Text of Human Rights and the denial of sexual freedom
By Rene Guyon, 1951 (original: http://www.voxclamantis.nl/1files-sub/denialsexfreedom.htm).
A book by this author: The ethics of sexual acts
In my Studies in Sexual Ethics, I have proposed the liberation of the sexual activities of humanity, which today are curtailed and persecuted, and their government by a doctrine whose scientific and logical foundations are the legitimacy and the freedom of sexual acts.
I shall not attempt to repeat that demonstration here. It has been fortunate enough to inspire laudations of which I am proud, and abusive criticisms of which I am not less proud when I consider the mental characteristics of those who have been responsible for them.
It will be sufficient to recall that the substance of that doctrine of liberation is that the sexual organs and sexual acts are just as amoral as any other physiological manifestations of living beings, and consequently are indisputably legitimate for those who exercise them; and that this amorality and legitimacy entail and justify, as an indispensable corollary the fundamental freedom to use those organs and accomplish those acts at will, as long as this occurs without violence, constraint, or fraud against another person.
Denunciation of the Superstition of Carnal Sin
The curious thing is that this demonstration has been able to seem an extraordinary novelty to some people; whereas, in reality, it was admitted and put into practice for centuries by the peoples of antiquity (notably our intellectual ancestors of Greece and Rome) and by almost all human races.
The reason is that a contrary ideological system was presented and imposed, some two thousand years ago, by Judeo-Christianity, and still prevails among the Occidental societies of today.
This system takes its inspiration from a metaphysical superstition of the ancient Hebrews (who probably got hold of it from the Sumerians): the superstition of Carnal Sin, which is an anathema launched against sexuality as a whole, accompanied by ingenious disparagements and formidable punishments for those who do not accept this supernatural account of things, and who do not submit to this taboo which matches so well those that encumbered the apprehensive brains of primitive man.
There have been, therefore two currents of contrary and irreconcilable ideas.
The rationalist is perfectly willing to admit that they can coexist in mutual tolerance.
But the ambition of the puritan prohibitionist is quite different: he intends to impose his system on everyone, compelling even those who reject the superstition of Sin to submit to his conception of the sexual life.
It is this pretension of the puritan prohibitionist which makes any revision of our sexual policies so difficult. It is this which gives to this controversy between two doctrines, which ought to remain eminently intellectual and matter-of-fact, a startling turn of fanaticism which recalls the religious battles of former times; but doubtless this is natural enough, since perforce it is a superstition of a religious nature which is here accepted by some and rejected by others.
A Civilization of Sexual Slavery and Emasculation
It happens, therefore, that nowadays many rational thinkers are demanding a revision of the sexual question. They most assuredly have the right to do so: for it is clearly apparent that the restrictions imposed on human sexual life, restrictions which these thinkers regard as indefensible, have created for mankind a civilization which is essentially a civilization of sexual slavery.
I have shown in my Studies in Sexual Ethics what sectarian and fanatical prohibitions make up this slavery.
We have seen neuroses, physical and moral sufferings, despair and bitterness created thereby.
We have seen the mores, dominated by exacting puritans, persecute all independent sexual impulses outside of the narrow frame of a "marriage" which itself has submissively become a metaphysical manifestation through its transformation into a "sacrament."
We have seen the Law, in certain nations, become an accomplice of religious prohibitions by making criminal offences of sexual relations or cohabitations accomplished outside of this matrimonial frame.
This has even gone so far that certain courts have declared that it is slander to describe a girl or woman untruthfully as being "unchaste," that is to say (let us never forget when anyone uses this word) to describe her as failing to conform slavishly to the superstition of Carnal Sin!
"One may wonder," writes Professor Kinsey in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, "what scientific knowledge we would have of digestive functions if the primary taboos in our own society concerned food and feeding."
Samuel Butler, in Erewhon, had already produced a satire of these conventional ignorances by supposing a society where being sick would constitute a carefully concealed indecency. The very techniques that have always embellished and exalted the art and science of sexual activities have been denounced, prohibited, and even punished by a puritan dictatorship without concern for the preferences of the individual.
The denial of sexual experience is the basis of education in these societies. Like all ignorance, it is a preparation for an unprofitable, wasted, frustrated life, heavy with bitterness. It expresses well the arrogant presumption of those prohibitionists who know nothing about real sexual life. What they talk about is an artificial sexual life which they have fabricated in their own minds by starting from the false ideas of chastity and carnal abstinence. They stubbornly insist on taking this emasculation for the life of the sexes. They know little of Nature, and what they know they, hate: for, in their system, Nature itself becomes that Sin which obsesses and stupefies them.
Destructive Effects of the Anti-Sexual Civilization
The sexual slavery imposed on modern societies is one of the reasons why these societies are everywhere beginning to crack. I will here mention only the failures of marriage, the arbitrary hounding of the courtesans who in former times were honored and today are treated as criminals, the neuroses that often lead to suicide or to sex murders.
The human organism was not made to support the sexual privations which the fanatics intend to make it submit to, and it is becoming increasingly deranged under the blows inflicted on it by the puritan emasculators.
