• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Were respectable Victorians any more concerned about sex than their great grandparents had been?

Extracts from this document...


Were respectable Victorians any more concerned about sex than their great grandparents had been? Before one can answer the question above, two key terms need to be explained: 'respectable' and 'sex'. The Victorian climate was such that the term respectable is usually applied only to those members of society with sufficient status to be marked out as noticeable in a rural/urban setting. To this extent, it is perhaps more correct to realise that the question is aiming towards those Victorians of middle to high status than those of the middle and upper classes. More to the point, respectable may mean either those people of status, or those men of high status. 'Sex' is a term that carries two main connotations, intercourse and gender. Gender itself is a pretty wide ranging issue, covering the role of women in both social life and in the home, as well as increasing political activity from females. In effect, the question is somewhat multi-faceted, and requires a three-sided response: how far were men more aware of women's need and rights in the nineteenth century than in the eighteenth; how did the role of the female change between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and, how did general attitudes towards intercourse and women change in a broader sense? ...read more.


decreased rapidly, yet this may be representative more of the austere privacy of the Victorian household which would be reluctant to admit such activities than an actual fall in such indiscretions. In effect, the attitudes towards women changed. They changed in both the way women were treated, and in the assumption of traditional female roles in the household of men. Yet the Victorian woman was equally different from her eighteenth century counterpart. The Victorian woman was a changing force in society. Such occurrences as the Custody of Infants Act of 1839, and the later trend for educating girls at schools (both precipitated women) give evidence to the changing female character. The Custody of Infants Act in particular is representative of the power able to be exercised by Victorian women over their husbands. This Act, which crystallised after the legal battle fought by Caroline Norton to keep her children after separation from a violent husband. This not only shows that the female had a right to her children in equal capacity to her husband, but also that there was an ability for a woman to challenge a man in a court- a legal power not previously seen. It also is indicative of the new emphasis on motherhood, or more to the point, its importance over and above the importance of the male figure. ...read more.


In effect, trends of sex education were just breaking through, but nonetheless they were there. In conclusion, the Victorians were more aware of sex, both categorical and carnal. Trends towards traditional sexual roles were changed as men frequently took over roles at home, and women often took over their husbands businesses after death. Family trends revolutionised the position of the male at home, along with a willingness to consider women's rights by allowing the Custody and Divorce Acts to be passed through parliament. Moreover, the Victorian female was able to push for such reform as she found a new social and political voice not before experience. This is not to say that suddenly the female was the central character in society, far from it. Husband continued to beat wives, and the Divorce Act didn't precipitate a mass rush for every abused female to divorce their husbands. The female role was still very much subordinate to the male, but it was significantly improved on the position of the eighteenth century female. Trends towards intercourse complemented this as trends in marriage changed the way Victorian men sought sex. Prostitution declined and the social/medical considerations of sex changed in a way not seen in the eighteenth century. Although the austere male dominated society still excused the male from any blame of carnal desire, as compared with the female who was pushed to extremes of frigidity or insatiability. In effect, awareness of sex was increased, or at least more openly discussed. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Theories of Sex and Gender

    STANGOR & RUBLE, (1987, as cited in HARALAMBOS et al, 2002). It has also been criticised for presenting an oversimplified view of learning. Reinforcement tends to indicate a child manipulated by the powers that be and observational learning portrays children as merely imitating same sex models.

  2. Discuss the change from the "one sex" model to the "two sex" model and ...

    In other words, for social inequality to exist, it must develop directly from natural inequality. If natural inequality was mirrored as social inequality it did not contradict the terms of Enlightenment freedom. It was left to science to demonstrate whether natural inequalities existed amongst human beings.

  1. Maggie, an Anti-type of a Victorian woman - The Mill on the Floss

    I shouldn't wonder if he goes out of his mind..." (Book V, chapter V, page 319) Maggie, also does not judge others or even herself by the measure stone of money as the rest of her female contemporaries do. She talks very easily and indifferently about her poverty with Lucy after she goes to visit her.

  2. To what extent did the British policy of Anglicisation precipitate the Indian rebellions of ...

    The British had 'violated all that was held sacred and dear by the people of India.'11 The religious zeal 'created an atmosphere of fear and distrust in which anything associated with Christianity was an object of suspicion and hatred'.12 The name of the commissioner in Awadh, Mr.

  1. As the nineteenth century opened, life presented few opportunities for women to experience personal ...

    Why would she rather be like other women? He asks, "Dost thou deem it misery to be endowed with marvelous gifts against which no power nor strength could avail1/4Wouldst thou, then, have preferred the condition of a weak woman, exposed to all evil and capable of none?"

  2. Does the 'collapse of synthesis' adequately explain the later decline of Nonconformity?

    Helmstadter goes on to argue that beginning with the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828, Nonconformist identity was formed from the legal and political struggles it faced and once these problems were overcome, it lost its identity.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work