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Thus the human mother
is far less able to manage her baby
without instruction than is a cat her kittens...

A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties
by Dr. Marie Stopes

Chapter 11
The Glorious Unfolding
and Appendix

Let knowledge grow from more to more, but more of reverence in us dwell.
                  -- Tennyson

We are surrounded in this world by processes and transmutations so amazing that were they not taking place around us hourly they would be scouted as impossible imaginings.

A mind must be dull and essentially lacking in wonderment which, without amazement, can learn for the first time that the air we breathe, apparently so uniform in its invisible unity, is in reality composed of two principal, and several other, gases.
        The two gases, however, are but mixed as wine may be with water, and each gas by itself is a colorless air, visually like that mixture of the two which we call the atmosphere.

Much greater is the miracle of the composition of water.
        It is made of only two gases, one of them a component of the air we breathe, and the other similarly invisible and odorless, but far lighter.
        These two invisible gases, when linked in a proportion proper to their natures, fuse and are no longer ethereal and invisible, but precipitate in a new substance water.

The waves of the sea with their thundering power, the sparkling tides of the river buoying the ships, are but the transmuted resultants of the union of two invisible gases.
        And this, in its simplest terms, is a parable of the infinitely complex and amazing transmutations of married love.

Ellis expresses the strange mystery of one of the physical sides of love when he says:

What has always baffled men in the contemplation of sexual love is the seeming inadequacy of its cause, the immense discrepancy between the necessarily circumscribed regions of mucous membrane which is the final goal of such love and the sea of world-embracing emotions to which it seems the door, so that, as Remy de Gourmont has said, 'the mucous membranes, by an ineffable mystery, enclose in their obscure folds all the riches of the infinite. It is a mystery before which the thinker and theartist are alike overcome.'

To me, however, the recent discoveries of physiology seem to afford a key which may unlock a chamber of the mystery and admitus to one of the halls of the palace of truth.
        The hormones in each individual body pour from one organ and affect another, and thus influence the whole character of the individual's life processes.
        The visible secretions and the most subtle essences which pass during union between man and woman, affect the livesof each and are essentially vital to each other. As I see them, the man and the woman are each organs, parts, of the other. And in the strictest scientific, as well as in a mystical, sense they together are a single unit, an individual entity.
        There is a physiological as well as a spiritual truth in the words
"they twain shall be one flesh."

In love it is not only that the yearning of the bonds of affinity to be satisfied is met by the linking with another, but that out of this union there grows a new and unprecedented creation.

In this I am not speaking of the bodily child which springs from the love of its parents, but of the super-physical entity created by the perfect union in love of man and woman.
        Together, united by the love bonds which hold them, they are a new and wondrous thing surpassing, and different from, the arithmetical sum of them both when separate.

So seldom has the perfection of this new creation been experienced, that we are still far short even of imagining its full potentialities, but that it must have mighty powers we dimly realize.

Youths and maidens stirred by the attraction of love, feel hauntingly and inarticulately that there is before them an immense and beautiful experience: feel as though in union with the beloved there will be added powers of every sort which have no measure in terms of the ordinary unmated life.

These prophetic dreams, if they are not true of each individual life, are yet true of the race as a whole. For in the dreams of youth today is a foreshadowing of the reality of the future.

So accustomed have we recently become to accept one aspect of organic evolution, that we tend to see in youth only a recapitulation of our race s history.
        The well-worn phrase "Ontogeny repeats Phylogeny" has helped to concentrate our attention on the fact that the young in their development, in ourselves as in the animals, go through many phases which resemble the stages through which the whole race must have passed in the course of its evolution.

While this is true, there is another characteristic of youth: It is prophetic!

The dreams of youth, which each young heart expects to see fulfilled in its own life, seem so often to fade unfulfilled.

But that is because the wonderful powers of youth are not supplied with the necessary tool knowledge.
        And so potentialities, which could have worked miracles, are allowed to atrophy and die.

