The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life/Chapter II


Male and Female Human Nature as Theory and as Reality: The Theory of Intersexes.

The Male Sex as
Consistent, or as

One of the most popular and long-rooted notions in society in the idea which makes a man, the male human species, as distinguished from woman, decidedly more consistent and symmetrical as a type than the female one. If we group together what we are likely to think the most usual and normal masculine traits, putting them into a kind of "property list", we are likely to fancy that the contents of that list quite completely is approached by the majority of men around us, right and left. But suppose we examine carefully how far this conviction is borne out by facts?

The Ideal
"Average" Man.

We will say, for istance, that the typic "average" man is likely to be possessed of an independent nature. He should have decided impulses, mental and physical, toward aggressive action, a due sense of the moral perspectives of things, self-reliance, self-control enough for his own good. He should tend to reticence rather than talkativeness, should disregard detail when a general result is in view, should be of firm nervous poise, such as the average woman does not exhibit. He should feel especially an inborn, instinctive drawing of his sexual nature toward woman as the mysterious, natural completion of his individuality, both physical and psychical. Shall we accept this as a fair summary? Other details can be added, of course; but this will suffice. I do not lay stress here on the moral equipment, so much as upon the temperamental understructure; the outline of a kind of masculine birthright. The reader will please note, too, that I am expressly avoiding any emphases that will create an "heroic" type, offering the sort of ideal man met in Greek drama, in classic history, or in modern romance.

Similarly, let the reader frame for himself a merely physical masculinity; virile enough, but not at all ideal. We will not busy ourselves with a male type that externally would suit the frieze of the Parthenon, or storm through the pages of Northern Sagas and Malory. Roughly made up, let us picture only a strong frame, that is to say, strong in comparison with a woman's frailer physique; with symmetry of outline, due proportion between head and body and limbs, ordinary aspects of a muscular development capable of endurance; and so on through the details of skin-texture, growth of hair and beard, quality of voice, gait, freedom of movement. All of these are traits that we take for granted as existing in a liberal preponderance among the members of a regiment, a club, or even a house-party, not to speak of the younger or older contingent at a cricket-match or in the crowd of a bank-holiday.

Reverting to the
Male Type.

Now, after figuring out this type of a normally manly personality, inward and outward, the reader will please let his mind run over the list of his more intimate male acquaintance. How many of the men that he knows show a decided "working majority" of those traits, fundamental to a normal man' identity? Of the traits that are non-corporeal, how often do we find this or that Mend falling short! Add to the list other qualifications; the discrepancies become plainer. True self-reliance, aggressiveness, moral perspective, self-control, manly silence, the sense of trifles, as trifles, of the important as the important, also the decided sexual instinct mentioned—does the widest circle of our acquaintance offer us many men that conform closely to these specifications? Is the reader of these pages a man? Let him review himself, to decide on his conscience, how far he is normal in the due measure. Is one at all struck by the fact that his Ego, even if he has never remarked it before, is particularly deficient in essential details of psychical masculinity? With the same thoughtfulness, will the reader think over this or that group of his friends?—analyzing them narrowly, with regard to the outward and inward traits and manners I have set down. We are surprised to discover how continually we have friends and acquaintances that are more or less failures in the way of some plain characteristic that belongs to a manly personality. In fact, true, typical manliness, or, if the reader prefer another term, typical masculinity, seems all at once to be a far more elusive attribute than we had thought it. We are astonished to find how successfully a good many men pass for thoroughly masculine individualities who are imperfect examples of even quite commonplace models of men.

Historic Mascul-
inity Examined as
to Psychology.

