to the cultivation of a virile people. This happened in Sparta and was successful from the ninth to the fourth century BC without the appearance of a woman’s movement, because until the fourth century there was no marked degeneration of the male.
It also happened in England. And the presence of a large proportion of masculine women in our midst today is not in itself a proof of the degeneracy of our men. For as a virile culture we required masculine women who would not introduce too much of the feminine element into our stock. It is the present unadaptedness of these women, their present free expression of their maleness at the cost of their femaleness, which is a sign of male degeneracy, because it means that their menfolk have not remained sufficiently beyond them in male characters to make their masculinity recessive.
The question, therefore, is whether there are always signs of masculine degeneracy, accompanied by female virility, in societies where women tend to dominate. The test is whether the male elements in the woman are being freely expressed. That there were such signs in ancient Athens, Rome and eighteenth-century France, I have already shown. The fact that the hetairai of Athens consorted with the philosophers, and instructed so famous a man as Socrates, is a comment at once upon the Socratic philosophy and upon the hetairai, while the historical proofs we have of the wanton cruelty of Roman matrons in the period of the decline, and of the viragoes that Rome produced during the Empire, leave us in no doubt that the male elements in the Roman women of the first century AD had long ceased to be recessive.
Cruelty in woman, which is the morbid expression of that part of her male elements that includes sadism, is always a sign of unrestrained bisexuality, and although it is by no means the only sign it occurs again and again in periods of masculine decline. The diabolical cruelty of the women of the French Revolution revolted even the male terrorists themselves, and we must not forget that, since extravagant and maudlin humanitarianism is only an inverted and socially permitted form of sadism, the display of excessive humanitarianism in modern England is really as suspicious as was the cruelty of the later Roman matrons. (Man: An Indictment, pp. 87–91)
From The Lost Philosopher: The Best of Anthony M. Ludovici, ed. John V. Day (Berkeley, Cal.: ETSF, 2003), available for purchase here.
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