Christabel Pankhurst.

Plain facts about a great evil online

. (page 1 of 7)
Online LibraryChristabel PankhurstPlain facts about a great evil → online text (page 1 of 7)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Plain Facts
About a Great Evil





Copyright, 1913, by



















THIS book deals with what is commonly de-
scribed as the Hidden Scourge, and is written
with the intention that this scourge shall be
hidden no longer, for if it were to remain hid-
den, then there would be no hope of abolishing


Men writers for the most part refuse to tell
what the Hidden Scourge is, and so it becomes
the duty of women to do it.

The Hidden Scourge is sexual disease,
which takes two chief forms syphilis and
gonorrhoea. These diseases are due to pros-
titution they are due, that is to say, to sexual
immorality. But they are not confined to
those who are immoral. Being contagious,
they are communicated to the innocent, and
especially to wives. The infection of innocent
wives in marriage is justly declared by a man


,-, 6: ,.;.;: : - /;:; ; /.Introduction

doctor to be "The crowning infamy of our so-
cial life."

Generally speaking, wives who are thus in-
fected are quite ignorant of what is the matter
with them. The men who would think it in-
delicate to utter in their hearing the words
syphilis and gonorrhoea, seem not to think it
indelicate to infect them with the terrible dis-
eases which bear these names.

The sexual diseases are the great cause of
physical, mental, and moral degeneracy, and
of race suicide. As they are very widespread
(from 75 to 80 per cent, of men becoming in-
fected by gonorrhoea, and a considerable
percentage, difficult to ascertain precisely, be-
coming infected with syphilis), the problem is
one of appalling magnitude.

To discuss an evil, and then to run away
from it without suggesting how it may be
cured, is not the way of Suffragettes, and in
the following pages will be found a proposed
cure for the great evil in question. That cure,

Introduction 7

briefly stated, is Votes for Women and
Chastity for Men. Quotations and opinions
from eminent medical men are given, and these
show that chastity for men is healthful for
themselves and is imperative in the interests
of the race.

The use of remedies, such as mercury and
"606," is no substitute for the prevention of
sexual disease. Drugs and medical concoc-
tions will not wash away the mental and moral
injury sustained by the men who practise im-
morality, nor are they adequate as a cure for
the body. The sexual diseases are particu-
larly intractable to cure, and it is never possi-
ble to prove that a cure has been effected, so
that the disease, while apparently cured, is
often only hidden and ready to break out

Regulation of vice and enforced medical in-
spection of the White Slaves is equally futile,
and gives a false appearance of security which
is fatal. Chastity for men or, in other

8 Introduction

words, their observance of the same moral
standard as is observed by women is there-
fore indispensable.

Votes for Women will strike at the Great
Scourge in many ways. When they are citi-
zens women will feel a greater respect for
themselves, and will be more respected by men.
They will have the power to secure the enact-
ment of laws for their protection, and to
strengthen their economic position.

The facts contained in this book constitute
an overwhelming case for Votes for Women.
They afford reasons more urgent and of
greater human importance than any other,
that women should have the Vote.

The knowledge of what the Hidden Scourge
really is, and of how multitudes of women
are the victims of it, will put a new and great
passion into the movement for political enfran-
chisement. It will make that movement more
than ever akin to all previous wars against

Introduction 9

The facts contained in this book are not
without their bearing upon the question of
militancy. There has been vigorous criticism
of the policy of destroying property for the
sake of Votes for Women. That criticism is
silenced by the retort that men have destroyed,
and are destroying, the health and life of
women in the pursuit of vice.

One of the chief objects of the book is to
enlighten women as to the true reason why
there is opposition to giving them the vote.
That reason is sexual vice.

The opponents of Votes for Women know
that women, when they are politically free,
and economically strong, will not be purchas-
able for the base uses of vice.

Those who want to have women as slaves,
obviously do not want women to become vo-

All the high-sounding arguments against
giving votes to women are a sham a mere at-
tempt to cover up the real argument against

io Introduction

this reform, which argument, we repeat, is
sexual vice.

