Everything you always wanted to know about sex explained by David Reuben, M.D., but were afraid to ask. The title of the current number-one nonfiction best seller is cute as a bug’s ear, and we know what Freud thought of those who were cute about sex (“Very uptight,” Sigmund Freud, M.D.). If a jocose approach to sexual matters is a mask for unease, then David Reuben, M.D. (“currently in private psychiatric practice in San Diego, California”), is in a state of communicable panic and I would be most unwilling to have him privately practice psychiatry on me, even in San Diego, the Vatican of the John Birch Society.
David Reuben, M.D., is a relentlessly cheery, often genuinely funny writer whose essential uncertainty about sex is betrayed by a manner which shifts in a very odd way from night club comedian to reform rabbi, touching en route almost every base except the scientific. Essentially he is a moralist, expressing the hang-ups of today’s middle-aged, middle-class urban American Jews, hang-ups which are not (as I shall attempt to show) necessarily those of the gentile population or, for that matter, of the rising generation of American Jews.
Yes, I am going to talk about class and race-religion, two unmentionables in our free land, and I am going to make a case that Jewish family patterns, sexual taboos, and superstitions are often very different from those of the rest of the population, black, white, and yellow, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Moslem. For gentile readers much of the charm of Portnoy’s Complaint was its exoticism. And despite those ecumenical reviewers who insist that everyone’s mother is a Jewish mother, the truth is that Mrs. Portnoy was the result of a specific set of historical circumstances, not applicable to anyone else, including the next generation of American Jews, if we are to believe in her child Alexander’s rebellion. Certainly his son (assuming he has not entirely wasted his posterity) will probably resemble next-door neighbor George Apley II rather more than father or grandfather.
I mention Alexander Portnoy because David Reuben, M.D., is his contemporary and they have a good deal in common. But where Portnoy’s creator is a highly talented artist often able to view objectively the prejudices and tribal taboos of his mother’s ghetto culture, Dr. Reuben is still very much in her thrall. Essentially he is not a man of science but a moderately swinging rabbi who buttresses his prejudices with pious quotations from the Old Testament (a single reference to the New Testament is inaccurate); surprisingly, the only mental therapist he mentions is Freud—in order to set him straight.
But then Dr. Reuben seems not to have been affected at all by the discipline of science. He explodes with snappy generalities (“All children at the time of puberty develop pimples”) and opinions (“All prostitutes hate men”) and statistics which he seems to have made up (“Seventy to eighty percent of Americans engage in fellatio and cunnilingus”). He makes no attempt to prove anything; he merely states his prejudices and enthusiasms as though they were in some way selfevident. It is possible that his advice to middle-aged, middle-class Jewish heterosexuals is useful, but they make up a very small part of the population he now wants to convert to his notions of “mature” sexuality. Certainly a white Protestant will find much of what he has to say inscrutable while a black will no doubt regard him as something from outer space (that is to say, suburbia) and yet another good reason for replacing Jerusalem with Mecca.
At two points Dr. Reuben is at odds with Moses. He thinks Onan was quite a guy, and his lonely practice particularly useful in toning up those of our senior citizens whose wheelchairs will not accommodate two people; and he has a positively Updikean enthusiasm for cunnilingus. Dr. Reuben would like everyone to indulge in this chivalrous practice—except women, of course: Lesbianism is “immature.” He is also sufficiently American to believe that more of everything is best. At times he sounds not unlike the late Bruce Barton extolling God as a super-salesman. “Success in the outside world breeds success in the inside world of sex,” sermonizes Dr. Reuben. “Conversely, the more potent a man becomes in the bedroom, the more potent he is in business.” Is God a super-salesman? You bet!—and get this—God eats it, too!
