The classic trap for any revolutionary is always, “What’s your alternative?” But even if you could provide the inter­rogator with a blueprint, this does not mean he would use it: in most cases he is not sincere in wanting to know. In fact this is a common offensive, a technique to deflect rev­olutionary anger and turn it against itself. Moreover, the oppressed have no job to convince all people. All they need know is that the present system is destroying them.

But though any specific direction must arise organically out of the revolutionary action itself, still I feel tempted here to make some “dangerously utopian” concrete pro­posals—both in sympathy for my own pre-radical days when the Not-Responsible-For-Blueprint Line perplexed me, and also because I am aware of the political dangers in the peculiar failure of imagination concerning alterna­tives to the family. There are, as we have seen, several good reasons for this failure. First, there are no precedents in history for feminist revolution—there have been women revolutionaries, certainly, but they have been used by male revolutionaries, who seldom gave even lip service to equality for women, let alone to a radical feminist re­structuring of society. Moreover, we haven’t even a liter­ary image of this future society; there is not even a utopian feminist literature in existence. Thirdly, the nature of the family unit is such that it penetrates the individual more deeply than any other social organization we have: it literally gets him “where he lives.” I have shown how the family shapes his psyche to its structure—until ul­timately, he imagines it absolute, talk of anything else striking him as perverted. Finally, most alternatives sug­gest a loss of even the little emotional warmth provided by the family, throwing him into a panic. The model that I shall now draw up is subject to the limitations of any plan laid out on paper by a solitary individual. Keep in mind that these are not meant as final answers, that in fact the reader could probably draw up another plan that would satisfy as well or better the four structural im­peratives laid out above. The following proposals, then, will be sketchy, meant to stimulate thinking in fresh areas. rather than to dictate the action.

♦ ‘ ♦ *

What is the alternative to 1984 if we could have our demands acted on in time? 4

The most important characteristic to be maintained in any revolution is flexibility: I will propose, then, a pro­gram of multiple options to exist simultaneously, interweav­ing with each other, some transitional, others far in the future. An individual may choose one “life style” for one decade, and prefer another at another period.

1) Single Professions. A single life organized around the demands of a chosen profession, satisfying the in­dividual’s social and emotional needs through its own particular occupational structure, might be an appealing solution for many individuals, especially in the transi­tional period.

Single professions have practically vanished, despite the fact that the encouragement of reproduction is no longer a valid social concern. The old single roles, such as the celibate religious life, court roles—jester, musician, page, knight, and loyal squire—cowboys, sailors, firemen, cross­country truck drivers, detectives, pilots had a prestige all their own: there was no stigma attached to being profes­sionally single. Unfortunately, these roles seldom were open to women. Most single female roles (such as spinster aunt, nun, or courtesan) were still defined by their sexual nature.

Many social scientists are now proposing as a solution to the population problem the encouragement of “deviant life styles” that by definition imply nonfertility. Richard Meier suggests that glamorous single professions previous­ly assigned only to men should now be opened to women as well, for example, “astronaut.” He notes that where these occupations exist for women, e. g., stewardess, they are based on the sex appeal of a young woman, and thus can be only limited way stations on the way to a better job or marriage. And, he adds, “so many limitations are imposed [on women’s work outside the home] . . . that one suspects the existence of a culture-wide conspiracy which makes the occupational role sufficiently unpleasant that 90 percent or more would choose homemaking as a superior alternative.” With the extension of whatever single roles still exist in our culture to include women, the creation of more such roles, and a program of incentives to make these professions rewarding, we could, painlessly, reduce the number of people interested in parenthood at all.

2) “Living Together.” Practiced at first only in Bo­hemian or intellectual circles and now increasingly in the population at large—especially by metropolitan youth— “living together” is becoming a common social practice. “Living together” is the loose social form in which two or more partners, of whatever sex, enter a nonlegal sex/com – panionate arrangement the duration of which varies with the internal dynamics of the relationship. Their contract is only with each other; society has no interest, since neither reproduction nor production—dependencies of one party on the other—is involved. This flexible non-form could be expanded to become the standard unit in which most people would live for most of their lives.

At first, in the transitional period, sexual relationships would probably be monogamous (single standard, female – style, this time around), even if the couple chose to live with others. We might even see the continuation of strict­ly nonsexual group living arrangements (“roommates”). However, after several generations of nonfamily living, our psychosexual structures may become altered so rad­ically that the monogamous couple, or the “aim-inhibited” relationship, would become obsolescent. We can only guess what might replace it—perhaps true “group mar­riages,” transexual group marriages which also involved older children? We don’t know.

The two options we have suggested so far—single pro­fessions and “living together”—dready exist, but only out­side the mainstream of our society, or for brief periods in the life of the normal individual. We want to broaden these options to include many more people for longer pe­riods of their lives, to transfer here instead all the cultural incentives now supporting marriage—making these alter­natives, finally, as common and acceptable as marriage is today.

But what about children? Doesn’t everyone want chil­dren sometime in their lives? There is no denying that people now feel a genuine desire to have children. But we don’t know how much of this is the product of an authen­tic liking for children, and how much is a displacement of other needs. We have seen that parental satisfaction is obtainable only through crippling the child: The attempted extension of ego through one’s children—in the case of the man, the “immortalizing” of name, property, class, and ethnic identification, and in the case of the woman, motherhood as the justification of her existence, the re­sulting attempt to live through the child, child-as-project —in the end damages or destroys either the child or the parent, or both when neither wins, as the case may be. Perhaps when we strip parenthood of these other functions, we will find a real instinct for parenthood even on the part of men, a simple physical desire to associate with the young. But then we have lost nothing, for a basic demand of our alternative system is some form of inti­mate interaction with children. If a parenthood instinct does in fact exist, it will be allowed to operate even more freely, having shed the practical burdens of parenthood that now make it such an anguished hell.

But what, on the other hand, if we find that there is no parenthood instinct after all? Perhaps all this time society has persuaded the individual to have children only by imposing on parenthood ego concerns that had no prop­er outlet. This may have been unavoidable in the past— but perhaps it’s now time to start more directly satisfying those ego needs. As long as natural reproduction is still necessary, we can devise less destructive cultural induce­ments. But it is likely that, once the ego investments in parenthood are removed, artificial reproduction wifi be developed and widely accepted.

3) Households. I shall now outline a system that I be­lieve will satisfy any remaining needs for children after ego concerns are no longer part of our motivations. Sup­pose a person or a couple at some point in their lives de­sire to live around children in a family-size unit. While we will no longer have reproduction as the life goal of the normal individual—we have seen how single and group nonreproductive life styles could be enlarged to be­come satisfactory for many people for their whole life­times and for others, for good portions of their lifetime— certain people may still prefer community-style group liv­ing permanently, and other people may want to experi­ence it at some time in their lives, especially during early childhood.

Thus at any given time a proportion of the population wifi want to live in reproductive social structures. Corre­spondingly, the society in general will still need reproduc­tion, though reduced, if only to create a new generation.

The proportion of the population will be automatically a select group with a predictably higher rate of stability, because they will have had a freedom of choice now generally unavailable. Today those who do not marry and have children by a certain age are penalized: they find themselves alone, excluded, and miserable, on the margins of a society in which everyone else is compart­mentalized into lifetime generational families, chauvinism and exclusiveness their chief characteristic. (Only in Man­hattan is single living even tolerable, and that can be debated.) Most people are still forced into marriage by family pressure, the “shotgun,” economic considerations, and other reasons that have nothing to do with choice of life style. In our new reproductive unit, however, with the limited contract (see below), childrearing so diffused as to be practically eliminated, economic considerations non­existent, and all participating members having entered only on the basis of personal preference, “unstable” re­productive social structures will have disappeared.

This unit I shall call a household rather than an ex­tended family. The distinction is important: The word family implies biological reproduction and some degree of division of labor by sex, and thus the traditional dependencies and resulting power relations, extended over generations; though the size of the family—in this case, the larger numbers of the “extended” family—may affect the strength of this hierarchy, it does not change its structural definition. “Household,” however, connotes only a large grouping of people living together for an unspeci­fied time, and with no specified set of interpersonal rela­tions. How would a “household” operate?

Limited Contract. If the household replaced marriage perhaps we would at first legalize it in the same way— if this is necessary at all. A group of ten or so consenting adults of varying ages[34] could apply for a license as a group in much the same way as a young couple today applies for a marriage license, perhaps even undergoing some form of ritual ceremony, and then might proceed in the same way to set up house; The household license would, however, apply only for a given period, perhaps seven to ten years, or whatever was decided on as the minimal time in which children needed a stable struc­ture in which to grow up—but probably a much shorter period than we now imagine. If at the end of this period the group decided to stay together, it could always get a renewal. However, no single individual would be con­tracted to stay after this period, and perhaps some mem­bers of the unit might transFer out, or new members come in. Or, the unit could disband altogether.

There are many advantages to short-term households, stable compositional units lasting for only about a dec­ade: the end of family chauvinism, built up over genera­tions, of prejudices passed down from one generation to the next, the inclusion of people of all ages in the child – rearing process, the integration of many age groups into one social unit, the breadth of personality that comes from exposure to many rather than to (the idiosyncrasies of) a few, and so on.

Children. A regulated percentage of each household— say one-third—would be children. But whether, at first, genetic children created by couples within the household, or at some future time—after a few generations of house­hold living had severed the special connection of adults with “their” children—children were produced artificially, or adopted, would not matter: (minimal) responsibility for the early physical dependence of ,children would be evenly diffused among all members of the household.

But though it would still be structurally sound, we must be aware that as long as we use natural childbirth methods, the “household” could never be a totally liberating social form. A mother who undergoes a nine-month pregnancy is likely to feel that the product of all that pain and dis­comfort “belongs” to her (“To think of what I went through to have you!”). But we want to destroy this pos­sessiveness along with its cultural reinforcements so that

no one child will be a priori favored over another, so that children will be loved for their own sake.

But what if there is an instinct for pregnancy? I doubt it. Once we have sloughed ofi cultural superstructures, we may uncover a sex instinct, the normal consequences of which lead to pregnancy. And perhaps there is also an in­stinct to care for the young once they arrive. But an in­stinct for pregnancy itself would be superfluous—could nature anticipate man’s mastery of reproduction? And what if* once the false motivations for pregnancy had been shed, women no longer wanted to “have” children at all? Might this not be a disaster, given that artificial reproduc­tion is not yet perfected? But women have no special re­productive obligation to the species. If they are no longer willing, then artificial methods will have to be developed hurriedly, or, at the very least, satisfactory compensations —other than destructive ego investments—would have to be supplied to make it worth their while.

Adults and older children would take care of babies for as long as they needed it, but since there would be many adults and older children sharing the responsibility —as in the extended family—no one person would ever be involuntarily stuck with it.

Adult/child relationships would develop just as do the best relationships today: some adults might prefer certain children over others, just as some children might prefer certain adults over others—these might become lifelong attachments in which the individuals concerned mutually agreed to stay together, perhaps to form some kind of non – reproductive unit. Thus all relationships would be based on love alone, uncorrupted by objective dependencies and the resulting class inequalities. Enduring relationships be­tween people of widely divergent ages would become common.

Legal Rights and Transfers. With the weakening and severance of the blood ties, the power hierarchy of the family would break down. The legal structure—as long as it is still necessary—would reflect this democracy at the roots of our society. Women would be identical under the law with men. Children would no longer be “minors,” under the patronage of “parents”—they would have fuU rights. Remaining physical inequalities could be legally compensated for: for example, if a child were beaten, perhaps he could report it to a special simplified “house­hold” court where he would be granted instant legal redress.

Another special right of children would be the right of immediate transfer: if the child for any reason did not like the household into which he had been born so arbi­trarily, he would be helped to transfer out. An adult on the other hand—one who had lived one span in a house­hold (seven to ten years)—might have to present his case to the court, which would then decide, as do divorce courts today, whether he had adequate ‘grounds for break­ing his contract. A certain number of transfers within the seven-year period might be necessary for the smooth func­tioning of the household, and would not be injurious to its stability as a unit so long as a core remained. (In fact, new people now and then might be a refreshing change.) However, the unit, for its own best economy, might have to place a ceiling on the number of transfers in or out, to avoid depletion, excessive growth, and/or friction.

Chores. As for housework: The larger family-sized group (twelve to fifteen people) would be more prac­tical—the waste and repetition of the duplicate nu­clear family unit would be avoided, e. g., as in shopping or cooking for a small family, without the loss of intimacy of the larger communal experiment. In the interim, any housework would have to be rotated equitably; but eventu­ally cybernation could automate out almost all domestic chores.

City Planning. City planning, architecture, furnishings, all would be altered to reflect the new social structure. The trend toward mass-produced housing would probably continue, but the housing might be designed and even built (perhaps out of prefabricated components) by the people living there to suit their own needs and tastes.

Privacy could be built in: either through private rooms in every household, or with “retreats” within the larger city to be shared by people of other households, or both. The whole might form a complex the size of a small town or a large campus.’ Perhaps campus is the clearer image: We could have small units of self-determined housing— prefabricated component parts set up or dismantled eas­ily and quickly to suit the needs of the limited contract— as well as central permanent buildings to fill the needs of the community as a whole, i. e., perhaps the equivalent of a “student union” for socializing, restaurants, a large computer bank, a modern communications center, a com­puterized library and film center, “learning centers” de­voted to various specialized interests, and whatever else might be necessary in a cybernetic community.

The Economy. The end of the family structure would necessitate simultaneous changes in the larger economy. Not only would reproduction be qualitatively different, so would production: just as we have had to purify relations with children of all external considerations we would first have to have, to be entirely successful in our goals, socialism within a cybernated state, aiming first to re­distribute drudgery equitably, and eventually to eliminate it altogether. With the further development and wise use of machines, people could be freed from toil, “work” divorced from wages and redefined: Now both adults and children could indulge in serious “play” as much as they wanted.

In the transition, as long as we still had a money econ­omy, people might receive a guaranteed annual income from the state to take care of basic physical needs. These incomes, distributed equitably to men, women, and chil­dren, regardless of age, work, prestige, birth, would in themselves equalize in one blow the economic class sys­tem.

Activity. What would people do in this utopia? I think that will not be a problem. If we truly had abol­ished all unpleasant work, people would have the time and the energy to develop healthy interests of their own.

What is now found only among the elite, the pursuit of specialized interests for their own sake, would probably become the norm.

Подпись: і і As for our educational institutions: The irrelevancy of the school system practically guarantees its break­down in the near future. Perhaps we could replace it with noncompulsory “learning centers,” which would combine both the minimally necessary functions of our lower educational institutions, the teaching of rudimentary skills, with those of the higher, the expansion of knowl­edge, including everyone of any age or level, children and adults.

Yes, but what about basic skills? How, for example, could a child with no formal sequential training enter an advanced curriculum’ like architecture? But traditional book learning, the memorizing of facts, which forms the most substantial portion of the curriculum of our elemen­tary schools, will be radically altered under the impact of cybernation—a qualitative difference, to the apparatus of culture at least as significant a change as was the print­ing press, even as important as the alphabet. McLuhan pointed out the beginning of a reversal from literary to visual means of absorbing knowledge. We can expect the escalation of this and other effects in the development of modern media for the rapid transmittal of information. And the amount of rote knowledge necessary either for children or adults will itself be vastly reduced, for we shall have computer banks within easy reach. After all, why store facts in one’s head when computer banks could supply quicker and broader information instantaneously? (Already today children wonder why they must learn multiplication tables rather than the operation of an add­ing machine.) Whatever mental storing of basic facts is still necessary can be quickly accomplished through new mechanical methods, teaching machines, records and tapes, and so on, which, when they become readily available, would allow the abolition of compulsory schooling for basic skills. Like foreign students in the pursuit of a specialized profession, the child can pick up any neces­
sary basic “language” on the side, through these supple­mentary machine methods. But it is more likely that the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary will be the same for adults as for children: skill in operating new machines. Programming skills may become, universally re­quired, but rather than through years of nine-to-five schooling, it would have to be learned (rapidly) only in conjunction with the requirements of a specific discipline.

As for “career indecision”: Those people today whose initial “hobby” has survived intact from childhood to be­come their adult “profession” will most often tell you they developed it before the age of nine.[35] As long as spe­cialized professions still existed, they could be changed as often as adults change majors or professions today. But if choice of profession had no superimposed motives, if they were based only on interest in the subject itself, switches in mid-course would probably be far fewer. In­ability to develop strong interests is today mostly the result of the corruption of culture and its institutions.

