In a sense, this problem will tend to solve itself. With the substitution of the more rationalized standards of self-interest and group loyalty for the irrational taboo control of reproductive activities, there will be as much freedom for women to choose whether they will accept maternity as there is now, in the period of transition from the old standards to the new. The chief difference will be that many of the artificial forces which are acting as barriers to motherhood at the present time—as for example the economic handicap involved—will be removed, and woman’s choice will therefore be more entirely in harmony with her native instinctive tendencies. Thus those women endowed with the most impelling desire for children will, as a rule, have the largest number. In all probability their offspring will inherit the same strong parental instinct. The stocks more poorly endowed with this impulse will tend to die out by the very lack of any tendency to self-perpetuation. It is only logical to conclude, therefore, that as we set up the new forces of social control outlined in this chapter, we are at the same time providing more scope for natural selection, and that the problem of aberrant types consequently becomes only a transitory one.
THE INSTITUTIONALIZED SEX TABOO
IVA LOWTHER PETERS, PH.D.
THE PRIMITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD SEX AND WOMANHOOD
Primitive social control; Its rigidity; Its necessity; Universality of this control in the form of taboos; Connection between the universal attitude of primitive peoples towards woman as shown in the Institutionalized Sex Taboo and the magic-religious belief in Mana; Relation of Mana to Taboo; Discussion of Sympathetic Magic and the associated idea of danger from contact; Difficulties in the way of an inclusive definition of Taboo; Its dual nature; Comparison of concepts of Crawley, Frazer, Marett and others; Conclusion that Taboo is Negative Mana; Contribution of modern psychology to the study of Taboo; Freud’s analogy between the dualistic attitude toward the tabooed object and the ambivalence of the emotions; The understanding of this dualism together with the primitive belief in Mana and Sympathetic Magic explains much in the attitude of man toward woman; The vast amount of evidence in the taboos of many peoples of dualism in the attitude toward woman. Possible physiological explanation of this dualistic attitude of man toward woman found in a period before self-control had in some measure replaced social control, in the reaction of weakness and disgust following sex festivals.