Edward Carpenter.

The intermediate sex; a study of some transitional types of men and women online

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rather gentle, emotional disposition - with defects, if such exist, in
the direction of subtlety, evasiveness, timidity, vanity, etc.; while
the female is just the opposite, fiery, active, bold and truthful, with
defects running to brusqueness and coarseness. Moreover, the mind of the
former is generally intuitive and instinctive in its perceptions, with
more or less of artistic feeling; while the mind of the latter is more
logical, scientific, and precise than usual with the normal woman. So
marked indeed are these general characteristics that sometimes by means
of them (though not an infallible guide) the nature of the boy or girl
can be detected in childhood, before full development has taken place;
and needless to say it may often be very important to be able to do this.

It was no doubt in consequence of the observation of these signs that
K. H. Ulrichs proposed his theory; and though the theory, as we have
said, does not by any means meet _all_ the facts, still it is perhaps not
without merit, and may be worth bearing in mind.

In the case, for instance, of a woman of this temperament (defined
we suppose as “a male soul in a female body”) the theory helps us to
understand how it might be possible for her to fall _bonâ fide_ in love
with another woman. Krafft-Ebing gives[8] the case of a lady (A.), 28
years of age, who fell deeply in love with a younger one (B.). “I loved
her divinely,” she said. They lived together, and the union lasted
four years, but was then broken by the marriage of B. A. suffered in
consequence from frightful depression; but in the end - though without
real love - got married herself. Her depression however only increased and
deepened into illness. The doctors, when consulted, said that all would
be well if she could only have a child. The husband, who loved his wife
sincerely, could not understand her enigmatic behaviour. She was friendly
to him, suffered his caresses, but for days afterwards remained “dull,
exhausted, plagued with irritation of the spine, and nervous.” Presently
a journey of the married pair led to another meeting with the female
friend - who had now been wedded (but also unhappily) for three years.

“Both ladies trembled with joy and excitement as they fell into each
other’s arms, and were thenceforth inseparable. The man found that this
friendship relation was a singular one, and hastened the departure. When
the opportunity occurred, he convinced himself from the correspondence
between his wife and her ‘friend’ that their letters were exactly like
those of two lovers.”

It appears that the loves of such women are often very intense, and
(as also in the case of male Urnings) life-long.[9] Both classes feel
themselves blessed when they love happily. Nevertheless, to many of
them it is a painful fact that - in consequence of their peculiar
temperament - they are, though fond of children, not in the position to
found a family.

We have so far limited ourselves to some very general characteristics
of the Intermediate race. It may help to clear and fix our ideas if we
now describe more in detail, first, what may be called the extreme and
exaggerated types of the race, and then the more normal and perfect
types. By doing so we shall get a more definite and concrete view of our

In the first place, then, the extreme specimens - as in most cases
of extremes - are not particularly attractive, sometimes quite the
reverse. In the male of this kind we have a distinctly effeminate type,
sentimental, lackadaisical, mincing in gait and manners, something of a
chatterbox, skilful at the needle and in woman’s work, sometimes taking
pleasure in dressing in woman’s clothes; his figure not unfrequently
betraying a tendency towards the feminine, large at the hips, supple,
not muscular, the face wanting in hair, the voice inclining to be
high-pitched, etc.; while his dwelling-room is orderly in the extreme,
even natty, and choice of decoration and perfume. His affection, too, is
often feminine in character, clinging, dependent and jealous, as of one
desiring to be loved almost more than to love.[10]

On the other hand, as the extreme type of the homogenic female, we have a
rather markedly aggressive person, of strong passions, masculine manners
and movements, practical in the conduct of life, sensuous rather than
sentimental in love, often untidy, and _outré_ in attire;[11] her figure
muscular, her voice rather low in pitch; her dwelling-room decorated
with sporting-scenes, pistols, etc., and not without a suspicion of the
fragrant weed in the atmosphere; while her love (generally to rather soft
and feminine specimens of her own sex) is often a sort of furor, similar
to the ordinary masculine love, and at times almost uncontrollable.

