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Sexual violence, marital guidance, and Victorian bodies: an aesthesiology

Bourke, Joanna (2008) Sexual violence, marital guidance, and Victorian bodies: an aesthesiology. Victorian Studies 50 (3), pp. 419-436. ISSN 0042-5222.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/vic.0.0057

Abstract

This essay examines some of the emotional rules, encoded in grammars of representation and framed within law and prescriptive marital advice literature, regarding the expression of male sexual aggressivity within the bedroom. Despite the general Victorian idealization of marriage, many wives suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their husbands, marital rape drawing particular attention from early feminists, psychologists, physicians, and evolutionary physiologists. In the 1870s, a belief that unrestrained sexual license was a symptom of degeneration led these commentators to consider marital rape particularly harmful to husbands. By the turn of the century, however, the focus of this harm had nominally shifted to women, who might become frigid if forced to submit to sex—a problem for wives but for husbands as well. As sexology and psychology gained greater influence, couples came to rely on the emotion-talk of commentators to negotiate mutually agreeable bedroom activity.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2010 11:47
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:19
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2770

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