Thus our conception of work and education would be much closer to the medieval first-hand apprenticeship to a discipline, people of all ages participating at all levels. As in academia today, the internal dynamics of the various disciplines would foster their own social organization, pro­viding a means for meeting other people of like interests, and of sharing the intellectual and aesthetic pursuits now available only to a select few, the intelligentsia. The kind of social environment now found only in the best depart­ments of the best colleges might become the life style of the masses, freed to develop their potential from the start: Whereas now only the lucky or persevering ones ever ar­rive at (usually only professing to) “doing their thing,” then everyone would have the opportunity to develop to his full potential.

Or not develop if he so chose—but this seems unlikely, since every child at first exhibits curiosity about people,

things, the world in general and what makes it tick. It is only because unpleasant reality dampens his curiosity that the child learns to scale down his interests, thus becoming the average bland adult. But if we should remove these obstructions, then all people would develop as fully as only the greatest and wealthiest classes, and a few isolated “geniuses,” have been able to. Each individual would con­tribute to the society as a whole, not for wages or other incentives of prestige and power, but because the work he chose to do interested him in itself, and perhaps only incidentally because it had a social value for others (as healthily selfish as is only Art today). Work that had only social value and no personal value would have been eliminated by the machine.

* * *

Thus, in the larger context of a cybernetic socialism, the establishment of the household as the alternative to the family for reproduction of children, combined with every imaginable life style for those who chose to live singly or in nonreproductive units, would resolve all the basic dilemmas that now arise from the family to obstruct human happiness. Let us go over our four minimal de­mands to see how our imaginary construction would fare.

1) The freeing of women from the tyranny of their biology by any means available, and the diffusion of the childbearing and childrearing role to the society as a whole, to men and other children as well as women. This has been corrected. Childbearing could be taken over by technology, and if this proved too much against our past tradition and psychic structure (which it certainly would at first) then adequate incentives and compensations would have to be developed—other than the ego rewards of possessing the child—to reward women for their spe­cial social contribution of pregnancy and childbirth. Most of childrearing, as we have seen, has to do with the maintaining of power relations, forced internalization of family values, and many other ego concerns that war

with the happiness of the individual child. This repressive socialization process would now be unnecessary in a society in which the interests of the individual coincided with those of the larger society. Any childrearing responsibility left would be diffused to include men and other children equally with women. In addition, new methods of instant communication would lessen the child’s reliance on even this egalitarian primary unit.

2) The economic independence and self-determination of all. Under socialism, even if still a money economy, work would be divorced from wages, the ownership of the means of production in the hands of all the people, and wealth distributed on the basis of need, independent of the social value of the individual’s contribution to society. We would aim to eliminate the dependence of women and children on the labor of men, as well as all other types of labor exploitation. Each person could choose his life style at will, changing it to suit his tastes without seriously in­conveniencing anyone else; no one would be bound into any social structure against his will, for each person would be totally self-governing as soon as he was phys­ically able.

3) The total integration of women and children into the larger society. This has’ been fulfilled: The concept of childhood has been abolished, children having full legal, sexual, and economic rights, their educational/work ac­tivities no different from those of adults. During the few years of their infancy we have replaced the psychological­ly destructive genetic “parenthood” of one or two arbi­trary adults with a diffusion of the responsibility for physical welfare over a larger number of people. The child would still form intimate love relationships, but in­stead of developing close ties with a decreed “mother” and “father,” the child might now form those ties with people of his own choosing, of whatever age or sex. Thus all adult-child relationships will have been mutually chosen—equal, intimate relationships free of material de­pendencies. Correspondingly, though children would be fewer, they would not be monopolized, but would mingle freely throughout the society to the benefit of all, thus satisfying that legitimate desire to be around the young which is often called the reproductive “instinct.”

4) Sexual freedom, love, etc. So far we have not said much of love and sexual freedom because there is no reason for it to present a problem: there would be noth­ing obstructing it. With full liberty human relationships eventually would be redefined for the better. If a child does not know his own mother, or at least does not at­tach a special value to her over others, it is unlikely that he would choose her as his first love object, only to have to develop inhibitions on this love. It is possible that the child might form his first close physical relationships with people his own size out of sheer physical convenience, just as men and women, all else being equal, might prefer each other over those of the same sex for sheer physical fit. But if not, if he should choose to relate sexually to adults, even if he should happen to pick his own genetic mother, there would be no a priori reasons for her to reject his sexual advances, because the incest taboo would have lost its function. The “household,” a transient social form, would not be subject to the dangers of inbreeding.

Thus, without the incest taboo, adults might return within a few generations to a more natural polymor­phous sexuality, the concentration on genital sex and orgasmic pleasure giving way to total physical/emotional relationships that included that. Relations with children would include as much genital sex as the child was capable of—probably considerably more than we now believe—but because genital sex would no longer be the central focus of the relationship, lack of orgasm would not present a serious problem. Adult/child and homosexual sex taboos would disappear, as well as nonsexual friend­ship (Freud’s “aim-inhibited” love). All close relationships would include the physical, our concept of exclusive phys­ical partnerships (monogamy) disappearing from our psy­chic structure, as well as the construct of a Partner Ideal. But how long it would take for these changes to occur, and in what forms they would appear, remains conjee – ture. The specifics need not concern ns here. We need only set up the preconditions for a free sexuality: what­ever forms it took would be assuredly an improvement on what we have now, “natural” in the truest sense.

In the transitional phase, adult genital sex and the exclusiveness of couples within the household might have to be maintained in order for the unit to be able to func­tion smoothly, with a minimum of internal tension caused by sexual frictions. It is unrealistic to impose theories of what ought to be on a psyche already fundamentally or­ganized around specific emotional needs. And this is why individual attempts to eliminate sexual possessiveness are now always inauthentic. We would do much better to concentrate on overthrowing the social structures that have produced this psychical organization, allowing for the eventual—if not in our lifetime—fundamental restructur­ing (or should I say destructuring?) of our psychosexual­ity.

Above, I have drawn up only a very rough plan in order to make the general direction of a feminist revolu­tion more vivid: Production and reproduction of the spe­cies would both be, simultaneously, reorganized in a nonrepressive way. The birth of children to a unit which disbanded or recomposed as soon as children were phys­ically able to be independent, one that was meant to serve immediate needs rather than to pass on power and priv­ilege (the basis of patriarchy is the inheritance of property gained through labor) would eliminate the power psy­chology, sexual repression, and cultural sublimation. Family chauvinism, class privilege based on birth, would be eliminated. The blood tie of the mother to the child would eventually be severed—if male jealousy of “cre­ative” childbirth actually exists, we will soon have the means to create life independently of sex—so that preg­nancy, now freely acknowledged as clumsy, inefficient, and painful, would be indulged in, if at all, only as a tongue-in-cheek archaism, just as already women today wear virginal white to their weddings. A cybernetic social­ism would abolish economic classes, and all forms of labor exploitation, by granting all people a livelihood based only on material needs. Eventually drudge work (jobs) would be eliminated in favor of (complex) play, activity done for its own sake, by both adults and chil­dren. Love and sexuality would be reintegrated, flowing unimpeded.

The revolt against the biological family could bring on the first successful revolution, or what was thought of by the ancients as the Messianic Age. Humanity’s double curse when it ate the Apple of Knowledge (the growing knowledge of the laws of the environment creating re­pressive civilization), that man would toil by the sweat of his brow in order to live, and woman would bear children in pain and travail, can now be undone through man’s very efforts in toil. We now have the knowledge to create a paradise on earth anew. The alternative is our own sui­cide through that knowledge, the creation of a hell on earth, followed by oblivion.

[1] His correlation of the interdevelopment of these two systems in Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State on a time scale might read as in the following chart:

[2] For example, witches must be seen as women in independent political revolt: Within two centuries eight million women were burned at the stake by the Church—for religion was the politics of that period.


[3] Hereafter abbreviated W. R.M.

[4]R. P. Knight in “Evaluation of the Results of Psychoanalytic Therapy,” American Journal of Psychiatry, 1941, found that psychoanalysis was a failure with 56.7 percent of the patients he studied, and a success with only 43.3 percent. Thus psychoanalysis failed somewhat more often than it succeeded. In 1952 in a dif­ferent study Eysenck showed an improvement rate in patients who had received psychoanalysis of 44 percent; in patients who had received psychotherapy of 64 percent; and in those who had received no treatment at all an improvement rate of 72 percent Other studies (Barron and Leary, 1955; Bergin, 1963; Cartwright and Vogel, 1960; Truax, 1963; Powers and Witmer, 1951) con­firm these negative results.

[5] If I deal with the male child before the female that is because Freud—indeed our whole culture—deals with the male child first. Even in order to properly criticize Freud we shall have to follow the priorities he has set up in his own work. Also, as Freud him­self saw, the Oedipus Complex had much greater cultural signifi­cance than the Electra; I too shall attempt to show that indeed it is more psychologically damaging, if only because in a male – dominated culture the damage done to the male psyche has vaster consequences.

[6] The misery of the goddess has been portrayed admirably in Satyajit Ray’s film Devi.

[7] This is carried to extremes in contemporary public schools where perfectly ready children are turned away for a whole year because their birthdays fall a few days short of an arbitrary date.

[8] See Ari£s, op. cit., Chapter V, “From Immodesty to Innocence,” for a detailed description of this exposure, based on the sexual experiences of the Dauphin as recorded in the Heroard Journal.

[9] Gangs are the only modem children’s groups that are self – directed: The term gang has an ominous sound for good political reasons.

[10] In 1969, white men who worked full-time the year around earned a median income of $6,497; black men, $4,285; white women, $3,859; and black women, $2,674.

But in only a few radical circles affected by the Women’s Liberation Movement, has even the black woman been acknowl­edged to be at the bottom economically.

[11] An interesting illustration of their common and interchangeable political function is the psychological substitution of the racial caste distinction for the sexual caste distinction, e. g., a black lesbian often automatically assumes the male role in a black – white lesbian relationship.

[12] Here, and throughout the chapter, I am assuming the position of the Black Panther Party as representative of Black Power, though I am well aware that the BPP has violent disputes with other Black Power groups over many things. –

[13] Thus the peculiar situation that women never object to the insulting of women as a class, as long as they individually are excepted. The worst insult for a woman is that she is “just like a woman,” i. e., no better; the highest compliment that she has the brains, talent, dignity, or strength of a man. In fact, like every member of an oppressed class, she herself participates in the insult­ing of others like herself, hoping thereby to make it obvious that she as an individual is above their behavior. Thus women as a class are set against each other [“Divide and Conquer"], the “other woman” believing that the wife is a “bitch” who “doesn’t understand him.4 and the wife believing that the other woman is an “opportunist” who is “taking advantage” of him—while the culprit himself sneaks away free.

continuously proving himself through sexual conquest; but all be may have really wanted was the excuse to indulge in affection without the loss of manly self-respect. That men are more re­strained than are women about exhibiting emotion is because, in addition to the results of the Oedipus Complex, to express tender­ness to a woman is to acknowledge her equality. Unless, of course, one tempers one’s tenderness—takes it back—with some evidence of domination.

[15] Homosexuals are so ridiculed because in viewing the male as sex object they go doubly against the norm: even women don’t read Pretty Boy magazines.

[16] “As for his other sports,” says a recent blurb about football hero Joe Namath, “he prefers Blondes.” <

[17] Female inability to focus on sexual imagery has been found to be a major cause of female frigidity. Masters and Johnson, Albert Ellis, and others have stressed the importance of “sexual focusing” in teaching fricid women to achieve orgasm. Hilda O’Hare in International Journal of Sexology correctly attributes this problem to the absence in our society of a female counterpart for the count less stimulants of the male sexual urge.

[18] However, women’s presence in the arts and humanities is still viciously fought by the few males remaining, in proportion to the

insecurity of their own position—particularly precarious in tradi­tional, humanist schools, such as figurative painting.

[19] I was struck by this at a recent Women’s Liberation workshop scheduled by the science department of a top-level eastern uni­versity: of the fifty women present, only one or two were engaged in research, let alone high-level research. The others were lab technicians, graduate assistants, high school science teachers, faculty wives, and the like.

[20] The idealistic mode, corresponding roughly to the supra historical, nonmaterialist “metaphysical” mode of thought against which Marx and Engels revolted.

[21] One abstract painter I knew, who had experienced the horrors of North African battlefields in World War П—fields of men (bud­dies) rotting in the sun with rats darting out of their stomachs— spent years moving a pure beige circle around a pure beige square. In this manner, the “modern” artist denies the ugliness of reality (rats in the stomachs of buddies) in favor of artificial harmonies (circles in squares).

[22] Revolutionaries, by definition, are still visionaries of the Aesthetic Mode, the idealists of pragmatic politics.

[23] I must ask the reader to forgive me here—this chapter was written before the “Pill Hearings,” indeed, before the mushrooming of the ecology movement’itself. Such is the speed of modern com­munications—a book is outdated before it even makes it into galleys.

[24] Most bosses would fail badly had they to take over their secre­taries’ job, or do without them. I know several secretaries who sign without a thought their bosses’ names to their own (often brilliant) solutions. The skills of college women especially would cost a fortune reckoned in material terms of male labor, t Margaret Benston (“The Political Economy of Women’s Liber­ation,” Monthly Review, September 1969), in attempting to show that women’s oppression is indeed economic—though previous economic analysis has been incorrect—distinguishes between the male superstructure economy based on commodity production (capitalist ownership of the means of production, and wage labor), and the pre-industrial reduplicative’ economy of the family, pro­duction for immediate use. Because the latter is not part of the official contemporary economy, its function at the basis of that’ economy is often overlooked. Talk of drafting women into the superstructure commodity economy fails to deal with the tremen­dous amount of necessary production of the traditional kind now performed by women without pay: Who will do it?

[25] The Chase Manhattan Bank estimates a woman’s over-all do­mestic work week at 99.6 hours. Margaret Benston gives her minimal estimate for a childless married woman at 16 hours, close to half of a regular work week; a mother must spend at least six or seven days a week working close to 12 hours.

[26] Though it is true that children in orphanages do not get even the warmth and attention that parents give a child, with crippling results-—tests have shown IQ’s of children in institutions to be lower, emotional maladjustment higher, and even, as in the famous experiment with monkeys deprived of motherly care, sexual func­tioning to be crippled or destroyed—those who quote these statistics so triumphantly to discredit radical alternatives do not recog – size that the orphanage is the antithesis of a radical alternative, that in fact it is ал outgrowth of what we are trying to correct.

The orphanage is the underside of the family, just as prostitution is the direct result of the institution of patriarchal marriage. In the same sense as prostitution complements marriage, the orphan­age is the necessary complementary evil of a society in which the majority of children live under a system of patronage by genetic parents. In the one case, because women exist under patronage, unclaimed women pay a special price; in the other, because children are possessions of specific individuals rather than free members of the society, unclaimed children suffer.

Orphans are those unfortunate children who have no parents at all in a society that dictates that all children must have parents to survive. When all adults are monopolized by their genetic children, there is no one left to care about the unclaimed. However, if no one had exclusive relationships with children, then everyone would be free for alt children. The natural interest in children would be diffused over all children rather than narrowly concentrated on one’s own.

The evils of this orphanage system, the barracks-like existence, the impersonality, the anonymity, arise because these institutions are dumping grounds for the rejected in an exclusive family system; whereas we want to spread family emotions over the whole society. Thus child institutions and their consequences are at the furthest remove from revolutionary alternatives because they violate almost all of our essential postulates: the integration of children into the total society, and the granting of full economic and sexual freedoms.

[27] In my short stay, I observed the following: One American friend of mine, though a registered nurse, could not, despite end­less hassle, land a job in the infirmary—because all women were needed in the kitchen; A job in the sandal shop was given to an untrained boy, over a girl skilled in leatherwork.

[28] On one kibbutz I met a seventeen-year-old who had built his own small artist shack, where he went with his friends to paint regularly. This was done, typically, entirely as his own project t Neill says of himself: “Although I write and say what I think of society, if I tried to reform society by action, society would kill me as a public danger. . . . II realize] that my primary job is not the reformation of society, but the bringing of happiness to some few children.”

[29] Neill comments on the recurrence of sex role divisions with a bit of bafflement, but with general acceptance. Indeed, he and his wife Ena act as benevolent role models, though perhaps for a rather large family. Here is Neill on the subject:

On a good day you may not see the boy gangsters [?] of Summerhill. They are in far comers intent on their deeds of derring-do. But you will see the girls. They are in or near the house, and never far away from the grown-ups.

You will often find the Art Room full of girls painting and making things with fabrics. In the main, however, I think that the small boys are more creative; at least I never hear a boy say he is bored because he doesn’t know what to do, whereas I sometimes hear girls say that.

