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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 - Hysterical Woman Lecture Part II.docx

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HIST 210
Steven J Maynard

The Hysterical Woman in Canadian History, Part II I. The Trouble with Triggers II. Exporting Sexuality to the “Lower Orders” A. From Hysterical to Hypersexual III. “Girls Gone Wild” A. The 1897 Female Refuges Act and the Mercer Reformatory B. The Case File as Power/Knowledge C. Sexual “Promiscuity”/Non-Conformity i. Women’s and Family Courts: Feminized and Socialized Justice ii. Commercial Amusements and “Treating” D. Pregnancy, Birth Control, and Abortion E. VD, Wartime, and “Soldier-Crazy Girls” F. Interracial Sex G. Talking Back: Resistance and the ‘Weapons of the Weak’ H. Velma Demerson IV. “The Hot Little Prophets”: Sex and Gender Radicalism Across Class Lines I. The Trouble with Triggers • Trigger alerts • The way that they are almost exclusively attached to the sexual and sexual issues • Why don’t we have trigger alerts before a sociology lecture on racism; when there might be people who have been victim to racist actions • Dabinsky – book on the history of rape o Criticized for its lack of trigger alert o But was written in 1990s and the terms used were so o Presentist critique to say that there lacks • Why trigger alerts and why now? o Began on the internet o On blogs and website – especially those related to sexual assault and sexual abuse • Even bigger context – the identification of sexual abuse as a social problem in the last few decades o This is absolutely crucial o Taken all together what does that contex add up to?  Many would argue that we are living in an age in which issues of secuality are understood primarily as individualized psychology  Trigger alerts get individuals attention  Related to a broader/ issues of sexuality are framed as a psychological experience • Trauma Studies o Progressive response to this contex has been psychologized o Used to make individuals feel safe o Safe space programs • Are we taken a step forward? o In some ways yes! But on a political levels, approaches that over individualize are the product of larger stuctures of power. • Is there a different approach o Rather than psychologize we should historicize and politicize sexuality o That approach does not come from this current moment but from one preceding it  Preceding = the feminist movement has been forced on the defensive. These movements once had more visibility n the world. Social movements pushed on the defensive has created a void and has been replaced by the trigger alerts and the emphasis on the individual • Individualist approach has been aided by rise of neoliberalism • Dubinsky o The meanings of sexual assault has changed drastically  Transformation from the shamin of the family and humiliation of the father to the act of power/ violation of woman’s person hood • Dominant discourse holds (today) that sexual assault is a trauma • Explanatory focus • Response/ political response to sexual coersion is • We need to think critically of how our own views are shaped by our own historical political context o Not easy to do because we are living through it o How else can we recognize that there are other ways of thinking • Choice that there are different forms of sexual politics II. Exporting Sexuality to the “Lower Orders” A. From Hysterical to Hypersexual • Problems believed to be traced back to her sexual and reproductive organs • Predominantly middle-class • Mid-class women were among the first to be given a ‘sexuality’ • Good demonstration of Fouceault’s ideals o Sexuality a creation of the bourgeois class • Discovered the potential of sexuality as a tool to use to rule • Working class was able to escape it for a while • Fouceault: o ‘subjugation of the proleteriat’ o Once bourgeois was over it they brough it upon the middle-class • Growing preoccupation of working-class sexuality o Viewed as hyper-sexual o Cause of her problem was sexual o Constantly sexual o The Middle-class women repressed • 1935 – George McKinley o In Ottawa o Sentenced Idle and dissolute behavior o Mildred 19 – sentenced to 1 year and 9 month to the ( o Purpose of the sentence was to treat venirial disease o Dorothy 16 – sentenced after her mother swore out a statement against her III. “Girls Gone Wild” A. The 1897 Female Refuges Act and the Mercer Reformatory • Law allowed for the incarceration of young women for up to 5 years for being unmanigable and uncorigible • Yound women who were acting in sexual ways • FRA applied to women as old as 35; but most had to do with girls under 21 • But mostly 16 to 19 • During 1920 – 43% of Mercer inhabitants were under 20 years old o Mostly lower-class and from poorer backgrounds • No formal criminal charges necessary • No trial (not allowed any) • All parent had to do was appear before a jugde and say that their daughter was unmanigible • The Mercer Reformatory for Women; Toronto, est. 1872 o Building had architectural similarities with asylum o Containing non-normative sexualities • Toronto’s Caceral Triangle o Within a ‘block’ were three carceral institutes • In the Mercer women were meant to be ‘saved’ • The ‘idle’ was the most wretched woman • Taught to cook, bake and clean/ dress properly/ trained to be fit for being a servant • For poor women; not working made then wretched • Mercer reproduced powerful class and gender guidlines B. The Case File as Power/Knowledge • What sources would you use? • When the women entered the Mercer they’re named entered the case file • Can approach as a source of information about their lives – lives of poor working class women; harder to access historically; becomes an important source because gives rare insight on the experience of poor, working-class women./ Can also approach it as thining of the documents as a particular form of our knowledge. Each form of knowledge had their own affect of power. Medical history helped to construct the sexual id
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