Who Knew? Victorian Ladies Liked Sex!
I ran across this interesting article and thought it was post-worthy here...a story about Clelia Mosher, a Victorian-era Stanford Professor who conducted a sort of Kinsey report before Kinsey...She surveyed educated married women about sex and interestingly, had her results been published the study would have upended the long- held wisdom of the time-- that women didn't like sex and shouldn't rightly enjoy.
You can read the whole article here: http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2010/marapr/features/mosher.html. I'ts nicely written and reports first-hand accounts of how Victorian women felt about sex. Apparently, they found great pleasure in it and thought it natural...although one who didn't like it faulted her poorly-trained husband.
From the article by Platoni: "One woman, born in 1867, wrote that before marriage she believed sex to be only for reproduction, but later changed her mind: "In my experience the habitual bodily expression of love has a deep psychological effect in making possible complete mental sympathy & perfecting the spiritual union that must be the lasting 'marriage' after the passion of love has passed away with the years." Wrote another, born in 1863, "It seems to me to be a natural and physical sign of a spiritual union, a renewal of the marriage vows."
Dr. Mosher herself is an interesting character---a mannish, lonely academic who wrote in her journals to an imaginary friend. She never married and probably never experienced that to which she dedicated so much of her life's research. But she was a trail-blazer for her time---disproving myths about menstruation, women's perceived frailties and raging against corsets and the heavy skirts.
The article: The Sex Scholar, written by author Kara Platoni is well worth the read and has gotten AP attention in the media. Posted here is an image of Dr. Clelia Mosher, born in the 1860s, a woman who served as a nurse in WWI and achieved the rank of full professor for her work on "women's hygiene" at Stanford in 1928. She is as interesting as her research.
I bet this study is no revelation to the romance writer, or reader...or even to women today in general. So why did we think Victorian women were prudish? history scholars tell us it's because sex education came to the Victorian woman via published so-called "health-books" written by men of the time and were treatises intended to discourage sexual interest--- and because disdain for the act was one of the rare ways women of the Victorian upper and middle class could set themselves apart from the lower classes and "earn respectability."
Dr. Mosh's report is worth a read just for the insights a historical writer could gain from hearing the voices of Victorian women convey their thoughts on sex.
Has anybody ever read other first hand accounts from Victorian women that reflects their attitude on sex?