Sex among the Rabble An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830

ISBN-10: 0807856754
ISBN-13: 9780807856758
Edition: 2006
Authors: Clare A. Lyons
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Description: Placing sexual culture at the center of power relations in Revolutionary-era Philadelphia, Clare Lyons uncovers a world where runaway wives challenged their husbands' patriarchal rights and where serial and casual sexual relationships were  More...

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Book details

List price: $32.50
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 2/27/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.606
Language: English

Placing sexual culture at the center of power relations in Revolutionary-era Philadelphia, Clare Lyons uncovers a world where runaway wives challenged their husbands' patriarchal rights and where serial and casual sexual relationships were commonplace. Reading popular representations of sex against actual behavior reveals the clash of meanings given to sex and illuminates struggles to recast sexuality in order to eliminate its subversive potential. Sexuality became the vehicle for exploring currents of liberty, freedom, and individualism in the politics of everyday life among groups of early Americans typically excluded from formal systems of governance--women, African Americans, and poor classes of whites. Men and women created a vibrant urban pleasure culture, including the eroticization of print culture, as eighteenth-century readers became fascinated with stories of bastardy, prostitution, seduction, and adultery. In the post-Revolutionary reaction, white middle-class men asserted their authority by creating a gender system that allowed them the liberty of their passions, constrained middle-class women with virtue, and projected licentiousness onto lower-class whites and African Americans. Lyons's analysis shows how class and racial divisions fostered new constructions of sexuality that served as a foundation for gender. This gendering of sexuality in the new nation was integral to reconstituting social hierarchies and subordinating women and African Americans in the wake of the Revolution.

Clare A. Lyons is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland.

The sexual terrain of colonial and revolutionary Philadelphia
A springboard to revolution : runaway wives and self-divorce
The fruits of nonmarital unions : sex in the urban pleasure culture
The pleasures and powers of reading : eroticization of popular print and discursive interpretations of sex
Sex in the city in the age of democratic revolutions
To be "free and independent" : sex among the revolutionary rabble
Sex and the politics of gender in the age of revolution
Normalizing sex in the nineteenth century : the assault on nonmarital sexuality
Through our bodies : prostitution and the cultural reconstruction of nonmarital sexuality
Through our souls : the benevolent reform of sexual transgressors
Through our children : bastardy comes under attack
Conclusion and reflection
Establishing class
Bastardy totals
Mothers' requests for out-relief bastardy child support
Sexual transgressions

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