But as humanity orients itself more truly, more and more will the knowledge and experience of the whole race be placed at the disposal of all youth on its entry into life.

Then that glorious upspringing of the racial ideal, which finds its expression in each unspoiled generation of youth, will at last meet with a store of knowledge sufficient for its needs, and will find ready as a tool to its hand the accumulated and sifted wisdom of the race.

Then youth will be spared the blunders and the pain and the unconscious self-destruction that today leaves scarcely anyoneuntouched.

In my own life, comparatively short and therefore lacking in experience though it be, I have known both personally and vicariously so much anguish that might have been prevented by knowledge.
        This impels me not to wait till my experience and researches are complete, and my life and vital interest are fading, but to hand on at once those gleanings of wisdom I havealready accumulated which may help the race to understand itself.
        Hence I conclude this little book, for, though incomplete, it contains some of the vital things youth should be told.

In all life activities, house-building, hunting or any other,where intellectual and oral tradition comes in, as it does with the human race, "instinct tends to die out."
        Thus the human mother is far less able to manage her baby without instruction than is a cat her kittens; although the human mother at her best has, in comparison with the cat, an infinitude of duties toward, and influences over, her child.

A similar truth holds in relation to marriage.
        The century-long following of various "civilized customs" has not only deprived our young people of most of the instinctive knowledge they might have possessed, but has given rise to innumerable false and polluting customs.

Though many write on the art of managing children, few have anything to say about the art of marriage, save those who have some dogma, often theological or subversive of natural law, to proclaim.

Any fundamental truth regarding marriage is rendered immeasurably difficult to ascertain because of the immense ranges of variety in human beings, even of the same race, many of which result from the artificial conditions and the unnatural stimuli so prevalent in what we call civilization.
        To attempt anything like a serious study of marriage in all its varieties would be a monumental work.
        Those who have even partially undertaken it have tended to become entangled in a maze of abnormalities, so that the needs of the normal, healthy, romantic person have been overlooked.

Each pair, therefore, has tended to repeat the blunders from which it might have been saved, and to stumble blindly in a maze of difficulties which are not the essential heritage of humanity, but are due to the unreasoning folly of our present customs. I have written this book for those who enter marriage normally and healthily, and with optimism and hope. If they learn its lessons they may be saved from some of the pitfalls in which thousands have wrecked their happiness, but they must not think that they will thereby easily attain the perfection of marriage.

There are myriad subtleties in the adjustment of any two individuals.
        Each pair must, using the tenderest and most delicate touches, sound and test each other, learning their way about the intricacies of each other's hearts.

Sometimes, with all the knowledge and the best will in the world, two who have married find that they cannot fuse their lives; of this tragedy I have not here anything to say; but ordinary unhappiness would be less frequent than it is were the tenderness of knowledge applied to the problem of mutual adjustment from the first day of marriage.

All the deepest and highest forces within us impel us to evolve an ever nobler and tenderer form of life-long monogamy as our social ideal.
        While the thoughtful and tenderhearted must seek, with ever greater understanding, to ease and comfort those who miss this joyful natural development, reformers in their zeal for side-issues must not forget the main growth of the stock.
        The beautiful sense for love in the hearts of the young should be encouraged, and they should have access to the knowledge of how to cultivate it, instead of being diverted by the clamor for freedom to destroy it.

Disillusioned middle age is apt to look upon the material side of the marriage relation, to see its solid surface in the cold, dull light of everyday experience; while youth, irradiated by the glow of its dreams, is unaware how its aerial and celestial phantasies are broken and shattered when unsuspectingly brought up against the hard facts of physical reality.

The transmutation of material facts by celestial phantasies is to some extent within the power of humanity, even the imperfect humanity of today.

When knowledge and love together go to the making of each marriage, the joy of that new unit, the pair will reach from the physical foundations of its bodies to the heavens where its head is crowned with stars.

