Sex is an ass med universal experience; sexual desires being innate in human beings and the physicality o f sex being a constant. Although this notion may appeal to our common senses, it is naive t o believe that the Ancient Greeks experienced sex similarly to the Victorians. Cook argues, ‘enjoy Yemen of sexual intercourse was… Often a learned experience, not instinctive in human nature . 1 Indeed, it is those theorists who have revolutionized our understanding of sexuality who have done most to undermine the idea of human nature.
This dissertation will explore the creation of sexual knowledge between 1870 ND 1914 in relation to the emergence and early development of sexology, the scientific study of sex. It will look at how, if at all, sexology shaped sexual experience: knowledge, attitude De, identity and behavior, while acknowledging that it is a challenging task to recover sexual behaviors from the past. A lot of emphasis is placed on sexology for its contribution to the SST dye of sex; however, it was a marginal’s field that did not receive large amounts of Tate notion until the interwar period.
The ideas of the early sexologists were diffused into political, educational and scientific institutions and eventually into the popular sex manuals of the 1920 s which reached wider audiences. Many of their theories, the vocabulary and the categorization n systems remain the foundation even Of current studies about Between 1870 and 1914 the e frameworks in which sexuality should be understood were fought out by competing interest groups, and the grounds for the momentous sexual developments of the twentieth century w ere established.
It is Cook. H, The Long Sexual Revolution unhelpful to dismiss nineteenth century sex manuals as insignificant because although indirectly, they have had a lasting influence. As well as being able to give us a greater understanding of our own sexualities, the study of these sex manuals gives us an insight into contemporary social concerns such as population, hygiene, morality, birth co intro and family. The first step in assessing the extent to which sexology shaped people?s sexes elites is investigating the historiography on the subject and where this field stands Todd Early sexologists believed that their work was a fulfillment of their mission to e eliminate ignorance surrounding sex.
In the preface to the first volume in Studies in the Psychology of Sex Haversack Ellis, the most prominent British sexologist, stated that ‘a resolve Oslo WAY grew up within me: one main part of my lifework should be to make clear the problem s of sex’ . Sexologists believed that they were improving society and the first historians of sexology took this tale of progress at face value. These traditional histories entertain the not ion that sexology was a liberating force that gave the ignorant and sexually repressed people of England new knowledge about their bodies and desires. Edward Breeches argued in 1 969 the at ‘no man alive or dead contributed more to… Hanged than Haversack Ellis himself. 3 This built on arguments from the asses, including those of Edward Glover who expressed the idea that the rise of objective science furthered the liberalizing of sexual attitudes. However, in the last for TTY years these conclusions have come under scrutiny from many scholars.
They have been d smiled as ‘acculturation’s tale* as Jeffrey Weeks insists, TTT is impossible to understand ND the impact of Ellis. H, Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volvo. L: The Evolution of Modesty; The Phenol Ana of Sexual Periodicity: rd Authorities (Philadelphia, 1910, 3 Eden. , first 1899), p. Ii. Breeches. E, The Sex Researchers, ‘Victorian Ideas of Sex’ in Ideas and Beliefs of the Victorians: A Historic Revaluation of the Victorian Age, up. 58364, p. 364. Sexology if we simply accept its own evaluation of its history. 5 These interpret taxation are limited because they only focus on intellectual developments in sexual knowledge an d do not examine the effects of geological works on the people who read them. Surprisingly, BRB ocher notices this in saying that the impact of sex research was on attitudes, not behavior and there is little evidence for the latter-6 The sign efficient shift in the perception of sexology arrived with Michel Faculty ‘s History of Sexuality (1976).
Faculty rejected the repressive hypothesis’ which held that Victorian society was repressed: incapable of discussing or even thin king about the Nat ere of sex and sexual behavior because of a rigid commitment to a vision of respectability. Contrastingly, Faculty declares that there was a ‘discursive explosion’ around the subject of sex. 7 By arguing that the Victorians did not live in a repressive society, Faculty claimed that the is society was not in need of liberating.
These knowledgeable theories and the linguistic construction of sexuality in flounced the writing Of many feminist scholars. Margaret Jackson and Sheila Jeffrey, in flounced by secondhand feminism and the social context of their time, believed sexology was a misogynistic tool of the patriarchy. 10 Many feminist campaigns at the end of the nineteenth h and beginning of the twentieth centuries fought against the double standard which assumed the at men had uncontrollable natural sexual urges that needed to be satisfied, yet prostitute s were blamed for the spread of venereal disease.