Possibly I find the boys more creative than the girls be­cause the school may be better equipped for boys than for girls. Girls of ten or over have little use for a workshop with iron and wood. . .. They have their art work, which includes pottery, cutting linoleum blocks and painting, and sewing work, but for some that is not enough. …

The girls take a less active part in school meetings than the boys do, and I have no ready explanation for this fact (Italics mine)

[30] If the isolated Summerhill school experiment works to a limited degree, the Summerhill “home” fails resoundingly. There is nothing as sad as the spectacle of parents trying to initiate their own private version of Summerhill into their family life, never realizing the deep contradiction between the nuclear family and true child freedom. I have been in homes in which mothers were ■reduced to begging children to stop hitting guests (me)—they didn’t dare use 1 he power that the chiM. .it ic’>st. knows is there and, in fact, is provoking; there are other families where children are dragged off to family councils periodically; and so on. But nevertheless, despite all these progressive measures, children in­stinctively know-—and act on this knowledge—that any real decisions will be based on practical realities that the parents control.

[31] Reich discusses the Russian inability to handle the first signs of a free child sexuality: Child sex was interpreted in Puritan terms as the sign of moral breakdown, rather than as the first stage of the reversion to a natural sexuality.

[32] Ninety-five percent of all American women still marry and 90 percent bear children, most often more than two. Families with children in the medium range (two to four) are as predominant as ever, no longer attributable to the postwar baby boom.

[33] But what does this dichotomy of good/bad really mean? Perhaps after all, it is only a euphemistic class distinction: sensitive and educated, as opposed to uneducated, underprivileged, harassed, and therefore indifferent. But ev€n though a child born to educated or upper-class parents is luckier in every respect, and is apt to receive a fair number of privileges by virtue of his class, name, and the property he is due to inherit, the distribution of children is equal among all classes—if indeed children born to the unfortunate do not outnumber the others—in this way reproducing in identical proportion the original inequality.

[34] An added advantage of the household is that it allows older people past their fertile years to share fully in parenthood when they so desire.

[35] If children today were given a realistic idea of the professions available—not just fireman/nurse—they might arrive at a special interest even sooner.


The increasing erosion of the functions of the family by modern technology should, by now, have caused some signs of its weakening. However, this is not absolutely the case. Though the institution is archaic, artificial cul­tural reinforcements have been imported to bolster it: Sentimental sermons, manuals of guidance, daily columns in newspapers and magazines, special courses, services, and institutions for (professional) couples, parents, and

child educators, nostalgia, warnings to individuals who question or evade it, and finally, if the number of drop­outs becomes a serious threat, a real backlash, including outright persecution of nonconformists. The last has not happened only because it is not yet necessary.

Marriage is in the same state as the Church: Both are becoming functionally defunct, as their preachers go about heralding a revival, eagerly chalking up converts in a day of dread. And just as God has been pronounced dead quite often but has this sneaky way of resurrecting him­self, so everyone debunks marriage, yet ends up mar­ried.[32]

What is keeping marriage so alive? Ї have pointed out some of the cultural bulwarks of marriage in the twen­tieth century. We have seen how the romantic tradition of nonmarital love, the hetairism that was the necessary adjunct to monogamic marriage, has been purposely con­fused with that most pragmatic of institutions, making it more appealing—thus restraining people from experiment­ing with other social forms that could satisfy their emo­tional needs as well or better.

Under increasing pressure, with the pragmatic bases of the marriage institution blurred, sex roles relaxed to a degree that would have disgraced a Victorian. He had no crippling doubts about his role, nor about the function and value of marriage. To him it was simply an economic arrangement of some selfish benefit, one that would most easily satisfy his physical needs and reproduce his heirs. His wife, too, was clear about her duties and re­wards: ownership of herself and of her full sexual, psy­chological, and housekeeping services for a lifetime, in return for long-term patronage and protection by a mem­ber of the ruling class, and—in her turn—limited control over a household and over her children until they reached a certain age. Today this contract based on divided roles

has been so disguised by sentiment that it goes completely unrecognized by millions of newlyweds, and even most older married couples.

But this blurring of the economic contract, and the re­sulting confusion of „sex roles, has not significantly eased woman’s oppression. In many cases it has put her in only a more vulnerable position. With the clear-cut arrange­ment of matches by parents all but abolished, a woman, still part of an underclass, must now, in order to gain the indispensable male patronage and protection, play a des­perate game, hunting down bored males while yet appear­ing cool. And even once she is married, any overlap of roles generally takes place on the wife’s side, not on the husband’s: the “cherish and protect” clause is the first thing forgotten—while the wife has gained the privilege of going to work to “help out,” even of putting her hus­band through school. More than ever she shoulders the brunt of the marriage, not only emotionally, but now also in its more practical aspects. She has simply added his job to hers.

A second cultural prop to the outmoded institution is the privatization of the marriage experience: each part­ner enters marriage convinced that what happened to his parents, what happened to his friends can never happen to him. Though Wrecked Marriage has become a national hobby, a universal obsession—as witnessed by the boom­ing business of guidebooks to marriage and divorce, the women’s magazine industry, an affluent class of marriage counselors and shrinks, whole repertoires of Ball-and – Chain jokes and gimmicks, and cultural products such as soap opera, the marriage-and-family genre on TV, e. g., I Love Lucy or Father Knows Best, films and plays like Cassavetes’ Faces and Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?—still one encounters everywhere a defiant “We’re different” brand of optimism in which the one good (out­wardly exemplary, anyway) marriage in the community is habitually cited to prove that it is possible.

The privatization process is typified by comments like, , “Well, I know I’d make a great mother.” It is useless to

point out that everyone says that, that the very parents or friends now dismissed as “bad” parents and “poor” marital partners all began marriage and parenthood in exactly the same spirit. After all, does anyone choose to have a “bad” marriage? Does anyone choose to be a “bad” mother? And even if it were a question of “good” vs. “bad” marital partners or parents, there will always be as many of the latter as the former; under the present system of universal marriage and parenthood just as many spouses and chil­dren must pull a bad lot as a good one; in fact any classes of “good” and “bad” are bound to recreate them­selves in identical proportion.[33] Thus the privatization proc­ess functions to keep people blaming themselves, rather than the institution, for its failure: Though the institution consistently proves itself unsatisfactory, even rotten, it en­courages them to believe that somehow their own case will be different.

Warnings can have no effect, because logic has nothing to do with why people get married. Everyone has eyes of his own, parents of his own. If he chooses to block all evidence, it is because he must. In a world out of con­trol, the only institutions that grant him an illusion of control, that seem to offer any safety, shelter or warmth, are the “private” institutions: religion, marriage/family, and, most recently, psychoanalytic therapy. But, as we have seen, the family is neither private nor a refuge, but is directly connected to—is even the cause of—the ills of the larger society which the individual is no longer able to confront.

But the cultural bulwarks we have just discussed—the

.confusion of romance with marriage, the blurring of its economic functions and its rigid sex roles, the privatiza­tion process, the illusion of control and refuge, all of which exploit the fears of the modern person living within an in­creasingly hostile environment—still are not the whole an­swer to why the institution of marriage continues to thrive. It is unlikely that such negatives alone could support the family unit as a vital institution. It would be too easy to attribute the continuation of the family structure solely to backlash. We will find, I am afraid, in reviewing marriage in terms of our four minimal feminist demands, that it fulfills (in its own miserable way) at least a portion of the requirements at least as well as or better than did most of the social experiments we have discussed.

1) Freedom of women from the tyranny of reproduction and childbearing is hardly fulfilled. However, women are often relieved of its worst strains by a servant class—and in the modem marriage, by modern gynecology, “family planning,” and the increasing takeover, by the school, day­care centers, and the like, of the childrearing function.

2) Though financial independence of women and chil­dren is not generally granted, there is a substitute: phys-. ical security.

3) Women and children, segregated from the larger so­ciety, are integrated within the family unit, the only place where this occurs. That the little interplay between men, women, and children is concentrated in one social’unit makes that unit all the more difficult to renounce.

‘ 4) Though the family is the source of sexual repres­sion, it guarantees the conjugal couple a steady, if not satisfactory, sex supply, and provides the others with “aim- ‘inhibited” relationships, which are, in many cases, the only long-term relationships these individuals will ever have.

Thus there are practical assets of marriage to which people cling. It is not all a cultural sales job. On a scale of percentages, marriage—at least in its desperate lib­eralized version—would fare as well as most of the experimental alternatives thus far tried, which, as we have

seen, also fulfilled some of the stipulations and not others, or only partially fulfilled all of them. And marriage has the added advantage of being a known quantity.

And yet marriage in its very definition will never be able to fulfill the needs of its participants, for it was organized around, and reinforces, a fundamentally oppres­sive biological condition that we only now have the skill to correct. As long as we have the institution we shall have the oppressive conditions at its base. We need to start talking about new alternatives that will satisfy the emo­tional and psychological needs that marriage, archaic as it is, still satisfies, but that will satisfy them better. But in any proposal we shall have to do at least one better than marriage on our feminist scale, or despite all warnings people will stay hooked—in the hope that just this once, just for them, marriage will come across.



These broad imperatives must form the basis of any more specific radical feminist program. But our revolution­ary demands are likely to meet anything from mild balking (“utopian. . . unrealistic. . . farfetched. . . too far in the future. . . impossible. . . well, it may stink, but you haven’t got anything better. . .”) to hysteria (“inhu­man. . . unnatural. . . sick. . . perverted. . . communistic. . . 1984 . . . what? creative motherhood

destroyed for babies in glass tubes, monsters made by scientists?, etc.”). But we have seen that such negative reactions paradoxically may signify how close we are hit­ting: revolutionary feminism is the only radical program that immediately cracks through to the emotional strata underlying “serious” politics, thus reintegrating the person – al with the public, the subjective with the objective, the emotional with the rational—the female principle with the male.

What are some of the prime components of this resist­ance that is keeping people from experimenting with alternatives to the family, and where does it come from? We are all familiar with the details of Brave New World: cold collectives, with individualism abolished, sex reduced to a mechanical act, children become robots, Big Brothei intruding into every aspect of private life, rows of babies fed by impersonal machines, eugenics manipulated by the state, genocide of cripples and retards for the sake o{ a super-race created by white-coated technicians, all emo­tion considered weakness, love destroyed, and so on. The family (which, despite its oppressiveness, is now the last refuge from the encroaching power of the state, a shelter that provides the little emotional warmth, privacy, and individual comfort now ayailable) would be destroyed, letting this horror penetrate indoors.

Paradoxically, one reason The 1984 Nightmare occurs so frequently is that it grows directly out of, signifying an exaggeration of, the evils of our present male-suprema­cist culture. For example, many of its visual details are lifted directly from our orphanages and state-run institu­tions for children.[26] The Nightmare is directly the product of the attempt to imagine a society in which women have

become like men, crippled in the identical way, thus destroying a delicate balance of interlocking dependen­cies.

However, we are suggesting the opposite: Rather than concentrating the female principle into a “private” re­treat, into which men periodically duck for relief, we want to rediffuse it—for the first time creating society from the bottom up. Man’s difficult triumph over Nature has made it possible to restore the truly natural: he could undo Adam’s and Eve’s curse both, to reestablish the earthly Garden of Eden. But in his long toil his imagination has been stifled: he fears an enlargement of his drudgery, through the incorporation of Eve’s curse into his own.

But there is a more concrete reason why this subliminal horror image operates to destroy serious consideration of

feminism: the failure of past social experiments. Radical experiments, when they have solved problems at all, have created an entirely new—and not necessarily improved—, set of problems in their place. Let us look briefly at some of these radical experiments to determine the causes of their failure—for I believe that in no case was the failure surprising given the original postulates of the experiment, and its specific social context. We can then use this in­formation as another valuable negative guideline, teach­ing us what most to avoid in our own program.

The most important failure of all the modem social experiments was that of the Russian communes. (The failure of the Russian Revolution in general is a thorn in every radical’s side; but its direct relation to the failure of the communes is seldom noted.) It led, ironically, to the assumption of a causal connection between the aboli­tion of the family and the development of a totalitarian state. In this view, the later Russian reinstitution of the nuclear family system is seen as a last-ditch attempt to salvage humanist values—privacy, individualism, love, etc., by then rapidly disappearing.

But it is the reverse: The failure of the Russian Revolu­tion is directly traceable to the failure of its attempts to eliminate the family and sexual repression. This failure, in turn, as we have seen, was caused by the limitations of a male-biased revolutionary analysis based on economic class alone, one that failed to take the family fully into account even in its function as an economic unit. By the same token, all socialist revolutions to date have been от will be failures for precisely these reasons. Any initial liberation under current socialism must always revert back to repression, because the family structure is the source of psychological, economic, and political oppression. So­cialist attempts to soften the structure of power within the family by incorporating women into the labor force or army are only reformist. Thus it is no surprise that socialism as it is now constituted in the various parts of the world is not only no improvement on capitalism, but often worse.

Thus develops a major component of The Nightmare image: The destruction of the family as the last refuge for intimacy, comfort, privacy, individualism, etc., and’ the complete encroachment of the superstructure economy into all aspects of life, the drafting of women into a male world, rather than the elimination of sex class distinction altogether. Because no provision has been made to rees­tablish the female element in the outside world, to incor­porate the “personar into the “public,” because the female principle has been minimized or obliterated rather than diffused to humanize the larger society, the result is a horror.

Wilhelm Reich in The Sexual Revolution summarized the specific objective reasons for the failure of the Rus­sian communes in the best analysis to date:

1) Confusion of the leadership and evasion of the prob­lem.

2) The laborious task of reconstruction in general given the cultural backwardness of Old Russia, the war, and famine.

3) Lack of theory. The Russian Revolution was the first of its kind. No attempt had been made to deal with emotional-sexual-familial problems in the formulation of basic revolutionary theory. (Or, in our terms, there had been a lack of “consciousness raising” about female/child oppression and a lack of radical feminist analysis prior to the revolution itself.)

4) The sex-negative psychological structure of the indi­vidual, created and reinforced throughout history by the family, hindered the individual’s liberation from this very structure. As Reich puts it:

It must be remembered that human beings have a tremendous fear of just that kind of life for which they long so much but which is at variance with their own structure.

5) The explosive concrete complexities of sexuality.

■ In the picture that Reich draws of the time, one senses the immense frustration, of people trying to liberate them­selves without having a well-thought-out ideology to guide them. In the end, that they attempted so much without an adequate preparation made their failure even more extreme: To destroy the balance of sexual polarization without entirely eliminating it was worse than nothing at all

Another experimental communal system, widely touted, is the kibbutz in Israel. Here, though, the failure is not extreme: It is often stated that children of the kibbutz lack individualism, that there is a “groupiness” in their psychology that is the price of elimination of the family. (“And if you want to pay the price. . . well. . .”) Here I prefer to speak from my own experience, though there are many books on the subject. My impression of kibbutz life is as follows:

The division of labor is as strong as ever (one woman explained to me that driving a tractor is apt to ruin a woman’s complexion). Only foreign girls still question why women aren’t out in the fields, but instead confined to the kitchen, the laundry, the sewing room, or, at best, the chickenhouse.[27] Children identify strongly with their genetic parents (one hears over and over again the words Ema Sheli, Abba Sheli, "My mother, My father,” in the same tones as every child on every block in the U. S, says, “If you don’t do it Г11 tell my father,” or “My mother’s gon’ beat your ass”). Family ties remain strong even if their worst consequences are avoided.

Above all, children are still segregated, even having their own special facilities, animal farms, mealtimes, activ­ities. The conception of childhood remains, including the activities proper to it. Schooling follows the European model, even if some of the worst aspects, such as grading, have been eliminated: The classroom continues, with its


twenty-to-one ratio, adult approval still the final goal rather than learning for its own sake.

Sex role models are strongly fostered, sex segregation not eliminated (there are different bathrooms for male and female), and homo – or bi-sexuality so unheard of that when I brought it up several women walked out of the room in protest. Despite rumors to the contrary, the kib­butz is increasingly conservative sexually (it is embarrass­ing for a single woman to ask for birth control pills, and VD is a disgrace), and any alliance other than a long­term one with a socially approved partner is frowned upon. Sexuality on the kibbutz remains conventionally organized, little different from the sexuality of the larger society. The incest taboo and its consequences have simply been extended from the family to the peer group.