From the circle of our own aquainthance, we will turn to the pages ot history, biography, memoirs, correspondence and travel. Also let us consider many sorts of literature, apart from obvious fiction, in which men have written themselves down in portraitures more or less sincere and true, or have so depicted others. The class of records I mean (and it is especially inclusive of the most intimate of human chronicles) is not to be mixed with conventional and secondhand studies of the kind, where the subject has been put into poses-plastiques by editors of more art than sincerity. Out of true human documents, what surprising divergencies from a fully masculine image in our minds do many men show!—having passed through the world, and into history as emphatically male, exercising great influence on their associates as absolute men! In all classes and all epochs we meet curious discrepancies, startling inconsistencies, especially as we go upward, in the scale of aesthetic sensitiveness. We meet with the prince in whose nature the arrogance of Lucifer is contrasted with a want of dignity of character that would put to shame a peasant in a pothouse. We find the great statesman who turns from the working-out of a treaty, or the fight over a great parliamentary measure, to adore his mirror, or to concoct a wash for his complexion. We smile at the brave soldier who hates to go to bed in the dark, who quivers before a cat or a dentist. We come upon the eloquent divine, apparently much nearer heaven than earth, who has avance as a master-passion, and to whom a gourmand's table is a necessity. The philosopher who loses his temper as he loses his game of cards; the jurist that, off his bench, is stocked with unjust and silly prejudices; the athlete who embroiders; and the pugilist to whom a touch of fur is a nervous distress—all these are to be encountered. And yet we can go on. For, in the more aesthetic walks of life occur striking temperamental inconsistencies from any perfect moulds of virility. There is the poet whose verse shakes the world with its vigor but who cannot look you in the eyes, and who relishes perfumes and sweets like a cocotte: the painter of roses and lilies whose greatest recreation is a prize-ring or a guillotining; the composer of delicate harmonies who loves the obscene oaths of bargees; the religious allegorist who haunts the bull-fight. So could we proceed through a thousand examples of inconsistent male making-up; met in all civilizations, and of record in every public library.

We begin to wonder, after we have thus reflected, exactly what is the proportion of really manly, masculine, symmetrical men in the world; if there ever has been so large a proportion of them as we have taken for granted. Does Nature so often stand up and say of her normal, usual male product, "This is a man!?" The achieved male, whether as to his bodily structure, or his mental and moral and temperamental equipment appears suddenly to grow vague. Yet we have not been searching for ideals, for extraordinary assemblages of distinctive male qualities. We are only trying to find a well-rounded consistency, measured by accepted tests the world over.

A Distinctively
Effeminate Male
Type Is Not
in Question.

Let me anticipate a probable comment here: that an effeminated man, one effeminated mentally, morally, temperamentally and in his body, is never uncommon. But the reader must not confuse such distinctively, offensively effeminated types of man with a merely inconsistent one, as to this or that standard of male attributes. The man who in his physique, his intellect, his temperament, his tastes, his mannerisms and so on, peculiarly differs from the truer male standard, presenting obviously a general dissent, is not the personality meant here. We are dealing with one that departs more subtly from a true man-type. Effeminacy in the male, as usually depicted and understood, we may regard as an extreme. It is likely to be particularly associated with the outward man, embodied in his physique, to plain observation. We are dealing more with the psychologic failure of a man to be adequately virile. For that matter, we need not yet bring specially concrete examples into our analysis.

Of the Average
Female Ideal
and Divergencies
from It.

Suppose that we now turn from the masculine to the feminine. Let us think of woman as she is typified and realized, either past or present, in commonplace life. We cannot fail to remark the same sort of divergence from what we call essential womanliness, in one respect or in another. Our study puts woman after woman more or less out of measure with the feminine symmetry we have a right to expect. Make the tests again, those of both physiology and psychology. Opposed, for instance, to the accepted idea that the great majority of women are "dependent" in their attitude toward social existence, we find that every walk of life offers types that dominate social life, as a matter of course; flouting many canons of intellectual, moral, and even physical relations to it; able to hold their own without struggle. Suppose we endow the "average woman" with theoretic characteristics marking her out. We expect her to be ordinarily not capable of dealing closely with the abstract; to act largely on impulse: to possess nervous energy rather than staying-power; to be uncombative; to have ideals as to moral attitudes rather than observances of them by herself; to shun responsibilities of severe sort; and (once more important) we endow her with the sexual impulse of seeking her unity with a man and her surrender to him. In place of this type, we constantly encounter a feminine creature of predisposition for what is abstract; governed in personal relations to life by calm reflection; full of physical and mental endurance; aggressive and with even a pleasure in stressful activity. We find women deeply ethical and philosophic. We meet many who are indifferent to much that is a traditional part of the feminine world, such as their personal beauty, its adornment, and their influence as to sex over men: including the more or less marked dissent from surrender to man, either physically or intellectually. We have analyses and intellectual independence in a corset; the battle of life ardently carried on in a petticoat! Especially, is to be noted the instinctive absence of sexual interest that such a woman shows toward a man. The outward physique of such women often does not conform to a correct and ideal female anatomy. The example can incline toward masculinity, as to build, height, features, mannerisms, now as to another; occasionally going so far as to be hermaphroditic.

Some Instances
of the Type
of Masculinity
in Woman.

