February 11th 2007 set the date for what would be an intense and passionate discussion on a gendered health related issue in Portugal: abortion. In the referendum, approximately 44% of the eligible population voted, and from these 59% voted for the legalization of abortion in Portugal. Hence, this referendum brought about changes in the Portuguese law, which now allows legal abortion to occur at the desire of the woman until the 10th week of pregnancy. The present research consists of a study in which 205 university students fully responded to 4 data collection sessions between November 2006 and March 2007. The goal of the study was to understand the most relevant psychosocial variables when trying to explain the voting intentions and voting behavior of Portuguese youth. The variables in the present study included participants’ gender, political orientation, religious affiliation and practice, sexual attitudes and attitudes towards abortion. Our results show that all of the above variables, except for gender, are relevant for the opinion formation about this topic. Approximately 94% of our participants reported they had the intention to vote, although only 64% of these actually voted on the day of the referendum. Finally, we found that participants rely mostly on the strength of their attitudes towards abortion in relation to their voting intention, while relying mostly on the strength of their normative religious beliefs in relation to their voting behavior. Implications of our results for understanding the politics of abortion legislation are discussed.
The Influence of Psychosocial Variables in the Voting Intentions and Behavior of Portuguese Youth
Ana Figueiredo and Jorge Silva
'New' Female Sexualities, 1870–1930
In her study of the relationship between sex, gender, and social change in Britain since 1880, Lesley Hall justifies her starting date by pointing out that ‘recent historians of the nineteenth century have perceived a definite change in sexual attitudes, and in ways of talking about and dealing with sexual issues, around 1880’. She suggests that this marks the beginnings of ‘certain ways of thinking about sex which are essentially “modern”’. This special edition, which focuses on readings of texts published from the 1870s to the late 1920s, examines these ‘modern’ ways of conceptualising sex in relation to the dangerous figure of the sexually active woman and to female sexuality in general. It takes its impetus from such recent developments in the historicizing of sexuality that have designated the fin de siècle and early twentieth century as particularly important for understanding the early formation of ‘new’ female sexual identities. At this time the new science of sexology, the development of psychoanalysis, the social purity movement, the rise of the New Woman and the proliferation of more sexually explicit texts all contributed to increased public debates about the nature of female sexuality. As Frank Mort has argued, this was a period when social purists and feminists increasingly felt compelled to ‘speak out about sex’ and ‘to confront the conspiracy of silence and shame which surrounded the subject’, a confrontation which also took place in New Woman fiction.