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"I believe," the writer concludes, "women are as passionate as
men, but the enforced restraint of years possibly smothers it.
The fear of having children and the methods to prevent conception
are, I am sure, potent factors in the injury to the emotions of
married women. Perhaps the lack of intercourse acts less
disastrously upon a woman because of the renewed feeling which
comes after each menstrual period."
As bearing on the causes which have led to the disguise and
misinterpretation of the sexual impulse in women I may quote the
following communication from another lady:--
"I do think the coldness of women has been greatly exaggerated.
Men's theoretically ideal woman (though they don't care so much
about it in practice) is passionless, and women are afraid to
admit that they have any desire for sexual pleasure. Rousseau,
who was not very straight-laced, excuses the conduct of Madame de
Warens on the ground that it was not the result of passion: an
aggravation rather than a palliation of the offense, if society
viewed it from the point of view of any other fault. Even in the
modern novels written by the 'new woman' the longing for
maternity, always an honorable sentiment, is dragged in to veil
the so-called 'lower' desire. That some women, at any rate, have
very strong passions and that great suffering is entailed by
their repression is not, I am sure, sufficiently recognized, even
by women themselves.
"Besides the 'passionless ideal' which checks their sincerity,
there are many causes which serve to disguise a woman's feelings
to herself and make her seem to herself colder than she really
is. Briefly these are:--
"1. Unrecognized disease of the reproductive organs, especially
after the birth of children. A friend of mine lamented to me her
inability to feel pleasure, though she had done so before the
birth of her child, then 3 years old. With considerable
difficulty I persuaded her to see a doctor, who told her all the
reproductive organs were seriously congested; so that for three
years she had lived in ignorance and regret for her husband's
sake and her own.
"2. The dread of recommencing, once having suffered them, all the
pains and discomforts of child-bearing.
"3. Even when precautions are taken, much bother and anxiety is
involved, which has a very dampening effect on excitement.
"4. The fact that men will never take any trouble to find out
what specially excites a woman. A woman, as a rule, is at some
pains to find out the little things which particularly affect the
man she loves,--it may be a trick of speech, a rose in her hair,
or what not,--and she makes use of her knowledge. But do you know
one man who will take the same trouble? (It is difficult to
specify, as what pleases one person may not another. I find that
the things that affect me personally are the following: [_a_]
Admiration for a man's mental capacity will translate itself
sometimes into direct physical excitement. [_b_] Scents of white
flowers, like tuberose or syringa. [_c_] The sight of fireflies.
[_d_] The idea or the reality of suspension. [_e_] Occasionally
"5. The fact that many women satisfy their husbands when
themselves disinclined. This is like eating jam when one does not
fancy it, and has a similar effect. It is a great mistake, in my
opinion, to do so, except very rarely. A man, though perhaps
cross at the time, prefers, I believe, to gratify himself a few
times, when the woman also enjoys it, to many times when she does
"6. The masochistic tendency of women, or their desire for
subjection to the man they love. I believe no point in the whole
question is more misunderstood than this. Nearly every man
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