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Sex and Sexuality in 'First Wave' Feminism

Sex, Sexuality and Sex Work 1870-1930

  • Is it possible to talk about 'lesbians' or ''queer' women before these terms had been invented?
  • Did first wave feminists primarily view sex as a site of pleasure or a site of danger?
  • Why were some feminists opposed to and/or silent about birth control and/or abortion?

Core Reading

Lucy Bland, Banishing the Beast: English Feminism and Sexual Morality (1995) [chapter 3] digitised

S.S. Holton, ‘Free Love and Victorian Feminism: The Divers Matrimonials of Elizabeth Wollstoneholme and Ben Elmy’, Victorian Studies 37:2 (1994), 199-222

Further Reading

Sexual Freedom:

Lesley Hall, Review of L. Bland, Banishing the Beast and Margaret Jackson, The Real Facts of Life http://www.lesleyahall.net/bland.htm [The website in general is essential reading for anyone interested in history of sexuality.]

Lesley Hall (ed.), Outspoken Women: An Anthology of Women’s Writing on Sex 1870-1969 (2005) [primary documents collected together].

Lesley A. Hall, The Life and Times of Stella Browne: Feminist and Free Spirit (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011)

Ruth Brandon, The New Women and the Old Men: Love, Sex and the Woman Question (1991)

Lucy Bland, Banishing the Beast: English Feminism and Sexual Morality (1995)

Laura Schwartz, ‘Freethought, Free Love and Feminism: Secularist Debates on Marriage and Sexual Morality, England c. 1850-1885’, Women’s History Review 19:5 (Nov 2010), 775-794

Sheila Jeffreys, The Spinster and Her Enemies: Feminism and Sexuality 1880-1930 (1985)

Writing Lesbian/ Queer Histories:

Edwards, ‘Homoerotic Friendships and College Principles, 1880-1960’, Women’s History Review 4:3 (1995), 149-163.

Lillian Faderman, ‘Who Hid Lesbian History’, in S. Morgan (ed.), The Feminist History Reader (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), pp.205-211.

Sheila Jeffreys, ‘Does it Matter if the Did It?’, in S. Morgan (ed.), The Feminist History Reader (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), pp.212-218

Martha Vicinus, ‘Lesbian History: All Theory and No Facts or All Facts and No Theory?’, in S. Morgan (ed.), The Feminist History Reader (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), pp. 219-231

Judith M. Bennett, ‘”Lesbian-Like” And the Social History of Lesbianisms’, in S. Morgan (ed.), The Feminist History Reader (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), pp.244-259

Leila Rupp, ‘Toward a Global History of Same-Sex Sexuality’, in S. Morgan (ed.), The Feminist History Reader (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), pp.260-270

Sean Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain 1861-1913 (2005)

Matt Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality 1885-1914 (2003)

 

Campaigns Against Prostitution:

Forward, ‘Attitudes to Marriage and Prostitution in the Writings of Olive Schreiner, Mona Caird, Sarah Grand and George Egerton’, Women’s History Review 8 (1999), 53-80

Maria Luddy, ‘Irish Women and the Contagious Diseases Acts’, History Ireland 1:1 (1993), 32-35

Maria Luddy, ‘“Abandoned Women and Bad Characters” Prostitution in Nineteenth-century Ireland’, Women’s History Review 6 (1997), 485-503

Malcolm, ‘Troops of Largely Diseased women: VD, the Contagious Diseases Acts and Moral Policing in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland’, Irish Economic and Social History 26 (1999), 1-14

Anne Summers, ‘The Constitution Violated: the Female Body and the Female Subject in the Campaigns of Josephine Butler’, History Workshop Journal 48 (1995), 1-15

Jane Caplan & J. Walkowitz, ‘Male Vice and Feminist Virtue : Feminism and the Politics of Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, History Workshop Journal 13 (1982), 77-93 [The seminal work, or read Walkowitz’s monograph on this Prostitution and Victorian Society (1980)]