On those rare occasions when Dr. Reuben is not proselytizing, he can be most instructive, particularly when he describes what happens to the body during orgasm (I assume he is correct about the plumbing), and as he lists all the things that take place between the first thought of sex (D. H. Lawrence, apparently, was wrong: sex is all in the head) and final emission, the male reader is certain to be impotent for the next twenty-four hours (“You will never again,” said Leo Tolstoi wickedly, “step on a crack without thinking of a white bear”). Dr. Reuben also has a good plan for eliminating venereal disease by a mass inoculation of the entire population, which he only slightly spoils by suggesting that we use “our gigantic Civil Defense network,” which was set up for “just such a mass medical program (in case of bacteriological warfare). This would be a wonderful opportunity for a dry run which might pay off in case of a real war.” Well, he does live in San Diego.
Dr. Reuben is also a liberal on abortion, and informative on the subject of contraceptives. He finds something a bit wrong with all the present methods and suspects that the eventual solution will be a morning-after pill for women—as a Jewish patriarch he believes that woman, the lesser vessel, should bear the responsibility. He is also filled with wonderful lore, some of which I hope is true. Want to know the best nonmedical contraceptive? “Coca-Cola. Long a favorite soft drink, it is, coincidentally, the best douche available. A Coke contains carbolic acid which kills the sperm and sugar which explodes the sperm cells…. The six-ounce bottle is just the right size for one application.” Yes, but won’t it rot her teeth?
Between mature guys and gals, anything goes (though anal penetration of the gal leaves doc a bit queasy). Male impotence and female frigidity he recognizes as hazards, but psychiatry, he is quick to point out, will work wonders. He is a remorseless selfadvertiser. Every few pages he gives us a commercial with brisk dialogue and characters named Emily who suffer from frigidity until…. But let’s listen in on Emily and her doctor after some months of treatment. Is Emily frigid now? Lordy no! Emily is fucking like a minx. “I’m happy to say, doctor, this is just a social call. I wanted to tell you how happy I am. I don’t know what it’s done for other people but psychiatry did what Mother Nature couldn’t do—it made a woman out of me!” Music up and out.
Or take the case of Joni, the beautiful airline stewardess who couldn’t achieve the big O no matter how hard she (he) tried. After being told that the values she had learned as a girl on a farm in Iowa (Christian puritanism) were not applicable to a flying bunny, she was able in a matter of months to write her doctor “at Christmastime” (when, presumably, all thoughts flow toward the orgasm), “I may have been a stewardess, but I really ‘won my wings’ in the psychiatrist’s office.” To one who locates psychiatry somewhere between astrology and phrenology on the scale of human gullibility, the cold-blooded desire to make money by giving one’s fellows (at best) obvious advice and (at worst) notions even sillier than the ones that made them suffer smacks of Schadenfreude.
Along with testimonials to the efficacy of his art, Dr. Reuben has a good deal to say about many subjects, and since he never attempts to prove anything, his opinions must be taken as just that. Some examples. “Orgasm among nymphomaniacs is as rare as orgasm among prostitutes.” To which any liberal arts professor would scribble in the margin, “prove.” For Dr. Reuben’s instruction, the only bona fide nymphomaniac I ever went to bed with (I had two assistants let me quickly add; I am no Miller-Mailer man) promptly produced a splendid series of orgasms of the variety known as “skimming.” In fact, she enjoyed having orgasms so much that she thought it fun to have sex with a lot of different people, thus betraying her immaturity. Three point two times a week year in and year out with the same mature and loving mate ought to have been quite enough for the saucy shicksa.
Then there is Smiling Jack who suffers from premature ejaculation. Why? Because he wants to punish women. “The smile is characteristic of men with premature ejaculation—they are all profusely apologetic but their regrets have a hollow ring.” Fastcomer, wipe that smile off your face before you stretch out on Dr. Reuben’s couch.
“Blind girls become particularly adept at secret masturbation. They….” No. You had better read this section for yourself. At least the author had the courtesy to wait until Helen Keller was dead before rushing into print with the news. Then “the chap who pays to see two ladies perform homosexually also has his problems, as do the father and son who patronize the same hustler.” A breath-taking non sequitur, as usual unprovable and also, as usual, an echo of Mosaic law: Thou shalt not look upon thy father’s nakedness.