In fact the kibbutz is no radical experiment, but a limited communalism instituted to further specific agri­cultural aims. The kibbutz is nothing more than a com­munity of farming pioneers temporarily forced to sacrifice traditional social structures to better adjust to a peculiar set of national conditions. If and when these conditions change, the kibbutz reverts to “normal.” For example, women on the far left kibbutz on which I stayed were concerned with demanding private kitchens in addition to the communal one where meals were served six times a day. They were still cast in the role of Gracious Wife, but had been denied the proper equipment to play the part. Their interest in clothing, fashion, makeup, glamor, not easy to indulge, resembled, indeed was, the longing of the farm girl for the vices of the big city—the more intense in fantasy because difficult to achieve in practice. Or, going through the residential section of the kibbutz in I the early evening, I could easily imagine that I was walk­ing through a quiet suburbia or a small town in tbe U. S.A.: The matchbox homes are cared for with the at­tention to – private property of any petit bourgeois, the decoration of apartments just as devoted. (The reversion back to property was explained to me as “only realistic.” Formerly kibbutzniks had shared even personal clothing,

but soon got sick of this.) Property-is still an important extension of self—because children are still property. The line of Little Ones following Big Mama out of the House of Children is like any kindergarten anywhere. Children are still oppressed.

It is remarkable that despite the lack of radicalism about the kibbutz experiment it turned out as well as it did. The proportionate results of even a weakening of the division of labor, property mentality, the nuclear family, sex repression, etc., are—spectacular. My impression was that the children were healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally than their counterparts in the American fam­ily structure; that they were friendlier and more generous, with great curiosity about the world outside; that their parents were not so nervous and hassled, and thus were able to maintain better relationships with them; and that their creativity and individuality were encouraged as much as the community could afford.[28]

Another limited but much-touted experiment which has produced disproportionately good results is A. S. Neill’s Summerhill. In the famous book about his small experi­mental school in the north of England, Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Childrearing (a book on the shelf of every self-respecting liberal, radical, Bohemian, and/or academic parent in the country), he describes the transi­tion of normal children into “free” self-regulating chil­dren, But Summerhill is no “radical” approach to child – rearing—it is a liberal one. Neill, a kindly and decent sort of schoolmaster, rather than a true social innovator,! has set up a small retreat for those victims of our present system whose parents have the money and liberal views to

send them there. Within this retreat children are spared the more harmful effects of authoritarianism in the family structure, a pretense is made at equality with those who govern the place (Neill’s vote counts as only one, though I imagine that in real crisis, the decision does not come up for vote. In any case, children always know who’s boss, benevolent though he might be), and compulsory education is relaxed: though children learn only when they want to, the structure of classes, if loosened, remains un­changed; though paasturbation is not frowned on, sexual intercourse is definitely not encouraged (after all, Neill observes, quite rightly, “they” would close down the school). What’s worse, sex roles have not begun to be eliminated,[29] something beyond the scope of such an ex­periment, since children are already psychosexually formed by the family by the time they come in, at five or over. In ah respects then—psychologically, sexually, edu­cationally—we have only a softening of some of the harshest aspects of the system.

2l8 the dialectic of sex

The problem has not been attacked at the roots. Legal­ly children are still under the jurisdiction of parents who can do with them what they please, (And kids can’t mail away for the sort of parents who will send them to Sum – merhill.) Neill continually complains of parents, who can undo all his work in one vacation, or drag the child away the minute the worst effects of the victimization have disappeared. He is afraid of their power over him. After all, he is at their service: if they are not satisfied with The Product, the shadowy “they” still have the final say. Even when the parents are devoted followers of the Sum – merhill philosophy,[30] they are a nuisance with their con­stant visits and questions. Between the two, admiring visitors and dubious investigators (including a whole array of official ones), the children must get accustomed to living in a zoo, hardly much of an improvement on their usual object status.

And how could it be otherwise? Summerhill is an iso­lated refuge in which children are more—^not less—segre­gated from adults, even from the life of the town. And the school is totally dependent on the goodwill of legal parents and liberal donors even to stay in existence. It is hardly a self-sufficient community with its own economy, and thus it is prone to become a year-round camp for disturbed children, whose parents have been backed into liberalism as a last resort. Because children far outnumber the adults, and are the central reason for the existence


of the whole project, their wishes and opinions are ob­served and “respected” more than in most places in the world, but it is an artificial respect not based on a true integration into a real community.

And if, with only these superficial reforms, children il­lustrate remarkably improved behavior, their aggression, repression, and hostility replaced by authentic courtesy, psychological breadth, and honesty, then think what we might expect under truly revolutionary conditions.

A detailed study of these and other experiments from the radical feminist viewpoint would be a valuable con­tribution to feminist theory. Necessarily we have been brief. We have discussed some of the most important modem social experiments primarily to show that they do not fill our four minimal requirements for feminist revolu­tion.

Let us summarize the causes of failure:

1) The special ties of women to biological reproduc­tion and childrearing, leading to unequal division of labor, class based on sex, the power psychology, and other evils, were never severed. The roles of women were enlarged rather than redefined. Women may have been (partially) drafted into the superstructure male economy, usually only to fill a specific, often transient, labor need, but never has the female role been diffused throughout the larger so­ciety. Thus women kept their old roles, and, in some cases, merely added a new one.

2) In some cases, such as Summerhill, the experiment was dependent on the economy—and the goodwill—of a larger (repressive) community, and thus was parasitic, un­sound at its foundations. However, in those communities with socialism at the origins of the experiment, this was not so much the problem. Children of the communes and the kibbutz feel as dependent on the community as a whole as they do on any specific person; often they even share in the productive work. Only in the division of labor are these experiments still (economically speaking) at fault, and that, we know, develops for other reasons.

3) Continued segregation of children and a failure to

do away with or at least radically restructure school. The methods of segregation have varied, ranging from the ex­treme of the dumping-ground, barracks-like orphanage to its more liberal version, the isolated camp setting of a Sum – merhill, or a Beil Yeladim, the House of Children of the kibbutz. But though its destructive impact may have been cushioned, in no case has the concept of childhood been questioned, or the apparatus of childhood (the modern school, special childhood customs, etc.) discarded alto­gether.

4) Sexual repression continued, partly as the result of the failure to sever the special connection between women and children and partly because the pioneers were unable to overcome their own “sex-negative” structures.[31]

I shall add a fifth cause of failure:

5) There was no development of a feminist conscious­ness and analysis prior to the initiation of the experiment. The best example of this failing is our current American communal experiments, which merely extend the family structure to include a larger number of people. The divi­sion. of labor remains, because woman’s role in (child) bed or kitchen has not been questioned, nor the role of man as provider. And since the relationship “mother/ child” remains intact, it is no wonder that when the com­mune breaks up, all the “godparents” disappear, as well as the genetic father himself, leaving the mother stuck— without even the protection of an ordinary marriage.

Thus never has there been a true instance of full mem­bership of women and children in the larger society. The modern social experiment, like the matriarchal stage of human history, signifies only a relative loosening within the larger movement toward consolidation of male su­premacy through history. It never altered the fundamen­tal condition of sex oppression. Any benefits that accrued to women and children were incidental to other social

The Case for Feminist Revolution objectives—which themselves were obstructed by the vast, unrecognized substratum of sex oppression. Because their ideology was not founded on the minimal feminist prem­ises above, these. experiments never achieved even the more limited democratic goals their (male) theorists and leaders had predicted. However, their success within nar­row spheres shows that the biological family unit is amenable to change. But we would have to control totally its institutions to eliminate the oppression altogether.

However—to be fair—it is only recently, in the most advanced industrial countries, that genuine preconditions for feminist revolution have begun to exist. For the first time it is becoming possible to attack the family not only on moral grounds—in that it reinforces biologically-based sex class, promoting adult males, who are then divided further among themselves by race and class privilege, over females of all ages and male children—but also on functional grounds: it is no longer necessary or most ef­fective as the basic social unit of reproduction and produc­tion. There is no longer a need for universal reproduction, even if the ‘development of artificial reproduction does not soon place biological reproduction itself in question; cyber­nation, by changing not only man’s relation to work, but his need to work altogether, will eventually strip the divi­sion of labor at the root of the family of any remaining practical value.





Before we talk about revolutionary alternatives, let’s sum­marize—to determine the specifics that must be carefully excluded from any new structures. Then we can go on to “utopian speculation” directed by at least negative guide­lines.

We have seen how women, biologically distinguished from men, are culturally distinguished from “human.” Nature produced the fundamental inequality—half the human race must bear and rear the children of all of them —which was later consolidated, institutionalized, in the interests of men. Reproduction of the species cost women dearly, not only emotionally, psychologically, culturally but even in strictly material (physical) terms: before re­cent methods of contraception, continuous childbirth led to constant “female trouble,” early aging, and death. Women were the slave class that maintained the species in order to free the other half for the business of the world —admittedly often its drudge aspects, but certainly all its creative aspects as well.

This natural division of labor was continued only at great cultural sacrifice: men and women developed only half of themselves, at the expense of the other half. The division of the psyche into male and female to better reinforce the reproductive division was tragic: the hyper­trophy in men of rationalism, aggressive drive, the atrophy of their emotional sensitivity was a physical (war) as well as a cultural disaster. The emotionalism and

passivity of women increased their suffering (we cannot speak of them in a symmetrical way, since they were victimized as a class by the division). Sexually men and women were channeled into a highly ordered—time, place, procedure, even dialogue—heterosexuality restricted to the genitals, rather than diffused over the entire physical being.

I submit, then, that the first demand for any alterna­tive system must be:

1) The freeing of women from the tyranny of their re­productive biology by every means available, and the diffusion of the childbearing and childrearing role to the society as a whole, men as well as women. There are many degrees of this. Already we have a (hard-won) acceptance of “family planning,” if not contraception for its own sake. Proposals are imminent for day-care cen­ters, perhaps even twenty-four-hour child-care centers staffed by men as well as women. But this, in my opinion, is timid if not entirely worthless as a transition. We’re talking about radical change. And though indeed it cannot come all at once, radical goals must be kept in sight at all times. Day-care centers buy women off. They, ease the immediate pressure without asking why that pressure is on women.

At the other extreme there are the more distant solu­tions based on the potentials of modern embryology, that is, artificial reproduction, possibilities still so frightening that they are seldom discussed seriously. We have seen that the fear is to some extent justified: in the hands of our current society and under the direction of current scien­tists (few of whom are female or even feminist), any attempted use of technology to “free” anybody is suspect. But we are speculating about post-revolutionary systems, and for the purposes of our discussion we shall assume flexibility and good intentions in those working out the change.

To thus free women from their biology would be to threaten the social unit that is organized around biological reproduction and the subjection of women to their biologi-


The Case for Feminist Revolution 207

cal destiny, the family. Our second demand will come also as a basic contradiction to the family, this time the family as an economic unit:

2) The full self-determination, including economic in­dependence, of both women and. children. To achieve this goal would require fundamental changes in our social and economic structure. This is why we must talk about a feminist socialism: in the immediate future, under capital­ism, there could be at best a token integration of women into the labor force. For women have been found ex­ceedingly useful and cheap as a transient, often highly skilled labor supply,[24] not to mention the economic value of their traditional function, the reproduction and rearing of the next generation of children, a job for which they are now patronized (literally and thus figuratively) rath­er than paid. But whether or not officially recognized, these are essential economic functions. Women, in this present capacity, are the very foundation of the economic superstructure, vital to its existence, f The paeans to self – sacrificing motherhood have a basis in reality: Mom is vital to the American way of life, considerably more than apple pie. She is an institution without which the system really would fall apart. In official capitalist terms, the bill for her economic services[25] might run as high as one – fifth of the gross national product. But payment is not the answer. To pay her, as is often discussed seriously in Sweden, is a reform that does not challenge the basic division of labor and thus could never eradicate the disas­trous psychological and cultural consequences of that divi­sion of labor.

As for the economic independence of children, that is really a pipe dream, realized as yet nowhere in the world. And, in the case of children too, we are talking about more than a fair integration into the labor force; we are talking about the abolition of the labor force itself under a cybernetic socialism, the radical restructuring of the economy to make “work,” i. e., wage labor, no longer necessary. In our post-revolutionary society adults as well as children would be provided for—irrespective of their social contributions—in the first equal distribution of wealth in history.

We have now attacked the family on a double front, challenging that around which it is organized: reproduc­tion of the species by females and its outgrowth, the physical dependence of women and children. To elimi­nate these would be enough to destroy the family, which breeds the power psychology. However, we will break it down still further.

3) The total integration of women and children into all aspects of the larger society. All institutions that segre­gate the sexes, or bar children from adult society, e. g., the elementary school, must be destroyed. Down with


These three demands predicate a feminist revolution based on advanced technology. And if the male/female and the adult/child cultural distinctions are destroyed, we

will no longer need the sexual repression that maintains these unequal classes, allowing for the first time a “natu­ral” sexual freedom. Thus we arrive at:

4) The freedom of all women and children to do whatever they wish to do sexually. There will no longer be any reason not to. (Past reasons: Full sexuality threat­ened the continuous reproduction necessary for human survival, and thus, through religion and other cultural in­stitutions, sexuality had to be restricted to reproductive purposes, all nonproductive sex pleasure considered . deviation or worse; The sexual freedom of women would / call into question the fatherhood of the child, thus threat­ening patrimony; Child sexuality had to be repressed because it was a threat to the precarious internal balance of the family. These sexual repressions increased pro­portionately to the degree of cultural exaggeration of the biological family.) In our new society, humanity could finally revert to its natural polymorphous sexuality— all forms of sexuality would be allowed and indulged. The fully sexuate mind, realized in the past in only..a few individuals (survivors), would become universal. Artificial cultural achievement would no longer be the only avenue to sexuate self-realization: one could now realize oneself fully, simply in the process of being and acting.



Empirical science left repercussions in its wake: the sudden advancement of technology upset the natural order. But the recent interest in ecology, the study, of man’s relationship to his environment, may, by 1970, have come too late. Certainly it is too late for conservationism, the attempt to redress natural balances. What is called for is a revolutionary ecological program that would attempt to establish a humane artificial (man-made) balance in place of the natural one, thus also realizing the original goal of empirical science: human mastery of matter.

The best new currents in ecology and social planning agree with feminist aims. The way that these two social phenomena, feminism and revolutionary ecology, have emerged with such seeming coincidence illustrates a his­torical truth: new theories and new movements do not develop in a vacuum, they arise to spearhead the neces­sary social solutions to new problems resulting from con­tradictions in the environment. In this case, both move­ments have arisen in response to the same contradiction: animal life within a technology. In the case of feminism the problem is a moral one: the biological family unit has always oppressed women and children, but now, for the first time in history, technology has created real pre­conditions for overthrowing these oppressive “natural” con-


ditions, along with their cultural reinforcements. In the case of the new ecology, we find that independent of any moral stance, for pragmatic—survival—reasons alone, it has become necessary to free humanity from the tyranny of its biology. Humanity can no longer afford to remain in the transitional stage between simple animal existence and full control of nature. And we are much closer to a major evolutionary jump, indeed, to direction of our own evolution, than we are to a return to the animal kingdom from which we came.

Thus in terms of modern technology, a revolutionary ecological movement would have the same aim as the feminist movement: control of the new technology for hu­mane purposes, the establishment of a beneficial “human” equilibrium between man and the new artificial environ­ment he is creating, to replace the destroyed “natural” balance.

What are some of the concerns of ecology that are of direct interest to the feminist movement? I shall discuss briefly two issues of the new ecology that particularly pertain to the new feminism: reproduction and its control, including the seriousness of the population explosion and new methods of fertility control, and cybernation, the fu­ture takeover by machines of increasingly’ complex func­tions, altering man’s age-old relation to work and wages.

Previously I had taken copious notes, written whole drafts on the population explosion, quoting once again all sorts of frightening statistic» about the rate of popula­tion growth. But on second thought, it seemed to me that I had heard it all before and so had everyone else. Per­haps for the purposes of this book, we would do better to discuss why these statistics are so consistently ignored. For, despite increasingly dire pronouncements from every expert in the field, few people are seriously worried. In fact, the public euphoria and laissez faire actually seem to grow in direct proportion to the need for immediate action to stave off future disaster.

The relation between the two situations is direct: in­ability to confront or deal with the problem creates a sham confidence, the extent of which is borne out by a recent Gallup poll (August 3, 1968) in which, to the question, "What do you find to be the most pressing prob – lem confronting the nation today?” less than 1 percent of the national sample of adults questioned mentioned popu­lation. And yet at the very least, to quote population ex­perts Lincoln H. Day and Alice Taylor Day, in their book Too Many Americans, "To support an increase of another 180,000,000 (forty-four more years, at current rates) this country would have to undergo changes in the condition of life as radical as those that have occurred since Columbus.” This is the most conservative estimate. The majority of demographers, biologists, and ecologists are considerably more pessimistic. Books come out all the time on the subject, each with a new slant to the terrors of the population explosion (If we had reproduced at this rate since the time of Christ, by now we would have. . .. If we continue at this rate, starvation will look like. .. by the year…. So and so many rats congested in a room produce XYZ behavior. . . .), books with such titles as Famine, 1975, The Population Bomb, and so on. Scien­tists themselves are in a panic: a well-known biologist at Rockefeller University is reputed to have stopped speak­ing to his own daughter after the birth of her third child; his students multiply at their peril.

