Sexual Science The Victorian Construction of Womanhood

ISBN-10: 0674802918
ISBN-13: 9780674802919
Edition: 1989
List price: $37.00 Buy it from $4.21
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Description: One scarcely knows whether to laugh or cry. The spectacle presented, in Cynthia Russett's splendid book, of nineteenth-century white male scientists and thinkers earnestly trying to prove women inferior to men--thereby providing, along with  More...

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Book details

List price: $37.00
Copyright year: 1989
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 3/1/1991
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.792

One scarcely knows whether to laugh or cry. The spectacle presented, in Cynthia Russett's splendid book, of nineteenth-century white male scientists and thinkers earnestly trying to prove women inferior to men--thereby providing, along with "savages" and "idiots," an evolutionary buffer between men and animals--is by turns appalling, amusing, and saddening. Surveying the work of real scientists as well as the products of more dubious minds, Russett has produced a learned yet immensely enjoyable chapter in the annals of human folly. At the turn of the century science was successfully challenging the social authority of religion; scientists wielded a power no other group commanded. Unfortunately, as Russett demonstrates, in Victorian sexual science, empiricism tangled with prior belief, and scientists' delineation of the mental and physical differences between men and women was directed to show how and why women were inferior to men. These men were not necessarily misogynists. This was an unsettling time, when the social order was threatened by wars, fierce economic competition, racial and industrial conflict, and the failure of society to ameliorate poverty, vice, crime, illnesses. Just when men needed the psychic lift an adoring dependent woman could give, she was demanding the vote, higher education, and the opportunity to become a wage earner! No other work has treated this provocative topic so completely, nor have the various scientific theories used to marshal evidence of women's inferiority been so thoroughly delineated and debunked. Erudite enough for scholars in the history of science, intellectual history, and the history of women, this book with its stylish presentation will also attract a large nonspecialist audience.

Cynthia Eagle Russett was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1937. She received a bachelor's degree in history from Trinity College in Washington and master's and doctoral degrees in history from Yale University. She taught history at Yale University from 1967 until her death. She wrote several books including Darwin in America: The Intellectual Response, 1865-1912, The Extraordinary Mrs. R: A Friend Remembers Eleanor Roosevelt with William Turner Levy, and Sexual Science: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood. She died of multiple myeloma on December 5, 2013 at the age of 76.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
How to Tell The Girls from The Boys
Up and Down The Phyletic Ladder
Hairy Men and Beautiful Women
The Machinery of The Body
The Physiological Division of Labor
The Victorian Paradigm Erodes
Women and The Cosmic Nightmare
Notes
Index

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