Wednesday, October 16, 2002

BUNCHA PRUDES, OR NOT: Daze sends us over to this NYT review of a book that breaks down Americans' views on sex during the Victorian era:

Horowitz finds that her subjects did not have one unified understanding of human sexuality but rather ''contending conversations,'' the result of a society ''split along many lines, economic, religious and ideological.'' Her book is therefore not only the latest corrective to the notion that there was some monolithic ''Victorian sexuality''; it also rejects the approach to studying the history of sexuality established by Michel Foucault, who suggested that what people said about sex had some ''seamless'' relation to how they practiced it. ''I perceive more disjuncture and internal conflict,'' Horowitz writes. To that end, she has established four ''frameworks,'' within which people could imagine sexuality ''from a distinct cultural perspective.'' These competing frameworks -- a vernacular tradition rooted in oral culture; an evangelical Christianity suspicious of sex; a ''reform physiology'' committed to spreading accurate information about sexual functioning, including birth control; and a view that ''placed sex at the center of life,'' and whose proponents ranged from Mormons to women's rights leaders -- became the basis of furious debates, scandals, witch hunts and crusades.

No comments: