The American legal definition of rape, as carnal knowledge of a woman by force, against her will, demands some modification, from a strictly scientific standpoint. That adopted in some European countries, as Austria and Germany, seems more accurate and complete. The latter country understands as rape sexual intercourse, complete or partial, outside of the marriage relation, with an adult, enforced by means of threats or violence; or with an adult in a condition of defencelessness; or with a girl under a specific age.
The growing frequency of this crime in some American communities, as well as in certain parts of Europe, and which I have already referred to in the preface of this work, makes its further discussion at this time both proper and necessary.
In reference to negroes, who are unquestionably most largely identified with this species of crime in the United States, I have already shown that in a state of nature they are not sexually vicious.1 Indeed, the average negress is ordinarily cold and indifferent to the pleasures of sexual love, particularly with the white man, whose comparative smallness of penis, and precipitancy of emission, are incapable of exciting her to adequate sexual passion. Nor are the men much different except in the ostentation of the act. They are uxorious; but the sexual instinct is far feebler than with the white races generally; in the latter, the growth of sexual passion having kept pace, as we have seen, pretty evenly with that of civilization.
This fact did not escape the keen insight of Lucretius,1 and has been made the basis of interesting observations in regard to the breeding of animals, as well as among men. Thoroughbred horses Boon reach sexual maturity; and in attempts to improve the breed of cart-horses, it is said, the sexual instinct is very apt to be specialized and, finally, impaired.*
This being the case, if the negro by nature is not sexually amorous, there must be some underlying cause for his present unenviable reputation as a violator and lust-murderer.
1 H. Ellis, loc. cit., in, 220. "The organs which, in the feral state," remarks Adlers, "are continually exercised in a severe struggle for existence, do not, under domcstiration , compete so closely with one another for the leas needed nutriment. Hence, organs like the reproductive glands are able to avail themselves of more food." (.Science, May 10.1902).
It might be thought that the degradation of his social position, the generally impure atmosphere of his surroundings in large cities, the enforced sexual promiscuity of his domestic life, and the weakening of his moral will power by alcoholic and other forms of dissipation, have all much to do with his tendency to sexual crime; but, as such conditions are shared equally by white men, of a certain class, the argument loses much of its force, and compels us to seek further for a real and adequate solution of the problem.
After such thought as I am capable of giving to it, I am forced to the conclusion already hinted at, that the negro's lewdness is far less a race paranoia than a legacy of servitude, bequeathed unconsciously by his former master, the white man.
The condition of the negro's life during slavery is too well known to require comment. He was not only the bond-servant but the tool, the instrument of pleasure, to his master. His daughter, or his wife, was equally at that master's behest, sexually or otherwise; and considering the terms on which the negro boy and girl lived in the home of their master, the idleness, sloth, and highly stimulated sexual life of the latter, as weil as of his sons also, the wonder is not that illegitimate children were born of the servile race, and that sexual and other vices flourished, but that both were not far commoner and more frequent.
I do not think that homosexuality, now so prevalent among negroes in large cities as to occasion the proverb that "whenever you find three coons, one is a lady-man," was so much a development of slavery as of later civic debauchery; but I do think that illicit heterosexual intercourse, masturbation, and the present lubricity and sexual depravity of the negro, are in large measure traceable to the unwholesome domestic relations which subsisted formerly between slave and master.
Even today the negro is, first of all, a house^servant. His daily associations are with the women and children of his employer; and, while many instances of beautiful and touching loyalty toward them are recorded, and while the negro is by instinct religious, and devoutly emotional, as use doth breed a habit in a man, he would be more or less than human had he not taken on, to some extent at least, the too often vicious imprint of his early teachings and environments.
Admiral Fitzroy did not hesitate to affirm that, if the unchastity of the Patagonian women did not correspond with their previous character for purity, their sexual ideas had been altered by "the visits of licentious Europeans;"1 and Captain Cook makes no scruple in asserting that the wantonness of the Tana and Ponape* women was due to the same cause.1
It remains then but to say, in concluding a too brief review of this subject, that my last and strongest argument against the whites, in vindication of the negro, and in attempting to account for his sexual depravity, is founded on an entirely different motive on his part, not emanating from the Bame source. That argument is the spirit of race antipathy, and revenge, engendered in the heart of the negro by the frequent lynchings, and violent acts of which he has been made the victim in recent years at the hands of the whites, particularly in the South. To these, I think, are very fairly chargeable fully two-thirds of the sexual crimes recently committed against women of the latter race.
The negro knows no other way, and possesses no other means, of striking back; and, while I am neither willing, nor perhaps competent, to enter into a discussion of the theme, from a sociological or legal standpoint, I am still convinced that, until we learn to regard this species of crime, as we do every other, as an exclusive matter for legal inquisition and punishment; until statutory provisions take the place of mob-passion; until the negro, instead of being made the target of a blind and unreasoning animosity, is lifted by education and religion to a higher plane of morality and social self-respect; just so long will such crimes continue, and humanity and civilization be shamed by counter-crimes, as shocking in their ferocity as they are unavailing in their results.
But the psychological features of these sexual offences, not remedies for their prevention, are what invite our present attention.