Some years ago there were 300,000 known prostitutes in the United States, and as all of them are infected at some time, their sterility is probably due to its ravages, though much of it is really due to degenerate deformities and anomalies. As the police claim that there are more unknown than known prostitutes there must now be a total of nearly 1,000,000. These average only five years of life after they begin their calling, hence, there must be 200,000 who die every year; thirty to fifty per cent, of them die of gonorrheal complications, though Woods Hutchinson has stated that the average life was about nine years, and that the chief cause of death was alcohol. Think of it! every week in the United States at least 4,000 girls must enter that calling to perish. If we select 4,000 women for destruction every week, and select only those having one peculiarity, it is evident that we are changing the type very rapidly. It is the least moral who select themselves naturally for destruction, and the average morality must be rising at an enormous rate. It is no stretch of the imagination to predict that the normal white woman of a few centuries hence will be as much above the present as the present is above the average negro woman. As long as the institution lasts, the birth rate must be just that much higher to supply the waste, the 4,000 weekly and the untold number of deaths of women innocently infected. In the United States the number of women killed by gonorrhea in one week is, therefore, more than the number of our soldiers killed by the Spaniards in the whole war of 1898, and yet what a fuss we made over this driblet of men, and how we ignore the deaths of the women.
We have already mentioned the fact that in Southern Europe the least moral are not allowed to destroy themselves, as in the North, but are protected by conventional restraints. There can be, then, no evolution of morality by elimination of the least moral, such as we see in the North. Nature is at work like an artist. In the North she has been chiseling out a beautiful statue of marble by chipping off and casting out the parts which destroy the beauty. A form is left of solid stuff, and when this type is subjected to the buffetings of adversity, she is uninjured, for her moral tone is built of rock as enduring as the everlasting hills. In the South, nature is like the artist modeling a beautiful statue of clay, who rejects nothing of the mixture of materials, but by restraints and artificial conditions forces them into a beautiful shape, which retains its form and beauty as long as the protection lasts. But let it be subjected to the buffetting of adversity and it is warped or even ruined. The moral tone is not of solid materials. Now, a curious result has already happened. The number of Anglo-Saxon women drifting into prostitution is becoming smaller each generation. The unmarried will work at almost anything so as to be moral. Hence, the ranks of these women must be recruited from the continent of Europe, and this is already a fact. Streams of such creatures pour into London every year. Efforts to reform them have failed, as they seemed to be devoid of moral sense. They are flooding certain streets, and constitute London's dark blot. Yet it is not an unmixed evil, for they are preserving a better type - the English girls. The same evolution is found in America, where the great majority of fallen women are foreign born or of foreign parentage.*
The facts here presented should convince us that it is wrong to describe prostitution as a social disease, though it is so considered by every one who has written upon the subject. Much as we dislike the institution and desire its abolition, we must wake up to the fact that it cannot be eliminated from civilization for many centuries, or millenniums, if ever. It is part of the social order grown up by changes in marriage customs and the necessity for a lessened birth rate. It partly replaces matrimony. It does not exist as a system in savage life because boys and girls marry so soon, but it exists there just the same, though to a very minor degree. It was a recognized part of the religions of ancient times in every part of the world, and is still practiced as a religious rite here and there. The only way it can disappear is through the gradual elimination by venereal diseases of those who practice it - both men and women. We have been trying to eliminate it by law for many centuries and will never succeed. Nature cannot be changed by an hysterical or emotional law. Nothing herein said as to the fact that this institution is a natural phenomenon can blind us to its dreadful evils - especially to young men. These are so well known that it is considered unnecessary to discuss them. In time they may cause the disappearance of the institution from civilization. No man in his senses can wish for its perpetuation, no matter what he thinks of its origin and former necessity. It is raising one sex to a high moral level and lowering the other proportionally - a very undesirable condition of affairs.
* Dr. Geo. M. Gould, in American Medicine, reports the conclusion of Doctor Sanger's investigations in New York City. In 1860 there were 6,000 public prostitutes. In 1897, there were 30,000, according to Doctor Sturgis, and the number has more recently been roughly estimated between 40,000 and 50,000. The majority of these are from fifteen to twenty-five years old. Three-eighths of them are born in the United States. Education is at a very low standard among them. One-fifth are married. One-half of them have given birth to children, and more than half the children so born are illegitimate. The ratio of mortality among the children of prostitutes is four times greater than the ordinary ratio among New York children. The average duration of a prostitute's life of abandonment is four years. Nearly half of these women in New York City admit that they are, or have been sufferers from syphillis. Six-sevenths of them drink intoxicating liquors to a greater or less extent. A capital of nearly $4,000,000 is invested in the business of prostitution, and the annual expenditure in this traffic is more than $7,000,000. In the whole country the expenditure must be $50,000,000.
Curiously enough, the enormous death rate by venereal disease is rapidly causing a racial immunity through the survival of the most resistant. The process has already gone to such an extent that a large proportion of cases in healthy young men quickly recover without any special treatment, although there are a few extremists who deny that any case ever fully recovers.