These are types which, on account of their salience, everyone will
recognise more or less. Naturally, when they occur they excite a good
deal of attention, and it is not an uncommon impression that most persons
of the homogenic nature belong to either one or other of these classes.
But in reality, of course, these extreme developments are rare, and for
the most part the temperament in question is embodied in men and women
of quite normal and unsensational exterior. Speaking of this subject
and the connection between effeminateness and the homogenic nature in
men, Dr. Moll says: “It is, however, as well to point out at the outset
that effeminacy does not by any means show itself in all Urnings. Though
one may find this or that indication in a great number of cases, yet
it cannot be denied that a very large percentage, perhaps by far the
majority of them, do _not_ exhibit pronounced Effeminacy.” And it may be
supposed that we may draw the same conclusion with regard to women of
this class - namely, that the majority of them do not exhibit pronounced
masculine habits. In fact, while these extreme cases are of the greatest
value from a scientific point of view as marking tendencies and limits of
development in certain directions, it would be a serious mistake to look
upon them as representative cases of the whole phases of human evolution

If now we come to what may be called the more normal type of the
Uranian man, we find a man who, while possessing thoroughly masculine
powers of mind and body, combines with them the tenderer and more
emotional soul-nature of the woman - and sometimes to a remarkable
degree. Such men, as said, are often muscular and well-built, and not
distinguishable in exterior structure and the carriage of body from
others of their own sex; but emotionally they are extremely complex,
tender, sensitive, pitiful and loving, “full of storm and stress, of
ferment and fluctuation” of the heart; the logical faculty may or may
not, in their case, be well-developed, but intuition is always strong;
like women they read characters at a glance, and know, without knowing
how, what is passing in the minds of others; for nursing and waiting on
the needs of others they have often a peculiar gift; at the bottom lies
the artist-nature, with the artist’s sensibility and perception. Such an
one is often a dreamer, of brooding, reserved habits, often a musician,
or a man of culture, courted in society, which nevertheless does not
understand him - though sometimes a child of the people, without any
culture, but almost always with a peculiar inborn refinement. De Joux,
who speaks on the whole favourably of Uranian men and women, says of the
former: “They are enthusiastic for poetry and music, are often eminently
skilful in the fine arts, and are overcome with emotion and sympathy at
the least sad occurrence. Their sensitiveness, their endless tenderness
for children, their love of flowers, their great pity for beggars and
crippled folk are truly womanly.” And in another passage he indicates the
artist-nature, when he says: “The nerve-system of many an Urning is the
finest and the most complicated musical instrument in the service of the
interior personality that can be imagined.”

It would seem probable that the attachment of such an one is of a tender
and profound character; indeed, it is possible that in this class of men
we have the love sentiment in one of its most perfect forms - a form in
which from the necessities of the situation the sensuous element, though
present, is exquisitely subordinated to the spiritual. Says one writer
on this subject, a Swiss, “Happy indeed is that man who has won a real
Urning for his friend - he walks on roses, without ever having to fear the
thorns”; and he adds, “Can there ever be a more perfect sick-nurse than
an Urning?” And though these are _ex parte_ utterances, we may believe
that there is an appreciable grain of truth in them. Another writer,
quoted by De Joux, speaks to somewhat the same effect, and may perhaps be
received in a similar spirit. “We form,” he says, “a peculiar aristocracy
of modest spirits, of good and refined habit, and in many masculine
circles are the representatives of the higher mental and artistic
element. In us dreamers and enthusiasts lies the continual counterpoise
to the sheer masculine portion of society - inclining, as it always does,
to mere restless greed of gain and material sensual pleasures.”

That men of this kind despise women, though a not uncommon belief, is
one which hardly appears to be justified. Indeed, though naturally not
inclined to “fall in love” in this direction, such men are by their
nature drawn rather near to women, and it would seem that they often feel
a singular appreciation and understanding of the emotional needs and
destinies of the other sex, leading in many cases to a genuine though
what is called ‘Platonic’ friendship. There is little doubt that they
are often instinctively sought after by women, who, without suspecting
the real cause, are conscious of a sympathetic chord in the homogenic
which they miss in the normal man. To quote De Joux once more: “It would
be a mistake to suppose that all Urnings must be woman-haters. Quite the
contrary. They are not seldom the faithfulest friends, the truest allies,
and most convinced defenders of women.”