The looniest of Dr. Reuben’s folklore is “Food seems to have a mysterious fascination for homosexuals. Many of the world’s greatest chefs have been homosexuals” (Who? I’m really curious. Not Brillat-Savarin, not Fanny Farmer). “Some of the country’s best restaurants are run by homosexuals” (Those two at Twenty One?). “Some of the fattest people are homosexuals” (King Farouk? Orson Welles? President Taft?). “The exact reason is complex….” It certainly is since there is no evidence one way or the other. But if there were, Dr. Reuben had best find himself a friendly shrink because he makes at least eight references in his book to the penis as food, usually “limp as a noodle”; in fact, food is seldom far from the good doctor’s mind when he contemplates genitalia—no doubt for a very complex reason (when I met him three years ago in San Diego he was round as a…well, butterball; since then, according to the dust-jacket photo, he has “matured” and lost weight).
But Reuben the folklorist is nothing compared to Reuben the statistician. “At least seventy-five to eighty-five percent of [prostitutes’] clients want to have their penises sucked.” “Ninety nine percent of johns refuse to wear condoms [with prostitutes].” “Only about one tenth of [aging] females choose celibacy.” “Chronic or repeated impotence probably affects about thirty to forty percent of men at any given time.” And of course those 70 to 80 percent of men who engage in cunnilingus. Since two can play these games, I shall now open my own private files to the public. Right off, 92 percent of those men who get cancer of the tongue have practiced cunnilingus from once to 3309 times in their lives. Those who practice fellatio, however, are not only better dressed but will take at least one long trip in the coming year. Ninety-six percent of those who practice sixty nine (for Dr. Reuben’s heteros a must) periodically complain of a sense of suffocation. Finally, all major American novelists after forty occasionally have orgasm without a full erection. Further statistics on this poignant condition will be revealed as soon as I have heard from Saul, Norman, Vladimir, and Mary.
In favor of contraception, abortion, masturbation, oral sex between male and female, Dr. Reuben is up-to-date and a source of comfort to his reformed congregation (though the orthodox must be grimly looking about for some useful anathema to lob his way). On circumcision he is orthodox—nature wanted the glans penis covered but Jehovah knew better (our rabbi quotes from both Genesis and Exodus to support this profitable—for doctors—mutilation); on prostitution he is orthodox but tries not to be; on homosexuality he is Mosaic—it is a bad business strictly for immature freaks. Bisexuality does not exist for reasons he and his mentor the late Dr. Bergler never quite give, though they have a lot of opinions which, in their confident American way, they present as facts.
Parenthetically the collapse of responsible commentary in the United States is as noticeable in a pseudoscience like psychiatry as it is, say, in literary criticism. No one need prove anything; simply state private opinion as public fact, preferably in lurid terms. It is now a national characteristic and part of the general cretinizing effect certain dour biologists (accused, accurately, of elitism) regard as an inevitable concomitant of promiscuous breeding and overpopulation.
To his credit, Dr. Reuben realizes the practical uses and pleasures of prostitution, an arrangement necessary to the well-being of many millions of men (and women) since the dawn of money, and he is forced to admit that most of the usual arguments against it are not only hypocritical but inaccurate. Nevertheless, looking up from his well-thumbed Old Testament, he is obliged to remind us that “‘harlots’ are mentioned forty-four times in the Bible, ‘whores’ and ‘whore mongers’ are featured fifty-three times, and committing ‘whoredoms’ is mentioned eight times.”
He then makes his only allusion to the New Testament. Apparently “[it] began where the Old Testament left off and commenced a religious campaign against prostitution which took on all the attributes of a Crusade….” As J. C.’s numerous readers know, his only reference to prostitution was a proposal that the fallen Mary Magdalene be shown charity. Even St. Paul was not a pornophobe; he was a chiliast who believed the day of judgment was at hand and so thought it wise to keep oneself in a state of ceremonial purity—in other words, no sex of any kind (even mature); but if such continence was unbearable then “it is better to marry than to burn.”
