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Marriage and Love

BY

EMMA GOLDMAN

Price Ten Cents

MOTHER EARTH PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION

210 EAST 13th STREET, NEW YORK

1911

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

OF

ALEXANDER BERKMAN

_A Unique Contribution to Socio-Psychological Literature_

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY REPRESENTS THREE PHASES: I) The Revolutionary Awakening and its Toll--The _Attentat_

II) The Allegheny Penitentiary: Fourteen Years in Purgatory

III) The Resurrection and After _Price One Dollar Fifty_

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Marriage and Love

BY

EMMA GOLDMAN

Price Ten Cents

MOTHER EARTH PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION

210 EAST 13th STREET, NEW YORK

1911

MARRIAGE AND LOVE

The popular notion about marriage and love is that they are synonymous,

that they spring from the same motives, and cover the same human needs.

Like most popular notions this also rests not on actual facts, but on

superstition.

Marriage and love have nothing in common; they are as far apart as the

poles; are, in fact, antagonistic to each other. No doubt some marriages

have been the result of love. Not, however, because love could assert

itself only in marriage; much rather is it because few people can

completely outgrow a convention. There are today large numbers of men

and women to whom marriage is naught but a farce, but who submit to it

for the sake of public opinion. At any rate, while it is true that some

marriages are based on love, and while it is equally true that in some

cases love continues in married life, I maintain that it does so

regardless of marriage, and not because of it.

On the other hand, it is utterly false that love results from marriage.

On rare occasions one does hear of a miraculous case of a married couple

falling in love after marriage, but on close examination it will be

found that it is a mere adjustment to the inevitable.

Certainly the

growing-used to each other is far away from the spontaneity, the

intensity, and beauty of love, without which the intimacy of marriage

must prove degrading to both the woman and the man.

Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It

differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is

more binding, more exacting. Its returns are insignificantly small

compared with the investments. In taking out an insurance policy one

pays for it in dollars and cents, always at liberty to discontinue

payments. If, however, woman's premium is a husband, she pays for it

with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, "until

death doth part." Moreover, the marriage insurance condemns her to

life-long dependency, to parasitism, to complete uselessness, individual

as well as social. Man, too, pays his toll, but as his sphere is wider,

marriage does not limit him as much as woman. He feels his chains more

in an economic sense.

Thus Dante's motto over Inferno applies with equal force to marriage.

"Ye who enter here leave all hope behind."

That marriage is a failure none but the very stupid will deny. One has

but to glance over the statistics of divorce to realize how bitter a

failure marriage really is. Nor will the stereotyped Philistine argument

that the laxity of divorce laws and the growing looseness of woman

account for the fact that: first, every twelfth marriage ends in

divorce; second, that since 1870 divorces have increased from 28 to 73

for every hundred thousand population; third, that adultery, since 1867,

as ground for divorce, has increased 270.8 per cent.; fourth, that

desertion increased 369.8 per cent.

Added to these startling figures is a vast amount of material, dramatic

and literary, further elucidating this subject. Robert Herrick, in

_Together_; Pinero, in _Mid-Channel_; Eugene Walter, in _Paid in Full_,

and scores of other writers are discussing the barrenness, the monotony, the sordidness, the inadequacy of marriage as a factor for harmony and

understanding.

The thoughtful social student will not content himself with the popular

superficial excuse for this phenomenon. He will have to dig down deeper

into the very life of the sexes to know why marriage proves so

disastrous.

Edward Carpenter says that behind every marriage stands the life-long

environment of the two sexes; an environment so different from each

other that man and woman must remain strangers.

Separated by an

insurmountable wall of superstition, custom, and habit, marriage has not

the potentiality of developing knowledge of, and respect for, each

other, without which every union is doomed to failure.

Henrik Ibsen, the hater of all social shams, was probably the first to

realize this great truth. Nora leaves her husband, not--

as the stupid

critic would have it--because she is tired of her responsibilities or

feels the need of woman's rights, but because she has come to know that

for eight years she had lived with a stranger and borne him children.

