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Table of contents
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.1
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.2
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.3
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.4
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.5
THE CONQUEST OF THE VENEREAL DISEASES-8.6
FOOTNOTES
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.1
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.2
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.3
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.4
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.5
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.6
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.7
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.8
SEXUAL MORALITY-9.9
MARRIAGE-10.1
MARRIAGE-10.2
MARRIAGE-10.3
MARRIAGE-10.4
MARRIAGE-10.5
MARRIAGE-10.6
MARRIAGE-10.7
MARRIAGE-10.8
MARRIAGE-10.9
MARRIAGE-10.10
MARRIAGE-10.11
MARRIAGE-10.12
FOOTNOTES
THE ART OF LOVE-11.1
THE ART OF LOVE-11.2
THE ART OF LOVE-11.3
THE ART OF LOVE-11.4
THE ART OF LOVE-11.5
THE ART OF LOVE-11.6
THE ART OF LOVE-11.7
THE ART OF LOVE-11.8
THE ART OF LOVE-11.9
THE ART OF LOVE-11.10
THE ART OF LOVE-11.11
FOOTNOTES
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.1
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.2
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.3
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.4
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.5
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.6
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.7
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.8
THE SCIENCE OF PROCREATION-12.9
FOOTNOTES
INDEX OF AUTHORS

of women. (It has been necessary to discuss this question in 

dealing with "Love and Pain" in the third volume of these 

_Studies_.) It seems certainly clear that the notion that women 

are especially prone to self-sacrifice has little biological 

validity. Self-sacrifice by compulsion, whether physical or moral 

compulsion, is not worthy of the name; when it is deliberate it 

is simply the sacrifice of a lesser good for the sake of a 

greater good. Doubtless a man who eats a good dinner may be said 

to "sacrifice" his hunger. Even within the sphere of traditional 

morality a woman who sacrifices her "honor" for the sake of her 

love to a man has, by her "sacrifice," gained something that she 

values more. "What a triumph it is to a woman," a woman has said, 

"to give pleasure to a man she loves!" And in a morality on a 

sound biological basis no "sacrifice" is here called for. It may 

rather be said that the biological laws of courtship 

fundamentally demand self-sacrifice of the male rather than of 

the female. Thus the lioness, according to Gerard the 

lion-hunter, gives herself to the most vigorous of her lion 

wooers; she encourages them to fight among themselves for 

superiority, lying on her belly to gaze at the combat and lashing 

her tail with delight. Every female is wooed by many males, but 

she only accepts one; it is not the female who is called upon for 

erotic self-sacrifice, but the male. That is indeed part of the 

divine compensation of Nature, for since the heavier part of the 

burden of sex rests on the female, it is fitting that she should 

be less called upon for renunciation. 

 

It thus seems probable that the increase of moral responsibility may tend 

to make a woman's conduct more intelligible to others;[310] it will in any 

case certainly tend to make it less the concern of others. This is 

emphatically the case as regards the relations of sex. In the past men 

have been invited to excel in many forms of virtue; only one virtue has 

been open to women. That is no longer possible. To place upon a woman the 

main responsibility for her own sexual conduct is to deprive that conduct 

of its conspicuously public character as a virtue or a vice. Sexual union, 

for a woman as much as for a man, is a physiological fact; it may also be 

a spiritual fact; but it is not a social act. It is, on the contrary, an 

act which, beyond all other acts, demands retirement and mystery for its 

accomplishment. That indeed is a general human, almost zooelogical, fact. 

Moreover, this demand of mystery is more especially made by woman in 

virtue of her greater modesty which, we have found reason to believe, has 

a biological basis. It is not until a child is born or conceived that the 

community has any right to interest itself in the sexual acts of its 

members. The sexual act is of no more concern to the community than any 

other private physiological act. It is an impertinence, if not an outrage, 

to seek to inquire into it. But the birth of a child is a social act. Not 

what goes into the womb but what comes out of it concerns society. The 

community is invited to receive a new citizen. It is entitled to demand 

that that citizen shall be worthy of a place in its midst and that he 

shall be properly introduced by a responsible father and a responsible 

mother. The whole of sexual morality, as Ellen Key has said, revolves 

round the child. 

 

 


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