The very least that one can record is a general malaise - an indefinite feeling of uneasiness or discomfort. The most enterprising citizens of these societies have recourse to political hysterias marked by grandiloquent or childishly provocative declarations, which lead to violent antagonisms between human groups.
It would seem that modern Western society is constantly and dolefully conscious of its failure to realize the full possibilities of existence: it has lost all the joy of life that characterized the pagan societies, and which was four-fifths due to gratified and even paraded sexuality. A discontentment with life has everywhere replaced it; everywhere, for prohibitionist fanaticism intends to impose itself even on human groups outside of the Christian discipline, notably in those colonized countries which were once so happy and are now dying of tuberculosis and boredom. The classic example is those hapless islands of the South Pacific which formerly deserved their appellation of "the Isles of Love."
Thus modern society, in the domain of sexuality, exhibits either a lamentable surrender of reason and will, or else a conventional hypocrisy that deceives no one.
Everybody thinks of Sexuality as a Promised Land; everybody longs to engage in sexual activities, whether they are embellished with the name of Love or not; and yet nobody dares to say so, such is the extent of their intimidation by arrogant fanatics.
Could there be a more irritating and humiliating slavery than this?
The Revolt of the Sexually Enslaved
But there are many of us who believe that the time has come to take up this challenge, to leave the fanatics of chastity within the confines of the slavery which they prefer, but at long last to restore to other human beings the natural freedom of the sexes.
If what is called sexual morality is in direct conflict with reason and intelligence, it is the sexual morality which should disappear or be modified. Otherwise we have a deplorable example of what the sociologist calls "cultural lag, the gulf between our mechanical technology and our social thinking: we are vegetating in a backward society, whatever may be the pretended degree of civilization on which it prides itself because it has complicated machines and amazingly destructive weapons of war.
The time has come for the revolt of the sexually enslaved. They have the right and the obligation to work for the sexual emancipation of society.
To support them and aid them in this great task, they have all the liberative studies that have so fearlessly and so generously been made, in the first half of the twentieth century, by those enterprising sexologists whose names posterity will link with the sexual liberation of humanity: Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis, Magnus Hirschfeld, Norman Haire, Harry Benjamin, Alfred Kinsey, Maurice Parmelee, A.P. Pillay, William J. Robinson, Bertrand Russell, Robert Briffault, and many others who, through their personal investigations or their wide-ranging publications, have added to the glory of being pioneers that of being persecuted.
Sexual Freedom and the Declaration of Human Rights
The sexually enslaved citizens of the modern world must have felt hopeful when in 1948, the Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
This especially insists (Article 18) upon freedom of thought and liberty of conscience. Sexual Freedom is in this Declaration in embryo: but only in embryo, for in practice the prohibitionist countries do not consider themselves obligated thereby to modify their denial of sexual freedom. That they are nevertheless so obligated by the letter and the spirit of this Declaration, when honestly interpreted, is a fact for which the defenders of Sexual Freedom wish to win recognition.
Liberty of conscience and freedom of thought play an essential part in the choice of philosophic or religious convictions.
These liberties enable us to adopt what reason or sentiment recommends; and, for example to be a deist, an atheist, or an agnostic as we like.
Centuries of bloody strife and appalling martyrdom were needed before mankind was able, by this nevertheless elementary conception, to put an end to the despotism of taboos and myths surrounded by a sacred reverence. But there still remain thousands of people who do not understand that this same free and conscious choice should apply to Sexual Morality.
The revealed religions especially, which have lost so much ground during the last two centuries, try with the tenacity of despair to impose their sexual morality at least, and pretend that this is the universal morality, in short, a sort of indisputable dogma - even when it is only the result of a resolute superstition, as in the case of Carnal Sin.
This pretension therefore does an intolerable injury to freedom of conscience.
Every person has the right to have his own morality, even and especially sexual morality, in conformity with his personal convictions.
And when the mores or the laws of a majority aspire to compel anyone, by coercion or penal action, to observe the consequences of a morality derived from a dogma, it is exactly the same as if they wished to force that dogma itself upon him: it is an identical violation of freedom of conscience.
The defenders of that liberty recognized by the Declaration of Human Rights are therefore obligated to combat the laws which, in defiance of that liberty, deliberately impose in their provisions the Consequences of a dogma when the dogma itself is freely rejected by them.
But the Declaration of Human Rights itself has betrayed that freedom of conscience which it pretends to proclaim. For one finds there, in Article 29 (2), a declaration that, "in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others " (so far this is faultless, but now comes the objectionable part)" and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society."
The declaration thus proclaims its belief in one "moral" standard, relying upon which legislators could restrict the freedom of conscience previously guaranteed. But this is an error of principle, and a formidable danger.
We have the right to declare universal the scientific laws which have been discovered by the observation, and verified by the repeated action, of spontaneous or experimentally provoked phenomena. But there is no science of morality, exactly as there is no science of philosophy or of religion. In these cases, there are only intellectual or emotional preferences for particular systems of thought: and these preferences are largely dictated by sentiment.
