Main : England, history, non-fiction, sex
215 x 137 mm
Sheila Jeffreys examines the activities of feminist campaigners around such issues as child abuse and prostitution and how these campaigns shaped social purity in the 1880s and 1890s. She demonstrates how the thriving and militant feminism of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was undermined, and asserts that the decline of this feminism was due largely to the promotion of a sexual ideology which was hostile to women’s independence. The circumstances about which she writes are frighteningly familiar in the present political climate.
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‘I found The Spinster and Her Enemies provocative, compelling, and utterly readable... if any academic book deserves the appellation ‘page turner’, this is it. Much of it has to do with Jeffreys’ method and style: she remains one of our most thorough and incisive researchers, and her prose is accessible to all. Beyond that, I locate the book’s appeal in its topic. Sex presses our buttons, trips chords we might ignore.’ Melissa Tedrow
‘Sheila Jeffreys is an excellent historian.’ Anita Brookner, Sunday Times
Table of Contents
Preface to 1997 edition ix
1 Feminism and Social Purity
2 Continence and Psychic Love
3 ‘The sort of thing that might happen to any man’: Feminist campaigns and politics around the sexual abuse of children
4 ‘Henpecking’: Women’s campaigns to gain legislation against the sexual abuse of girls
5 Spinsterhood and Celibacy
6 Women’s Friendships and Lesbianism
7 Antifeminism and Sex Reform before the First World War
8 The Decline of Militant Feminism
9 The Invention of the Frigid Woman
10 The ‘Prudes’ and the ‘Progressives’
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