It should be noted that in matters of history (excepting always Old Testament studies) and etymology Dr. Reuben is usually wrong. He tells us that the word pornography “comes from two Greek words, pornos, meaning dirty, and graphos, meaning words.” Graphos of course means “writing” not “words.” Pornos does not mean “dirty”; it means “harlot.” Though I do not think Dr. Reuben has any Greek, if he did it would be a marvelous tribute to the unconscious mind that he confuses “harlot” with “dirty.” He also thinks that homosexual sadists “filled the ranks of Hitler’s Gestapo and SS.” After the purge of Ernst Roehm and his friends in 1934, only banal heterosexual sadists were allowed in the Gestapo and SS. By 1940 homosexuals were being carted off to concentration camps along with Jews, gypsies, and communists. The text is full of misprints (as if anyone cares), bad grammar, misspellings (on page 142 “syphillitic”).
While acknowledging the Old Testament’s harsh line on prostitution, our cruise director finds peculiarly contemptible the moralizing of those “ministers and moral educators who couldn’t be farther removed from practical knowledge of the subject if they lived on the moon.” Although Dr. Reuben is robust in his attacks on Protestant clergymen, neither Roman Catholic priest nor Jewish rabbi is ever noted as a hypocritical enemy of life. Obviously Dr. Reuben knows a militant minority when he sees one. But though he is right in blaming a good deal of what is wrong with our sexual ethos on the Protestant founders he ought, in all fairness, to note that later arrivals haven’t been much help either.
To Dr. Reuben’s credit, he puts at rest the myth that prostitutes are wicked people because they spread venereal disease. Of 4700 women arrested for prostitution in New York City (1966), 619 had gonorrhea and only four had syphilis. Not a bad record considering their line of work and the harassment they are subject to. He also reminds us that where prostitution is legal, sex crimes diminish. Finally, “most girls become prostitutes because they like it.” But then he can’t leave that reasonable opinion alone (those 105 Old Testament cracks about “whores” obviously prey on him). Two paragraphs later we are told that “in prostitution no one’s happy.” Then Dr. Reuben erupts in a torrent of tribal wisdom worthy of any Baptist divine working out of the Oral Roberts Tabernacle. “All prostitutes have at least one thing in common—they hate men.” They are doomed to this sad state unless “some dramatic change like psychiatric treatment intervenes.” Unexpectedly “their genitals are usually in better condition than those of the average woman.” But unfortunately (for men) “the majority of prostitutes are female homosexuals in their private lives.”
This, incidentally, is a beloved post-Freudian myth, quite unproven but perenially exciting to men who want to believe that the women they rent deeply hate them and only go to bed with them because they lack money. It is the ultimate charade in the power fantasy which drives so many men (you are tied up and helpless, my proud beauty), including homosexualists who try, not always vainly, to make that one “totally” heterosexual male either because he needs money or must yield to physical force. To say that all female prostitutes are really Lesbians is to succumb to a pleasant if rather silly daydream.
But then Dr. Reuben the rabbi sooner or later does in Dave the Swinger. Harlots must, finally, suffer for their evil ways; therefore few “achieve orgasm even in the privacy of their own bedrooms” (a slightly confusing statement: where do they work? They can’t all be represented by Al Fresco), but then how can they be expected to have mature orgasms when the only source of “love for a prostitute is her pimp…who provides her with what little emotional warmth he is capable of”? Value judgment. Prove. But then there is no superstition about prostitutes that Dr. Reuben does not offer us as “scientific” fact. Mrs. Portnoy would be proud of Alexander’s nice contemporary, particularly when he tells us that the relationship between prostitute and customer is simply “masturbation in a vagina” (a slight contradiction since earlier he told us that 75 to 85 percent of the johns are blown).
Although none of this is provable one way or the other (the nice thing about a pseudoscience like psychiatry is that one can pose any hypothesis upon which to build if not a science a religion), and assuming that a good deal of commercial sex is a kind of joyless masturbation, one is tempted to point out that the same is true of marriage in which, as time passes, the man (and now women are beginning to make the same confession) is constantly forced to rely on inner newsreels in order to make love to a body that no longer excites him, yet because of law and tribal custom he must pretend to respond to for thirty or forty or, if Dr. Reuben is counseling him, seventy years of mature sexuality. It is enough to make Malcolm Muggeridge, if not the angels, weep.
