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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

the age of sexual maturity which occurs much earlier, both 

physically and psychically, and is determined in women by a very 

precise biological event: the completion of puberty in the onset 

of menstruation. Among peoples living under natural conditions in 

all parts of the world it is recognized that a girl becomes 

sexually a woman at puberty; at that epoch she receives her 

initiation into adult life and becomes a wife and a mother. To 

declare that the act of intercourse with a woman who, by the 

natural instinct of mankind generally, is regarded as old enough 

for all the duties of womanhood, is a criminal act of rape, 

punishable by imprisonment for life, can only be considered an 

abuse of language, and, what is worse, an abuse of law, even if 

we leave all psychological and moral considerations out of the 

question, for it deprives the conception of rape of all that 

renders it naturally and properly revolting. 

 

The sound view in this question is clearly the view that it is 

the girl's puberty which constitutes the criterion of the man's 

criminality in sexually approaching her. In the temperate regions 

of Europe and North America the average age of the appearance of 

menstruation, the critical moment in the establishment of 

complete puberty, is fifteen (see, e.g., Havelock Ellis, _Man and 

Woman_, Ch. XI; the facts are set forth at length in Kisch's 

_Sexual Life of Woman_, 1909). Therefore it is reasonable that 

the act of an adult man in having sexual connection with a girl 

under sixteen, with or without her consent, should properly be a 

criminal act, severely punishable. In those lands where the 

average age of puberty is higher or lower, the age of consent 

should be raised or lowered accordingly. (Bruno Meyer, arguing 

against any attempt to raise the age of consent above sixteen, 

considers that the proper age of consent is generally fourteen, 

for, as he rightly insists, the line of division is between the 

ripe and the unripe personality, and while the latter should be 

strictly preserved from the sphere of sexuality, only voluntary, 

not compulsory, influence should be brought to bear on the 

former. _Sexual-Probleme_, Ap., 1909.) 

 

If we take into our view the wider considerations of psychology, 

morality, and law, we shall find ample justification for this 

point of view. We have to remember that a girl, during all the 

years of ordinary school life, is always more advanced, both 

physically and psychically, than a boy of the same age, and we 

have to recognize that this precocity covers her sexual 

development; for even though it is true, on the average, that 

active sexual desire is not usually aroused in women until a 

somewhat later age, there is also truth in the observation of Mr. 

Thomas Hardy (_New Review_, June, 1894): "It has never struck me 

that the spider is invariably male and the fly invariably 

female." Even, therefore, when sexual intercourse takes place 

between a girl and a youth somewhat older than herself, she is 

likely to be the more mature, the more self-possessed, and the 

more responsible of the two, and often the one who has taken the 

more active part in initiating the act. (This point has been 

discussed in "The Sexual Impulse in Women" in vol. iii of these 

_Studies_.) It must also be remembered that when a girl has once 

reached the age of puberty, and put on all the manner and habits 

as well as the physical development of a woman, it is no longer 


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