Yet the public remains convinced that science can solve the problem. One reason the man on the street believes so ardently that “they” can handle it—in addition to the Witchdoctor Mystique that “they” always seem to find an answer for everything—is that information filters down so slowly from above. For example, the public began to hear about the “green revolution” only when scientists aban­doned hope in it as anything but a desperate stopgap measure to delay worldwide famine for another genera­tion; but rather than causing widespread alarm and im­mediate action, this information acted as a bromide.

The Miracle-of-Modern-Science is only one of a whole

stockpile of arguments that, no matter how often they are disproven, keep bobbing up again. There is the Food Surplus argument, the Vast-Stretches-of-Unpopulated-Land argument, the Economic argument (more people keep the economy going), the Military argument (population in­creases defense strength, cf. the Chinese Boogy-Woogy) and many more, varying in their sophistication with the social milieu of their propounders. It is useless to argue— and. therefore I won’t do it here—for it is not at all a question of correct information, or logic. There is some­thing else that unites all these arguments. What is it?

Underlying all these arguments is the peculiar chauvin­ism that develops in the family. In past chapters we have discussed some of the components of this psychology: The patriarchal mentality concerned only with its own inter­ests, and with its progeny only insofar as they are heir and ego extension, in the private bid for immortality (why worry about the larger social good just so long as—that beautiful phrase—You And Yours are “happy” when the great catastrophe hits); Us-Against-Them chauvinism (blood is thicker); the division between the abstract and _the concrete, the public and the private (what could be more abstract and public than a demographic statistic? what could be more private and concrete than one’s own reproduction?); the privatization of the sex expe­rience; the power psychology; and so on.

Leftists and revolutionaries, unfortunately, are no ex­ception to this universal malpsychology generated by the family. They too indulge in Us-Against-Themism, though this time in reverse. If “Us,” the upper-class and high­brow intelligentsia; argues that “We better not have a decrease in birth rates or the rabble and/or the weak – minded will take over,” “Them,” the "rabble” (lately known as the “lunatic fringe”), counters with paranoia about being birth-controlled out of existence—“Genocide of the Third World and Undesirables at Home.” This fear is well-founded. However, it is also responsible for a general failure of vision on the Left to see beneath the evil uses of birth control to a genuine ecological prob­lem which no number of fancy arguments and bogey statistics can erase. It is true that capitalist imperialist governments are only too glad to dispense birth control devices to the Third World or to Blacks and the poor in the U. S. (particularly welfare mothers, who are often made into guinea pigs for the latest experiments), while at home they think nothing of giving a man a ten-year jail sen­tence for dispensing Emko Foam to a young, white, un­married coed; it is true that a redistribution of the world’s wealth and resources would greatly ease the problem— even if it could happen tomorrow. But the problem would still remain, for it exists independently of traditional pol­itics and economics, and thus could not be solved by traditional politics and economics alone. These politick and economic complications are only aggravations of a genuine problem of ecology. Once again radicals have failed to think radically enough: capitalism is not the only enemy, redistribution of wealth and resources is not the only solution, attempts to control population are not only Third World Suppression in disguise.

But often there is a more serious error: the misuse of scientific developments is very often confused with tech­nology itself. (But do the black militants who advocate unchecked fertility for black women allow themselves to become burdened with heavy bellies and too many mouths to feed? One gathers that they find contraception of some help in maintaining their active preaching schedules.) As was demonstrated in the case of the development of atom­ic energy, radicals, rather than breastbeating about the immorality of scientific research, could be much more effective by concentrating their full energies on demands for control of scientific discoveries by and for the people. For, like atomic energy, fertility control, artificial repro­duction, cybernation, in themselves, are liberating—un­less they are improperly used.

What are the new scientific developments in the control of this dangerously prolific reproduction? Already we have more and better contraception than ever before in his­tory.[23] The old spanner-in-the-works intervention of con­ception (diaphragms, condoms, foams, and jellies) was only the beginning. Soon we shall have a complete under­standing of the entire reproductive process in all its com­plexity, including the subtle dynamics of hormones and their full effects on the nervous system. Present oral con­traception is at only a primitive (faulty) stage, only one of many types of fertility control now under experiment. Artificial insemination and artificial inovulation are al­ready a reality. Choice of sex of the fetus, test-tube fer­tilization (when capacitation of sperm within the vagina is fully understood) are just around the corner. Several teams of scientists are working on the development of an artificial placenta. Even parthenogenesis—virgin birth— could be developed very soon.

Are people, even scientists themselves, culturally pre­pared for any of this? Decidedly not. A recent Harris poll, quoted in Life magazine, representing a broad sampling of Americans—including, for example, Iowa farmers— found a surprising number willing to consider the new methods. The hitch was that they would consider them only where they reinforced and furthered present values of family life and reproduction, e. g., to help a barren woman have her husband’s child. Any question that could be interpreted as a‘furthering of “sexual revolution” alone was rejected flatly as unnatural. But note that it was not the “test tube” baby itself that was thought unnatural (25 percent agreed off the bat that they themselves would use this method, usually given the preconditions we have de­scribed), but the new value system, based on the elimina­tion of male supremacy and the family.

It is clear by now that research in the area of reproduc­tion is itself being impeded by cultural lag and sexual bias. The money allocated for specific kinds of research, the kinds of research done are only incidentally in the interests of women when at all. For example, work oa the development of an artificial placenta still has to be excused on the grounds that it might save babies bom prematurely. Thus, although it’would be far easier tech­nically to transfer a young embryo than an almost fully developed baby, all the money goes into the latter research. Or again, that women are excluded from science is di­rectly responsible for the tabling of research on oral con­traceptives for males. (Is it possible that women are thought to make better guinea pigs because they are con­sidered by male scientists to be “inferior”? Or is it only because male scientists worship male fertility?) There are great numbers of such examples.

Fears of new methods of reproduction are so wide-, spread that as of the time of this writing, 1969, the sub­ject, outside of scientific circles, is still taboo. Even many women in the women’s liberation movement—perhaps es­pecially in the women’s liberation movement—are afraid to express any interest in it for fear of confirming every­one’s suspicions that they are “unnatural,” spending a great deal of energy denying that they are anti-mother­hood, pro-artificial reproduction, and so on. Let me then say it bluntly:

Pregnancy is barbaric. I do not belifeve, as many wom­en are now saying, that the reason pregnancy is viewed as not beautiful is due strictly to cultural perversion. The child’s first response, “What’s wrong with that Fat Lady?”; the husband’s guilty waning of sexual desire; the wom­an’s tears in front of the mirror at eight months—are all gut reactions, not to be dismissed as cultural habits, Pregnancy is the temporary deformation of the body of the individual for the sake of the species.

Moreover, childbirth hurts. And it isn’t good for you. Three thousand years ago, women giving birth “natural­ly” had no need to pretend that pregnancy was a real trip, some mystical orgasm (that far-away look). The Bible said it: pain and travail. The glamor was un­necessary: women had no choice. They didn’t dare squawk. But at least they could scream as loudly as they wanted during their labor pains. And after it was over, even during it, they were admired in a limited way for their bravery; their valor was measured by how many children (sons) they could endure bringing into the world.

Today all this has been confused. The cult of natural childbirth itself tells us how far we’ve come from true oneness with nature. Natural childbirth is only one more part of the reactionary hippie-Rousseauean Retum-to – Nature, and just as self-conscious. Perhaps a mystification of childbirth, true faith, makes it easier for the woman in­volved. Pseudo-yoga exercises, twenty pregnant women breathing deeply on the floor, may even help some women develop “proper” attitudes (as in “I didn’t scream once”). The squirming husband at the bedside, like the empathy pains of certain tribesmen (“Just look what I go through with you, dear”), may make a woman feel less alone during her ordeal. But the fact remains: childbirth is at best necessary and tolerable. It is not fun.

(Like shitting a pumpkin, a friend of mine told me when I inquired about the Great-Experience-You’re-Miss – ing. What’s-wrong-with-shitting-shitting-can-be-fun says the School of the Great Experience. It hurts, she says. What’s-wrong-with-a-little-pain-as-long-as-it-doesn’t – kffi-you? answers the School. It is boring, she says. Pain – can-be-interesting-as-an-experience says the School. Isn’t that a rather high price to pay for interesting experience? she says. But-look-you-get-a-reward, says the School: a- baby-all-your-own-to-fuck-up-as-you-please. Well, that’s something, she says. But how do I know it will be male like you?)

Artificial reproduction is not inherently dehumanizing. At very least, development of an option should make possible an honest reexamination of the ancient value of motherhood. At the present time, for a woman to come out openly against motherhood on principle is physically dangerous. She can get away with it only if she adds that she is neurotic, abnormal, childhating and therefore “un­fit.” (“Perhaps later. . . when I’m better prepared.”)

This is hardly a free atmosphere of inquiry. Until the taboo, is lifted, until the decision not to have children or not to have them “naturally” is at least as legitimate as traditional childbearing, women are as good as forced into, their female roles.

Another scientific development that we find difficult to absorb into our traditional value system is the dawn of cybernation, the takeover of work functions by increasing­ly complex machines—machines that may soon equal or surpass man in original thinking and problem-solving. While it may be argued, as with artificial reproduction, that such machines are barely past the speculative stage, re­member that it was only five to ten years ago that experts in the field were predicting that five or six computers would satisfy permanently the needs of the whole country.

Cybernation, like birth control, can be a double-edged sword. Like artificial reproduction, to envision it in the hands of the present powers is to envision a nightmare. We need not elaborate. Everyone is familiar with Tech­nocracy, 1984: the increased alienation of the masses, the intensified rule of the elite (perhaps cyberneticians), baby factories, increased government efficiency (Big Broth­er), and so on. In the hands of the present society there is no doubt that the machine could be used—is being used—to intensify the apparatus of repression and to in­crease established power.

But again, as with the population explosion, and birth control, the distinction between misuse of science and the value of science itself is not often kept clear. In this case, though perhaps the response may not be quite so hysterical and evasive, we still often have the same unimaginative concentration on the evils of the machine itself, rather than a recognition of its revolutionary significance. Books and research abound on how to avoid Technocracy, 1984 (e. g., Alan Weston’s Privacy and Freedom), but there is little thought about how to deal effectively with the qualitative changes in life style that cybernation will bring.

The two issues, population control and cybernation,

produce the same nervous superficial response because in both cases the underlying problem is one for which there is no precedent: qualitative change in humanity’s basic relationships to both its production and its reproduction. We will need almost overnight, in order to deal with the profound effects of fertility control and cybernation, a new culture based on a radical redefinition of human relation­ships and leisure for the masses. To so radically redefine our relationship to production and reproduction requires the destruction at once of the class system as well as the family. We will be beyond arguments about who is "bring­ing home the bacon”—no one will be bringing it home, because no one will be "working.” Job discrimination would no longer have any basis in a society where ma­chines do the work better than human beings of any size or skill could. Machines thus could act as the perfect equalizer, obliterating the class system based on exploita­tion of labor.

What might the immediate impact of cybernation be on the position of women? Briefly, we can predict the following: 1) While at first automation will continue to. provide new service jobs for women, e. g., keypunch opera­tor, computer programmer, etc., these positions are not likely to last long (precisely why women, the transient labor force par excellence, are sought for them). Even­tually, such simple specialized control of machines will give way to a more widespread common knowledge of their control and, at the same time, at top levels, in­creased specialized knowledge of their more complex functions by a new elite of engineers, cyberneticians. The kinds of jobs into which women have been welcomed, the lower rung of white-collar service jobs, will be cyber­nated out. At the same time, housework will become more fully automated, reducing women’s legitimate work func­tions even further. 2) Erosion of the status of the “head of the household,” particularly in the working class, may shake up family life and traditional sex roles even more profoundly. 3) Massive unrest of the young, the poor, the unemployed will increase: as jobs become more difficult

to obtain, and there is no cushioning of the cultural shock by education for leisure, revolutionary ferment is likely to become a staple. Thus, all in all, cybernation may ag­gravate the frustration that women already feel in their roles, pushing them into revolution.

A feminist revolution could be the decisive factor in establishing a new ecological balance: attention drawn to the population explosion, a shifting of emphasis from reproduction to contraception, and demands for the full development of artificial reproduction would provide an alternative to the oppressions of the biological family; cybernation, by changing man’s relationship to work and wages, by transforming activity from “work” to "play” (activity done for its own sake), would allow for a total redefinition of the economy, including the family unit in its economic capacity. The double curse that man should till the soil by the sweat of his brow and that woman should bear in pain and travail would be lifted through technology to make humane living for the first time a possibility. The feminist movement has the essential mis­sion of creating cultural acceptance of the new ecological balance necessary for the survival of the human race in the twentieth century.


Conclusion: the anticulture revolution

I have tried to show how the history of culture mirrors the sex dichotomy in its very organization and develop­ment. Culture develops not only out of the underlying economic dialectic, but also out of the deeper sex dia­lectic. Thus, there is not only a horizontal dynamic, but a vertical one as well: each of these three strata forms one more story of the dialectics of history based on the bio­logical dualism. At present we have reached the final stages of Patriarchalism, Capitalism (corporate capital – I ism), and of the Two Cultures at once. We shall soon have a triplicate set of preconditions for revolution, the

absence of which is responsible for the failure of revolu-l tions of the past.

The difference between what is almost possible amj what exists is generating revolutionary forces.[22] We are nearing—I believe we shall have, perhaps within a century, if the snowball of empirical knowledge doesn’t smash first of its own velocity—a cultural revolution, as well as a sexual and economic one. The cultural revolu – tion, like the economic revolution, must be predicated on the elimination of the (sex) dualism at the origins not only of class, but also of cultural division.

What might this cultural revolution look like? Unlike “cultural revolutions” of the past, it would not be merely a quantitative escalation, more and better culture, in the sense that the Renaissance was a high point of the Aes­thetic Mode, or that the present technological breakthrough is the accumulation of centuries of practical knowledge about the real world. Great as they were, neither the Aesthetic nor the Technological culture, even at their respective peaks, ever achieved universality—either it was wholistic but divorced from the real world, or it “achieved progress,” at the price of cultural schizophrenia, and the falseness and dryness of “objectivity.” What we shall have in the next cultural revolution is the reintegra­tion of the Male (Technological Mode) with the Female (Aesthetic Mode), to create an androgynous culture sur­passing the highs of either cultural stream, or even of the sum of their integrations. More than a marriage, rather an abolition of the cultural categories themselves, a mutual cancellation—a matter-antimatter explosion, ending with a poof! culture itself.

We shall not miss it We shall no longer need it: by then humanity will have mastered nature totally, will have realized in actuality its dreams. With the full achievement of the conceivable in the actual, the surrogate of culture will no longer be necessary. The sublimation process, a detour to wish fulfillment, will give way to direct satisfao – fion in experience, as felt now only by children, or adults on drugs.* (Though normal adults "play” to varying degrees, the example that illustrates more immediately to almost everyone the intense level of this future ex­perience, ranking zero on a scale of accomplishment— “nothing to show for it”—but nevertheless somehow al­ways worth everyone’s while, is lovemaking.) Control and delay of “id” satisfaction by the “ego” will be unneces­sary; the id can live free. Enjoyment will spring directly from being and acting itself, the process of experience, rather than from the quality of achievement. When thei male Technological Mode can at last produce in actuality what the female Aesthetic Mode had envisioned, we shall have eliminated the need for either.



Now, in 1970, we are experiencing a major scientific breakthrough. The new physics, relativity, and the astro – physical theories of contemporary science had already been realized by the first part of this century. Now, in the latter part, we are arriving, with the help of the elec­tron microscope and other new tools, at similar achieve –

merits in biology, biochemistry, and all the life sciences. Important discoveries are made yearly by small, scattered work teams all over the United States, and in other coun­tries as well—of the magnitude of dna in genetics, or of Urey and Miller’s work in the early fifties on the origins of life. Full mastery of the reproductive process is in sight, and there has been significant advance in understanding the basic life and death process. The nature of aging and growth, sleep and hibernation, the chemical functioning of the brain and the development of consciousness and memory are all beginning to be understood in their en­tirety. This acceleration promises to continue for another century, or however long it takes to achieve the goal of Empiricism: total understanding of the laws of nature.