In the course of “proving” that a majority of prostitutes are Lesbians and so (naturally) unhappy, Dr. Reuben reveals the bedrock upon which all his superstitions finally rest. “Just as one penis plus one penis equals nothing, one vagina plus another vagina still equals zero.” There it is. Dr. Reuben believes in what Roman Catholics term “natural law”—everything is created for a single natural purpose. Penis plus vagina equals continuation of the species. Unfortunately the big natural lawyer in the sky slightly confused matters by combining our divine instruments of conception with those of excretion, a source of chagrin and shame to the perennial puritan. Our genitals have always done double duty and cannot be said strictly to have only one sacred function from which all else is deviation, wicked or not, depending on who is doing the moralizing.
Yet from Moses to Freud (despite his discontents) to Dr. Reuben, Judaeo-Christian doctrine has been remarkably unchanging. Man and woman are joined together in a special covenant to bring into the world children; and as it has been since the Bronze Age, so shall it be not only in our age of plastic but for all time to come. Those who transgress this law shall be punished, if not with death by stoning then with a mild rash due to neurosis brought on by immature (that is, unholy) attitudes.
It is not an overstatement to say that a belief in this ancient covenant has made a hell of Western man’s life on earth (try to find a hotel room in which to make love in any American state: a few seedy places exist but by and large the entire society is resolutely determined to keep from carnal knowledge of one another those not joined together by the Jewish/Christian God). Worse, the ancient covenant’s injunction to be fruitful and multiply (Dr. Reuben surprisingly omits this text. It is Genesis I:28) has now brought the human race to what may well be a most unpleasant coda as too many people destroy not only the biosphere which supports us but the society which sustains us.
On the subject of homosexuality Dr. Reuben tries to be a good sport. Yet at heart he is angry with the homosexualist who perversely refuses to enter into a penis-vagina relationship. It would be so easy to straighten him out. If he would only visit “a psychiatrist who knows how to cure homosexuality, he has every chance of becoming a happy, well-adjusted heterosexual.” I wonder if Dr. Reuben might be got up on a charge of violating the fair advertising practices act—on the ground that no such psychiatrist exists. It is true that the late Dr. Bergler enjoyed announcing “cures” but since no one knows what a homosexualist (as opposed to a homosexual act) is, much less what the psychic life (as opposed to the sex life) of any of his patients was like, his triumphs must be taken on faith.
However, it should be noted that anyone so disturbed by society’s condemnation of his natural sexual instinct that he would want to pervert it in order to conform would, no doubt, be a candidate for some kind of “conversion” at the hands of a highly paid quack. Yet to change a man’s homosexual instinct is as difficult (if not impossible) as changing a man’s heterosexual instinct, and socially rather less desirable since it can hardly be argued, as it used to be—the clincher, in fact, of the natural lawyers—that if everyone practiced homosexuality the race would die out. The fact of course is that not everyone would, at least exclusively, and the race currently needs no more additions.
As a religious rather than a scientific man, Dr Reuben believes that there is something wicked (he would say sick) about the homosexual act. Therefore those who say they really enjoy it must be lying. He also believes implicitly a set of old queens’ tales that any high-school boy in Iowa (if not the Bronx) could probably set him straight on. “Most homosexuals at one time or another in their lives act out some aspect of the female role.” Aside from his usual inability to define anything (what is a male role? a female role?), he seems to mean that a man who enjoys relations with his own sex is really half a man, a travesty of woman.
This is not the case. The man involved in a homosexual act is engaged in a natural male function; he is performing as a man, and so is his partner. That there are men who think of themselves as women is also a fact, as the visitor to any queer bar will have noticed (those Bette Davis types are with us from Third Avenue to Hong Kong), but they are a tiny minority, not unlike those odd creatures who think of themselves as 100 percent he-men on the order of Lyndon Johnson, another small and infinitely more depressing minority which of course includes the thirty-sixth President.
