History of Sexuality

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Married Love was an unprecedented book, which inadvertently redefined female sexuality. Often regarded as the precursor of sex-manuals, Married Love launched Stopes’ enormously successful career as a writer. Published in 1918, Married Love reviewed the intertwining relationship of marriage, sex and contraception, which in Stopes’ view were the fundamental components of a fulfilling and rewarding marriage. Like all discourse, Married Love is heavily embedded within a distinct historical and cultural context. Darwinian theory and the development of eugenics had a phenomenal impact on Stopes. Recognising the equal sexual desire of women would make Married Love greatly influential in the shaping of modern perceptions into female sexuality. Examining the social ethos of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Married Love was a pioneering book for its time. The significant transformation of gender roles during the interwar years in combination with the progressing field of sexology, Stopes’ work would be another stepping stone to the democratisation of sexuality. Characterized as the period of sexual ignorance , Stopes’ own sexual dissatisfaction and failed marriage inspired her to begin writing Married Love. The book not only addressed the expectancies and routine of sexual intercourse, but also more contentiously advocated the enjoyment of regular and non-procreative sex within marriage. It would be the static understanding of female sexuality that caused Stopes to contest and write avidly on the subject. For example, the female role during sex had for centuries been understood as primarily passive. The female body was typically understood as an “inferior and inverted version of the male” , though, the female orgasm was believed... ... middle of paper ... ...gland: Marie Stopes's ‘Married Love’ and E. M. Hull's ‘The Sheik’”, Feminist Review, Palgrave Macmillan (1991): 64-87. - Geppert, Alexander C. T. “Divine Sex, Happy Marriage, Regenerated Nation: Marie Stopes's Marital Manual Married Love and the Making of a Best-Seller 1918-1955”. Journal of the History of Sexuality, University of Texas Press (1998): 389-433. - Author Unknown. “Birth Control Libel Action Stopes V. Sutherland” in The British Medical Journal, Vol. 1, No. 3245, BMJ Publishing Group (March 10, 1923): 445-448 Websites - Francis Perrow. “Marie Stopes: 1880-1958 Planning Pioneer,” Marie Stopes International, (accessed May 03, 2010) - Author Unknown. “Marie Stopes International” (accessed May 03, 2010)
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