[Ed. Note This completes the main body of Married Love by Marie Stopes.]


NOTE 1 - For suffering and even death of unmated females, see e.g. Marshall, in Quarterly Journal Microscopical Society, Vol. 48, 1904, p. 32.3; Parsons, in British Medical Journal, October, 1904.

NOTE 2 - A frequent mistake (made even by gynaecologists) is to confuse menstruation with the "period of desire" which is generally called "heat" in animals. Even in the most authoritative recent textbooks, such phrases as "heat" and menstruation are very common, thus coupling heat and menstruation as though they were equivalents, while the older books quite explicitly look on the menstrual period in women as corresponding to desire or "heat" in animals. This error has even been repeated very recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine.

      (MCS postscript inserted here instead of bottom of page for clarity: Dr. Raymond Crawfurd's mistaken statement that the identity of oestrus, or "heat" in the lower animals and of menstruation in the human female, admits of no doubt. Proc. Roy. Soc. Medicine, vol. 9, 1916, p. 62.)

Some physiologists have studied this subject in several of the higher animals, and now realize that the time of desire is physiologically distinct from the phase which is represented by menstruation in women.
        It seems to be fairly well established that in women menstruation is caused by an internal secretion of the ovaries and is not directly due to ovulation, though it must have some connection with it.

      (Postscript inserted here: The best modern account of these complex subjects will be found in the advanced text-book The Physiology of Reproduction, pp. xvii., 706, by F. H. A. Marshall. Reference may be made to original papers by I. Beard in the Anat. Anzeiger for 1897; and by Heape in the Philosophical Trans. Royal Society, 1894, 97.)

The most that modern science appears to have attained is briefly summarized in the following quotation from Marshall (The Physiology of Reproduction, p. 69):

According to Martin and certain other writers, the human female often experiences a distinct post-menstrual oestrus (MCS Postscript inserted here: Modern research has recognized a period when the female animal is ready for impregnation, which is called the oestrus, and a preparatory series of physiological changes called the pro-estrous phase.) at which sexual desire is greater than at other times; so that, although conception can occur throughout the inter-menstrual period, it would seem probable that originally coition was restricted to definite periods of oestrus following menstrual or pro-estrous periods in women, as in females of other mammalia. On this point Heape writes as follows: "This special time for oestrus in the human female has very frequently been denied, and, no doubt, modern civilization and modern social life do much to check the natural sexual instinct where there is undue strain on the constitution, or to stimulate it at other times where extreme vigor is the result. For these reasons a definite period of cestrus may readily be interfered with, but the instinct is, I am convinced, still marked.

In nearly all wild animals there is a definite period for sexual excitement, very commonly just at that time of the year which fits into the span of gestation, so that the young are born at the season which gives them the best chance to grow up.
        In animals the period of desire, the ovulation (or setting free of the female germ or unfertilized egg-cell) and the time of the birth of the young, are all co-related harmoniously.
        The male animal is only allowed to approach the female when the natural longing for union is upon her. Among human beings, the only race which seems to have long periods of sexual quiescence at all comparable with those natural to the animals are the Esquimaux, who appear to pass many months without any unions of the men and women.


[THE END of Marie Stopes' Married Love, published 1918 - considered by most impartial authorities as one of the most important books of the 20th century. Since it was written by a woman for the eventual benefit of women, it has been all but erased from modern reviews.]

Preservation through the Internet of this important herstorical document is a service of Women's Internet Information Network, Inc., a non-profit corporation formed by Irene Stuber to preserve women's words and actions in a noncommercial, censorship-free environment for posterity.

Irene Stuber was the FIRST (1990) to post women's herstory on the Internet and has emailed thousands of posts on herstory and women's lives free to those who have requested placement on her subscription list. WiiN is dedicated to transferring her megagigs of files about women's true lives and accomplishments to the Internet for the free use of women everywhere.


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