We can select instances at random of the non-conforming woman that are historic; though we shall better understand the wide distribution of the variants when we come to ordinary and private-life examples, and to what they say of themselves. Deborah, Boadicea, Hypatia, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth, of England, Christina of Sweden, Mary Somerville, Angela Postovoitov, Franziska Skanagatta, Anna Maria Schurman, George Sand, George Eliot, give clear traits of the kind sought. The bar, the clinic, the pulpit, the editorial-room, every branch of trade, many of the responsible interests of finance: the university, the gymnasiums, hunting-fields, shooting-boxes, even the army and navy—we have only to look about us to recognize this sort of woman that is only nominally womanly, according to correct prejudices. Let me take pains to remind the reader that I am not laying weight here, any more than in speaking of the divergent and inconsistent male type, on what is essentially a physical departure. The unwomanish woman is often wholly feminine in externals, and conforms to them with more or less care. Nevertheless outward unfeminineness of a woman, when it is marked, has rather more significance in our study than has the externally unmasculine in a man.

The Emotional
in Men.

Whatever the other shortcomings from the correct standard of masculinity, it is in the emotional currents that a man shows to us often his most striking unconformity. These currents are the chief witnesses toward his male-sexual imperfection. Masculine geology is full of what are called "faults", discordant chemistry, mutinous strata. A man outwardly absolutely normal and regarded as of perfect normality of mind, can be a riddle to himself on account of his mysterious emotional eccentricity. A man conceals this, or anything else, far better than can a woman, because the method is less superficial. Shakespeare's ejaculation, "O, what may man within him hide!" is newly understood, in considering the biographical studies and confessions making part of this study. A man's whole existence, his schoolboy-days, his university life, business or professional career, his deathbed hours, can easily be nothing so much as a concealment of all that is most himself, psychologically. To hide it becomes a second nature, or rather a first one. Indeed, the more carefully the student of masculine character makes a practical study, gives the right clews for it, of his own sex, in all ranks and phases accessible to the average observer, the sooner he reaches a conclusion that a man's emotional center of gravity is a great deal less definite and stable than current impressions locate it. We can even believe—sometimes—that masculine humanity is likely to be far more the victim of its emotional tendencies than are women. Under a well-sustained (frequently a spendidly sustained) dissimulation, beneath intense reserves, veiled by pride or policy, there can exist sufferings from inborn temperamental causes, with emotional crises, that are fearful to meet. The closest friend may be the last to suspect them; may be the last one that the sufferer would wish to find suspecting. In getting into touch with such veiled personal tragedies as even this book liberally offers, we shall realize that in nothing is a man more completely inconsistent than in his relation to common theories of male emotional nature.

A Principle in

We have thus alluded to the psychologic and physiologic discrepancies that exist now, that ever have existed, between received and popular ideals of each of the two great sexual classes, and their current and real selves. With this, we come face to face with a matter of the first importance; of cosmic breadth of bearing. To point it out is not new; in enlarging on it here I follow the analyses and indeed the phrase of many a predecessor—of one brilliant German theorist in particular. There exists one striking principle of distinction between the works of Nature and the works of Art. Art completes what it undertakes, and therewith makes its products more or less independent from each other. But Nature never has made for us, and never will make, any one thing complete, detached from all other kinds, really independent and finished as a product, by itself. She refuses any labour that has nothing to do with the rest of her cosmic, cyclic, general scheme. Nature in all her work, here or there, is perpetually referring us back or forward to other creations; to things "the same yet not the same"; to the like but not the identical. Putting a little more into one expression of herself, a little less into another, often merely using the same materials in another recipe. Nature keeps on melting, fusing, half-melting, half-fusing one set of her principles and products with another, almost as if in capricious experiment, or as aiming toward some perfect and independent thing never to be realized. She works along an endless chain, full of interrelationships; gracefully playing with what are not detached performances from her fine hand but merely between-expressions. All is of mere degrees, all, along her vast system of organic life.

