This section is from the book "Free Love: Or, A Philosophical Demonstration Of The Non-Exclusive Nature Of Connubial Love", by Austin Kent. Also available from Amazon: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures.
Should the Marriage of the sexes be exclusive and dual?
So far as I know, the Fowlers, of New York, have done more, for the last fifteen years, to support exclusive and dual marriage, than any or all writers in the same time. They profess to find it in the mind, as they read the science of phrenology. That science is now popular, and they are among its first expounders. There is no way that I can better communicate my own views, so far as I wish to do it connected with this science, than by giving their views, and presenting my own in contrast. Let me premise. If phrenology teaches exclusive and dual marriage, it is safe. The friends of Free Love will find themselves in an unequal warfare. Such of my readers as are any way solicitous for morals, and harmonize with the Fowlers, and the present laws of civilization, may rest in the most perfect safety. The writer of these letters will surrender when he finds that the true readings of phrenology are against him. By this statement he implies no present doubt on the subject.
The Fowlers divide the human mind into about forty faculties. They subdivide these into as many more. "Amativeness," or sexual love, they divide into the "upper and lower," or the "spiritual, mental, and physical." They do and do not exclusively marry the spiritual and mental of amativeness. Mr. 0. S. Fowler, in his work on "Love and Parentage," very plainly, to my mind, teaches the entire concentration of all sexual life or love on one, in perpetuity and without interruption or deviation through natural life. Again, he and his brother do not teach this. They do not marry, or exclusively confine the "spiritual and mental" of sexual love - of amativeness. In their delineations of character, they always speak of love for woman in general, with a sort of approbation; and they never pass a great man, in whom this sentiment is prominent, without noticing it to his credit. So of all other Phrenological writers. In this, these men harmonize exactly with the age, and with all good writers on man. They are most "orthodox." Mr. Wright, in his late work on Marriage, leaves out so much of sexual love from the exclusive yoke.
He says, " the attraction of men and women to each other, as such, has its privileges, and its fixed, just laws to govern it." This general regard for woman, as such, is sexual, and doubtless what Mr. 0. S. Fowler calls the spiritual and mental of amativeness. This, then, I think, civilization does not intend to marry in her exclusive dual bonds. The feelings of many husbands and wives among us are much disturbed by this general freedom in a partner, and with such, if liberty is taken, it causes jealousies and complainings, but public opinion, instead of condemning such freedom as licentious, where it is not carried too far, or beyond a common degree of spiritual and mental amativeness, takes the side of liberty, and condemns the complaining party. The latter are considered narrow minded and selfish. It is plain, then, that the Fowlers, - society in general, - and even the Shakers, allow more or less freedom to a portion of amativeness. None of these attempt to entirely confine or suppress the general plane and actions of its higher manifestations. Even the Head Shaker must have his spiritual female mate. Now for the contrast. I do not separate the faculties, and free a part, and confine a part. I do not separate the sentiment - amativeness - and free a part and confine a part.
I free the whole. The whole man and the whole woman. I demand more plain and philosophical reasons for such an inconsistency. I deny that there are any rational and substantial reasons for this to govern a normal mind. Society does not exclusively marry the greater part of its sexual love. I would not so marry any part of it. Civilization has advanced one step from certain heathen nations who consider it a crime for their women to be exposed to the general gaze, and freed a portion of this part of the brain. I and my Free Love brethren, would free the remainder, and we are as sure that we shall be approved by the future, as we are that civilization is justified in her advances thus far. I repeat the contrast in various forms to get the consistency, or inconsistency, before the mind of the reader. To me this comparison is the strongest of arguments. The Fowlers, and our dual marriage friends, do not marry in their exclusiveness any one of these forty faculties of the mind. They do marry in this manner, one-third of one of the forty, and no more. All this general freedom to them is chaste and pure. I do not thus marry that fractional part of one. Reader, mark the contrast,and the astounding offense.
We are told that the effect of freedom, in all the former, is good and elevating, while in the latter it is most injurious and debasing. What but depravity ever first taught such distinctions and such philosophy? "To the pure all things are pure." The freedom of the entire man is pure and elevating. To the impure all things are impure and debasing. To such all freedom is evil so far as they are impure. A pure and holy emotion is pure and holy, whether it concentrates on one object, or many. An impure emotion, or passion, is impure, whether in confinement or freedom. All free ninety-nine parts of the human brain. I make it one hundred, and leave the man a unit. I am told that ninety-nine parts of the affections can choose a variety in purity, and with propriety, but that the very fact of this hundreth part so choosing, is proof positive, in the nature of the case, that it is impure and lustful. I deny this out and out, in the name of all consistency, and common sense. I admit that those who are attracted by lust to the one, may be the more so to the many - but those who have attained to connubial love to the one, may attain to and possess it to more. There is nothing in the nature of this, more than in all other loves, which is exclusive.
