By Carol Smart
This number of unique essays seems to be at a subject of growing to be curiosity and debate in feminist and historic circles: the social law of girls via legislations throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the resistance which emerged in reaction. the gathering refutes the proposal of ladies oppressed in the course of the nineteenth century, not able to behave towards the legislations. while problems with motherhood and women's sexuality turned parts of public coverage, ladies started to negotiate the legislations, as case reviews from Europe and the united states convey. This e-book could be of curiosity to scholars of women's reviews, sociology of legislations, and social coverage.
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Additional resources for Regulating Womanhood: Reproduction and Motherhood
The struggle to redefine birth control was particularly hard for Victorian women who, in promoting contraception, became associated with all the immoral values attached to the practice itself. Just as it was hard for many suffragists to become involved in issues of prostitution because of the taint of immorality, so too was there considerable risk in being involved in campaigns for contraception. The trials of Annie Besant in 1877 and 1878 capture this process. The first trial was a prosecution for obscene libel brought against her and Charles Bradlaugh for republishing an American pamphlet by a Dr Knowlton, entitled Fruits of Philosophy; or, the Private Companion of Young Married Couples at the price of 6 pence.
In her letters to the journal on the theme of the prosecution of brothels, Elizabeth Wolstenholme Elmy substantiated these claims. She pointed out that brothels ‘after all, are the only “homes” known to many hapless women’, and ‘the very first step will be that she is “taken up” by some policeman as “an idle and disorderly person”’ (Wolstenholme Elmy, 1886b). ’ (Wolstenholme Elmy, 1886a, original emphasis). Elmy predicted the virtual re-introduction of the Contagious Diseases Acts. She presented this forewarning to ‘those old fellowworkers’ who ‘now sanction…a cruel repression’.
Spelman, 1982:123) The concern for the abduction of heiresses, which predates the 1861 Act can, towards the end of the nineteenth century, be seen to be transformed slowly into a specific concern about sexual activity in general rather than a concern specifically about property. By 1885 this is further developed. The age of consent is raised to 16 years. The first part of the Act, which was originally entitled The Suppression of Prostitution, was retitled during the Parliamentary debate to be referred to as The Protection of Women and Girls.