This amazing accumulation of concrete knowledge in only a few hundred years is the product of philosophy’s switch from the Aesthetic to the Technological Mode. The combination of “pure” science, science in the Aesthetic Mode, with pure technology, caused greater progress to­ward the goal of technology—the realization of the con­ceivable in the actual—than had been made in thousands of years of previous history.

Empiricism itself is only the means, a quicker and more effective technique, for achieving technology’s ultimate cultural goal: the building of the ideal in the real world. One of its own basic dictates is that a certain amount of material must be collected and arranged into categories before any decisive comparison, analysis, or discovery can be made. In this light, the centuries of empirical science have been little more than the building of foundations for the breakthroughs of our own time and the future. The amassing of information and understanding of the laws and mechanical processes of nature (“pure research”) is but a means to a larger end: total understanding of Na­ture in order, ultimately, to achieve transcendence.

In this view of the development and goals of cultural history, Engels’ final goal, quoted above in the context of political revolution, is again worthy of quotation:

The whole sphere of the conditions of life which environ man, and have hitherto ruled him, now comes under the dominion and control of man, who for the first time becomes the real conscious Lord of Nature.

, Empirical science is to culture what the shift to patriarchy was to the sex dialectic, and what the bourgeois period is*to the Marxian dialectic—a latter-day stage prior to revolution. Moreover, the three dialectics are integrally related to one another vertically as well as horizontally: The empirical science growing out of the bourgeoisie (the bourgeois period is in itself a stage of the patriarchal period) follows the humanism of the aristocracy (The Female Principle, the matriarchy) and with its develop­ment of the empirical method in order to amass real knowledge (development of modern industry in order to amass capital) eventually puts itself out of business. The body of scientific discovery (the new productive modes) mast finally outgrow the empirical (capitalistic) mode of using them.

, And just as the internal contradictions of capitalism

і must become increasingly apparent, so must the internal

S contradictions of empirical science—as in the develop­ment of pure knowledge to the point where it assumes a life of its own, e. g., the atomic bomb. As long as man is still engaged only in the means—the charting of the ways of nature, the gathering of “pure” knowledge-^to his final realization, mastery of nature, his knowledge, because it is not complete, is dangerous. So dangerous that many scientists are wondering whether they shouldn’t put a lid on certain types of research. But this solution is hopelessly inadequate. The machine of empiricism has its own mo­mentum, and is, for such purposes, completely out of con­trol. Could one actually decide what to discover or not discover? That is, by definition, antithetical to the whole empirical process that Bacon set in motion. Many of the most important discoveries have been practically labora­tory accidents, with social implications barely realized by the scientists who stumbled into them. For example, as

recently as five years ago Professor F. C. Steward of Cornell discovered a process called “cloning”: by placing a single carrot cell in a rotating nutrient he was able to grow a whole sheet of identical carrot cells, from which he eventually recreated the same carrot. The understand­ing of a similar process for more developed animal cells, were it to slip out—as did experiments with “mind-ex­panding” drugs—could have some awesome implications. Or, again, imagine parthenogenesis, virgin birth, as prac­ticed by the greenfly, actually applied to human fertility.

Another internal contradiction in empirical science: the mechanistic, deterministic, “soulless” scientific world-view, which is the result of the means to, rather than the (in­herently noble and often forgotten) ultimate purpose of, Empiricism: the actualization of the ideal in reality.

The cost in humanity is particularly high to the scien­tist himself, who becomes little more than a cultural technician. For, ironically enough, to properly accumulate knowledge of the universe requires a mentality the very opposite of comprehensive and integrated. Though in the long run the efforts of the individual scientist could lead to domination of the environment in the interest of hu­manity, temporarily the empirical method demands that its practitioners themselves become “objective,” mechanistic, overprecise. The public image of the white-coated Dr. Jekyll with no feelings for his subjects, mere guinea pigs, is not entirely false: there is no room for feelings in the scientist’s work; he is forced to eliminate or isolate them in what amounts to an occupational hazard. At best he can resolve this problem by separating his professional from his personal self, by compartmentalizing his emotion. Thus, though often well-versed in an academic way about the arts—the frequency of this, at any rate, is higher than of artists who are well-versed in science—the scientist is generally out of touch with his direct emotions and senses, or, at best, he is emotionally divided. His “private” and “public” life are out of whack; and because his personality is not well-integrated, he can be surprisingly conventional (“Dear, I discovered how to clone people at the lab

today. Now we can go skiing at Aspen.”) He feels no contradiction in living by convention, even in attending church, for he has never integrated the amazing material of modem science with his daily life. Often it takes the misuse of his discovery to alert him to that connection which he has long since lost in his own mind.

The catalogue of scientific vices is familiar: it duplicates, exaggerates, the catalogue of “male” vices in general. This is to be expected: if the Technological Mode develops from the male principle then it follows that its practi­tioners would develop the warpings of the male personal­ity in the extreme. But let us leave science for the moment, winding up for the ultimate cultural revolution, to see what meanwhile had been happening to the aesthetic culture proper.

With philosophy in the broadest classical sense—in­cluding “pure” science—defecting, aesthetic culture be­came increasingly narrow and ingrown, reduced to the arts and humanities in the refined sense that we now know them. Art (hereafter referring to the “liberal arts,” es­pecially the arts and letters) had always been, in its very definition, a search for the ideal, removed from the real world. But in primitive days it had been the handmaiden of religion, articulating the common dream, objectifying “other” worlds of the common fantasy, e. g., the art of the Egyptian tombs, to explain and excuse this one. Thus even though it was removed from the real world, it served an important social function: it satisfied artificially those wishes of society that couldn’t yet be realized in reality. Though it was patronized and supported only by the aris­tocracy, the cultured elite, it was never as’detached from life as it later became; for the society of those times was, for all practical purposes, synonymous with its ruling class, whether priesthood, monarchy, or nobility. The masses were never considered by “society” to be a legitimate part of humanity, they were slaves, nothing more than human animals, drones, or serfs, without whose labor the small cultured elite could not have maintained itself.

The gradual squeezing out of the aristocracy by the

new middle class, the bourgeoisie, signalled the erosion of aesthetic culture. We have seen that capitalism in, tensified the worst attributes of patriarchalism, how, for example, the nuclear family emerged from the large, loose family household of the past, to reinforce the weakening sex class system, oppressing women and children more intimately than ever before. The cultural mode favored by this new, heavily patriarchal bourgeoisie was the “male” Technological Mode—objective, realistic, factual, “com – monsense”—rather than the effeminate, otherworldly, “romantic idealist” Aesthetic Mode. The bourgeoisie, searching for the ideal in the real, soon developed the empirical science that we have described. To the extent that they had any remaining use for aesthetic culture, it was only for “realistic” art, as opposed to the “idealistic" art of classical antiquity, or the abstract religious art of primitive or medieval times. For a time they went in foi a literature that described reality—best exemplified by the nineteenth-century novel—and a decorative easel art: still lifes, portraits, family scenes, interiors. Public museums and libraries were built alongside the old salons and pri – vate galleries. But with its entrenchment as a secure, even primary, class, the bourgeoisie no longer needed to imitate aristocratic cultivation. More important, with the rapid development of their new science and technology, the little practical value they had for art was eclipsed. Take the scientific development of the camera: The bourgeoisie soon had little need for portrait painters; the little that painters or novelists had been able to do for them, the camera could do better.

“Modern” art was a desperate, but finally self-defeat­ing, retaliation (“epater le bourgeois”) for these injuries: the evaporation of its social function, the severance of the social umbilical cord, the dwindling of the old sources of patronage. The modern art tradition, associated primarily with Picasso and Cezanne, and including all the major schools of the twentieth century—cubism, construc­tivism, futurism, expressionism, surrealism, abstract ex­pressionism, and so on—is not an authentic expression

of modernity as much as it is a reaction to the realism of the bourgeoisie. Post-impressionism deliberately re­nounced all reality-affirming conventions—indeed the process began with impressionism itself, which broke down the illusion into its formal values, swallowing reality whole and spitting it up again as art—to lead eventually to an art-for-art’s-sake so pure, a negation of reality so complete as to make it ultimately meaningless, sterile, even absurd. (Cab drivers are philistine: they know a put-on when they see one.) The deliberate violating, deforming, fracturing of the image, called “modem” art, was nothing more than a fifty-year idol smashing— eventually leading to our present cultural impasse.

In the twentieth century, its life blood drained, its so­cial function nullified altogether, art is thrown back on whatever wealthy classes remain, those nouveaux riches —particularly in America, still suffering from a cultural inferiority complex—who still need to prove they have “arrived” by evidencing a taste for culture. The seques­tering of intellectuals in ivory tower universities, where, except for the sciences, they have little effect on the out­side world, no matter how brilliant (and they aren’t, be­cause they no longer have the necessary feedback); the abstruse—often literally unintelligible—jargon of the so­cial sciences; the cliquish literary quarterlies with their esoteric poetry; the posh 57th Street galleries and mu­seums (it is no accident that they are right next door to Saks Fifth Avenue and Bonwit Teller) staffed and sup­plied by, for the most part, fawning rich-widows’-hair – dresser types; and not least the vulturous critical establishment thriving on the remains of what was once a great and vital culture—all testify to the death of aesthetic humanism.

For the centuries that Science climbed to new heights, Art decayed. Its forced inbreeding transformed it into a secret code. By definition escapist from reality, it now turned in upon itself to such degree that it gnawed away its own vitals. It became diseased—neurotically self-pity­ing, self-conscious, focused on the past (as opposed to

the futurist orientation of the technological culture) and thus frozen into conventions and academies—ortho­doxies of which “avant-garde” is only the latest—pining for remembered glories, the Grand Old Days When Beauty Was In Flower; it became pessimistic and nihilistic, in­creasingly hostile to the society at large, the “philis – tines.” And when the cocky young Science attempted to woo Art from its ivory tower—eventually garret—with false promises of the courting lover (“You can come down now, we’re making the world a better place every day”), Art refused more vehemently than ever to ded with him, much less accept his corrupt gifts, retreating ever deeper into her daydreams—neoclassicism, roman­ticism, expressionism, surrealism, existentialism.

The individual artist or intellectual saw himself as either a member of an invisible elite, a "highbrow,” or as a down-and-outer, mingling with whoever was deemed the dregs of his society. In both cases, whether playing Aristocrat or Bohemian, he was on the margins of the society as a whole. The artist had become a freak. His increasing alienation from the world around him— the new world that science had created was, especially in its primitive stages, an incredible horror, only intensifying his need to escape to the ideal world of art—his lack of an audience, led to a mystique of “genius.” Like an ascetic Saint Simeon on his pedestal, the Genius in the Garret was expected to create masterpieces in a vacuum. But his artery to the outside world had been severed His task, increasingly impossible, often forced him into literal madness, or suicide.

Painted into a corner with nowhere else to go, the artist has got to begin to come to terms with the modern world. He is not too good at it: like an invalid shut away too long, he doesn’t know anything about the world any­more, neither politics, nor science, nor even how to live or love. Until now, yes, even now, though less and less so, sublimation, that warping of personality, was commend­able: it was the only (albeit indirect) way to achieve

,_____ –

fulfillment. But the artistic process has—almost—outlived its usefulness. And its price is high.

The first attempts to confront the modem world have been for the most part misguided. The Bauhaus, a fa­mous example, failed at its objective of replacing an ir­relevant easel art (only a few optical illusions and designy chairs mark the grave), ending up with a hybrid, neither art npr science, and certainly not the sum of the two. .They failed because they didn’t understand science on its pwn terms: to them, seeing in the old aesthetic way, it was simply a rich new subject matter to be digested whole into the traditional aesthetic system. It is as if one were to see a computer as only a beautifully ordered set of lights and sounds, missing completely the function it­self. The scientific experiment is not only beautiful, an elegant structure, another piece of an abstract puzzle, something to be used in the next collage—but scientists, too, in their own way, see science as this abstraction di­vorced from life—it has a real intrinsic meaning of its own, similar to, but not the same as, the “presence,” the uen-soi” of modern painting. Many artists have made the mistake of thus trying to annex science, to incorporate it into their own artistic framework, rather than using it to expand that framework.

Is the current state of aesthetic culture all bleak? No, there have been some progressive developments in con­temporary art. We have mentioned how the realistic tradi­tion in painting died with the camera. This tradition had developed over centuries to a level of illusionism with the brush—examine a Bouguereau—that was the equal of, bet­ter than, the early photography, then considered only another graphic medium, like etching. The beginning of the new art of film and the realistic tradition of painting overlapped, peaked, in artists like Degas, who used a camera in his work. Then realistic art took a new course: Either it became decadent, academic, divorced from any market and meaning, e. g., the nudes that linger on in art classes and second-rate galleries, or it was fractured into the expressionist or surrealist image, posing an alternate

internal or fantastical reality. Meanwhile, however, the young art of film, based on a true synthesis of the Aes – thetic and Technological Modes (as Empiricism itself had been), carried on the vital realistic tradition. And just as with the marriage of the divided male and female principles, empirical science bore fruit; so did the medium of film. But, unlike other aesthetic media of the past, it broke down the very division between the artificial and the real, between culture and life itself, on which the Aesthetic Mode is based.

Other related developments: the exploration of arti­ficial materials, e. g., plastics; the attempt to confront plastic culture itself (pop art); the breakdown of tradi­tional categories of media (mixed media), and of the distinctions between art and reality itself (happenings, environments). But I find it difficult to unreservedly call these latter developments progressive: as yet they have produced largely puerile and meaningless works. The art­ist does not yet know what reality is, let alone how to affect it. Paper cups lined up on the street, pieces of paper thrown into an empty lot, no matter how many ponderous reviews they get in Art News, are a waste of time. If these clumsy attempts are at all hopeful, it is only insofar as they are signs of the breakdown of “fine” art.

The merging of the Aesthetic with the Technological Mode will gradually suffocate “pure” high art altogether, The first breakdown of categories, the remerging of art with a (technologized) reality, indicate that we are now in the transitional pre-revolutionary period, in which the three separate cultural streams, technology (“applied sci­ence”), “pure research,” and “pure” modern art, will melt together—along. with the rigid sex categories they reflect.

The sex-based polarity of culture still causes many casu­alties. If even the “pure” scientist, e. g., nuclear physicist (let alone the “applied” scientist, e. g., engineer), suffers from too much “male,” becoming authoritarian, conven­tional, emotionally insensitive, narrowly unable to under­

stand his own work within the scientific—let alone cultural or social—jigsaw, the artist, in terras of the sex division, has embodied аД the imbalances and suffering of the female personality: temperamental, insecure, paranoid, de­featist, narrow. And the recent withholding of reinforce­ments from behind the front (the larger society) has exaggerated all this enormously; his overdeveloped “id” has nothing left to balance it. Where the pure scientist is “schiz,” or worse, ignorant of emotional reality altogether, the pure artist refects reality because of its lack of per­fection, and, in modem centuries, for its ugliness.[21]

And who suffers the most, the blind (scientist) or the lame (artist)? Culturally, we have had only the choice between one sex role or the other: either a social mar – ginality leading to self-consciousness, introversion, defeat­ism, pessimism, oversensitivity, and lack of touch with reality, or a split “professionalized” personality, emotion­al ignorance, tiie narrow views of the specialist


So far we have treated “culture” as synonymous witb “arts and letters” or at its broadest, “humanities.” This is a common enough confusion. But it is startling in this context For we discover that, while only indirectly related to art, women have been entirely excluded from an equal’ ly important half of culture: science. If at least with the arts we could find enough material about the relationship of women to culture—whether indirectly as influence, stimulus, or subject matter, or even occasionally as direct participants—to fill at least a chapter, we can hardly find a relationship of women to science worthy of discussion. Perhaps in the broadest sense our statement that women are the emotional force behind all (male) culture holds true—but we are stretching the case to include modern science, where the empirical method specifically demands the exclusion of the scientist’s personality from his re­search. Satisfaction of his emotional needs through a woman in his off hours may make him more stable, and thus steadier on the job, but this is farfetched.

But if even the indirect relationship of women to science is debatable, that there is no direct one is certain­ly not. One would have to search to find even one wom­an who had contributed in a major way to scientific culture. Moreover, the situation of women in science is not improving. Even with the work of discovery shifted from the great comprehensive minds of the past to small pragmatic university research teams, there are remarkably few women scientists.[19]

This absence of women at all levels of the scientific disciplines is so commonplace as to lead many (other­wise intelligent) people to attribute it to some deficiency (logic?) in women themselves. Or to women’s own pre­dilections for the emotional and subjective over the prac­tical and rational. But the question cannot be so easily dismissed. It is true that women in science are in foreign territory—but how has this situation evolved? Why are there disciplines or branches of inquiry that demand only a “male” mind? Why would a woman, to qualify, have to develop an alien psychology? When and why was the fe­male excluded from this type mind? How and why has science come to be defined as, and restricted to, the “ob­jective”?

