Sexuality and Subordination
Interdisciplinary Studies of Gender in the Nineteenth Century
Edited by Susan Mendus, Jane Rendall
Routledge – 1989 – 264 pages
Sexuality and Subordination uses the insights of a range of disciplines to examine the construction of gender in nineteenth-century Britain and France. With contributions from history, literature, sociology and philosophy, its interdisciplinary approach demonstrates the extent to which a common focus can illuminate problems inaccessible to any single discipline.
'Victorianism' is generally understood to mean sexual double standards, hypocrisy and prudery among the middle classes. But, as this collection shows, the representation of sexuality in the nineteenth century was more diverse and complex than is sometimes realized. Both art and literature point to the deployment of sexual metaphors and imagery, and the language of educated public opinion was shaped by the dichotomy between mind and matter, between rationality and sexuality. The contributors to this volume explore how women, in questioning their subordination, had to challenge a construction of femininity which imposed sexual ignorance.
'Certainly to be recommended to social historians of the nineteenth century.' - Social History Society Newsletter