Can there be anything more humiliating, more degrading than a life-long

proximity between two strangers? No need for the woman to know anything

of the man, save his income. As to the knowledge of the woman--what is

there to know except that she has a pleasing appearance?

We have not yet

outgrown the theologic myth that woman has no soul, that she is a mere

appendix to man, made out of his rib just for the convenience of the

gentleman who was so strong that he was afraid of his own shadow.

Perchance the poor quality of the material whence woman comes is

responsible for her inferiority. At any rate, woman has no soul--what is

there to know about her? Besides, the less soul a woman has the greater

her asset as a wife, the more readily will she absorb herself in her

husband. It is this slavish acquiescence to man's superiority that has

kept the marriage institution seemingly intact for so long a period. Now

that woman is coming into her own, now that she is actually growing

aware of herself as a being outside of the master's grace, the sacred

institution of marriage is gradually being undermined, and no amount of

sentimental lamentation can stay it.

From infancy, almost, the average girl is told that marriage is her

ultimate goal; therefore her training and education must be directed

towards that end. Like the mute beast fattened for slaughter, she is

prepared for that. Yet, strange to say, she is allowed to know much less

about her function as wife and mother than the ordinary artisan of his

trade. It is indecent and filthy for a respectable girl to know anything

of the marital relation. Oh, for the inconsistency of respectability,

that needs the marriage vow to turn something which is filthy into the

purest and most sacred arrangement that none dare question or criticize.

Yet that is exactly the attitude of the average upholder of marriage.

The prospective wife and mother is kept in complete ignorance of her

only asset in the competitive field--sex. Thus she enters into life-long

relations with a man only to find herself shocked, repelled, outraged

beyond measure by the most natural and healthy instinct, sex. It is safe

to say that a large percentage of the unhappiness, misery, distress, and

physical suffering of matrimony is due to the criminal ignorance in sex

matters that is being extolled as a great virtue. Nor is it at all an

exaggeration when I say that more than one home has been broken up

because of this deplorable fact.

If, however, woman is free and big enough to learn the mystery of sex

without the sanction of State or Church, she will stand condemned as

utterly unfit to become the wife of a "good" man, his goodness

consisting of an empty brain and plenty of money. Can there be anything

more outrageous than the idea that a healthy, grown woman, full of life

and passion, must deny nature's demand, must subdue her most intense

craving, undermine her health and break her spirit, must stunt her

vision, abstain from the depth and glory of sex experience until a

"good" man comes along to take her unto himself as a wife? That is

precisely what marriage means. How can such an arrangement end except in failure? This is one, though not the least important, factor of

marriage, which differentiates it from love.

Ours is a practical age. The time when Romeo and Juliet risked the wrath

of their fathers for love, when Gretchen exposed herself to the gossip

of her neighbors for love, is no more. If, on rare occasions, young

people allow themselves the luxury of romance, they are taken in care by

the elders, drilled and pounded until they become

"sensible."

The moral lesson instilled in the girl is not whether the man has

aroused her love, but rather is it, "How much?" The important and only

God of practical American life: Can the man make a living? can he

support a wife? That is the only thing that justifies marriage.

Gradually this saturates every thought of the girl; her dreams are not

of moonlight and kisses, of laughter and tears; she dreams of shopping

tours and bargain counters. This soul poverty and sordidness are the

elements inherent in the marriage institution. The State and the Church

approve of no other ideal, simply because it is the one that

necessitates the State and Church control of men and women.

Doubtless there are people who continue to consider love above dollars

and cents. Particularly is this true of that class whom economic

necessity has forced to become self-supporting. The tremendous change in

woman's position, wrought by that mighty factor, is indeed phenomenal

when we reflect that it is but a short time since she has entered the

industrial arena. Six million women wage workers; six million women, who

have the equal right with men to be exploited, to be robbed, to go on

strike; aye, to starve even. Anything more, my lord?

Yes, six million

wage workers in every walk of life, from the highest brain work to the

mines and railroad tracks; yes, even detectives and policemen. Surely

the emancipation is complete.