It is said by hypocritical opponents of Votes
for Women that women must not vote because
men protect them already. Women will not
listen to that excuse any longer, now that they
know what men's protection means.

It is in the interests of the nation that these
same hypocritical opponents profess to resist
Votes for Women. How hollow that argu-
ment is seen to be when it is realised that men
are constantly infecting and reinfecting the
race with vile disease, and so bringing about
the downfall of the nation!

Decidedly, women's knowledge of the Great
Scourge will do more than anything else to
bring Votes for Women nearer.

Every young woman who reads these pages
will be warned of a great danger, whose ex-
istence she may not until now have suspected.
It is because of the need that young girls shall
have timely warning of this danger that the

Introduction 1 1

question is here discussed in very plain and def-
inite terms.

It remains to be said that several of the en-
suing chapters have appeared in the pages of
the Suffragette, and are now with others pub-
lished as a book in consequence of many
urgent requests that they might be available
in permanent form.




Ax last, the doctors to the rescue! Forty of
the most prominent among them have signed a
manifesto demanding the appointment of a
Royal Commission to inquire into the subject
of venereal disease the disease, that is to say,
which is caused by sexual vice. The doctors
who have signed this manifesto are forty in
number, and they include Sir Thomas Bar-
low, Sir William Osier, Sir John Bland Sut-
ton, Mr. F. W. Mott, Sir Victor Horsley, Dr.
Mary Scharlieb, Mr. D'Arcy Power. They
stipulate that the membership of the suggested
Royal Commission shall include a substantial
majority of medical men. The Suffragettes


14 Plain Facts About a Great Evil

demand that one-half at least of its members
shall be women.

The doctors point out that tuberculosis, in-
sanity, scarlet fever, typhoid, cancer, and other
diseases are being fought by State and pri-
vate enterprise, but, they continue, "in all this
organised effort there is one noteworthy omis-
sion: there has always been a conspiracy of
silence as regards venereal disease."

The Suffragettes are, according to the
judges, not unacquainted with conspiracy of
one sort, but we would point out that they long
since refused to be a party to the conspiracy
of silence regarding venereal disease. For
many a day they have been clamouring for
something to be done to stamp out this fright-
ful plague.

The time has come, say the doctors, when
it is a national duty to face facts and to bring
them prominently to the notice of the public.
They state as follows the terrible problem with
which the public has to deal :

The End of a Conspiracy 15

"The worst form of venereal disease is
highly contagious, and dire in its effects. It
claims its victims not only from those who
have themselves to blame for contracting it.
It is one of those diseases that may be trans-
mitted from parent to child, so that the off-
spring of a sufferer is born with the virus
actually in its tissues, to cause, it may be, hid*
eous deformity, or blindness, or deafness, or
idiocy, ending often in premature, though not
untimely, death."

Truth to tell, further inquiry is hardly nec-
essary, though a Royal Commission will cer-
tainly be the means of enlightening women as
to the nature and extent of this terrible evil.
Men already know a great deal, and doctors
know most of all. No Royal Commission is
needed to discover the cause of venereal dis-
ease. Its cause is perfectly well known. As
one writer has well expressed it, "the breed-
ing-place of all venereal diseases without ex-
ception is in the social institution called

16 Plain Facts About a Great Evil

prostitution, or sexual promiscuity; in the de-
basement and degradation of what should be
the highest of physical powers those involved
in the act of generation."

The doctors urge that both the cure and
prevention of venereal disease shall be consid-
ered. Women will lay stress upon prevention,
because even if cure were possible in the phys-
ical sense, it is impossible in the moral sense.
A community which tolerates prostitution is a
community which is morally diseased. The
man prostitute (for why should we give this
name only to the woman partner in immoral-
ity?) has his soul infected as well as his body.