Nature's Endless

Between whitest of men and the blackest negro stretches out a vast line of intermediary races as to their colours; brown, olive, red tawny, yellow. Between a protozoan and the most perfect development of the mammalia, we trace a succession of dependent intersteps. From a fish to a giraffe we can establish a series of details that unites them as form of life; while each middle link has its own place. A trilobite is at one end of Nature's workshop; a Spinoza, a Shakespeare, a Beethoven is at the other; led-to by cunning gradations. Nature can "evolve" an onion into a philosopher, or a mollusk to a prime-minister. The spectrum is a chain. Prom violet and indigo into scarlet, there is nothing but a succession of gradient hues. Each link is, in paradox, both a matter of dependence on the whole system, yet of independence: part of its nearer neighbours, while having its right to be accounted relatively separate and responsible by itself. There is no absolute darkness: there is no absolute light. There is no absolute heat, no absolute cold. In fact, Nature abhors the absolute, delights in the fractional. We have no right to consider any of her works more than a link; though we are logically bound to give to it due fractional autonomy. Hence, equally by logic, we must be on our guard against quarrelling with it because it "ought to be" more complete toward genus, toward type, than it is. For, Nature is continually rebuking our narrow, proud, perverse definitism. She asks why, if we are so exact, we do not blame the dawn because it is rosy instead of glowing white, do not throw down in disgust the hedge-rose because it lacks the petals and colours of so many stately garden-beauties; do not ridicule the bull because he does not boast the antlers of a stag; do not despise the ostrich because it has not the eagle's wings; do not think that the terrible beauty of some tropical serpent is ruined since it has not even as many legs as the tiniest lizard; do not reject as disgracefully incomplete and hesitant in the evolution of existences such intermediaries as we find in the platypus, the porcupine, the whale, the quadrumana, in even the most superiour and complex and firmly-elaborated creations about us. Every where we encounter borrowings from one, loans from the other, strange but natural inter-relations, revolts against conforming to details that seem almost obligations in kind and taste and conduct, crossings of what seem natural boundaries, whole kingdoms of life instituted in an allowed and eternal rebellion from a common law.

The Human Spe-
cies as Theoretic

We must thus dismiss some popular notions of what constitutes sexual manhood and womanhood, and their indispensable system of attributes, as being other than two widely-parted extremes. Nature constantly demands of us why we have endowed our ideals of the two sexes with only such or such qualities; by what right we have gone on insisting that each specimen of sex in humanity must conform absolutely to two theories, must follow out two programmes only, or else be thought amiss, imperfect and degenerate. Why have we set up masculinity and femininity as processes that have not perfectly logical and respectable inter-steps? We have established, we have decked out, to our own ideas, just two sexes. Where presently we are confronted by what appears an abnormality in their expression we have said that that expression is imperfect, and to be repudiated. The fact is that have we lacked charter-right, guidance and warrant for our arrogance. Generation after generation, we have gone on, judging humanity sexually without full initial authority. Nature, on the contrary, all the while, ever has been striving patiently, silently, to remind us that we have been too narrow; that what we call the exceptional, the abnormal, may be perfectly normal; mature to itself and entlited to its own independent place and recognition in anthropology and society. In defining sex for instance, Nature would nut permit us to forget, that the physique of the unborn child so embodies for many weeks the traits of two sexes that the skilled anatomist cannot tell us whether the foetus should have been born a boy or a girl.

The Natural

Thus become clear the inference, the conviction, logical truth that cyclic Nature has always maintained in the human species a series of graduated and necessary Intersexes, between the two great major sexes that we recognize as distinctively "man" and "woman" i. e. as the extreme masculine and the extreme feminine. These Intersexes are not physically obvious in the frapjik degree that we have foolishly expected such natural differences would be expressed. The average eye and mind have never learned even how to look for them, though they are around us daily in their positive attributes. They are the less perceived because their physical differences from the one or the other removed sex toward which they incline, but to which they do not attain, are not necessarily readily visible. Their subtle separation from their Over-sex begins at a deeper plane, on that alone, constantly—the psychological, not physical. What masks particularly its presence is that even the psychology stays in hiding; the student must be trained to recognize its signs. Especially are these Intersexes established, determined and excused, by one supremely natural factor in them—the sexual instincts. This is their master-separation, although other traits are more or less concurrent and logical therein. Such Intersexes express the half-steps, the between-beings. Their existence is as irrefutable as immemorial. For centuries, the world has narrowed-down mankind into two sexes. There are at least two more than our traditional anthropological spectrum has perceived and recognized; each of primary importance always.

Certain Consequences
of Admitting this
Intersexual Theory.

