This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

On looking to women to learn about sex

One might object that women have a thing or two to say about this subject and that we ought to have paid closer attention to women authors in our research. The primary difficulty with this claim is something that will be discussed later, but can be addressed here by quoting Havelock Ellis, who said that “the women who write books about these problems in all seriousness and sincerity are often the very last persons to whom one should turn as representatives of their sex; those who know most are those who write least.”

That is to say, the vocation of woman is such that writing academic literature is not a normal expression of her nature. Thus, women who philosophize and commit philosophy to writing can only be considered exceptions and, as exceptions, cannot be considered the best resources for insight. We could perhaps go further and say that women who exercise their talents in a sphere of work that is more properly ‘male’ do so at a cost, and their femininity is necessarily diluted thereby, so that their experience of sex will be less profound than of their peers.

This does not mean that there is nothing in the objection, which is true insofar as it tells us that women have something to teach us about sex, and the witness of traditional civilizations where an ‘art of love’ existed will tell us the same thing. We only insist that women who write scholarly or philosophical works on the subject are not those who know most about it. It is true enough that, ultimately, it falls to woman to ‘introduce’ man to sex, but this is a matter of encounter and not of literary exposition.

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