With this ultimate appeal to a "morality" regarded as indisputable and sovereign, it would be possible to introduce or maintain in the body of laws such anti-sexual ordinances as are found in those fortunately rare nations that are dominated by puritan groups: laws which make a criminal offense of the sexual act accomplished outside of marriage, or the voluntary cohabitation of a man and a woman associated in a "free union."
Through this dangerous and arbitrary word, "morality," we relapse into the domain of taboos, from which there is no chance of rescue by that allegedly free conscience.
One takes away with one hand, hypocritically, what one gives (doubtless reluctantly) with the other.
It is therefore not merely a question of the juridical interpretation of the Freedom of Conscience (Article 18) whose natural application to moral freedom I have pointed out.
It is a question of a much more momentous fact. It is in spite of that liberty and its delusive proclamation that, in sexual matters, "morality," (which is nothing but the morality of Taboo or Sin) is continuing its efforts and multiplying its prohibitions, with the aim of completely destroying all true sexual liberty.
For the true liberty consists precisely in the right to be, in our thoughts, in our speech, in our writings, and in our acts, at variance with that empirical morality to which the Declaration nevertheless unhesitatingly refers itself.
Every legist realizes that there is no less danger, although it may be more indirect, in such words as Public Order and General Welfare. These words no more have any precise definition than has Morality itself. They vary with the country in question, and even with the successive Governments of a single country.
The Christian Public Order implies monogamy, but the Mohammedan Public Order admits of polygamy.
These arbitrary words represent a trap wherein the hapless Freedom of Conscience, betrayed and flouted, no longer has any chance to assert itself and direct the sexual conduct of those whose rationally self-approved activities might be contrary to that formidable Article 29 of the Declaration.
When the words of the Declaration are thus analyzed, the supposed guarantees collapse and crumble, and, once more, the pretended Human Rights, in the sphere of Sexuality, end only in a reaffirmation of that slavery whose masters remain Religions Conformity and the Morality of Continence.
Necessary Complement to the Human Rights
The sexually enslaved of today should therefore demand more than the construction of the Declaration of 1948, dedicated in advance to non-acceptance of their aims. They should require that the positive principle of Sexual Freedom be introduced into the Declaration of Human Rights, and no longer be the victim of an indirect ostracism. They should insist that the liberties of Article 18 be completed by the addition of the following:
"Everyone has the right to sexual freedom and the free disposal of his or her body to that end; and no person shall be molested, prosecuted, or condemned by the law for having voluntarily engaged in sexual acts or activities of any kind whatever, provided they are devoid of violence, of constraint, and of fraud."
The anti-sexuals speak much of "human dignity." I have elsewhere demonstrated (in my Studies in Sexual Ethics, Volume II, Sexual Freedom, Chapter 2) that this dignity, which is an ambiguous notion anyway, has certainly nothing to do with sexual acts freely consented to. Human dignity is no more affected by sexual acts than it is by individual preferences in food or in recreation. It is an infantile stratagem of the puritans to pretend that there is any "indignity" in living Sexually outside the range of their childish and inexperienced conceptions.
But there is more to be said. The supreme dignity of the human being is not to permit the enslavement of his thought, and therefore not to allow his acts to be dictated by systems of thought which his reason does not ratify, and which he regards as infantile and ridiculous.
To allow such dictatorship is an essential "human indignity." It is the attitude of emasculation, of renunciation, of frightened submission, which is unworthy of a human being. It is the life of a cloister peopled with shadows, and not that of the natural blossoming of sexuality in broad daylight.
The puritans speak frequently of "defilement." But is there any worse defilement for an intelligent and perceptive human being than to abdicate his whole personality, to fail to be himself?
Modern men and women proclaim and loudly repeat that they no longer wish to be slaves. Yet the anti-sexual mores and laws have established for them a servitude from which they suffer at all ages of their lives. They are the slaves of the prohibitory laws that govern them. And especially when they have rejected the supposed Carnal Sin, these laws make cruel sport of them, compelling them to be the unsexed slaves which they have no desire to be.
It is therefore an essential duty to set aside, firmly and definitely, these tendentious accusations of defilement or pollution, indignity or baseness.
This banishment will have fruitful results. For the greatest strength of the puritans lies in the timidity of the partisans of free Sexuality - a timidity which is undoubtedly explained by two thousand years of anti-sexual terror and propaganda, during which the doctrine of Sexual Continence has been in the habit of pretending to be the sole moral verity, and has constantly suppressed its opponents by force: the same kind of force which the Inquisition used to intimidate its opponents and suppress them at need.
On the day when the liberated conscience of the champions of Sexual Freedom brings to them a realization that they are in the right, and that they have a superior understanding of life, these fears will disappear.
