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    ‘Animal Instincts’: the sexual abuse of women with learning difficulties, 1830s-1910s

    Bourke, Joanna (2020) ‘Animal Instincts’: the sexual abuse of women with learning difficulties, 1830s-1910s. Women's History Review 20 (7), pp. 1201-1217. ISSN 0961-2025.

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    Girls and women with learning difficulties have one of the highest risks of being sexually assaulted and raped. This article looks at the sexual abuse of girls and women in Britain between the 1830s and the 1910s. I will be arguing that, during the course of the nineteenth century, attitudes to girls and women with learning disabilities who claimed to have been raped became significantly harsher. Rather than needing to be protected from rapacious men, they were increasingly blamed for their own violation. They came to be viewed as sexually precocious, possessing ‘animal instincts’ that meant that they needed to be institutionalized (or otherwise constrained) in order to prevent them from seducing the men with whom they came into contact. This concept of ‘animal instincts’ conflated long-held views about the intellectually impaired: they were closer to ‘beasts’ and possessed uncontrollable and socially-dangerous impulses.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online at the link above.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2020 14:00
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:01


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