To come now to the more normal and perfect specimens of the homogenic
_woman_, we find a type in which the body is thoroughly feminine and
gracious, with the rondure and fulness of the female form, and the
continence and aptness of its movements, but in which the inner nature is
to a great extent masculine; a temperament active, brave, originative,
somewhat decisive, not too emotional; fond of out-door life, of games and
sports, of science, politics, or even business; good at organisation, and
well-pleased with positions of responsibility, sometimes indeed making an
excellent and generous leader. Such a woman, it is easily seen, from her
special combination of qualities, is often fitted for remarkable work, in
professional life, or as manageress of institutions, or even as ruler of
a country. Her love goes out to younger and more feminine natures than
her own; it is a powerful passion, almost of heroic type, and capable
of inspiring to great deeds; and when held duly in leash may sometimes
become an invaluable force in the teaching and training of girlhood, or
in the creation of a school of thought or action among women. Many a
Santa Clara, or abbess-founder of religious houses, has probably been a
woman of this type; and in all times such women - not being bound to men
by the ordinary ties - have been able to work the more freely for the
interests of their sex, a cause to which their own temperament impels
them to devote themselves _con amore_.

I have now sketched - very briefly and inadequately it is true - both the
extreme types and the more healthy types of the ‘Intermediate’ man and
woman: types which can be verified from history and literature, though
more certainly and satisfactorily perhaps from actual life around us.
And unfamiliar though the subject is, it begins to appear that it is
one which modern thought and science will have to face. Of the latter
and more normal types it may be said that they exist, and have always
existed, in considerable abundance, and from that circumstance alone
there is a strong probability that they have their place and purpose. As
pointed out there is no particular indication of morbidity about them,
unless the special nature of their love-sentiment be itself accounted
morbid; and in the alienation of the sexes from each other, of which
complaint is so often made to-day, it must be admitted that they do much
to fill the gap.

The instinctive artistic nature of the male of this class, his sensitive
spirit, his wavelike emotional temperament, combined with hardihood
of intellect and body; and the frank, free nature of the female, her
masculine independence and strength wedded to thoroughly feminine grace
of form and manner; may be said to give them both, through their double
nature, command of life in all its phases, and a certain freemasonry of
the secrets of the two sexes which may well favour their function as
reconcilers and interpreters. Certainly it is remarkable that some of the
world’s greatest leaders and artists have been dowered either wholly or
in part with the Uranian temperament - as in the cases of Michel Angelo,
Shakespeare, Marlowe, Alexander the Great, Julius Cæsar, or, among women,
Christine of Sweden, Sappho the poetess, and others.


The Homogenic Attachment

In its various forms, so far as we know them, Love seems always to have a
deep significance and a most practical importance to us little mortals.
In one form, as the mere semi-conscious Sex-love, which runs through
creation and is common to the lowest animals and plants, it appears as
a kind of organic basis for the unity of all creatures; in another, as
the love of the mother for her offspring - which may also be termed a
passion - it seems to pledge itself to the care and guardianship of the
future race; in another, as the marriage of man and woman, it becomes
the very foundation of human society. And so we can hardly believe that
in its homogenic form, with which we are here concerned, it has not also
a deep significance, and social uses and functions which will become
clearer to us, the more we study it.