Let us not, however, conceal the fact that this will provoke an extreme conflict, although a conflict that is necessary, for there will be no final liberation without it. It will certainly affirm that irreducible antagonism between the puritans and the Doctrine of Sexual Freedom, which latter also presents itself as a universal truth, but which does not intend to use any other weapons but the demonstration, by logic and by example, of the superiority of its teachings. Without doubt this antagonism must be expressed in active resistance. To realize this and not to fear it is the first condition of victory. And let us never forget that if the puritans have always zealously taken the offensive to secure the triumph of their odjectives, this is a method of procedure which the pro-sexual forces should borrow from them, since (according to the military axiom) an attack is the best defense.
The Revival of Sexual Happiness
The Doctrine of Sexual Legitimacy and Sexual Freedom therefore insists upon the immediate recognition and the universal proclamation of a new Freedom to be inscribed beside the others: freedom from persecution for having engaged in sexual acts, when such acts are devoid of violence, constraint, and fraud.
It demands the registration of this right because it is an essential part of the Pursuit of Happiness. It intends to denounce the error of the old world, which has been, under the pressure of the doctrinaires of Continence, a failure to recognize that sexual joy is one of the essential and predominant factors of a happy life.
For the observation of nations as well as of individuals demonstrates that their happiness has been in inverse ratio to the calamitous influence of anti-sexual commands and prohibitions.
Some people may be surprised at the capital importance which the Doctrine of Sexual Legitimacy and Freedom attributes to sexual satisfaction.
That is because everything has been done to prevent them from knowing how intense this satisfaction can be, and how important it is for a well balanced life. Their surprise would not have been conceivable in ancient societies where the expression of this intensity and this importance was considered one of the most incontestable factors, and perhaps the most essential factor, of happiness in life.
But their surprise is understandable if we consider that they have been confused by an intensive campaign against sexual activity, which has often proved capable of utilizing the law, social ostracism, and various repressive measures to gain its ends.
Hence they no longer see Sexuality as anything but an irregularity to which they have been taught to show hostility. They see the model of sexual satisfaction in the so-called inseparable union of a man and a woman who soon learn to live without any longer appreciating the possibilities of their sexuality, which becomes too familiar, too monotonous, too narrow, and before long a burden, without zest and without gaiety.
They see therefore only a mediocre state of existence in which the mores and the laws compel a couple to remain, although they may be dying of boredom or disgust.
Such mediocrities disregard the enormous importance that human beings attach to Sexuality.
And yet, is this importance not perforce revealed even in the most regular of unions when the sexually neglected wife, frustrated and miserable, finally decides to confide her troubles to a psychiatrist or marriage counselor, and ask for a way out?
Here the social comedy of indifference and underestimation disappears. Here is the woman who was the most ignorant of virgins and the least informed about marital sex play, who now eagerly parades her grievances, her requirements, the demands of her bodily organs - in short, all the ardor of an awakened sexuality that does not want to be disappointed, and whose cravings assert themselves without shame of the sexual organs and their exercise. Sure of the legality of her position, this woman now stubbornly declares her right to the exercise of these "diabolical sexual organs, as boldly as the most "shameless", of courtesans.
But, in doing this, is she not proclaiming in the face of a hypocritical society that sexuality is a friend destined to make life beautiful, and is not at all that enemy which the Fathers of the Church have made it seem? (Tertullian described the sexuality of woman as the Gate of Hell.)
The anti-sexual society has reached the point where it no longer comprehends the possibilities that it loses every day. It fails to realize the wonderful diversity of sexual activities. It has been submissive to the superstition that forbids the pursuit and exploration of these varied pleasures. Sometimes an explosion in the artificial environment thus created awakens it and disturbs it: a defiance hurled by human beings thirsting for love, who trample underfoot their ossified traditions. Then the anti-sexual society begins to wonder, but still it does not divine the secret.
In this day and age, with its facilities for traveling, its increased assurance of general security (when it is not endangered, for a time, by the fanatics who promote armed conflicts between nations), and the more intelligent respect for personal liberty, the individual and social benefits of Sexuality ought to be multiplied tenfold.
What actually occurs is just the opposite; and that very small but presumptuous portion of humanity which believes in Chastity is responsible for this failure to realize the possibilities of life, and the malevolent deprivations that take the place of free sexuality.
If the present world is full of discontented, irritated, neurotic people, leading a frustrated or insipid existence, and whose troubles and anxieties endanger the whole social structure, the remedy is there, at hand. It is a remedy that costs nothing in itself, that is accessible to all, and that is completely effective. It is to escape from the troubles and hardships of life by the liberation of the now enslaved Sexuality, and by its return to the eminent and joyous place which it occupied among the peoples of antiquity.
To be sure, in the ancient societies, which had not yet achieved equilibrium, one can at times criticize certain developments of that Sexuality because they contained seriously harmful elements: the slavery of one social class at the mercy of the whims of another; the disregard of individual liberty in favour of the rule of the strongest; the cruelty, so unfortunately instinctive with certain human beings, which victimized the weak, and especially woman. But these things did not exist in the sexual sphere only. Those were the times when slavery, a disregard for human rights, and the remorseless employment of brutality were articles of faith that no one thought of criticizing. The idea of individual liberty dates from but yesterday, and the respect of the strong for the weak would, in former times, have seemed an incomprehensible absurdity.