I submit that not only were the arts and humanities corrupted by the sex duality, but that modern science has been determined by it. And moreover that culture reflects this polarity in its very organization. С. P. Snow was the first to note what had been becoming increasingly ob­vious: a deep fissure of culture—the liberal arts and the sciences had become incomprehensible to each other. Again, though the universal man of the Renaissance is widely lamented, specialization only increases. These are some of the modem symptoms of a long cultural disease based on the sex dualism. Let us examine the history of culture according to this hypothesis—that there is an un­derlying dialectic of sex.

Подпись: THE TWO MODES OF CULTURAL HISTORY For our analysis we shall define culture in the following way: Culture is the attempt by man to realize the conceivable in the possible. Man’s consciousness of himself within his environment distinguishes him from the lower animals, and turns him into the only animal capable of culture. This consciousness, his highest faculty, allows him to project mentally states of being that do not exist I at the moment. Able to construct a past and future, he becomes a creature of time—a historian and a prophet. More than this, he can imagine objects and states of being that have never existed and may never exist in the real world—he becomes a maker of art. Thus, for example, though the ancient Greeks did not know how to fly, still they could imagine it. The myth of Icarus was the formulation in fantasy of their conception of the state “flying.” But man was not only able to project the conceivable into fantasy. He also learned to impose it on reality: by accumulating knowledge, learning experience, about that reality and how to handle it, he could shape it to his liking. This accumulation of skills for controlling the environment, technology, is another means to reaching the same end, the realization of the conceivable in the possible. Thus, in our example, if, in the B.C. era, man could fly on the magic carpet of myth or fantasy, by the twentieth century, his technology, the accumulation of his practical skills, had made it possible for him to fly in actuality—he had invented the airplane. Another example: | In the Biblical legend, the Jews, an agricultural people stranded for forty years in the desert, were provided by God with Manna, a miraculous substance that could be transformed at will into food of any color, texture, or taste; modern food processing, especially with the “green revolution,” will probably soon create a totally artificial

food production, perhaps with this chameleon attribute. Again, in ancient legend, man could imagine mixed spe – cies, e. g., the centaur or the unicorn, or hybrid births, like the*birth of an animal from a human, or a virgin birth; the current biological revolution, with its in­creasing knowledge of the reproductive process, could now if 0nly the first crude stages—create these “monstrosi­ties” in reality. Brownies and elves, the Golem of medieval Jewish lore, Mary Shelley’s monster in Frankenstein, were the imaginative constructions that preceded by several centuries the corresponding technological acumen. Many other fantastical constructions—ghosts, mental telepathy, Methuselah’s age—remain to be realized by modern science.

These two different responses, the idealistic and the scientific, do not merely exist simultaneously: there is a dialogue between the two. The imaginative construction precedes the technological, though often it does not de­velop until the technological know-how is “in the air.” For example, the art of science fiction developed, in the mam, only a half-century in advance of, and now co­exists with, the scientific revolution that is transforming it into a reality—for example (an innocuous one), the moon flight. The phrases “way out,” “far out,” “spaced,” the observation “it’s like something out of science fiction” are common language. In the aesthetic response, because it always develops in advance, and is thus the product of another age, the same realization may take on a sensa­tional or unrealistic cast, e. g., Frankenstein’s monster, as opposed to, let us say, General Electric’s cam (Cybernetic Anthropomorphic Machines) Handyman. (An artist can never know in advance just how his vision might be articulated in reality.)

Culture then is the sum of, and the dynamic between, the two modes through which the mind attempts to tran­scend the limitations and contingencies of reality. These two types of cultural responses entail different methods to achieve the same end, the realization of the conceiv-

able in the possible. In the first,[20] the individual denies the limitations of the given reality by escaping from it altogether, to define, create, his own possible. In the prov­inces of the imagination, objectified in some way—wheth­er through the development of a visual image within some artificial boundary, say four square feet of canvas, through visual images projected through verbal symbols (poetry), with sound ordered into a sequence (music), or with verbal ideas ordered into a progression (theology, philosophy)—he creates an ideal world governed by his own artificially imposed order and harmony, a structure in which he consciously relates each part to the whole, a static (and therefore “timeless”) construction. The degree to which he abstracts his creation from reality is unim­portant, for even when he most appears to imitate, he has created an illusion governed by its own—perhaps hidden—set of artificial laws. (Degas said that the artist had to lie in order to tell the truth.) This search for the ideal, realized by means of an artificial medium, we shall call the Aesthetic Mode.

In the second type of cultural response the contingen­cies of reality are overcome, not through the creation of an alternate reality, but through the mastery of reality’s own workings: the laws of nature are exposed, then turned against it, to shape it in accordance with man’s concep­tion. If there is a poison, man assumes there is an antidote; if there is a disease, he searches for the cure: every fact of nature that is understood can be used to alter it. But to achieve the ideal through such a procedure takes much longer, and is infinitely more painful, especially in the early stages of knowledge. For the vast and intricate ma­chine of nature must be entirely understood—and there are always fresh and unexpected layers of complexity— before it can be thoroughly controlled. Thus before any solution can be found to the deepest contingencies of the human condition, e. g., death, natural processes of growth and decay must be catalogued, smaller laws related to larger ones. This scientific method (also attempted by Marx and Engels in their materialist approach to his­tory) is the attempt by man to master nature through the complete understanding of its mechanics. The coaxing of reality to conform with man’s conceptual ideal, through the application of information extrapolated from itself, we shall call the Technological Mode.

We have defined culture as the sum of, and the dialec­tic between, the two different modes through which man can resolve the tension created by the flexibility of his mental faculties within the limitations of his given environ­ment The correspondence of these two different cultural modes with the two sexes respectively is unmistakable. We have noted how those few women directly creating culture have gravitated to disciplines within the Aesthetic Mode. There is a good reason for this: the aesthetic re­sponse corresponds with “female” behavior. The same terminology can be applied to either: subjective, intuitive, introverted, wishful, dreamy or fantastic, concerned with the subconscious (the id), emotional, even temperamental (hysterical). Correspondingly, the technological response is the masculine response: objective, logical, extroverted, realistic, concerned with the conscious mind (the ego), rational, mechanical, pragmatic and down-to-earth, stable. Thus the aesthetic is the cultural recreation of that half of the psychological spectrum that has been appropriated to the female, whereas the technological response is the cul­tural magnification of the male half.

Just as we have assumed the biological division of the sexes for procreation to be the fundamental “natural” duality from which grows all further division into classes, so we now assume the sex division to be the root of this basic cultural division as well. The interplay between these two cultural responses, the “male” Technological Mode and the “female” Aesthetic Mode, recreates at yet another level the dialectic of the sexes—as well as its superstructure, the caste and the economic-class dialectic. And just as the merging of the divided sexual, racial, and

economic classes is a precondition for sexual, racial, or economic revolution respectively, so the merging of the aesthetic with the technological culture is the precondi­tion of a cultural revolution. And just as the revolutionary goal of the sexual, racial, and economic revolutions is, rather than a mere leveling of imbalances of class, an elimination of class categories altogether, so the end re­sult of a cultural revolution must be, not merely the in­tegration of the two streams of culture, but the elimination of cultural categories altogether, the elimination of culture itself as we know it. But before we discuss this ultimate cultural revolution or even the state of cultural division in our own time, let us see how this third level of the sex dialectic—the interaction between the Technological and Aesthetic Modes—operated to determine the flow of cul­tural history.

* * *

At first technological knowledge accumulated slowly. Gradually man learned to control the crudest aspects of his environment—he discovered the tool, control of fire, the wheel, the melting of ore to make weapons and plows, even, eventually, the alphabet—but these discov­eries were few and far between, because as yet he had no systematic way of initiating them. Eventually however, he had gathered enough practical knowledge to build whole


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systems, e. g., medicine or architecture, to create juridical, political, social, and economic institutions. Civilization de­veloped from the primitive hunting horde into an agricul­tural society, and finally, through progressive stages, into feudalism, capitalism, and the first attempts at socialism.

But in all this time, man’s ability to picture an ideal world was far ahead of his ability to create one. The pri­mary cultural forms of ancient civilizations—religion and its offshoots, mythology, legend, primitive art and magic, prophesy and history—were in the Aesthetic Mode: they imposed only an artificial, imaginary order on a universe still mysterious and chaotic. Even primitive scientific theo­ries were only poetic metaphors for what would later be realized empirically. The science and philosophy and mathematics of classical antiquity, forerunners of modem science, by sheer imaginative pTowess, operating in a vacuum independently of material laws, anticipated much of what was later proven: Democritus’ atoms and Lucre­tius’ “substance” foreshadowed by thousands of years the discoveries of modern science. But they were realized only within the realm of the imaginary Aesthetic Mode.

In the Middle Ages the Judaeo-Christian heritage was assimilated with pagan culture, to produce medieval re­ligious art and the metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics. Though concurrently Arab science, an out­growth of the Greek Alexandrian Period (third century B. c. to seventh century a. d.), was amassing considerable


information in such areas as geography, astronomy, phys­iology, mathematics—a tabulation essential to the later empiricism—there was little dialogue. Western science, with its alchemy, its astrology, the “humours” of medi­eval medicine, was still in a “pseudo-scientific” stage, or, in our definition, still operating according to the Aesthetic Mode. This medieval aesthetic culture, composed of the Classical and Christian legacies, culminated in the Hu­manism of the Renaissance.

Until the Renaissance, then, culture occurred in the Aesthetic Mode because, prior to that time, technology had been so primitive, the body of scientific knowledge so far from complete. In terms of the sex dialectic, this long stage of cultural history corresponds with the matriarchal stage of civilization: The Female Principle—dark, mys­terious, uncontrollable—reigned, elevated by man himself, still in awe of unfathomable Nature. Men of culture were its high priests of homage: until and through the Ren­aissance all men of culture were practitioners of the ideal aesthetic mode, thus, in a sense, artists. The Renaissance, the pinnacle of cultural humanism, was the golden age of the Aesthetic (female) Mode.

And also the beginning of its end. By the sixteenth century culture was undergoing a change as profound as the shift from matriarchy to patriarchy in terms of the sex dialectic, and corresponding to the decline of feudalism in the class dialectic. This was the first merging of the aesthetic culture with the technological, in the creation of modern (empirical) science.

In the Renaissance, Aristotelian Scholasticism had re­mained powerful though the first cracks in the dam were already apparent. But it was not until Francis Bacon, who first proposed to use science to “extend more widely the limits of the power and the greatnesses of man,” that the marriage of the Modes was consummated. Bacon and Locke transformed philosophy, the attempt to understand life, from abstract speculation detached from the real world (metaphysics, ethics, theology, aesthetics, logic) to

і an uncovering of the real laws of nature, through proof and demonstration (empirical science)/

In the empirical method propounded by Francis Bacon, insight and imagination had to be used only at the ear­liest stage of the inquiry. Tentative hypotheses would be formed by induction from the facts, and then consequences would be deduced logically and tested for consistency among themselves and for agreement with the primary facts and results of ad hoc experiments. The hypothesis would become an accepted theory only after all tests bad been passed, and would remain, at least until proven wrong, a theory capable of predicting phenomena to a high degree of probability.

The empirical view held that by recording and tabu­lating all possible observations and experiments in this manner, the Natural Order would emerge automatically. Though at first the question “why” was still asked as often as the question “how,” after information began to accumu­late, each discovery building upon the last to complete the jigsaw, the speculative, the intuitive, and the imagina­tive gradually became less valuable. When once the initial foundations had been laid by men of the stature of Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, thinkers still in the inspired “aes­thetic” science tradition, hundreds of anonymous techni­cians could move to fill in the blanks, leading to, in our own time, the dawn of a golden age of science—to the Technological Mode what the Renaissance had been to the Aesthetic Mode.’



Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth,

Simone de Beauvoir

The relation of women to culture has been indirect. We have discussed how the present psychical organization of the two sexes dictates that most women spend their emo­tional energy on men, whereas men “sublimate” theirs into work. In this way women’s love becomes raw fuel for the cultural machine. (Not to mention the Great Ideas born rather more directly from early-morning boudoir discussions.)

In addition to providing its emotional support, women had another important indirect relation to culture: they inspired it. The Muse was female. Men of culture were emotionally warped by the sublimation process; they con­verted life to art, thus could not live it. But women, and those men who were excluded from culture, remained in direct contact with their experience—fit subject mat­ter.

That women were intrinsic to the very content of cul­ture is borne out by an example from the history of art: Men are erotically stimulated by the opposite sex; paint­ing was male; the nude became a female nude. Where the art of the male nude reached high levels, either in the work of an individual artist, e. g., Michelangelo, or in a whole artistic period, such as that of classical Greece, men were homosexual.

The subject matter of art, when there is any, is today even more largely inspired by women. Imagine the elimi­nation of women characters from popular films and novels, even from the work of “highbrow” directors—Antonioni, Bergman, or Godard; there wouldn’t be much left. For in the last few centuries, particularly in popular culture— perhaps related to the problematic position of women in society—women have been the main subject of art. In fact, in scanning blurbs of even one month’s cultural production, one might believe that women were all any­one ever thought about.

But what about the women who have contributed di­rectly to culture? There aren’t many. And in those cases where individual women have participated in male cul­ture, they have had to do so on male terms. And it shows. Because they have had to compete as men, in а male game—while still being pressured to prove them­selves in their old female roles, a role at odds with their self-appointed ambitions—it is not surprising that they are seldom as skilled as men at the game of culture.

And it is not just a question of being as competent, it is also a question of being authentic. We have seen in the context of love how modern women have imitated male psychology, confusing it with health, and have thereby ended up even worse off than men themselves: they were not even being true to homegrown sicknesses. And there are even more complex layers to this question of authen­ticity: women have no means of coming to an understand­ing of what their experience is, or even that it is different from male experience. The tool for representing, for ob­jectifying one’s experience in order to deal with it, culture, is so saturated with male bias that women almost never have a chance to see themselves culturally through their own eyes. So that finally, signals from their direct experi­ence that conflict with the prevailing (male) culture are denied and repressed.

Thus because cultural dicta are set by men, presenting only the male view—and now in a super-barrage—women are kept from achieving an authentic picture of their reality. Why do women, for example, get aroused by a pornography of female bodies? In their ordinary experi­ence of female nudity, say in a gym locker room, the sight of other nude females might be interesting (though probably only insofar as they rate by male sexual stan­dards), but not directly erotic. Cultural distortion of sex­uality explains also how female sexuality gets twisted into narcissism: women make love to themselves vicariously through the man, rather than directly making love to him. At times this cultural barrage of man/subject, woman/ob – ject desensitizes women to male forms to such a degree that they are even orgasmically affected.[17]

There are other examples of the distorting effects on female vision of an exclusively male culture. Let us go back to the history of figurative painting once again: we have seen how in the tradition of the nude, male hetero­sexual inclinations came to emphasize the female rather than the male as the more aesthetic and pleasing form. Such a predilection for either one over the other, of course, is based on a sexuality which is in itself artificial, cul­turally created. But at least one might then expect the opposite bias to prevail in the view of women painters still involved in the tradition of the nude. This is not the case. In any art school in the country one sees classrooms full of girls working diligently from the female model, accepting that the male model is somehow less aesthetic,, at best perhaps novel, and certainly never questioning why

the male model wears a jock strap when the female model wouldn’t dream of appearing in so much as a G-string.

1 Again, looking at the work of well-known women paint – [ ers associated with the Impressionist School of the nine – I teenth century, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, one wonders at their obsessive preoccupation with traditional – j ly female subject matter: women, children, female nudes,

I interiors, etc. This is partially explained by political con – j ditions of that period: women painters were lucky to be f allowed to paint anything at all, let alone male models. I And yet it is more than that. These women, for all their I superb draftsmanship and compositional skill, remained


minor painters because they had “lifted” a set of tradi­tions and a. view of the world that was inauthentic for them. They worked within the limits’of what had been defined as female by a male tradition: they saw women through male eyes, painted a male’s idea of female. And they carried it to an extreme, for they were attempting to outdo men at their own game; they had fallen for a (lovely) line. And thus the falseness that corrupts their work, making it “feminine,” i. e., sentimental, light It would take a denial of all cultural tradition for women to produce even a true “female” art. For a woman who participates in (male) culture must achieve and be rated by standards of a tradition she had no part in mak­ing—and certainly there is no room in tha£ tradition for a female view, even if she could discover what it was. In those cases where a woman, tired of losing at a male game, has attempted to participate in culture in a female I way, she has been put down and misunderstood, named I by the (male) cultural establishment “Lady Artist,” i. e.,


trivial, inferior. And even where it must be (grudgingly) admitted she is “good,” it is fashionable—a cheap way to indicate one’s own “seriousness” and refinement of taste —to insinuate that she is good but irrelevant.