Dr. Reuben is also horrified by what he thinks to be the promiscuity of all homosexualists. But then “homosexuals thrive on danger,” he tells us, and of course their “primary interest is the penis, not the person.” As usual no evidence is given. He takes as fact the prejudices of his race-religion, country, and, most important, as I shall point out, class. Reading him on homosexuality, I was reminded of the lurid anti-Semitic propaganda of the Thirties: All Jews love money. All Jews are sensualists with a penchant for gentile virgins. All Jews are involved in a conspiracy to take over the financial and cultural life of whatever country they happen to be living in. Happily, Dr. Reuben is relatively innocent of making this last charge. The Homintern theory, however, is a constant obsession of certain journalists and crops up from time to time not only in the popular press but in the pages of otherwise respectable literary journals. Fag-baiting is the last form of minority baiting practiced at every level of American society.
Dr. Reuben tends to gloss over the social pressures which condition the life of anyone who prefers, occasionally or exclusively, the company of his own sex. Homosexualists seldom settle down to cozy mature domesticity for an excellent reason: society forbids it. Two government workers living together in Washington, D.C., would very soon find themselves unemployed. They would be spied on, denounced secretly, and dismissed. Only a bachelor entirely above suspicion like J. Edgar Hoover can afford to live openly with another man. In any case, homosexual promiscuity differs from heterosexual only in the atmosphere of fear in which the homosexualist must operate. It is a nice joke if a Louisiana judge is caught in a motel with a call girl. It is a major tragedy if a government official with a family is caught in a men’s room.
For someone like Dr. Reuben who believes that there is no greater sin than avoidance of “heterosex—penis and vagina,” two men who do live together must, somehow, be wretched. “Mercifully for both of them, the life expectancy of their relationship together is brief.” Prove? I wrote for the tenth time in the margin. But we are beyond mere empiricism: we are now involved in one of the major superstitions of our place and time and no evidence must be allowed to disturb simple faith.
Dr. Kinsey, whom, needless to say, Dr. Reuben dismisses as a mere biologist, did try to find out what is actually going on. Whatever Kinsey’s shortcomings as a researcher, he revealed for the first time the way things are. Everyone is potentially bisexual. In actual practice a minority never commits a homosexual act, others experiment with their own sex but settle for heterosexuality, still others swing back and forth to a greater or lesser degree, while another minority never gets around to performing the penis-vagina act. None of this is acceptable to either Dr. Bergler or Dr. Reuben because they know that there is no such thing as bisexuality. Therefore Dr. Kinsey’s findings must be discredited. To the rabbinical mind, any man who admits to having enjoyed sexual relations with another man must be, sadly, consigned to the ranks of Sodom. That the same man spends the rest of his sex life in penis-vagina land means nothing because, having enjoyed what he ought not to have enjoyed, his relations with women are simply playacting. Paradoxically, in the interest of making money, the mental therapists are willing to work with any full-time homosexualist who has never had a penis-vagina relationship because deep down they know he does not enjoy men no matter what he says. This is the double standard with a vengeance.
Driving through Wyoming, a Jewish friend of mine picked up a young cowhand and had sex with him. Dr. Reuben will be pleased to note that my friend was, as usual, guilt-ridden; so much so that the boy finally turned to his seducer and with a certain wonder said, “You know, you guys from the East do this because you’re sick and we do it because we’re horny.” My friend has never recovered from this insight into that polymorphic goyisher world best revealed some years ago in Boise, Idaho, where a number of businessmen were discovered frolicking with the local highschool boys. Oddly enough (to the innocent), as husbands and fathers, most of the businessmen were also long-time Homesteaders in penis-vagina land. So what were they up to? Bisexuality? No, it does not exist. Evidence dismissed, just as all accounts of other cultures are also unacceptable. Turks, Greeks, Moslems…well, as one critic likes to say, that is another context (disgusting lot is what he means). I would suggest, however, that a recent book by Brian W. Aldiss, The Hand-Reared Boy, be admitted as evidence.
