In the paragraphs on sexual anesthesia we saw that, while the condition treated of is far commoner in women than men, it is usually pathological and unnatural; the abnormality, as a rule, disappearing under favorable conditions of intercourse, and the sexual mechanism gradually returning to its normal organic functions. Those who desire to more intimately analyze the sexual status of woman will find that, heretofore, two very opposite currents of opinion prevailed respecting it, both of which were equally false. One made woman an angel, a wholly supernatural element in human life, and the other regarded her as a mere plaything of the animal appetite, with no thought, feeling, nor purpose, outside the sexual sphere.
Religion, it cannot be denied, had much to do with fixing and developing these discordant views; they being far more intimately blended in savage life; and in the asceticism of early Christianity, it is not hard to trace those peculiar workings of the human mind in which the condemnation of sexuality was very naturally correlated with exaltation of virginity. To this persistent antagonism between the sexual and the ethical, are due, not only the mystical idea of sexual purity, on which, in the Divine Incarnation, the Christian faith is founded, but all those later picturesque idealizations of the diabolic and divine, which constitute so large a portion of ecclesiastical literature.
In the life of woman, it would not be difficult to show, that religion and love go hand in hand. That the boasted intellectuality of the sex today is an anomaly, a subversion, a futile attempt to reverse the divine order of creation, is adequately shown by the fact that, wherever it has taken the place of primitive instincts in women, sexuality has been abolished. Joan of Arc never menstruated; the life of George Sand was one long battle against those sex impulses which made her "wander in darkness, and create in pain;" and of all the women who have profoundly modified the intellectual or political life of the past, as well as those who stand in the public eye today, there is not one who, either in physical feature, temperament, or trend of thought, will be found to conform appreciably to the feminine type. They are invariably what Professor James calls "anti-sexual."1
1 "Principles of Psychology,"n, 347. Lombroso, I think,remarks very truthfully and graphically—"there are no women of genius; the women of genius are all men;" and Euripides was one of the earliest to note that women of talent are all subject to sexual aberration. Sappho, Philena, Elephantina and Leontion, the priestess and philosopher, were all public prostitutes; and during the Renaissance we find another notable list of such ladies, of whom Tu Ilia of Aragon was probably chief. (See "Weider-belebung des Klassisch Altert.," 1882.)
On the other hand, women have always been identified with religion; nor is it surprising that the sex-emotion, and that Religion and the of spiritual exaltation, should have a close dynamic
Sex Impulse relation to each other; both being primitive in women, and both presenting points of very marked affinity, as well as those inherent qualities which render each capable of rising into prominence at the expense of the other. Starbuck has shown very clearly1 that the age of love is that at which women exhibit the greatest susceptibility to religious influences; and Hahn points out, equally clearly, that the well-observed connection between sexual suppression and early religious rites grew out of a desire to heighten, rather than to abolish, the sexual instinct.1 It needs only a slight knowledge of feminine psycho-sexuality to understand the tendency for the sex-emotion, when repressed by castration, celibacy, or other cause, to slip into the psychical sphere; and the fact that early Christian theologians devoted so much thought to sexual matters, in the framing of their Church polity, shows that it was not the least of the troubles with which they had to contend.
The master of Clifton College, discussing the sexual vices of the boys, noticed that the worst offenders in this line were those of religious temperament* and the late Mr. Spurgeon, in 1882, pointed out in one of his sermons that, "by a strange yet natural law, excess of spirituality is next door to sensuality."4
Bevan Lewis supplements Starbuck's statement, associating the religious impulse in girls with the age of puberty; and the equally significant one that decline of religious susceptibility begins, as a rule, at the cessation of menstruation; and Savage puts the seal of his judgment upon the question in the following words: " Religion is very closely allied to love, and the love of God and the love of women are constantly sources of trouble in unstable youth."*
"Ecstasy," remarks Norman, "as we see it in cases of acute mental disease, is probably always connected with sexual excitement, if not with sexual depravity;"8 and the case of the woman who masturbated herself with a crucifix, to sanctify the act,7 and of another, mentioned by Morel, who believed herself to be, by turns, a nun and a prostitute,* acting up to the different characters in each case, show, not only the close connection between the religious and sexual impulses, but the danger which underlies any attempt to divert or suppress either.
1 "Psychology of Religion," 1899. > Lac tit,, p. 50, et icq.
' Rev. J. M. Wilson, "Journal of Education," 1881.
' II- Ellis, loc. tit., 1, 233, note2. 1G. H. Savage, "Insanity," 1886.
• C. Norman, in "Tuke's Diet, of Psychological Medicine." 7 Archives de Neitrologie, 1S97.
• Quoted by H. Ellis, loc. til., 1, 234.