By Susan Kingsley Kent
Women's quest for the vote Kent argues, used to be indissolubly associated with different feminist calls for for reform which might overturn the cultural structures of masculinity and femininity and made up our minds their powerlessness in either private and non-private.
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Extra resources for Sex and Suffrage in Britain 1860-1914
His colleague, Dr. David Gilliam, in 1896, compared the advantages of castrating animals to those of castrating women. ” he asked. ”65 The metaphors of breaker and animal, of hunter and prey, permeate the gynecological literature. Again drawing upon the symbolic interpretations made available by anthropologists, we may better understand the doctors’ fear of, and attempts to neutralize or eliminate, any manifestation of female sexuality. 67 For illustrative purposes, Ortner has described culture “as a small clearing within the forest of the larger natural system.
The debate was advanced significantly in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as industrial capitalism altered the political, economic, and social structures of CHAPTER I 27 England. By the 1780s, men of new wealth were challenging the legitimacy of government by limited monarchy and landed aristocracy. The victory they realized in 1832 with the Reform Act signaled the emergent ascendancy of industrial and manufacturing wealth over the heretofore dominant landed and commercial elites. Throughout the nineteenth century, England experienced the dismantling of aristocratic, patriarchal institutions and concentrated on building a society based on liberal, individualistic, egalitarian philosophies.
Definitions of femininity evolved whose qualities were antithetical to those that had warranted widespread male participation in the public sphere. Men possessed the capacity for reason, action, aggression, independence, and self-interest. Women inhabited a separate, private sphere, one suitable for the so-called inherent qualities of femininity: emotion, passivity, submission, dependence, and selflessness, all derived, it was claimed insistently, from women’s sexual and reproductive organization.
Sex and Suffrage in Britain 1860-1914 by Susan Kingsley Kent