Victorian Women Enjoyed Sex!
Are you shocked? This fascinating article came through the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA a couple of years ago. I shared it then, but figured it is interesting enough to dust off and repost.
The long, very detailed article in the April 2010 edition of Stanford Magazine (as in Stanford University, CA) 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 (to the right).
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 article – The Sex Scholar – by Kara Platoni can be read in its entirety at the link.
Very intriguing information. Of course, I have never been of the belief that women ever completely denied their sexuality, as history 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! Your thoughts are very welcome.