Jackson emphasizes that the question of what was ‘natural’ was central to this debate: The development of sexology undermined these attempts [of early feminists] y declaring that those aspects of male sexuality and heterosexuality which feminists viewed a s social and political were in fact natural , and by constructing a ‘scientific’ model of sexuality on that basis’. According to feminist interpretation, women in Ellis’ Studies are portrayed as being sexually dependent on men.
Despite the fact that Ellis declared himself to be an advocate for women’s ‘erotic rights’, there is no place for female sexual autonomy in his m Del Of sexuality. 12 Through sexology, sexuality was removed from the political arena and put UN deer the ‘protection f science’, in precisely the era of European history when science was most as ascendant as the unchallengeable and objective authority in all things. Very strong cases for their analysis of these sex manuals, they are governed by their own political agenda and run the danger of oversimplification. In fact, women played a sign efficient role in the development of sexology. A few groundbreaking sexologists were women and many male sexologists were in correspondence with women, using their experiences as e evidence.
Although the sex manuals may not meet modern knowledge of sexuality, we must cons eider how people at the time understood and experienced them. They had many purposes, many readerships and many diverse effects: a responsible historical study must be careful not to PRI village any single vision Of their role. Parker and Agony note this complexity – ‘no matter how much we now incisive these doctrines as new forms of oppression and domination, the ref remorse and radicals of the times experienced them as liberating. 14 Since the asses many more studies have embarked on a project to relate disc ours to experience.
Faculty is extremely useful for historians, although he has been criticized for underestimating the role of human agency. This has resulted in a reaction cap turned by the phrase the ‘return to the body’. Robert Nee expresses this key issue in saying that ‘the e question is, are bodies and their pleasures independent of the ways that language characterize s them, or do we require linguistic and cultural representation to prompt and interpret bodily e experience? 15 Many historians are calling for a study Of sexuality that includes society and biology, discourse and experience, ideas and the materiality of the body.
This epistemological competition eventually established a hierarchy in forms of sexual knowledge, with the vision of the sexologists case andante. The second chapter will consider the sex manuals themselves: their contents, the agenda of their authors and their reception by the press. It will develop the focus Of chapter one in explore Eng what kind of knowledge sexual knowledge was seen to be, whether scientific, practical, MO oral, aesthetic or spiritual.
The last chapter will explore wider experiences of sexuality, relating these back to whether sexology played any part in constructing people’s sexual identities, at attitudes and behavior. It will also investigate the popularization of geological ideas in the e form of sex education and the dissemination of ideas from adults to children. This dessert action will therefore offer insight into the contemporary impact, significance and meaning of sex manuals, demonstrating how the process of creating sexual knowledge affected the pee pled who read them.
Chapter One: Scientist Sexual Vs. Ears Erotica: Knowing Ignorance in the Late Nineteenth Century The end of the nineteenth century saw the emergence of sexology and the pr deduction of a great number of sex manuals. That sexology developed at this time is no coincidence e, but was in keeping with a range of social, cultural and political developments that combo Ned to facilitate this new field of analysis. The production of sex and manuals boomed in the interwar period; however, it is the decades before this with which I am concerned. Historians have tended to writ et about the 1 sass ND ‘ass, ignoring the prior development of the genre.
The 1 sass are a key De cede because Charles Darning’s book, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1 871), demonstrated the importance of reproduction to evolution, allowing sex to b come a subject of science. 17 Darning’s writings about reproduction and sex influenced the ideas of later sexologists, including one of the most famous, Haversack Ellis. This chapter will tackle the importance Of this development asking why, in the cultural milieu of the asses, making sex ‘science Tiffin’ was a precondition of its emergence as a suitable topic for discussion.
This was the heyday of ‘scientist’, the assumption that the scientific method was the only real way of knowing. In order to understand this phenomenon we must turn our attention to the world of s science in general. Earlynineteenthcentury British science had a marginal status, eclipsed by the prestige Of the humanities; however, by the end of the century the sciences had become one of the most authoritative voices in the arena of knowledge.