But Mr. Fowler supposes he has found this very marriage in the brain. He calls it "love of one only." "Duality in Marriage." I positively deny that there is any such faculty in the human brain. There may be a sentiment in the lower part of the brain, designed to concentrate and intensify all the lower sentiments, but not one anything like his readings, or deserving the name which he gives it; nothing can be more unnatural and unphilosophical. Mr. Fowler locates this supposed sentiment by the side of amativeness, and appoints it to hold an entire and exclusive control over the lower part, or "physical," of amativeness, and no more. He never gives it any other office. He could not do this consistently without changing its name, and all his past remarks upon it.
Even in the strongest concentrated loves between persons of the same sex - as between David and Jonathan, "whose love passed that of woman" - or between two females, he never refers to this sentiment, but places such concentrated loves, if their love is so strong that its rupture ends in death to one of the parties, under the head of adhesiveness. The bare statement of this sufficiently shows its absurdity. Never was science more plainly brought down to meet the prejudices of a still undeveloped age. If adhesiveness can be so concentrated without the aid of a particular sentiment for that end, ama-tiveness can be more so, as there is one more faculty in its formation and concentration.
Mr. Fowler never makes any allusion to his exclusive marrying sentiments, except connected with amativeness - then it must be sexual, and a part of amativeness. This he does not intend to teach.
Again, my objection to this exclusive marriage doctrine, whether it be found in Mr. Fowler's readings of Phrenology, or in the moral teachings of the Practical Christian, is, that it gives a lower law - the lowest of this lower law, admitting the existence of such a law - absolute and entire control over a higher law. All will tell us, Mr. F. and the P. C. not excepted, that the higher sentiments of the brain should be uppermost, control the entire man, and that all lower sentiments should harmonize with the higher. This doctrine makes the lower, on this point, govern, and requires the higher to harmonize with it. Here is one of our main objections to it. If there is an exclusive tendency (I do not admit it) in the lower sentiments, the higher all prompt to universality - and the more, as they are more fully developed. I admit, there is strictly no lower law, when every lower sentiment of the brain really harmonizes with the higher. They are sanctified by them, and are most exalted. But this is just in proportion as they are submissive to, and governed by, the higher. When they assume to reign over the higher, they become debased.
We and our opponents agree in one thing - that man in the past, either from his fall or "misdirection," or from his yet youthful and undeveloped state - has been governed by his lower sentiments and propensities; and we are agreed in general, that this should not, and will not, always be so. Exclusive dual marriage is a great improvement, from the entire absence of all real marriage. So it is, on the whole, from a state of polygamy. So is American slavery a better state of society, than a worse, which has existed in the past, when there was no motive - not even a selfish one, as in slavery - for the stronger to protect the weaker; and so stronger tribes and rations, would destroy and completely exterminate other weaker tribes and nations. But none of these states of society are in harmony with man's higher sentiments. We may leave all unwept for a better - not for a worse. To go below exclusive marriage is worse; to go above such marriage is better. So it is better to emancipate the slave, where the people will not fall back to a worse state of society. The Jews had a sort of slavery, - but I think their extermination of the Canaanites was worse.
So we in a little more slow, and possibly on the whole, in a more mild way, exterminate the Indians, or original Americans. I expect to see the race rise above both Slavery and Marriage as it now exists.
Reader, you now have my argument from analogy.
I argue, that as every other faculty of the brain - and two-thirds of the one under discussion, - is nonexclusive; the presumpsion is that the other third is non-exclusive also. And I confess I cannot see it possible for any mind to reply directly to this by sound argument, and without sophistry or evasiveness. I believe any mind might as well deny and attempt to disprove a truth in mathematics. Under the circumstances, it justly rests upon the friends of exclusive marriage, to prove their exception, or give it up - we demand this of them. Age will not longer protect any Institution.
Again, - should or should not the higher senti-ments control the whole man, in each and every act, in harmony with their non-exclusive laws? - Are not the physical rights of amativeness, as well as the social, mental, and spiritual, of real utility? Are not the former a real good - a valuable power? And so should not this be as such, at the command of our higher manhood - Justice and Benevolence? My questions are fully and plainly put, with the desire that the enlightened reader may understand their import. No real or imaginary fears of evil, which it may be thought will follow these principles, will be a fair reply to them. The slave-holder is full of these, and of such arguments, in defense of his social system. Will the friends of exclusive marriage, ape the former in his fears, and in his replies? So far many of them have done this - and only this. In this, we hope for a reform among reformers. We hope for something better; for a more fair, condid, direct and rational reply - or none.