Perhaps it is true that a presentation of only the female side of things—which tends to be one long protest and complaint rather than the portrayal of a full and substantive existence—is limited. But an equally rele­

vant question, one much less frequently asked, is: Is it any more limited than the prevailing male view of things, which—when not taken as absolute truth—is at least seen as “serious,” relevant, and important? Is Mary McCarthy in The Group really so much worse a writer than Norman Mailer in The American Dream? Or is she perhaps describing a reality that men, the controllers and critics of the Cultural Establishment, can’t tune in on?

That men and women are tuned to a different cultural wavelength, that in fact there exists a wholly different reality for men and women, is apparent in our crudest cultural form—comic books. From my own experience: When I was little my brother had literally a room-size collection of comic books. But though I was a greedy reader, this vast comic book library interested me not in the least. My literary taste was completely different from his. He preferred “heavies” like War Comics (Aak-Aak – Aak!) and Superman; and for relief, “funnies” like Bugs Bunny, Tweetie and Sylvester, Tom and Jerry, and all the stuttering pigs who took forever to get a rather ob­vious message out. Though these “funnies” grated on my more aesthetic sensibilities, I would read them in a pinch. But had I had an allowance as big, and as little parental supervision, I might have indulged in a “heavy” library of Love Comics (large tear. Oh Tod, don’t tell Sue about us, she’d die), an occasional True Confessions, and for “light” relief, Archie and Veronica. Or the occasional more imaginative variations of boys’ comics, like Plastic- man (Superman with a rubber arm that could reach around blocks) or Uncle Scrooge McDuck editions of Donald Duck; I loved the selfish extravagance of his bath­ing in money. ((Many women—deprived of Self—have confessed the same girlhood passion). Even more likely, I would not have invested in comic books at all. Fairy tales, much less realistic, were a better trip.

My brother thought girls’ taste was “drippy,” and I thought he was a crude slob. Who was right? We both were; but he won (he owned the library).

This division continues to operate at higher cultural

levels, I had to force myself to read Mailer, Heller, Don – Ieavy, and others for the same reasons that I couldn’t stand my brother’s library: to me they seemed only com­plex versions of (respectively) Superman, Aak-Aak-Aak, and the Adventures of Bugs Bunny. But though the “male-” library continued to repel me, in the process of developing “good taste” (male taste), I also lost my love for the “female” library, indeed I developed an abhorrence; and I would—I’m ashamed to admit it—far sooner have been caught dead with Hemingway than with Virginia Woolf in my hands.

In order to illustrate this cultural dichotomy in more objective terms, we don’t need to attack the more obvious paper tigers (all senses implied) who consciously present a “male” reality—viz. Hemingway, Jones, Mailer, Farrell, Algren and the rest. The new Virility School in twentieth – century literature is in itself a direct response, indeed a male cultural backlash, to the growing threat to male supremacy—Virility, Inc., a bunch of culturally deprived “tough guys,” punching away to save their manhood. And though they get more credit, these artists write about the “male” experience no more perceptively than Doris Les­sing, Sylvia Plath, Anai’s Nin have written – about the fe­male experience. In fact they are guilty of a mystification of their experience that makes their writing phony.

Instead, we wifi examine a bias more insidious (be­cause less obvious) in male writers who honestly attempt to describe the whole spectrum of male/female experience —Bellow, Malamud, Updike, Roth, etc.—but who fail because, often without realizing it, they have described this whole from a limited (male) angle.

Let’s look briefly at a story by Herbert Gold, not a “male” writer in either style or subject matter. He writes about what concerns women, that is, relationships, pref­erably male/female; marriages; divorces; affairs. In this story, “What’s Become of Your Creature?” he describes the affair of a harassed young college professor with his blonde, Bohemianish student.

The picture we get of Lenka Kuwaila from the male

character’s view is only sensual, if sensitive on those terms. The story begins:

A girl. A gay, pretty and sullen girl, with full marks for both sweetness and cruelty. When he looked in her desk for ciga­rettes, there was a silken pile of panties folded like flowers, dizzying him with the joy of springtime. When she put on a pair of them, suddenly filling out the tiny pair of petals of cloth in two paired buds, it was as if the sun had forced a flower into delicate Easter bloom. Oh, he needed her, loved her, and so for honor to them both, let us tell the truth, as straight as truth comes.

But the truth that we get “straight as truth comes” is only his view of the truth:

There is a time in the life of every man when he can do any­thing. It was this time in the life of Frank Curtiss. Despair with his wife had given up to deep gratification with a beau­tiful girl; he even did better at home; matters cooled and calmed; his work went well; he hardly needed sleep and did not suffer his usual rose fever during the spring he knew Lenka. No sniffles, no pink eyes. Expanded breathing, sharp sight. Of the occasional headache of fatigue and excess he was cured by the touch of her hand, her welcome when he came smiling, showing teeth, through her window.

But her truth must have been an altogether different one, a truth of which there is no trace in the story until one day (out of the blue) Lenka writes his wife a long letter. The failing marriage that had been improving steadily since Frank began his affair with Lenka is destroyed for good:

Lenka left New York without seeing him after his anguished phone call to her: “Why? Why? Why did you have to do it that way, Lenka? Can’t you see how it destroys everything between us, even the past?”

“I don’t care about memories. What’s over means nothing. Over. You didn’t want to do more than crawl through my window a couple of times a week—”

“But to write to her like that—what meant—how—”

“You cared more about a cold bitch than you cared for me. Just because you had a child.”

“Why, why?”

She hung up on him.

He stood shrugging at the telephone. Women were hanging up on him all over the world. He was disconnected.

Feeling betrayed and tricked, Frank bewilderedly nurses his wounds; throughout the rest of the story one feels his puzzlement: he does not understand what led her to do it, he does not “understand women.” Finallyjie. lets it rest by granting her “full marks for cruelty” as well as sweetness.

But Lenka’s “cruelty” is the direct result of his inability to see her as more than “a girl” (gay, pretty, or sullen), as, instead, perhaps, a complex human being with a self – interest not identical with his. However, due to Gold’s authentic recounting of incident and dialogue, a sensitive (probably female) reader might read between the lines: Lenka was the one betrayed. Here is Frank a few years later in Manhattan:

He found a girl to join him in biting into an apple, sucking the sweet juice of it at dawn, finally kissing in good friendship and turning on their sides to sleep. … He felt free. … He threw away his bottle of aspirins. His married vision of him­self as a heavy, shaggy, weary buffalo, head low and muzzle hurt, gave way to another image—he was, lean, his posture was good, he was an agile bucko. When his former wife remarried, his last vestige of guilt disappeared. Free, free. He played badminton twice a week with a French girl who pro­nounced it ‘ ‘B add-min g-torm. ’ ’

A gay bachelor now, Frank impulsively calls Lenka up one day:

But after he told her how long he had been in New York, she said that she was not interested in seeing him.

“I held a grudge, you can understand that,” he said. “I still think you were very wrong, but I’m grateful anyway. It worked out for the best.”

“And it’s over,” she said.

Later he runs into her to find her wasted on junk, whoring for a black musician:

She may have invented a foolish lie [in order to invite him up to her room], but she recognized the glare of contempt on his face, and in her life of now a quarter of a century, she had learned only one way to answer the judgment of men. She slid against him, on her face a mixture of coyness and dread, a flirtatious half-smile, a slinking catlike practiced leaning against him, and her eyes filled with tears as she shut them, tears balanced on her wetted lashes, slipping down her cheeks. “Frank,” she said haltingly. “I stopped remembering for a long time, I don’t know, things were difficult, I thought you were too angry. . . But I’ve been remembering. . . That’s why. . . Forgive. .

He put his arms around her, held her to him, but with more confusion than either amorousness or tenderness. . . .

Then he thought of the letters she had just now lied about, and suddenly, as she turned her head up wanting to be kissed, his most vivid fantasy was this one: She was unclean. His un­curbed dread ran towards a muddle—deceit, illness, secret pity, slime, and retribution. Not knowing what he feared, he thought only: filth, cunning, running filth, blotches, sores. Be­cause he could not bear her sorrows, he thought: Deceit and cunning and disease!

He pulled away before their mouths touched; her nails clawed along his arm, shredding skin; he fled, hearing her sobs at the open door as he careened down the infected stairs and into the free air of the street

Curtain: Frank caresses his newly pregnant wife, won­dering whatever-happened-to-Lenka.

This is not a male story in subject, and it is not a “male” story in style—there І6 enough description of emo­tion in it to shame any male writer. But it is still a “male” story by virtue of its peculiar limitation of vision: it does not understand women. Lenka’s sensuality and loveliness is as much of her as Frank is able to compre­hend. Her motives for writing to his wife, her refusal to see him, her attempted seduction, described with such guilty loathing—these Frank can’t deal with, just as in real life men can’t deal with them ("Became he could not bear her sorrows, he thought: Deceit and cunning and disease!”). To know a woman beyond the level of her delightfulness is too much for him. Women are judged only in terms of himself, and what they can bring to him, whether beauty and joy or pain and sorrow. Whichever it is, he does not question it, not understanding that his own. behavior had been or could be a determining influence.

One can imagine an entirely different story of the same affair, even using the same information and dialogue, only this time written by Lenka. Her behavior then might appear not irrational, but entirely understandable; instead, the male character would come out shallow. Perhaps, in­deed, we might end up with more than just an opposite sexual bias. We might get as much as three-quarters of the picture (i. e., Frank shallow because he is unable to live up to his emotions), since women in general, through long oppression, have learned to be hipper to male psy­chology than vice versa. But this has seldom happened in literature, for most Lenkas are sufficiently destroyed by their use and abuse never to write their own stories co­herently.

Thus the difference between the “male” approach to art and the “female,” is not, as some like to think, simply a difference of “style” in treating the same subject matter (personal, subjective, emotional, descriptive vs. vigorous, spare, hardhitting, cool, objective) but the very subject matter itself. The sex role system divides human experi­ence; men and women live in these different halves of reality; and culture reflects this.

Only a few artists have overcome this division in their work. And one wonders whether homosexuals are correct in their claim. But if not through physical expression, then in some other way the greatest artists became men­tally androgynous. In the twentieth century, for example, writers of the stature of Proust, Joyce, Kafka did it either by physically identifying with the female (Proust), by imaginarily crossing the line at will (Joyce), or by re­treating to an imaginary world rarely affected by the dichotomy (Kafka). But not only do most artists not over­come, they are not even aware of the existence of a cultural limitation based on sex—so much is the male reality accepted by both male and female as Reality.

And what about women artists? We have seen that it has only been in the last several centuries that women have been permitted to participate—and then only on an individual basis, and on male terms—in the making of culture. And even so their vision had become inauthen­tic: they were denied the use of the cultural mirror.

And there are many negative reasons that women have entered art: Affluence always creates female dilettantism, e. g., the Victorian “young lady” with her accomplishments, or the arts of the Japanese geisha—for, in addition to serving as a symbol of male luxury, women’s increasing idleness under advancing industrialism presents a practical problem: female discontent has to be eased to keep it from igniting. Or women may be entering art as a refuge. Women today are still excluded from the vital power centers of human activity; and art is one of the last self – determining occupations left—often done in solitude. But in this sense women are like a Petty Bourgeoisie trying to open up shop in the age of Corporate Capitalism.

For the higher percentages of women in art lately may tell us more about the state of art than about the state of women. Are we to feel cheered that women have taken over in a capacity soon to be automated. out? (Like 95 Percent Black at the Post Office, this is no sign of inte­gration; on the contrary, undesirables are being shoved into the least desirable positions—Here, now get in and keep your mouth shut!) That art is no longer a vital center that attracts the best men of our generation may also be a product of the male/female division, as I shall attempt to show in the next chapter. But the animation of women and homosexuals in the arts today may signify only the scurrying of rats near a dying body.[18]

But if it has not yet created great women artists, wom­en’s new literacy has certainly created a female audience. Just as male audiences have always demanded, and re­ceived, male art to reinforce their particular view of reality, so a female audience demands a “female” art to rein­force the female reality. Thus the birth of the crude feminine novel in the nineteenth century, leading to the love story of our own day, so ever-present in popular culture (“soap opera”); the women’s magazine trade; Valley of the Dolls. These may be crude beginnings. Most of this art is as yet primitive, clumsy, poor. But occasional­ly the female reality is documented as clearly as the male reality has always been, as, for example, in the work of Anne Sexton.

Eventually, out of this ferment—perhaps very soon— we may see the emergence of an authentic female art. But the development of “female” art is not to be viewed as reactionary, like its counterpart, the male School of Virility. Rather it is progressive: an exploration of the strictly female reality is a necessary step to correct the warp in a sexually biased culture. It is only after we have integrated the dark side of the moon into our world view that we can begin to talk seriously of universal culture.

* * *

Thus, all of culture has been to different degrees cor­rupted by sexual polarization. We can summarize the vari­ous forms this corruption takes in the following way:

1) Male Protest Art. Art that self-consciously glorifies the male reality (as opposed to taking for granted that it constitutes reality itself) is only a recent development. I see it as a direct response to the threat to male supremacy contained in the first blurring of rigid sex roles. Such an art is reactionary by definition. To those men who feel that this art best expresses what they are living and feel­ing, I recommend a major overhaul of personality.

2) The Male Angle. This art fails to achieve a compre­hensive world view because it does not recognize that male reality is not Reality, but only one half of reality. Thus its portrayal of the opposite sex and its behavior (half of humanity) is false: the artist himself does not understand female motives. Sometimes, as in the Herbert Gold story quoted, the women characters can still come through if the author has been faithful to at least the how—if not the why—of their behavior.

A better-known example: The character of Catherine in Truffaut’s film Jules and Jim is drawn from real life. There are many such vamps and femmes fatales around, in reality nothing more than women who refuse to accept their powerlessness. To keep an illusion of equality and to gain an indirect power over men, Catherine must use “mystery” (Sphinx), unpredictability (jumping in the Seine), and wiles (sleeping around with Mystery Men to keep Him dangling). When, in the end, as all women must, she loses even this illegitimate power, her pride will not admit defeat: She kills the man who had dared escape her, along with herself. But even here, in an accurately drawn art, the male bias comes out. The director goes along with the Mystery Woman mystique, does not probe to find out what’s beneath it. Moreover, he doesn’t want to know: he is using it as a source of eroticism. The pic­ture we get of Catherine comes only through a veil.

3) (Individually Cultivated) Androgynous Mentality. Even when the sex limitations have been overcome by the individual artist, his art must reveal a reality made ugly by its cleavage. A brief example, again from film: Though the Swedish directors have been notably free from personal sex prejudice—the women they portray are human first and female second—Liv Ullman’s portrayal of Noble Wife faithfully accompanying her husband into his growing madness (Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf) or loving him through his moral degeneration (Bergman’s Shame) or Lena Nyman’s confused sensitivity in Sjoman’s / Am Curious (Yellow) are descriptions not of a liberated sexuality but of a stiff-unresolved conflict between the sexual and the human identity.

4) Female Art. This is a new development, not to be confused with “male” art, even if, so far, it has been guilty of the same bias in reverse. For this may signify the beginnings of a new consciousness, rather than an ossification of the old. Within the next decade we may see its growth into a powerful new art—perhaps arising in conjunction with the feminist political movement or at its inspiration—that will, for the first time, authentically grapple with the reality that women live in.

We may also see a feminist Criticism, emphasizing, in order to correct, the various forms of sex bias now cor­rupting art. However, in our third category, that art which .is guilty only of reflecting the human price of a sex – divided reality, great care would have to be taken that criticism be directed, not at the artists for their (accu­rate) portrayal of the imperfect reality, but at the gro­tesqueness of that reality itself as revealed by the art.

Only a feminist revolution can eliminate entirely the sex schism causing these cultural distortions. Until then “pure art” is a delusion—a delusion responsible both for the inauthentic art women have produced until now, as well as for the corruption of (male) culture at large. The incorporation of the neglected half of human experience —the female experience—into the body of culture, to create an all-encompassing culture, is only the first step, a precondition; but the schism of reality itself must be overthrown before, there can be a true cultural revolution.