Yet with all that, but a very small number of the vast army of women

wage workers look upon work as a permanent issue, in the same light as

does man. No matter how decrepit the latter, he has been taught to be

independent, self-supporting. Oh, I know that no one is really

independent in our economic treadmill; still, the poorest specimen of a

man hates to be a parasite; to be known as such, at any rate.

The woman considers her position as worker transitory, to be thrown

aside for the first bidder. That is why it is infinitely harder to

organize women than men. "Why should I join a union? I am going to get

married, to have a home." Has she not been taught from infancy to look

upon that as her ultimate calling? She learns soon enough that the home,

though not so large a prison as the factory, has more solid doors and

bars. It has a keeper so faithful that naught can escape him. The most

tragic part, however, is that the home no longer frees her from wage

slavery; it only increases her task.

According to the latest statistics submitted before a Committee "on

labor and wages, and congestion of population," ten per cent. of the

wage workers in New York City alone are married, yet they must continue

to work at the most poorly paid labor in the world. Add to this horrible

aspect the drudgery of housework, and what remains of the protection and

glory of the home? As a matter of fact, even the middle-class girl in

marriage can not speak of her home, since it is the man who creates her

sphere. It is not important whether the husband is a brute or a

darling. What I wish to prove is that marriage guarantees woman a home

only by the grace of her husband. There she moves about in _his_ home,

year after year, until her aspect of life and human affairs becomes as

flat, narrow, and drab as her surroundings. Small wonder if she becomes

a nag, petty, quarrelsome, gossipy, unbearable, thus driving the man

from the house. She could not go, if she wanted to; there is no place to

go. Besides, a short period of married life, of complete surrender of

all faculties, absolutely incapacitates the average woman for the

outside world. She becomes reckless in appearance, clumsy in her

movements, dependent in her decisions, cowardly in her judgment, a

weight and a bore, which most men grow to hate and despise. Wonderfully

inspiring atmosphere for the bearing of life, is it not?

But the child, how is it to be protected, if not for marriage? After

all, is not that the most important consideration? The sham, the

hypocrisy of it! Marriage protecting the child, yet thousands of

children destitute and homeless. Marriage protecting the child, yet

orphan asylums and reformatories overcrowded, the Society for the

Prevention of Cruelty to Children keeping busy in rescuing the little

victims from "loving" parents, to place them under more loving care, the

Gerry Society. Oh, the mockery of it!

Marriage may have the power to bring the horse to water, but has it ever

made him drink? The law will place the father under arrest, and put him

in convict's clothes; but has that ever stilled the hunger of the child?

If the parent has no work, or if he hides his identity, what does

marriage do then? It invokes the law to bring the man to

"justice," to

put him safely behind closed doors; his labor, however, goes not to the

child, but to the State. The child receives but a blighted memory of its

father's stripes.

As to the protection of the woman,--therein lies the curse of marriage.

Not that it really protects her, but the very idea is so revolting, such

an outrage and insult on life, so degrading to human dignity, as to

forever condemn this parasitic institution.

It is like that other paternal arrangement--capitalism.

It robs man of

his birthright, stunts his growth, poisons his body, keeps him in

ignorance, in poverty, and dependence, and then institutes charities

that thrive on the last vestige of man's self-respect.

The institution of marriage makes a parasite of woman, an absolute

dependent. It incapacitates her for life's struggle, annihilates her

social consciousness, paralyzes her imagination, and then imposes its

gracious protection, which is in reality a snare, a travesty on human

character.

If motherhood is the highest fulfillment of woman's nature, what other

protection does it need, save love and freedom? Marriage but defiles,

outrages, and corrupts her fulfillment. Does it not say to woman, Only

when you follow me shall you bring forth life? Does it not condemn her

to the block, does it not degrade and shame her if she refuses to buy

her right to motherhood by selling herself? Does not marriage only

sanction motherhood, even though conceived in hatred, in compulsion?

Yet, if motherhood be of free choice, of love, of ecstasy, of defiant

passion, does it not place a crown of thorns upon an innocent head and

carve in letters of blood the hideous epithet, Bastard?

Were marriage to

contain all the virtues claimed for it, its crimes against motherhood

would exclude it forever from the realm of love.

