Too Long; Didn't ReadProstitution in Relation to Our Marriage System—Marriage and Morality—The Definition of the Term "Morality"—Theoretical Morality—Its Division Into Traditional Morality and Ideal Morality—Practical Morality—Practical Morality Based on Custom—The Only Subject of Scientific Ethics—The Reaction Between Theoretical and Practical Morality—Sexual Morality in the Past an Application of Economic Morality—The Combined Rigidity and Laxity of This Morality—The Growth of a Specific Sexual Morality and the Evolution of Moral Ideals—Manifestations of Sexual Morality—Disregard of the Forms of Marriage—Trial Marriage—Marriage After Conception of Child—Phenomena in Germany, Anglo-Saxon Countries, Russia, etc.—The Status of Woman—The Historical Tendency Favoring Moral Equality of Women with Men—The Theory of the Matriarchate—Mother-Descent—Women in Babylonia—Egypt—Rome—The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries—The Historical Tendency Favoring Moral Inequality of Woman—The Ambiguous Influence of Christianity—Influence of Teutonic Custom and Feudalism—Chivalry—Woman in England—The Sale of Wives—The Vanishing Subjection of Woman—Inaptitude of the Modern Man to Domineer—The Growth of Moral Responsibility in Women—The Concomitant Development of Economic Independence—The Increase of Women Who Work—Invasion of the Modern Industrial Field by Women—In How Far This Is Socially Justifiable—The Sexual Responsibility of Women and Its Consequences—The Alleged Moral Inferiority of Women—The "Self-Sacrifice" of Women—Society Not Concerned with Sexual Relationships—Procreation the Sole Sexual Concern of the State—The Supreme Importance of Maternity.
It has been necessary to deal fully with the phenomena of prostitution because, however aloof we may personally choose to hold ourselves from those phenomena, they really bring us to the heart of the sexual question in so far as it constitutes a social problem. If we look at prostitution from the outside, as an objective phenomenon, as a question of social dynamics, it is seen to be not a merely accidental and eliminable incident of our present marriage system but an integral part of it, without which it would fall to pieces. This will probably be fairly clear to all who have followed the preceding exposition of prostitutional phenomena. There is, however, more than this to be said. Not only is prostitution to-day, as it has been for more than two thousand years, the buttress of our marriage system, but if we look at marriage, not from the outside as a formal institution, but from the inside with relation to the motives that constitute it, we find that marriage in a large proportion of cases is itself in certain respects a form of prostitution. This has been emphasized so often and from so many widely different standpoints that it may seem hardly necessary to labor the point here. But the point is one of extreme importance in relation to the question of sexual morality. Our social conditions are unfavorable to the development of a high moral feeling in woman. The difference between the woman who sells herself in prostitution and the woman who sells herself in marriage, according to the saying of Marro already quoted, "is only a difference in price and duration of the contract." Or, as Forel puts it, marriage is "a more fashionable form of prostitution," that is to say, a mode of obtaining, or disposing of, for monetary considerations, a sexual commodity. Marriage is, indeed, not merely a more fashionable form of prostitution, it is a form sanctified by law and religion, and the question of morality is not allowed to intrude. Morality may be outraged with impunity provided that law and religion have been invoked. The essential principle of prostitution is thus legalized and sanctified among us. That is why it is so difficult to arouse any serious indignation, or to maintain any reasoned objections, against our prostitution considered by itself. The most plausible ground is that of those who, bringing marriage down to the level of prostitution, maintain that the prostitute is a "blackleg" who is accepting less than the "market rate of wages," i.e., marriage, for the sexual services she renders. But even this low ground is quite unsafe. The prostitute is really paid extremely well considering how little she gives in return; the wife is really paid extremely badly considering how much she often gives, and how much she necessarily gives up. For the sake of the advantage of economic dependence on her husband, she must give up, as Ellen Key observes, those rights over her children, her property, her work, and her own person which she enjoys as an unmarried woman, even, it may be added, as a prostitute. The prostitute never signs away the right over her own person, as the wife is compelled to do; the prostitute, unlike the wife, retains her freedom and her personal rights, although these may not often be of much worth. It is the wife rather than the prostitute who is the "blackleg."