The theory of these Intersexes is likely to be startling to the layman, as soon as he thinks of it otherwise than as a fantasy, and begins to perceive its practical bearings on the world's social systems. For, undeniably, by an unavoidable succession of its applications it has much in it revolutionary of social, moral and individual life. We must reconsider many old conclusions, especially many theories of the sexual instincts, in all races and civilizations. Lifelong ideas, rooted prejudices suddenly are sapped under its chemistry. Impulses in intersexual humanity, in the "between-man" or the "between-woman" working out their own emotional natures helplessly and independently even while mocked or denounced therefor, are not to be judged by pulpit or statute-book, but by medical psychology. By noting else so arbitrarily, because not otherwise so accurately. Particularly must we throw away one long-established notion as to sex in the human race, in general.

Sex is Never
to be Determined
by the Physique.

That special error is the idea that sex is to be determined by the physique. Physique is not, and never should be, determinative of sex in man or woman or intersex. No—the one determinative, putting the stress on the word determinative, is the sexual instinct. Nothing else. Not the bodily organs and structure, not the mental, the moral, the general emotional making-up of the human being, can stand out as a determinative before this one trait. Such details can coincide in a general effect; or they can (as so continually is the case) only help to conceal the true sex, to mislead us cunningly and elaborately; and, what is more, sometimes to deceive perfectly the very person most concerned, who is the unlucky subject of their masquerade.

Sex Determined
by Sexual Instinct.

We repeat it; sex is determined by the sexual instinct; by the desire physical and psychical, of one human being for another, no matter what his or her bodily aspects and other endowment. In every other trait that we have been accustomed to accept as telling of what sex we or another fellow-creature may be, Nature hoodwinks and plays with us, or else gives us relatively superficial clues.

What are the

Taking this series of conclusions as our. guidance, let us re-distribute the human race sexually. To the one extreme and perfect masculine sex, a man, and to the other extreme and perfect female sex, a woman, we will add at least two Intersexes. These Intersexes partake of the natures and temperaments and physiques of both the male and the female, now to one extent, now to another. Departing from the first sex a man, we establish a second and "intersexual" sex, known to European medico-psychologic literature as the Urning, or Uranian sex. The name is derived from the classic fable of the "Venus Urania", and from the Platonic discussions concerning a mystic "nobler Venus" the divine patroness of similisexual, passional loves, especially between males; reaffirming, the theory of there having been created only one single human sex of old; that only later came to subsist two types with their separate sexual instincts in mankind, each by divine insinuation. We next establish or proceed to re-establish, a third sex, or intersex, called the Uraniad, which refers to the feminine, but the feminine sexually masculinized; of which sex many "women-seeming" women are members. Last, we place the perfectly feminine sex, its extreme, the woman as we have long recognized her. The arrangement of these four sexes the sorting of the two "intersexes" thus, has been questioned. There are subtle and interesting arguments for putting the Uranian, or masculine intersex, absolutely as the first and completest of the sexes known, not simply as an intersex; at the same time relegating the man-type as commonly met, to the merely intersexual degree. There is also a considerable line of finer intersexual distinctions and types, adjusted by various psychiaters which makes the list of intersexes exceed the four here established. But for all ordinary purposes the restriction to four, and the foregoing adjustments are sufficient.

These two Intersexes named here as the Uranian and the Uraniad, the one partaking most of the outwardly and inwardly masculine yet not fully a man, the other leaning toward the typic feminine yet not fully woman, are each indisputably a blend of the two extreme sexes. Each is more or less indisputably entitled to recognition as to its individual rights; each exists now as ever in a most important proportion to the rest of mankind. These Intersexes are constantly working-out about us, with or without social recognition and sanction, their own sexual instincts. Too often such types are not only unknown to their fellow-men for what they are, but also too often not known to—themselves. Especially do we find them the victims of sexual repression, seekers after a sexual expression that they cannot obtain without disgraces, dangers, and crimes. Not less especially are they petitioners for at least a tentative, a cautious consideration and tolerance, social and legal; fugitives from miseries and injustices which an unreasoning and ill-informed world, with its tendency to generalize, has far too little suspected. It is true that they present inevitably and often painfully, whether taken as individuals or as classes, many traits, claims, theories, impulses, practices, deviations from the more or less normally human, which cannot be tolerated in ethics and social life by even philosophic justice however dispassionate. They have sex-idioms that repel and terrify us, no matter how elastic is our human sympathy. But admitting all which will deepen around them this undeniable shadow, the fact remains that a great proportion of Intersexual lives are led and probably for a long time to come must be led, under a sexual, social and moral ban that blots our human civilization. Day by day is continued about us, no matter with what outward serenity a chronicle of underserved martyrdom that can be dramatic beyond any description in its emotional currents; demanding relief by a psychiatric enlightenment not yet more than begun.