The Great American Sexquake

By Benjamin De Casseres


THE great natural disturbance today in the United States is the sexquake.

We have had earthquakes and Billy Sunday; but the sexquake is the most interesting disaster that has yet befallen us.

We are sex-mad.

It was in 1620 at Plymouth Rock that we were bottled up; and now some of the healthy human instincts that refuse to sit down and be good for long have burst their prison walls and are flowing down the gutters of our sensibility into the open.

Of course, under masks. When we Americans want to indulge some natural, healthy propensity we first invent an ethical system to justify it. Our hyposcrisy is so deeply ingrained that when we want to do a real, healthy, natural thing we do it under a mask.

The sexquake, with its thousand ramifications, is a case in point. Respectability and the cohorts of smug “sociological reform” are curious about some things.

They cannot indulge this healthy curiosity in the open. Something ails them. Ah! invent a “moral propaganda”!


Woman suffrage, or the mask of sex starvation.

Eugenics, or the mask of curiosity about intimate sex matters.

The white slave hullaballoo, or the mask of the admiration-for-the-fast-women (La Rochefoucauld, the greatest of French epigrammatic moralists, said, “Every virtuous woman is tired of her job”).

The anti-tango movement, being a little “flyer” in pornographics.

Puritanism, or “What can I find out about the things I shouldn’t know anything about?” 


Woman suffrage: This is the Lie Ethical of the sexually starved female.

It will be found—just as a Dry Fact—that the great majority of those in the woman suffrage movement are those who have not found their male. The reverse applies to the males in that movement also.

The cry for the ballot is a physical and psychological lie. It is the very essence of humor. Give every woman in the suffrage movement her ideal male and she would strip the lie of “ballot” from her speech.

Oh, where are our Molières! Here is a theme which even Shaw cannot handle.

Woman must be studied from the cellar of her subconscious nature. Does she want the ballot?

No. She wants something else, and, womanlike, she talks about the ballot; but she is making signals in another direction.

The ballot is the fan from behind which she is sending messages to the healthy male of her dreams.



Eugenics: this is the Lie Ethical about bold sex curiosity and two troublesome anatomical divisions of the human body.

The mellowed wisdom of sacrosanct respectability has lately trickled like molasses from the Eugenic Congress at Battle Creek.

It was a convention of certain men and women whose imaginations are obsessed. They should be trailed by neuropaths. Kraft-Ebing and Nordau could diagnose that congress.

In their infinite wisdom these eugenuchs and eugeneuses told us what every sparrow knows.

But, bless you! it is called eugenics. Nice, decent word, mouth-filling, scientific, with all the sex germs boiled out of it.

However, eugenics is odoriferous; and a brothel compared to the brains of some of these blatant eugenuchs would be a sanctuary of purity.


The white slave hullabaloo: This is the Lie Ethical about the eternal fascination of the courtesan and the sly adoration of certain elements of respectability for the woman who “goes the pace.”

The real “white slavery” of the times is in the sweatshops. This is not socialism. It is something far greater: it is a Raw Fact.

But, sweatshops aside, How can the hypocrites and the pharisees slake their curiosity about the life of the courtesan? Why, pass a “white slave law” so that their snouts can fish in the souls of its victims; appoint commissions, headed by Sir Sleek and Mme. Puddle Dabble, which will fish up the verbatim doings of these women.

Verbatim doings, mind you; for our eyes are lickerish and our brains are hot fro the Raw Fact.

So the “white slave traffic” is laid bare; and even the children revel in the official report of Sir Sleek and Mme. Puddle-Dabble.

—But hush, gentle reader, we have said too much already, for here come the street sweepers of morality.


Source:  The International, June 1914, Vol. VIII No. 6, p. 195