The case of the ‘Cult of the Clitoris’
Treachery, patriotism and English womanhood
in Modern women on trial
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This chapter suggests that Maud Allan and Margot Asquith were together held up as examples of undesirable femininity, exhibiting attributes seen as diametrically opposed to that of a new, refashioned ideal English womanhood. Noel Pemberton Billing attempted to discredit Maud via her knowledge of the term 'clitoris'; it was only one of several ways in which he launched his attack. He implied that she was a German sympathiser by virtue of having undertaken musical training in Berlin. Like Allan, Oscar Wilde's Salome was also discredited through being labelled sadistic. Maud's infamy stemmed not only from her 'scorching' eroticised dancing; there were also vague rumours of her lesbianism, largely due to her close friendship with Margot. Many aspects of the trial have been considered by previous scholars, such as the debates over sexual perversity, homosexuality, sexology, treachery and patriotism.

Modern women on trial

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