Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

If, however, we confine our attention to questions of psychological make-up, such as we have been examining in earlier periods, we find signs that the present period may differ from comparable periods in the past in two important respects. One is the presence of an unusual number of persons of a dependent and pleasure seeking type of character. Just as the psychologist recognizes an “anal” type of person, interested in production, so he recognizes also an “oral” type, primarily interested in consumption and the satisfaction of desires. In this connection it is certainly noticeable that the popular pornography of today presents a type of female figure quite different from what has been popular at any period in the past. As I have said elsewhere:

“The quasi pornographic, semi-nude drawings known as ‘pin-up girls’ are distinguished by the anatomical peculiarity of slimness amounting to serious under development, except in the region of the mammary glands, which are depicted as of phenomenal size and in a state of tension such as exists only when they are in milk. They are relatively much larger than those on the Venus de Milo, though in every other respect the figure is much slimmer.” (225)

A similar emphasis upon the breasts may be found in advertisements. It is also interesting that American film censors bar showing the cleft between the breasts, even when the breasts themselves are covered, while raising no objection to showing the upper part of the thighs. A century or so ago, the position would have been just the reverse. This accords with the general observation that clothing always seeks to conceal (and thus to preserve the erotic stimulus if) the object of erotic feeling.

To the psychologist, these are indubitably overt signs of a Psychic immaturity which also manifests more subtly in the form of dependency. The subject is too complex to pursue here, but it is tempting to speculate whether some important change in the general make-up of personality may not be occurring in Britain, and still more so in America. If it is, it will certainly have its effect on sexual relations — and since it is a form of immaturity, it will hardly be a desirable one. It will presumably also affect attitudes in a more general way. For instance, in the political field, I should expect it to appear in the form of a greater readiness to demand State support and to accept State action in matters which concern individual welfare and consumption, such as the supply of food, health services, pensions and perhaps defence.