To some perhaps it may appear a little strained to place this
last-mentioned form of attachment on a level of importance with the
others, and such persons may be inclined to deny to the homogenic[12]
or homosexual love that intense, that penetrating, and at times
overmastering character which would entitle it to rank as a great human
passion. But in truth this view, when entertained, arises from a want of
acquaintance with the actual facts; and it may not be amiss here, in the
briefest possible way, to indicate what the world’s History, Literature,
and Art has to say to us on this aspect of the subject, before going
on to further considerations. Certainly, if the confronting of danger
and the endurance of pain and distress for the sake of the loved one,
if sacrifice, unswerving devotion and life-long union, constitute
proofs of the reality and intensity (and let us say healthiness) of an
affection, then these proofs have been given in numberless cases of such
attachment, not only as existing between men, but as between women, since
the world began. The records of chivalric love, the feats of enamoured
knights for their ladies’ sakes, the stories of Hero and Leander,
etc., are easily paralleled, if not surpassed, by the stories of the
Greek comrades-in-arms and tyrannicides - of Cratinus and Aristodemus,
who offered themselves together as a voluntary sacrifice for the
purification of Athens; of Chariton and Melanippus,[13] who attempted
to assassinate Phalaris, the tyrant of Agrigentum; or of Cleomachus
who in like manner, in a battle between the Chalkidians and Eretrians,
being entreated to charge the latter, “asked the youth he loved, who was
standing by, whether he would be a spectator of the fight; and when he
said he would, and affectionately kissed Cleomachus and put his helmet
on his head, Cleomachus with a proud joy placed himself in the front of
the bravest of the Thessalians and charged the enemy’s cavalry with such
impetuosity that he threw them into disorder and routed them; and the
Eretrian cavalry fleeing in consequence, the Chalkidians won a splendid

The annals of all nations contain similar records - though probably among
none has the ideal of this love been quite so enthusiastic and heroic
as among the post-Homeric Greeks. It is well known that among the
Polynesian Islanders - for the most part a very gentle and affectionate
people, probably inheriting the traditions of a higher culture than
they now possess - the most romantic male friendships are (or were) in
vogue. Says Herman Melville in “Omoo” (chap. 39), “The really curious
way in which all Polynesians are in the habit of making bosom friends
is deserving of remark.… In the annals of the island (Tahiti) are
examples of extravagant friendships, unsurpassed by the story of Damon
and Pythias - in truth much more wonderful; for notwithstanding the
devotion - even of life in some cases - to which they led, they were
frequently entertained at first sight for some stranger from another
island.” So thoroughly recognised indeed were these unions that Melville
explains (in “Typee,” chap. 18) that if two men of hostile tribes or
islands became thus pledged to each other, then each could pass through
the enemy’s territory without fear of molestation or injury; and the
passionate nature of these attachments is indicated by the following
passage from “Omoo” (another book of Melville’s): - “Though little
inclined to jealousy in ordinary love-matters, the Tahitian will hear of
no rivals in his _friendship_.”

Even among savage races lower down than these in the scale of evolution,
and who are generally accused of being governed in their love-relations
only by the most animal desires, we find a genuine sentiment of
comradeship beginning to assert itself - as among the Balonda[15] and
other African tribes, where regular ceremonies of the betrothal of
comrades take place, by the transfusion of a few drops of blood into each
other’s drinking-bowls, by the exchange of names,[16] and the mutual
gift of their most precious possessions; but unfortunately, owing to the
obtuseness of current European opinion on this subject, these and other
such customs have been but little investigated and have by no means
received the attention that they ought.

When we turn to the poetic and literary utterances of the more civilised
nations on this subject we cannot but be struck by the range and
intensity of the emotions expressed - from the beautiful threnody of David
over his friend whose love was passing the love of women, through the
vast panorama of the Homeric Iliad, of which the heroic friendship of
Achilles and his dear Patroclus forms really the basic theme, down to
the works of the great Greek age - the splendid odes of Pindar burning
with clear fire of passion, the lofty elegies of Theognis, full of wise
precepts to his beloved Kurnus, the sweet pastorals of Theocritus, the
passionate lyrics of Sappho, or the more sensual raptures of Anacreon.
Some of the dramas of Æschylus and Sophocles - as the “Myrmidones” of the
former and the “Lovers of Achilles” of the latter - appear to have had
this subject for their motive[17]; and many of the prose-poem dialogues
of Plato were certainly inspired by it.

Then coming to the literature of the Roman age, whose materialistic
spirit could only with difficulty seize the finer inspiration of the
homogenic love, and which in such writers as Catullus and Martial could
only for the most part give expression to its grosser side, we still find
in Vergil, a noble and notable instance. His second Eclogue bears the
marks of a genuine passion; and, according to some,[18] he there under
the name of Alexis immortalises his own love for the youthful Alexander.
Nor is it possible to pass over in this connection the great mass of
Persian literature, and the poets Sadi, Hafiz, Jami, and many others,
whose names and works are for all time, and whose marvellous love-songs
(“Bitter and sweet is the parting kiss on the lips of a friend”) are to a
large extent, if not mostly, addressed to those of their own sex.[19]

Of the mediæval period in Europe we have of course but few literary
monuments. Towards its close we come upon the interesting story of Amis
and Amile (thirteenth century), unearthed by Mr. W. Pater from the
Bibliotheca Elzeviriana.[20] Though there is historic evidence of the
prevalence of the passion we may say of this period that its _ideal_ was
undoubtedly rather the chivalric love than the love of comrades. But
with the Renaissance in Italy and the Elizabethan period in England the
latter once more comes to evidence in a burst of poetic utterance,[21]
which culminates perhaps in the magnificent sonnets of Michel Angelo
and of Shakespeare; of Michel Angelo whose pure beauty of expression
lifts the enthusiasm into the highest region as the direct perception
of the divine in mortal form;[22] and of Shakespeare - whose passionate
words and amorous spirituality of friendship have for long enough been
a perplexity to hide-bound commentators. Thence through minor writers
(not overlooking Winckelmann[23] in Germany) we pass to quite modern
times - in which, notwithstanding the fact that the passion has been
much misunderstood and misinterpreted, two names stand conspicuously
forth - those of Tennyson, whose “In Memoriam” is perhaps his finest work,
and of Walt Whitman, the enthusiasm of whose poems on Comradeship is only
paralleled by the devotedness of his labors for his wounded brothers in
the American Civil War.

It will be noticed that here we have some of the very greatest names in
all literature concerned; and that their utterances on this subject equal
if they do not surpass, in beauty, intensity and humanity of sentiment,
whatever has been written in praise of the other more ordinarily
recognised love.

And when again we turn to the records of Art, and compare the way
in which man’s sense of Love and Beauty has expressed itself in the
portrayal of the male form and the female form respectively we find
exactly the same thing. The whole vista of Greek statuary shows the
male passion of beauty in high degree. Yet though the statues of men and
youths (by men sculptors) preponderate probably considerably, both in
actual number and in devotedness of execution, over the statues of female
figures, it is, as J. A. Symonds says in his “Life of Michel Angelo,”
remarkable that in all the range of the former there are hardly two or
three that show a base or licentious expression, such as is not so very
uncommon in the female statues. Knowing as we do the strength of the
male physical passion in the life of the Greeks, this one fact speaks
strongly for the sense of proportion which must have characterised this
passion - at any rate in the most productive age of their Art.

In the case of Michel Angelo we have an artist who with brush and chisel
portrayed literally thousands of human forms; but with this peculiarity,
that while scores and scores of his male figures are obviously suffused
and inspired by a romantic sentiment, there is hardly one of his female
figures that is so, - the latter being mostly representative of woman in
her part as mother, or sufferer, or prophetess or poetess, or in old age,
or in any aspect of strength or tenderness, except that which associates
itself especially with romantic love. Yet the cleanliness and dignity of
Michel Angelo’s male figures are incontestable, and bear striking witness
to that nobility of the sentiment in him, which we have already seen
illustrated in his sonnets.[24]

This brief sketch may suffice to give the reader some idea of the place
and position in the world of the particular sentiment which we are
discussing; nor can it fail to impress him - if any reference is made to
the authorities quoted - with a sense of the dignity and solidity of the
sentiment, at any rate as handled by some of the world’s greatest men.
At the same time it would be affectation to ignore the fact that side
by side with this view of the subject there has been another current of
opinion leading people - especially in quite modern times in Europe - to
look upon attachments of the kind in question with much suspicion and
disfavour.[25] And it may be necessary here to say a few words on this

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Online LibraryEdward CarpenterThe intermediate sex; a study of some transitional types of men and women → online text (page 2 of 9)