Mr. Aldiss is an English heterosexual—well, he pretends to be one, has wife and children—and he tells us in fascinating detail what it was like to go to a second-rate public school just before the Second World War. Admittedly all Americans think all Englishmen are fags so I daresay this interesting account of a seventeen-year-old who has full sexual relationships with other boys as well as a mature penisvagina relationship with a girl will be dismissed on the ground that seventeen is a man for all practical purposes and so he could not do both wholeheartedly. Yet he did. In this Mr. Aldiss tends to resemble his American counterparts, a world obviously alien to the Dr. Reubens who cannot accept the following simple fact of so many lives (certainly my own): that it is possible to have a mature sexual relationship with a woman on Monday, and a mature sexual relationship with a man on Tuesday, and perhaps on Wednesday have both together (admittedly you have to be in good condition for this).
Now I am sure that Dr. Reuben would not like for 100-percent heterosexualists to be advised on their behavior by 100-percent homosexualists so may I, diffidently, suggest that until Dr. Reuben has had a full and mature relationship with a man he ought not to speak of what he does not know. Finally, realizing that at the deepest level, no rabbi can take this sort of blunt talk from a foreskinned dog (Bernard Malamud’s loving phrase), I suggest that he read that grandest of Anti-Rabbis Paul Goodman. He will learn a lot about the naturalness of bisexuality, and in a Jewish context.
It is ironic (and dismaying) that Dr. Reuben’s collection of tribal taboos and reactionary nostrums should be popular just when the entire concept of the family is undergoing a radical revision. Population continues to double at shorter and shorter intervals. Famine is now chronic in half the world. By the 1980s we will be short of food, too. If the race is to continue, we must limit human breeding by law. That is the simple fact of our present condition. Once we have acted to regulate population (I am assuming that this will be done: mass suicide is not a characteristic of our race), most people will not have children to raise. Without children, there will be no reason for men and women to enter into lifetime contracts with one another, and marriage, as we have known it, will be at an end. Certainly that curious institution is already in a state of advanced decay in America, witness the underlying theme of all the how-to sex books (including Dr. Reuben’s): how to stay sexually interested in your mate long after nature has ceased to make either of you attractive to the other.
Needless to say, even if all governments were to act promptly to limit population, marriage would not end at once or (in some forms) ever entirely vanish, but once it ceases to be the central fact of our society, to that extent women will be for the first time in recorded history freed from a particularly debasing relationship in which they are relentlessly conditioned by the Dr. Reubens to be brainless, enticing bunnies whose reward for making a good home in which to raise their husband’s children is a series of wonderful orgasms. The most startling thing about the women’s liberation movement is not its ferocity (and ghastly rhetoric) but the fact that it took so long to surface. It is certainly true that women are half-citizens even in the relatively liberated West. From birth they are programmed by the tribalists to serve men, raise children, and be (if they are interested in True Maturity) geishas, as we are told by “J” (a pseudonym for Dr. Reuben? Or for the sly Professor James Moran?) in The Sensuous Woman, a volume every bit as fatuous as Dr. Reuben’s compendium of tribal taboos. “J” sees woman’s job as not only how to get HIM in the sack but how to keep him excited, a job she admits is not easy within marriage since ardor sooner or later flags. Nevertheless, by unexpectedly redoing the bedroom in sexy shades, a new hair style, exotic perfumes, ravishing naughty underwear, an unexpected blow job with a mouth full of cream of wheat, somehow a girl who puts her mind to it can keep him coming back for more year after year after year. As far as I know, no one in tribal lore land has ever asked the simple question: Why bother? Why not move on?
Finally, it is to be hoped that with the reduction of population by law and the consequent abandoning of the family unit, men and women will be able for the first time to confront one another as equals, no longer resorting to the sick game in which the man thinks the woman means to trap him into a legal arrangement and the woman thinks she is wrong not to want to capture him and sign herself up for a lifetime of dull subservience. In any case, new things are happening as yet undreamed of in the office of David Reuben, M.D. We are coming either to a better understanding of our sexual nature, or to the race’s end. Certainly, either is preferable to the way things are.
June 4, 1970