We have proclaimed and appreciated the disappearance of these formidable perils. We intend to preserve and enforce that disappearance, if for no other reason than a fortunate comprehension of the security it brings to us in exchange for the security we assure to others. Sexuality therefore has the right. guaranteed by this progress of civilization, to claim a complete freedom of development and application.
The Sexual Freedom which I have proposed is that which rests firmly upon the reciprocal consent of the parties involved in the sexual act or any of its varieties.
The reader must certainly have noticed that I continually refer to sexual acts or activities engaged in "without violence, without constraint, and without fraud."
This Doctrine calls for the ancient freedom, but corrected by the modern respect for the rights of the individual. It insists that the mutual agreements of private individuals must be respected by society and the law, whatever modes of sexual activity this mutual consent may involve. This justifies it in calling for permanent association of sexuality with daily private and social life, and its protection from ignorant denunciators, preachers intoxicated with metaphysics, and legal or social persecutors.
Sexual gratification should be considered as necessary as our daily bread.
Today, the positions are reversed. Violence, constraint, scornful disregard of sexual aspirations, the negation of voluntary agreements, tyranny exercised to the detriment of desexualized men and women, persecution, the hounding of individuals opposed to the discipline of taboo - all that is on the other side, on the side of the puritan dictators who care nothing about the sufferings and disasters they cause.
What is the prosecution and imprisonment of courtesans (who are given the name of "prostitutes") and the refusal to let them freely practice a profession which they have freely chosen, if it is not a slavery perversely organized by the sectarians of Carnal Sin, who in the Middle Ages even put courtesans to death in punishment for their nonconformity? This is the true "slavery" - the refusal to admit that a woman owns her own body, and therefore has the right to dispose of it as she wishes.
And are we not thereby promoting a return to that crushing of the dissenters under the Juggernaut Car of Prejudice and the Law, for which we have so greatly reproached the civilizations of the past?
Immediate Reforms Required to Obtain Sexual Liberation
Fortified by these confirmations of their principles, the champions of Sexual Freedom should produce for public consideration precise desiderata (like the "Cahiers" of the French Revolution). To do so is to put the question on the ground of immediately necessary reforms, incapable of being evaded. They can be enumerated summarily in the following manner:
(A) No more compulsory desexualization.
Voluntary desexualization should not be forbidden to the fanatics of puritanism, but they should be prevented from imposing any degree of desexualization on those who do not desire it.
I have previously, herein, condemned our present civilization as a civilization of the emasculated. Is that word too strong?
Consider that, in the countries subjected to the puritan discipline, the suppression of courtesans, and the enactment of laws forbidding "fornication" or the sexual act outside of marriage, entail this emasculation or desexualization for those who are not married.
Moreover, this is precisely the result anticipated by the anti-sexual policy. But it is a result against which all those who are conscious of the legitimacy of sexual acts should be urged to rebel.
From now on, there must be open conflict between the emasculators and an aroused public, conscious of its indefeasible rights. The latter will no longer care to witness the spectacle of human beings, and especially adolescents, condemned to years of torment and distress because they are denied the exercise of a sexuality whose demands are as imperious as they are legitimate, or, if they do yield to those legitimate demands, condemned to prosecution as "sex offenders" or "juvenile delinquents," as the case may be.
(B) Respect for, and immediate application of, the liberty of sexuality.
We may be sure that, eventually, the pro-sexual doctrine will make the conquest of all humanity. But meanwhile, there are two separate groups of human beings who have different conceptions of the proper sexual organization of society. On the one hand, the puritan group makes war against free sexuality, on metaphysical principles - which they describe as "moral" principles. On the other hand, the group of human beings which is truly human intends to assert itself in sexual activities precisely as in any other physiological activities. There is no ground for friendly understanding and agreement except on one point: in these two separate worlds, violence, constraint, and fraud are forbidden. Aside from this triple interdiction, all prohibition is an intolerable abuse of authority; and the group that is resolved to live in freedom should henceforth refuse to be intimidated by the other group, and should insist upon the reform of the prohibitory laws which, from its viewpoint, make no sense at all.
In reality, the people who belong to these two different groups ought not to live together, because they cannot endure each other, and continually provoke, embarrass, and inconvenience each other. But since such a segregation would be impracticable, it is a social duty for each of these groups to respect the sexual decisions of the other, as long as neither group attempts (especially by the Law) to impose its own ethics and way of life upon the other group. The time has come to proclaim that the Law is not at the service of a metaphysical conception, and to make the prohibitionists understand this fact - even if it is necessary to be a little rough with them.
Here it is necessary to anticipate an objection.
In all organized societies, we shall be told, a Social Order is essential; and the individual who commits theft or murder contravenes that Social Order.
We have an anti-sexual Social Order, say the puritans; the individual who contravenes it should therefore be punished.
This specious and unsound line of argument must be promptly dismissed for reasons that should be evident. Indulgence in sexual activities contrary to the puritan Social Order is beyond its jurisdiction as long as these activities do not tangibly injure anyone, according to that persons own judgment in other words, as long as they are accomplished with the mutual consent of the parties concerned, and do not involve either violence, constraint, or fraud.
