Indeedy! This fascinating article came through the Beau Monde (a chapter of the RWA exclusively for historical writers) by the lovely Delilah Marvelle – her website. It is a long, very detailed article in this month’s Stanford Magazine (as in Stanford University, CA) that is totally worth the time to read carefully. But, the gist is that in 1974 historian Carl Hegler was digging through University archives and discovered the files of Stanford undergraduate Clelia Mosher. Mosher was educated at Stanford in the later decades of the 1800s, taught and researched, before then moving on to Johns Hopkins to receive her doctorate. Her focus was women’s issues. Along the way (and the article recounts her many contributions) she conducted a very thorough survey of women born before 1870 on all matters sexual. This is the oldest known survey of its type, decades pre-dating similar tests in the 1940s. The results were never published by her, but are stunning in what they reveal about women’s thoughts and actions regarding sex in an era striving to deny that women had sexual impulses at all!
Most intriguing. Of course, I have never been of the belief that women ever completely denied their sexuality as history over all shows this not to be the case. However, if Victorian Era women could break through the harsh mores and repression of the day to comprehend that intimacy is a pleasurable activity, is it not proof that women of a freer age would have an easier time of it? Obviously you know what MY answer to that question is!