We repeat that where these terrible diseases
are concerned prevention is better than cure.
It is not only better than cure, but it is the
only cure, for whether these diseases are cura-
ble even in the narrowest sense of the term is
very doubtful, and even when cured they can
be contracted again. Everybody admits that
one attack of gonorrhoea does not give immu-

The End of a Conspiracy 17

nity against subsequent attacks, and the idea
that one attack of syphilis gives immunity
from other attacks is not very seriously enter-
tained by experts. As one authority says:
"The reason why so few cases of reinfection
are seen is because so few cases are really
cured, i. e. they are syphilitic and cannot be

As the hope of curing venereal diseases is
so illusory, prevention is obviously the true
policy. No individual can hope to avoid these
diseases except by abstaining from immoral
sexual intercourse, and similarly a nation can-
not remain uninfected so long as prostitution

Therefore prostitution must go! At this
shrieks of protest will be raised. We shall
hear the usual balderdash about "human na-
ture" and "injury to man's health/' Human
nature is a very wide term, and it covers a
multitude of sins and vices which are not on
that account any the more to be tolerated. It

1 8 Plain Facts About a Great Evil

is human nature to rob and to kill. Cannibal-
ism itself is in the nature of certain human be-
ings. Robbing, killing, and cannibalism are
nevertheless all forbidden, and the people who
venture to let go their "human nature" in these
directions are comparatively few!

Why is human nature to have full scope
only in the one direction of sexual vice?
The answer to that question is that men have
got all the power in the State, and therefore
make not only the laws of the State, but also
its morality.

According to man-made morality, a woman
who is immoral is a "fallen" woman and is
unfit for respectable society, while an immoral
man is simply obeying the dictates of his hu-
man nature, and is not even to be regarded as
immoral. According to man-made law, a wife
who is even once unfaithful to her husband
has done him an injury which entitles him to
divorce her. She can raise no plea of "human
nature" in her defence. On the other hand, a

The End of a Conspiracy "19

man who consorts with prostitutes, and does
this over and over again throughout his mar-
ried life, has, according to man-made law, been
acting only in accordance with human nature,
and nobody can punish him for that.

One is forced to the conclusion, if one ac-
cepts men's account of themselves, that wom-
en's human nature is something very much
cleaner, stronger, and higher than the human
nature of men. But Suffragettes, at any rate,
hope that this is not really true. They have
more faith in men than men have in them-
selves, and they believe that a man can live as
pure and moral a life as a woman can. The
woman's ideal is to keep herself untouched un-
til she finds her real mate. Let that be the
man's ideal, too!

Men's health can be preserved only at the
price of prostitution such is the ridiculous
and wicked theory advanced by many men and
some doctors. The truth is, that prostitution
is the greatest of all dangers to the health of

2O Plain Facts About a Great Evil

men. In the first place there is the risk
amounting to certainty of infection by the ter-
rible diseases we are considering. Not only
so, but prostitution involves a futile and waste-
ful expenditure of men's energy energy
which they greatly need to enable them to hold
their own in science, art, athletics, industry,
and commerce.

And what of women's health? No longer
will they accept the theory that their health
and dignity are to be sacrificed to the health
of the other sex. Merely to state the proposi-
tion that women should suffer physically and
spiritually for the benefit of men is to show its
falsity. Nature certainly never intended so
monstrous a thing! Indeed, it is very plain
to anyone with the smallest intelligence that
the ruin of women means the ultimate ruin of

It did not need the doctors' manifesto to
warn the more instructed amongst women that
prostitution and the diseases caused by it are

The End of a Conspiracy "21

a menace to themselves and their children.
But vast numbers of women are still without
this knowledge. Innocent wives are infected
by their husbands. They suffer torment;
their health is ruined; their power to become
mothers is destroyed, or else they become the
mothers of diseased, crippled, blind, or insane
children. But they are not told the reason of
all this. Their doctor and their husband keep
them in ignorance, so that they cannot even
protect themselves from future danger.

Healthy girls enter into marriage without
the smallest idea of the risk they are incurring.
Nobody tells them, as Dr. John W. Barrett
tells us in his article in the Bedrock, the scien-
tific review, that "we know, from very careful
insurance medical records, that the great ma-
jority of men put themselves in the way of in-
fection before marriage."

