Lonelyhearts: A Parody of Living
“The sexiest years of our lives” the News of the World called them, reviewing the changes which have occurred in sexual customs and behaviour during the last twenty-five years. “ ‘Today’s teenagers have burst open the sexual cage. They will never be driven back to the old taboos’, says the Sorensen Report on Adolescent Sexuality” — shouts The Sun. Film-stars boasting that they were not legally married to the fathers of their children. Over a million British women “on the Pill”. Stage productions like Hair and Oh, Calcutta! with completely starkers casts. Every pub, almost, with its Go-Go girls and strippers, and Saturday-night “divorced and separated club” dances. Family planning is free for all, screams the poster on the wall — make sure they are really wanted. The Borough of Camden actually pays taxi fares of girls needing advice urgently.
Forty-five years ago Dr. Marie Stopes (authoress of Married Love and pioneer of the first free birth- control clinic for working-class women in Islington, London) had her book suppressed and a six-month prison sentence which, however, she never served. With all this new-found freedom and frankness, discarding absurd Victorian prudery and hypocrisy, we should all be as happy as sandboys, as free as the air, having it away like rabbits without a care in the world.
But what is the truth? We live in the era of the broken marriage. Divorce and separation have reached staggering proportions, leaving behind them a legacy of grief and anguish hard to visualize. Children become “latch-key kids”, some “juvenile delinquents”. The matrimonial courts are snowed-under with cases, and the jails hard-pressed to cope with the 250,000 maintenance allowance defaulters. The weeklies reap a rich harvest running hundreds of adverts by men seeking women, and women the companionship and sociability of men. This writer remembers well buying a copy of Der Abend in Frankfurt, to find more advertisements by lonely men and women seeking partners in Germany, than in England.
These adverts along with Compat, Duet, and “divorced and separated” clubs are a peep under the lid of a seething cauldron. They are the harrowing heart-cry of the victims of a vicious and depraved society, capitalism, which denies many the exercise of those elementary physical functions which even lower animals enjoy instinctively.
“A desperately lonely bachelor seeks an attractive lady.”
“’Surbiton Surrey’ is longing to make somebody happy.”
“A lonely English bachelor seeks lady for friendship and marriage.”
And so on, page after page after page. Neither is it true that the advertizers are merely, or even mainly, interested in sex. Many go out of the way to state their social interests: “dancing”, “walking”, “music” — in fact, “Lonely Teacher” declares himself a “genuine socialist”.
Incidentally, nearly all the males advertized by Marriage Bureaux are “nearly” six feet tall, which doesn’t say much for us shorties who can only muster about five feet eight. Some have not only motor-cars and “good positions”; they are “cultivated”, “travelled”, “intelligent” and “humorous”, they own town and country houses, boats and caravans (one even has his own private plane) — and are still unhappy. One widow advertizes “a good home” for the lucky applicant. Such inducements can only arise in a private-property society where possessions are considered the criterion of contentment. Nevertheless one bright spark announces:
“A gentleman, 46, tall, indolent, with no material possessions seeks a lady, whose religion is unimportant.”
On the other hand:
“A Continental lady with small capital would like to met an understanding gentleman for early marriage.”
She probably got a flood of replies asking how small is “small”.
How paradoxically absurd that men and women, who are crammed together like sardines in public transport, homes and employment, have to advertize their frustrations. Hundreds of thousands are milling about like the exploding electrons in an atomic pile, crashing into other marriages and threatening their stability in a social chain-reaction.
Compare the unhappy plight of these “intelligent”, “cultivated”, car-driving bachelors and divorcees, forced to advertize their poverty of companionship, with the joyous freedom of the primitive savage, secure in the knowledge that all the women of the opposite Gens were his lawful, rightful wives, while all the men were the husbands of his Genswomen.
“. . . the law enabling the strange Papuan, thousands of miles from home to find frequently, from Tribe to Tribe, women who will without resistance guilelessly surrender to him.” (Engels, Origin of the Family p.54)
One can hardly restrain a smile at the quaint Victorian terminology still used by even such an iconoclastic pioneer as Engels. The idea that women “surrender” to men is exploded even under capitalism nowadays.
The absorption of women into commerce and industry has made them less economically dependent on men as Engels, Bebel and others predicted. This, and the cheap efficient small car instead of the pram, the washing machine in place of the wash-board, central heating and electrical machinery have partially emancipated women from drudgery in the kitchen and submission in the bedroom. Socialism will continue this process by emancipating women completely.
Lewis Henry Morgan’s great merit lay in his realization that our attitudes change with changing economic conditions, and that the family as a form of social organization evolves. Under slavery, male slaves had no sex life (officially, anyway). All female slaves were automatically the Master’s concubines, if required. Under feudalism sex was confined by the Church, for the lower orders, to the marriage partner for life. To the aristocrat the marriage was to land, not a bride. In this way the Hapsburg dynasty gained control over half of Europe. This form of repression inevitably produced prostitution which, however, never flourished then as under capitalism now, where literally everything is on sale for money.
For primitive man the choice was wide and free. Children were the social responsibility of the whole tribe. The absurdly individualistic private possessive relation to their own children of many proletarian mothers today was unknown. With the extension of knowledge and culture comes the advent of individual sex-love, although Engels held that it was impossible before the Middle Ages:
“It goes without saying that personal beauty, harmony of inclinations, intimate intercourse, awakened a longing for sexual intercourse, but from such relations to our sex-love is a long way yet.” (Origin of the Family p.92)
“Sexual relations will be decided after a new generation has come to maturity, a breed of men who have never had occasion to buy the surrender of a woman for money, and women who have never had occasion to surrender to any man for any other reason but love. Once such people are in the world they will not give a moment’s thought to what we, today, believe should be their course.” (ibid., p.100)
Relieved of all economic problems, unsatisfactory unions will be dissoluble immediately on the simple decision of one or both parties. Mental compatibility and mutual achievement will gradually supplant physical satiety as the years pass. The individual family of private-property society will be superseded by the great social family of all humanity.
Hail to our sons and daughters! who, learning from the fumbling blunders of their stupid and clumsy parents, will attain a noble happiness we can never know.