Love, the strongest and deepest element in all life, the harbinger of

hope, of joy, of ecstasy; love, the defier of all laws, of all

conventions; love, the freest, the most powerful moulder of human

destiny; how can such an all-compelling force be synonymous with that

poor little State and Church-begotten weed, marriage?

Free love? As if love is anything but free! Man has bought brains, but

all the millions in the world have failed to buy love.

Man has subdued

bodies, but all the power on earth has been unable to subdue love. Man

has conquered whole nations, but all his armies could not conquer love.

Man has chained and fettered the spirit, but he has been utterly

helpless before love. High on a throne, with all the splendor and pomp

his gold can command, man is yet poor and desolate, if love passes him

by. And if it stays, the poorest hovel is radiant with warmth, with life

and color. Thus love has the magic power to make of a beggar a king.

Yes, love is free; it can dwell in no other atmosphere.

In freedom it

gives itself unreservedly, abundantly, completely. All the laws on the

statutes, all the courts in the universe, cannot tear it from the soil,

once love has taken root. If, however, the soil is sterile, how can

marriage make it bear fruit? It is like the last desperate struggle of

fleeting life against death.

Love needs no protection; it is its own protection. So long as love

begets life no child is deserted, or hungry, or famished for the want of

affection. I know this to be true. I know women who became mothers in

freedom by the men they loved. Few children in wedlock enjoy the care,

the protection, the devotion free motherhood is capable of bestowing.

The defenders of authority dread the advent of a free motherhood, lest

it will rob them of their prey. Who would fight wars?

Who would create

wealth? Who would make the policeman, the jailer, if woman were to

refuse the indiscriminate breeding of children? The race, the race!

shouts the king, the president, the capitalist, the priest. The race

must be preserved, though woman be degraded to a mere machine,--and the

marriage institution is our only safety valve against the pernicious sex

awakening of woman. But in vain these frantic efforts to maintain a

state of bondage. In vain, too, the edicts of the Church, the mad

attacks of rulers, in vain even the arm of the law.

Woman no longer

wants to be a party to the production of a race of sickly, feeble,

decrepit, wretched human beings, who have neither the strength nor moral

courage to throw off the yoke of poverty and slavery.

Instead she

desires fewer and better children, begotten and reared in love and

through free choice; not by compulsion, as marriage imposes. Our

pseudo-moralists have yet to learn the deep sense of responsibility

toward the child, that love in freedom has awakened in the breast of

woman. Rather would she forego forever the glory of motherhood than

bring forth life in an atmosphere that breathes only destruction and

death. And if she does become a mother, it is to give to the child the

deepest and best her being can yield. To grow with the child is her

motto; she knows that in that manner alone can she help build true

manhood and womanhood.

Ibsen must have had a vision of a free mother, when, with a master

stroke, he portrayed Mrs. Alving. She was the ideal mother because she

had outgrown marriage and all its horrors, because she had broken her

chains, and set her spirit free to soar until it returned a personality,

regenerated and strong. Alas, it was too late to rescue her life's joy,

her Oswald; but not too late to realize that love in freedom is the only

condition of a beautiful life. Those who, like Mrs.

Alving, have paid

with blood and tears for their spiritual awakening, repudiate marriage

as an imposition, a shallow, empty mockery. They know, whether love last

but one brief span of time or for eternity, it is the only creative,

inspiring, elevating basis for a new race, a new world.

In our present pygmy state love is indeed a stranger to most people.

Misunderstood and shunned, it rarely takes root; or if it does, it soon

withers and dies. Its delicate fiber can not endure the stress and

strain of the daily grind. Its soul is too complex to adjust itself to

the slimy woof of our social fabric. It weeps and moans and suffers with

those who have need of it, yet lack the capacity to rise to love's

summit.

Some day, some day men and women will rise, they will reach the mountain

peak, they will meet big and strong and free, ready to receive, to

partake, and to bask in the golden rays of love. What fancy, what

imagination, what poetic genius can foresee even approximately the

potentialities of such a force in the life of men and women. If the

world is ever to give birth to true companionship and oneness, not

marriage, but love will be the parent.

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