Those who read this statement will have
their minds prepared to receive the further ap-
palling statement, widely accepted by medical

22 Plain Facts About a Great Evil

authorities, that 75 per cent, to 80 per cent, of
men have before marriage been infected with
one form of venereal disease. Some of these
men may seem to be cured, but we have seen
how little cure in this connection means.
Very sad cases are on record of men who
marry when apparently cured, and yet infect
their wife. It is therefore hardly too much
to say that out of every four men there is only
one who can marry without risk to his bride.
Such facts are terrible indeed, but the sooner
they are grasped the better for the individual
and for the race.

Even after marriage danger arises over and
over again unless the husband abstains from
immoral acts. In future chapters we shall
show more fully what venereal disease means
to a woman.

We may point out in passing that prostitu-
tion and its evils are largely a medical ques-
tion, and must be dealt with by medical men.
Medical means of doing away with prostitu-

The End of a Conspiracy 23

tion are already used by the Government to
make prostitution unnecessary in the prisons.
Prison doctors administer a medicine which
keeps under control a "human nature" of men

It would indeed be an extraordinary thing
if the medical profession, which has discov-
ered a means of regulating every other bodily
function, should be unable to tell men how to
regulate the sex function, and to prevent that
excessive sex activity which, as they them-
selves admit, is fatal to the health of the race.

We look to the medical profession, there-
fore, to come to the rescue of men whose will-
power fails them; to come to the rescue of
wives whose life will otherwise be blighted by
disease; to come to the rescue of children yet
unborn, who, unless help is forthcoming, will
enter into a cruel inheritance. A high privi-
lege it will be to rid humanity of a most awful


THE Prime Minister has been holding forth
on the subject of the prevention of tuberculo-
sis. A most desirable thing, but it is even
more desirable that the Prime Minister shall
talk about another and even more terrible
form of disease, and that he shall try to pre-
vent it that he shall strike at the cause of
sexual disease.

The cause of sexual disease is the subjec-
tion of women. Therefore to destroy the one
we must destroy the other. Viewed in the
light of that fact, Mr. Asquith's opposition to
votes for women is seen to be an overwhelm-
ing public danger.

As we have said, sexual disease or vene-
real disease, as it is commonly called is more

to be dreaded than even tuberculosis. It must


A Woman's Question " 25

first be remembered that the whole truth about
the effects, direct and indirect, of venereal dis-
ease is not yet known. New discoveries are
being made every day, and each discovery re-
veals fresh reason for the belief that venereal
disease is humanity's greatest scourge.

As everybody knows, the more serious forms
of venereal disease are two, namely, syphilis
and gonorrhoea. One authority says that
among the causes of death syphilis comes
next to tuberculosis in frequency. This state-
ment must be supplemented by others before
w r e can realise the full gravity of the matter.

Firstly, owing to the campaign of silence now
breaking down, medical certificates for the
cause of death are often so arranged as to con-
ceal the part played by syphilis, and therefore
the available statistics do not fully represent
the facts.

Secondly, the syphilitic character of several
ailments formerly supposed to be non-
syphilitic is now being recognised. Various

26 Plain Facts About a Great Evil

other ailments are coming under suspicion,
and this suspicion that they are syphilitic is
only too likely to be established by further
medical research.

Thirdly, syphilis, by diminishing the power
of resistance of the organism, renders the ef-
fect of all illnesses and accidents more serious.

There is also this to be noted in drawing the
comparison between tuberculosis and syphilis.
Syphilis is a powerful predisposing cause to
tuberculosis. Moreover, there is also a form
of consumption which is definitely syphilitic.
We may also add that syphilis is now recog-
ised as being a strong predisposing cause to

Even in the present imperfect state of
knowledge, it is safe to say that syphilis, which
is one only of the venereal diseases, ousts tu-
berculosis as the most potent single cause of
physical degeneracy and of mortality.

