The idea behind this book, tells Otto Weininger, the author of 'Sex and Character', is an attempt to, rather than collecting distinguishing characters, to refer to a single principle, the whole contrast between man and woman.
"A blunt Separation of them into males or females no longer suffices for the known facts," the author tells at the beginning itself. Each of us being composed of both the male element and the female element in differing proportions, certain laws can be formed to explain their union, author continues. "For true sexual union it is necessary that there come together a complete male (M) and a complete female (F), even although in different cases the M and F are distributed between the two individuals in different proportions." Thus for a man who is 3/4M and 1/4W, the best partner shall be a woman who is 1/4M and 3/4W.
He then talks of the laws of sexual attraction, that we always should respect the natural. For example, the use of a substituted stallion in impregnating a mare results in the progeny showing extreme nervousness. Which, the author says, should be discouraging marriages for reasons other than love. Here he also observes that the degeneration of modern Jew is because of things like this.
While examining cases of sexual inversion, like homo sexuality, where there is invariably an anatomical approximation to the opposite sex, the book talks of the parts played by both 'very female men' and 'very male women'. The existence of a female mental type and a male mental type and how these affect the social life, along with women and their emancipation is analyzed next.
Now comes the second part of the book, where the sexual types of male and female is further analyzed. The difference between them is notable in the different way in which men and women enter the period of puberty. "In the case of the male the onset of puberty is a crisis; he feels that something new and strange has come into his being, that something has been added to his powers and feelings independently of his will. The physiological stimulus to sexual activity appears to come from outside his being, to be independent of his will, and many men remember the disturbing event throughout their after lives. The woman, on the other hand, not only is not disturbed by the onset of puberty, but feels that her importance has been increased by it." And when it comes to intellectual pursuits, with the woman, thinking and feeling are identical, for man they are in opposition.
Areas like psychology, psychical phenomena, like perception and sensation, and logic and ethics, are then examined to discover the differences between different members of humanity, always, man coming out in bright colors.
Even in other areas one choose to study, though there will be found a good number of men, representation of women shall be scant. Author says here, "the woman does not interest herself about herself", something I have tried to reason in my book 'The Unsure male'!
While examining other aspects of sexual urge, author mentions of the prostitute instinct, to covet being sexually excited by any stranger, as another feminine feature.
The essence of this discussion, if I put in the author's words is this: "man possesses sexual organs; her sexual organs possess woman."
This book is a well researched one, given the half cooked ideas existing in our midst, especially on matters concerning the female sex.