Actions contrary to the Social Order, in order to be legitimately prosecuted, must injure someone; for it is only then that they cause trouble and actual damage in the group: to injure anyone, with impunity, is to injure everyone, for anyone can then fear that tomorrow may bring injury to him.
If, on the contrary, these actions do not injure anyone, and are the result of a friendly understanding and the fulfillment of a voluntary agreement, the Social Order no longer has any legitimate concern with them, and has no right to interfere with such purely private affairs or obtrude upon the contracting parties. Each person is then protected from any activity that displeases him, for he need merely abstain from the agreement that produces it.
(C) Recovery of the feeling of Sexual Freedom, destroyed by two thousand years of persecution.
The spirit of persecution, like that of denunciation, is a defect frequently found in certain types of human beings, who augment both with intolerance, a contemptible passion that was much less known to antiquity. To this spirit of persecution we owe the mentality of those legislators who plan the prosecution, as criminal offenses, of those modes of sexual activity which are simple preferences realized in private life by the common consent of the partners, but which do not come within the restricted limits which these legislators, in their inexperience, have marked out as permissible.
Such a mentality may be suitable for a priest who hears the confessions of his flock, but it should never be found in a man of law, and is totally unacceptable in a legislator. To be unaware of the sexual life of one's neighbor, chiefly because one is genuinely indifferent to it, is the true liberal state which the individualist should require of others and achieve for himself.
(D) Consequent disappearance of those secretive and shamefaced attitudes that are usually adopted in speaking of sexual acts or in accomplishing them.
Such attitudes derive from the artificial idea that one is doing something bad or forbidden, an idea that is the lingering echo of the ancient superstition of Sin.
These attitudes, henceforward banished by the pro-sexuals, should be replaced, in all the circumstances of their lives, by the simple feeling of openly accomplishing human acts that are fully justified and that require no precautions or explanations.
These desiderata are implicitly summarized in that formula whose insertion in the Declaration of Human Rights has herein previously been demanded.
Freedom of Conscience itself implies these practical corollaries, in the domain of sexuality:
(1) That each human being, of either sex, will henceforth have the right to announce that he deliberately and consciously places his sexual life under the aegis of the liberative principles of Sexual Legitimacy and Freedom, holding Sexuality to be amoral, necessary, and beneficial; and that he rejects absolutely, as a fallacy and a delusion, the doctrine that continence, chastity, and desexualization represent superiorities.
(2) That it is necessary to put an end to that hypocrisy of an alleged "decency" which condemns human nudity (whether in actuality or in reproduction by art) and makes of it a criminal offense.
(3) That everyone will be able to live according to his convictions, frankly exercising his freedom to indulge in sexual acts or activities, and not being required to render an account of them to anyone as long as they involve neither violence, constraint, nor fraud.
(4) That it is necessary to have done with the abusive expressions which the fanatics of puritanism, with the arrogance of the ignorant and the anger of the impotent, customarily shower upon the sexually emancipated. For the latter refuse to admit that chastity is an acceptable criterion for judging that a female is "a good girl" or "an honest woman." They hold, rather, that a girl or woman is admirable if she is intelligent, industrious, sympathetically cheerful and kindly, and shows a just appreciation of life and its values by not refusing herself to sexual activities (even if they result in the great honor, which has been transformed into a great shame, of giving birth to a human being outside of marriage).
(5) That men whose intelligence is valuable to their country or to humanity will no longer find themselves disbarred from their official duties, from their professions, or from public life, because some of their sexual activities have been vociferously condemned by sectarians of puritanism who are their inferiors from every point of view. There will be no more Oscar Wildes sent to Reading Gaol; there will be no more great statesmen obliged to resign because of some sexual activity that departs from the prohibitionist standard; there will not even be any more modest practitioners of law or medicine (as now in England and the United States) finding themselves, despite their technical qualifications, threatened with the loss of their clientele because of their nonconformist sexual attitudes.
(6) That the sexually emancipated, finally, have the right to demand the assistance of the laws themselves to insure respect for their sexual convictions, and the protection of the police against the personal attacks, threats, or interference of fanatics exasperated by their liberation.
How to Obtain the Liberating Reforms
A question is now in order: how can we obtain the results (results not only desirable, but indispensable and urgent) to which the previously established recognition of Sexual Rights should lead? For if there is one domain in which theory is not enough, it is that of Sexuality, which blends intimately with the incidents of daily life.
I may here refer the reader to the explanations and rules given, in this regard, in the volumes of my Studies of Sexual Ethics, for they give an almost complete answer to the problems thus presented. (All of these rules are given in the supplementary volume, The Sexual Problem, but their full exposition and discussion is found in the eighth volumes of the Studies, of which the first two volumes, The Ethics of Sexual Acts and Sexual Freedom, are basic.)