For women the question of venereal disease
has a special and a tragic interest. It strikes

A Woman's Question 27

at them in their own person and through their
children. A woman infected by syphilis not
only suffers humiliation and illness which may
eventually take the most revolting form, but
is in danger of becoming the mother of de-
formed, diseased, or idiot children. Why are
such children born into the world? women
have often cried in despair. The answer is
Syphilis! Miscarriage is frequently caused
by the same disease. Indeed nothing, as one
doctor says, is so murderous to the offspring
as syphilis.

Rather different, though hardly less terrible
where women are concerned, is the effect of
gonorrhoea. In future chapters we deal more
fully with this matter. Here we may say
that gonorrhoea is one of the most prevalent
of all diseases. It is acquired before marriage
by 75 per cent, or 85 per cent, of men, and it
is very often contracted after marriage by
such men as are not entirely faithful to their
wives. To men the disease gives compara-

28 Plain Facts About a Great Evil

tively little trouble, and in the old days the
doctors made very light of it.

But to women, owing to their physiological
structure, it is one of the gravest of all dis-
eases. A very large number of married
women are infected by their husbands with
gonorrhoea. The common result is sterility,
which prevents the birth of any child, or may
prevent the birth of more than one child.
Race Suicide!

Generally speaking, the female ailments
which are urged by some ignoble men as a rea-
son against the enfranchisement of women
are not due to natural weakness, but to
gonorrhoea. Women and there are so many
of them who "have never been well since
they married," are victims of gonorrhoea.

An enormous percentage of the operations
upon women are necessitated by this disease,
which in many cases so affects the organs of
maternity as to necessitate their complete
removal. Race Suicide again.

A Woman's Question ' 29

These are awful truths, so awful that the
woman's instinct is to keep them hidden, un-
til she realises that only by making these truths
known can this appalling state of affairs be
brought to an end.

Women have suffered too much from the
conspiracy of silence to allow that conspiracy
to last one minute longer. It has been an
established and admitted rule in the medical
profession to keep a wife in ignorance of the
fact that she has become the victim of vene-
real disease. A bride struck down by illness
within a few days, or within a few weeks,
of her wedding day is told by her husband
and the doctor that she is suffering from
appendicitis, and under cover of this lie her
sex organs are removed without her knowl-
edge. Women whose husbands contract
syphilis, and are in turn infected, are kept
in ignorance of this, and are thus unable to
protect themselves and to do their duty by the
future generation.

3O Plain Facts About a Great Evil

Here we have the woman question in per-
haps its most urgent and acute form. Have
the Anti-Suffragist women any idea of what
the wrongs of women really are? We beg
them to realise that so long as the subjection
of women endures and is confirmed by law and
custom, so long will the race be injured and
degraded, and women be victimised.

Sexual disease, we say again, is due to the
subjection of women. It is due, in other
words, to the doctrine that woman is sex and
beyond that nothing. Sometimes this doctrine
is dressed up in the saying that women are
mothers and beyond that nothing. What a
man who says that really means is that women
are created primarily for the sex gratification
of men, and secondarily, for the bearing of
children if he happens to want them, but of no
more children than he wants.

As the result of this belief the relation be-
tween man and woman has centred in the
physical. What is more, the relation between

A Woman's Question -31

man and woman has been that of an owner
and his property of a master and his slave
not the relation of two equals.

From that evil has sprung another. The
man is not satisfied to be in relation with only
one slave; he must be in relation with many.
That is to say, sex promiscuity has arisen, and
from that has in its turn come disease.

And so at the beginning of this twentieth
century in civilised Britain we have the doctors
breaking through the secrecies and traditions
of long years, and sounding the note of alarm.

/ This canker of venereal disease is eating away,
the vitals of the nation, and the only cure is
Votes for Women, which is to say the recogni-

\ tion of the freedom and human equality of


The effect of women's enfranchisement will,
where this question of redeeming the race is
concerned, be manifold. There are three sets
of people mainly responsible for dealing with
the problem the ordinary man, the ordinary

32 Plain Facts About a Great Evil

woman, and the medical profession. The
medical profession has until now viewed the
question of venereal disease chiefly from the

1 3 4 5 6 7

Online LibraryChristabel PankhurstPlain facts about a great evil → online text (page 1 of 7)