Ashwini Tambe. 2019. Defining Girlhood in India: A Transnational History of Sexuality Maturity Laws. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. In its reference to girlhood and legal regulation, the title of Ashwini Tambe's book immediately
Defining Girlhood in India: A Transnational History of Sexuality Maturity Laws
Iris Chui Ping Kam
Robert A. Nye
We might begin with a few comparative remarks about sex and politics in France and the US. Americans were treated in 1998 to a deliciously painful set of events that precipitated a full-scale constitutional crisis in the US and some rethinking of the relations of the public and private spheres. Despite what seemed to many French observers as a more or less unproblematic White House sex scandal, it was denied by American commentators left and right that Monicagate had anything at all to do with sex. It’s not about sex, said Clinton’s Republican accusers, it’s about lying under oath and the rule of law. It’s not about sex, said his Democrat defenders, it’s about his political enemies seizing any opportunity they can to undo two consecutive elections. Nor was the affair about sex for the principal actors: for Kenneth Starr, presidential sex was just a convenient way to set a legal trap for a slippery guy he couldn’t nail any other way; for Linda Tripp, it was the royal road to personal revenge; for Monica Lewinsky it was a chance to consort with a powerful man. It wasn’t even sex, as we have heard many times, for Bill Clinton himself, but something that never rose to the level of what New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called “lying-down adult sex.” Even Hustler publisher and cinema free-speech hero Larry Flynt, whom no one would accuse of being dismissive of sexuality, treated sex in this whole matter as an opportunity to expose the hypocrisy of his political enemies.
Joan W. Scott
Robert Nye’s elegant essay rightly puts the PaCS, and the debates about it, into a historical context of French natalism. At least since the late nineteenth century, reproduction has been the raison d’être of the married couple and the state has often made fertility synonymous with patriotism. From this has followed all manner of representations, many of them contradictory. Thus although it surely was the case, as Nye shows, that marriage was eroticized and marital love idealized, it was also the case that reproduction and sexual satisfaction were considered separate domains. French bourgeois culture, however idealized its family, has long been associated with the inevitability of extramarital affairs. One of the reasons French commentators found the Monica Lewinsky scandal ridiculous and symptomatic of what they define as American puritanism, was that it contrasted so sharply with their own customs and expectations. Mitterrand’s second family was hardly shocking from that perspective; and judging by films, novels and statistical findings, the desire of men and women can rarely be satisfied within the confines of marriage. Indeed one of the aims of the PaCS was to resolve the tension between laws based on a sentimental view of the family and social practices that had given the lie to these views. The abolition of the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children is an example of this; it recognizes that marriage is no longer enduring and that family arrangements have eroded the grounds on which “legitimacy” was once conferred.
Judith G. Coffin
This essay considers the near simultaneity of The Second Sex and Alfred C. Kinsey's reports on sexual behavior. It shows how reviewers in both France and the United States paired the studies; it asks how that pairing shaped the reception of The Second Sex; and it situates the studies in their larger historical context—a moment in which sexuality commanded new and much broader attention. An ever-widening number of disciplines, institutions, sectors of mass culture, and representatives of an expanding consumer economy (from studies of the authoritarian personality or juvenile delinquency to advertising) insisted that sexuality was key to their concerns and enterprises. The ways in which sexuality might be understood multiplied—to the point where an allencompassing notion of “sex” collapsed, giving way, eventually, to a plurality of terms: sexuality, sex roles, and gender.
Sex and the Body in Dickens
William A. Cohen
Not so long ago, the topic of Dickens and sex might have seemed entirely entailed by Foucault's inquires in the first volume of the History of Sexuality. In that work, Foucault argues that sex is not a biological donnée but is instead an effect of discourse, a culturally variable vehicle for the exercise of power in many different directions. Emerging out of Foucault's studies of social institutions such as prisons and madhouses, the History of Sexuality emphasises the disciplinary imperative of sexual knowledges; it argues that individual subjects internalise surveillance mechanisms, experiencing them through and as their sexuality. One of the beneficiaries of the Foucauldian paradigm, which dominated Victorian literary studies from the late 1980s until recently, was queer theory. Queer theory interrogates rather than presuming identity categories (such as homosexual, lesbian and gay), but it has always sat in an uneasy relation to identity politics, simultaneously relying on and deconstructing stable notions of gender and sexual identity. Some critics have employed queer theory to discover lesbian, gay or queer characters and practices in Victorian literature (not to mention finding more properly nineteenth-century types, such as the hysteric, the onanist and the sodomite). Such projects have often understood the function of sexual representation as part of modernity's more general disciplinary structure.
Nicholas L. Syrett
questions and locating the birth of the field of the history of sexuality at precisely the moment that Americans first became panicked about child sexual abuse, which likely accounts for the reluctance of historians of sexuality to fully explore this aspect
A Case Study of Norman Douglas
Rachel Hope Cleves
been common throughout the history of sexuality. 8 This is true broadly speaking. Sex between men and girls has been not just common but normative, often consecrated by marriage. 9 In European history, the “consent” of girls or women to sex played no
Homosexuality, Male Prostitution, and Intergenerational Sex in 1950s Italy
, 2011); and Dario Pasquini, “‘This Will Be the Love of the Future’: Italian LGBT People and Their Emotions in Letters from the Fuori! and Massimo Consoli Archives, 1970–1984,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 29, no. 1 (2020): 51–78, https
Corporeal Intimacies, Disgust and Violence in a COVID-19 World
Sensibilities: The Case of Not-Handshaking and Not-Fasting ’, Social Anthropology 17 , no. 4 : 439 – 454 , doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8676.2009.00080.x . 10.1111/j.1469-8676.2009.00080.x Foucault , M. ( 1978 ), The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An
Reflections in and out of Fashion
James D. Faubion
of Sexuality ( Foucault 1985 ), I proposed that one way (not the only way) of approaching the ethical might lie in construing it as a domain in which actors strive either to conform to or to contest or to reformulate given standards of what in any