The first condition for obtaining assured, satisfying, and rapid results is adherence to the Doctrine of Sexual Legitimacy and Freedom which is expounded in the first two volumes ot the Studies. And this does not mean a half-hearted or merely intellectual adherence; it means living with eagerness and enthusiasm in accordance with this doctrine, and being zealous to make it triumph without any other pressure than that of unanswerable demonstration.
Thus united by a tie whose indestructible strength is that of Reason itself, the pro-sexuals ought to realize at the very start that, as a group, they constitute a Social Force.
The puritans believe, or rather pretend to believe, that they represent the general opinion, and that their decisions are invested with authority.
The contrary is made evident by the frequent revolts against their dictatorship, and by the artifices constantly employed to escape there from.
But the puritans pretend not to realize this. In order to demonstrate their essential weakness, it is necessary to found Anti-Puritan Leagues that shall demand precisely all the liberties which the puritans condemn.
The day is past when pro-sexual individuals need submit like bleating sheep to the legal ukases of the puritans, or to their undesirable intervention in the lives of timid souls. The Puritan Terror, which until now has dictated the laws and the social attitudes, should no longer be allowed to hold sway, a perpetual outrage to the convictions of millions of individuals.
In reality, let us loudly proclaim, there are vast numbers of hapless individuals who are disgusted with the illogical impudence of the doctrines of continence, and who eagerly desire to reject them and live outside of their boundaries. They have only to became conscious of their numbers, to become acquainted with one another, and to organize themselves, in order to achieve the victory and obtain the liberties to which they lay claim.
Their organization, moreover, can model itself on that of the puritan enemy, which is a past master of that art. It should include associations, clubs, sexually alluring festivities, and libraries well stocked with those books which the anti-sexuals describe as immoral or indecent, but which appear immoral or indecent only to the anti-sexual mind. This organized grouping will denote an ultimatum to the intolerant: it will indicate that the pro-sexuals will no longer accept their interventions, and that, if they attempt such interventions, they will be sternly put in their place.
It is for the pro-sexuals to say to the intolerant and the prohibitionistic:
You do not have the right to denounce, as a social evil that should be suppressed by law, sexual ideas and actions that do not agree with your personal criterion.
You do not have the right to pretend your morality is the only generally accepted one.
You do not have the right to establish international organizations and procedures to combat and suppress, throughout the world, the sexual conceptions that you disapprove.
You do not have the right to substitute active antagonism and ostracism for the neutrality which the State owes to all philosophical or ethical conceptions.
Like the prohibtionists, the pro-sexuals should intensify their propaganda.
But the best of propagandas is the propaganda of behavior: for them to live independently and boldly in accordance with their announced convictions - something which is always greatly to one's credit.
Women, especially, can deeply impress the minds of those who live in ignorance of the true life of the sexes, by demonstrating, through their emancipated conduct, their devotion to the pro-sexual principles. To that end, it is the duty of every believer in the liberating Doctrine, before all else, to liberate his own life and organize it according to the rules that he has adopted. The faith that does not act is not a sincere faith. When a person has become convinced that infinitely more happiness is to be found in an existence that will be one great sexual comradeship, will he not feel irresistibly impelled to realize this, from the start, in his own familial or social environment? All that is necessary is a little will-power, a little firmness, and less servile relinquishment of one's rights than most of us have shown up to the present.
To begin with, a very plain declaration should be made by these pro-sexual groups; namely, that they no longer intend to be submissive to the special laws dictated by the prohibitÍonists in civil and criminal matters, or to the bullying, the insults, and the injuries that continually result from their (often spiteful) application.
These laws are numerous. Their characteristic is that they punish the sexual act in itself, even if it results from a voluntary agreement between the parties involved. Their pretension, which every legist should find unacceptable, goes so far as to deny the consent of the parties involved, to hold it as null and void, or at times to make it say the opposite of what it has actually said.
It is by this stratagem, a "special consideration" reserved for sexuality alone, that bewildering and arbitrary legal systems have been arrived at:
- the nullification of a free contract (of rental and not of sale) in the case of the courtesan (called "prostitute"); - the caviling and quibbling of the Age of Consent law in the case of girls; - the negation of the consent given voluntarily by a woman in cases of procuration; - the journey, or visit to a hotel, forbidden to unmarried couples; - the interdiction, at times, of cohabitation, in spite of the authenticated wishes of the two parties; - the prohibition of interracial unions as if it were a question of uniting human beings with animals; - the bluff of pornography; - the refusal of sexual knowledge and sexual experience to children and adolescents; - and overtopping all, that grotesque invention of having located the honor of a woman in the most unexpected of places.
That triumph of world-wide puritan activity, the International Conventions, applied to the too docile countries for whom the expression "carnal sin" nevertheless makes no sense, are the "culture broth" of pugnacious legislations of this nature. One of the first enterprises of the pro-sexual groups should be the condemnation of these Conventions for all cases where there is no evidence of violence, constraint, or fraud.
It is equally necessary to put an immediate end to that repulsive "moral blackmail" which is practiced, under puritan pressure, against all sexual emancipation.
