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Lecture

Victorian Ideology

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Department
History
Course
History 2185
Professor
Monda Helpern
Semester
Fall

Description
Nov, 26, 2012 Victorian Ideology -The enlightenment had now reached the colonies with its rationalism, science, and the focus on less religion and there were also more differences between men and women being emphasized -The phenomenon was widespread and their society promoted the ideology of women being passionless -This was a huge change because before this time they were seen as lustful but now men were seen as the sexual aggressors and this underscores how arbitrary ideologies on sex were and how they were changed to suite them -It was a polite society so they tried to be very discreet about sex and we see this as prudish but really they were obsessed with sex and in private they would speak about it -This relates to the formation of the middle class because they were anxious to form an identity because they were not like aristocrats but they were not like the working poor -They had the separate spheres ideology to distinguish themselves and this demonstrated affluence because their women were able to stay at home and not work -This benefited patriarchal culture because women in the home were not competition in the workplace and they got free labour and they justified this by saying women were too fragile to be a part of the public sphere -Women were supposed to be physically and emotionally passive because the scientific discourses said their sexual organs were different and inferior from men’s and they said they were weak and disease prone so it was safer to keep them in the private sphere -This idea led to the idea of passionless where women were frigid, apathetic, and unresponsive sexually -They were told sex was a patriotic act for England and they were serving their home country by populating the colonies and pleasure was not important and it was also their wifely duty -Women being deemed passionless was a good thing because it was respectable and they were cast as virtuous, moral, and modest and it was helpful in cementing the middle class identity because they were contrasted to working women -The ideology was part of a greater ideal of behaviour of middle class women who were supposed to be a part of the cult of true womanhood -The code of conduct to adhere to said they had to conform to four behaviours: 1. Domestic (wife, mother, care for the house) 2. Pious (teach children Christianity) 3. Pure (had to be virgins at marriage and passionless was part of this) 4. Submissive/passive/deferential to husbands (passionless because not actively participating in sex) -Those who conformed to this were told they were the moral pillars of society and this was a status upgrade for them because they were seen as more moral than men and this gave them a certain amount of respect and influence but this was at the expense of being excluded from the public sphere -The ideas were promoted by the clergy
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