Victorian women enjoyed sex? What?!

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!

The Sex Scholar in Stanford Magazine

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!

3 Comments for Victorian women enjoyed sex? What?!

  1. Its my contention that’s why Joe Wright had such a hit with his version of P&P because he hung passion, emotion and love on a timeless story creating a true emotional masterpiece, within his version of this timeless tale. Probably a more accurate rendering than the purists and Janeites felt comfortable with but true to form none the less. Sex… for recreation between man and wife and not just procreation,I think so and apparently so does God its originator. Yes they did do it back then and in prolific fashion! How else did we all get here anways? Are we supposed to believe they hated sex,I think not. Bottom line is within the bonds of a committed covenant marriage sex is not only the order of the day but its to be ongoing and vibrant. To think they knew less of it back then,enjoyed it less or somehow were emotionally primitive or stoic is a very inaccurate and sad view of such a beautiful time.

  2. Ha! Good point, May. Can’t imagine WHERE all those babies came from! Queen Victoria herself, for all her reputation, must have been a bit randy. LOL!

  3. I don’t agree Sharon, the Victorians were far too busy having children to be bothered with hanky panky!

    (the old ones are the best LOL)

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