There are still those who tremble at the thought of affirming by word or act, their conviction of the necessity of sexual freedom. And perhaps they have reason for their fear, since the prohibitionists have organized their system of denunciation and persecution so completely and so odiously that their victims may sometimes end by losing their means of livelihood.
But that is not all. The Governments themselves are often subjected to this "moral blackmail." They obediently take their orders from the circles dominated by the puritans, as was that League of Nations which was completely under anti-sexual control.
These Governments bow in submission, hasten to pass laws, render an account of their "diligence," and lend every support to "morality," when, in fact, behind the scenes, they complain of being pestered by the never satisfied bigots whose antagonistic intervention they fear on other terrains (financial, economic, and such) if they do not give proof of sufficient servility.
The advent of sexual emancipation will mean the simultaneous disappearance of all the social injustices that now create such vexing problems as Prostitution, Procuration, and Homosexuality - problems at present insoluble for lack of intelligent understanding and good will, problems insoluble precisely because they concern strictly personal acts that everyone has the right to realize or reject in his private life. Here is a terrible misunderstanding, for it is exactly when one prohibits these acts in the name of a particular "morality" that one contravenes the indefeasible Human Rights of disposing freely of one's person and enjoying respect for one's private life (and especially one's sexual life).
The legislator himself, when he realizes that no legal punishments are capable of compelling the numberless sexual insurgents to adopt the rules of continence, will finally cease to interest himself in such a useless pursuit, and will be glad to sever his association with such unintelligent and sadistic systems of repression.
The sexual liberation and organization of life is a natural development of that provision whose insertion in the Declaration of Human Rights has been proposed here above. To announce that there will be no more legal prosecutions for "sex crimes," and no more imprisonment, or detention in an institution which is only a disguised jail, for "sex offenders "; to open wide the gates of these hells, and liberate the occupants who therein learn nothing but hatred of a harsh society; to guarantee that such "morals offenders" will no longer be treated like thieves or manslayers what more glorious conclusion and what greater triumph could there be for the famous Declaration of Human Rights, thus finally applied to one of the most essential and constant of human activities, Sexuality!
Briefly, the twin cornerstones of this legal revision are these fundamental precepts: (a) sexual acts or activities accomplished without violence, constraint, or fraud should find no place in our penal codes; (b) sexual acts or activities accomplished with violence, constraint, or fraud should be punished according to the type of violence, constraint, or fraud committed, and the sexual element should not be considered a relevant or aggravating circumstance.
ln addition to banishing the "sex crimes" from the penal law, one might well add, for security, a new criminal offense: that of violating the right to sexual freedom. Such a provision would aim to put a stop to the denunciations, the houndings, the comminatory interventions in private life, and the censorship of all those puritan agents or Leagues who, with an elaborate sadism, make life insupportable for their neighbors in the name of the stupid and ruthless doctrines which so delight them. (1)
Importance of the Present Manifesto
The principles set forth in this Manifesto of the champions of free sexuality may be considered as the Prolegomena to all future organization of the sexual mores. These principles will permit us to make of Sexuality that science and that art which it ought to be, the invaluable knowledge of which saves the initiated from committing errors and often crimes in their relations with others. Many human beings do not even suspect that Sexuality can be a science and an art. The first and most essential service to render such persons is to open their eyes to the necessities, the benefits, the mechanism, the practice, the modes and precious variations of Sexuality, withdrawing them from the secret dungeons in which they have been confined, and restoring them to their natural place in life.
The superstition of Carnal Sin and the discredit thereby thrown on sexual intercourse have been, for humanity, a moral syphilis which has to its account more dreadful and often fatal misfortunes than the syphilis brought from America by the navigators of the fifteenth century. But we have arrived at the rationalistic and scientific era when all types of syphilis will be eradicated.
Sexuality is a world in itself. But there are those who know nothing of that world and yet who, until now, have arrogated the right to make and impose laws concerning its activities. They know as much about sex as a peasant who has never left his village knows about the world. This fact is fully demonstrated throughout the documentation collected at great expense and with many fanfares by the League of Nations during twenty years, wherein the persons described as experts by the League have been the laughing-stock of the true connoisseurs of Sexuality.
The doctrines of continence have robbed humanity of one of the greatest joys which it has had freely at its disposition, sexual enjoyment. The adepts of the Doctrine of Sexual Legitimacy and Freedom proclaim by this Manifesto that they intend to restore Sexual Happiness to men of good will, by seeing that it wins a new respect, is made easily obtainable, and is brought within the reach of all, through the legitimate, continuous, and enlightened practice of sexual freedom.
For this work of liberation of both the intelligence and the body, there is needed, for the purpose of support and propaganda, the cooperation and mutual aid of all those who are convinced of the necessity, the benefits, and the urgency of this social reform.
(1) The details of that necessary reform of the Penal Law have been expounded in the Journal of Sex Education ("Sex offences in the future Penal Law") London 1949-1951 and they will be joint together in a book on "The abolition of sex offences in the Penal law". Meanwhile the basic principles of the reform, together with all the fundamental RULES formulated in the: Ethics for the rational government of sexual life are given in "The sexual problem".
René Guyon, 1951