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Hugo Bettauer, "The Erotic Revolution" (1924)

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In changing times the fundamental principal has remained triumphant, and officially the relationship between man and woman has scarcely changed. As always, the man is allowed to choose the woman, but the woman cannot choose the man; as always she must adapt her erotic nature to his; as always, the man is allowed to turn the single woman into a whore, with the whore having no claim to human rights; as always, the man has access to free love through secret means whereas for the woman there is only subjection. Only one thing has changed, and that fundamentally: with the advancing industrialization of the world the woman has been dragged out of the harem, the bower, the woman’s quarters, the weaving, sewing, and children’s rooms and into life, into the factory, the sweatshop, and the office. And, in unavoidable consequence, the woman could not be deprived of an apparent equality of rights. An apparent one. For if the woman can also ride, drive a car, go out alone, or travel; if she is permitted to become a doctor or legislator; if she is permitted, indeed compelled, to toil and slave like a man, she remains nonetheless his subject, dependent on him in her most exquisite and vitally important functions, and is vilified and condemned if she violates the fundamental principle.

Things are not better now for the woman but worse than they were a hundred years ago. Back then in seclusion she learned contentment and discharged her eroticism as a childbearer. Today she is sexually stimulated, can move around freely for hours in an alcohol and a nicotine haze, but only as far as a clearly drawn limit, a limit drawn by the man for purely egotistical reasons.

[ . . . ]

Woman has become a beast of burden, like the man. This has not, however, won her her sexual freedom. [ . . . ] For the fundamental principle remains in force.

Or remained in force. For the erotic revolution is underway; it is not to be stopped, despite all manner of ostrich policies. For two, perhaps three years now, things erotic are beginning to be rearranged, with the young starting to assail the fundamental principle. The working, producing people have begun, have taken the axe to an ancient system of hypocrisy and duplicity in the creation of which the name of the savior was misused. Whoever has open eyes, whoever is not so dumb as to believe that the occupation of the Ruhr and “broadcasting” are the most important things in the world, can see how the erotic revolution advances day by day. The erotic revolution that wants to create free, happy people. For it is simply the case, and no one can change it, that everything existing is based on eroticism, everything that is beautiful, good, and lovely on earth is bound up inseparably with eroticism. The flower in the meadow, the butterfly floating above it, the singing of the birds, the chirping of the crickets, the rustling of the trees, and the ripening of the fruit—erotic symbols, erotic purpose, erotic will. It was reserved to the greed, selfishness, stupidity, and maliciousness of people to brand the god Eros a criminal, to sully erotic play with filth.

This magazine, which has arisen under the sign of the erotic revolution, wants to join the struggle and to speak openly about things that the blinkered philistines continue to pass over. It will not shrink from discussing the most ticklish, delicate problems of life and will not be stopped from revealing open wounds that others want to veil in hypocrisy and lies.

[ . . . ]

Source of English translation: Hugo Bettauer, “The Erotic Revolution” (1924), in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. © 1994 Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press, pp. 698-700. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.

Source of original German text: Hugo Bettauer, “Die erotische Revolution,” Er und Sie. Wochenschrift für Lebenskultur und Erotik 1 (1924), pp. 1-2.

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