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Sexual transgression in the age of the flapper

This book looks at the highly publicised, sensational trials of several young female protagonists in the period 1918-1924. These cases, all presented by the press as morality tales involving drugs, murder, adultery, miscegenation and sexual perversion, are used as a prism through which to identify concerns about modern femininity. The book first examines a libel case, brought by a well-known female dancer against a maverick right-wing MP for the accusation of lesbianism. One aspect of this libel trial involved the drawing up of battle-lines in relation to the construction of a new, post-war womanhood. The book then looks at two inquests and three magistrate-court trials that involved women and drugs; young women in relationships with Chinese men were also effectively in the dock. One way of accessing court proceedings has been via the account of the trial published as part of the Notable British Trial Series. There are no extant trial transcripts. But there are prosecution depositions lodged at the National Archives, much press reportage, and a number of relevant memoirs, all giving a keen sense of the key issues raised by the trial. The book also focuses on an extraordinary divorce case, that of Christabel Russell, involving cross-dressing, claims of a virgin birth, extreme sexual ignorance, and a particular brand of eccentric modern femininity.

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Lucy Bland

commentary, as well as personal memoirs. In Chapter 4, on Marguerite Fahmy, there are no extant trial transcripts, but there are prosecution depositions lodged at the National Archives, much press reportage, and a number of relevant memoirs, all giving a keen sense of the key issues raised by the trial. Chapter 5 centres on an extraordinary divorce case, that of������������ Christabel Russell,�������������������������������������������������������������������� involving cross-dressing, claims of a virgin birth, extreme sexual ignorance, and a particular brand of eccentric

in Modern women on trial
Contraception and commerce in Britain before the sexual revolution

The Business of Birth Control uncovers the significance of contraceptives as commodities in Britain before the Pill. Drawing on neglected promotional and commercial material, the book demonstrates how hundreds of companies transformed condoms and rubber and chemical pessaries into branded consumer goods that became widely available via birth control clinics, chemists’ shops and vending machines, and were discreetly advertised in various forms of print. With its focus on the interwar period, the book demonstrates how contraceptive commodification shaped sexual and birth control knowledge and practice at a time when older, more restrictive moral values surrounding sexuality uncomfortably co-existed with a modern vision of the future premised on stability wrought by science, medicine and technology. Commodification was a contested process that came into conflict with attempts by the State, doctors and the birth control movement to medicalise birth control, and by social purity groups that sought to censor the trade in order to uphold their prescribed standards of sexual morality and maintain sexual ignorance among much of the population. Of wide interest to modern historians, the book not only serves as an important reminder that businesses were integral to shaping medical, economic, social and cultural attitudes towards sex and birth control but also sheds greater light on the ambiguities, tensions and struggles of interwar Britain more broadly. Without such interwar struggles, the contraceptive Pill may not have received its revolutionary status.

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Claire L. Jones

purpose of preventing pregnancy (and venereal disease for condoms); they did so within the more liberalised sexual culture of the interwar period through manual and mechanised production, branded and trademarked packaging, promotion in the press, mail order through catalogues and birth control tracts, distribution at birth control clinics and by doctors, and display, sale and promotion from chemists, surgical stores and slot machines. Yet, the need to balance profit with enduring consumer sensibilities, embarrassment and sexual ignorance in a culture that also remained

in The business of birth control
The contested marriage and motherhood of a curious modern woman
Lucy Bland

��������������������� designated publicly unprintable, the self-censoring press replacing the explicit courtroom discussions of sex and reproduction with euphemism and innuendo.3 Christabel was castigated in the courtroom for her sexual ignorance, but in its account of divorce trials, the press was anxious to avoid the presentation of any actual sexual knowledge. Yet the ‘suggestiveness’ of its reporting of the Russell case was deemed a step too far, infuriating George V and instigating a crucial change in the law – another reason for the case’s historical importance. For a number of reasons

in Modern women on trial
Expanding the work of the clinics
Caroline Rusterholz

agents and husbands, as active agents, had to initiate sexual intercourse while awakening their wives to sexual pleasure. 8 However, many historians have underlined the limited impact of these sex manuals on ordinary individuals; couples struggled to enjoy a happy and mutually satisfying sexual life. Indeed, many studies have shown the prevalence of sexual ignorance among the British that lasted until mid-century. Respectable women were expected to be ignorant of sexual matters, which means that they remained passive

in Women’s medicine
Yulia Ryzhik

’) we might – or might not – recall that flea poems were then fashionable in France. 11 If indeed ‘Sapho to Philænis’ is Donne’s, we can wonder if he had read Ronsard’s ‘lesbian’ poem in Elegies, Mascarades et Bergerie (1565; withdrawn in 1584, it was restored in 1609); he does refer to Ronsard in his prose pieces. 12 (It is something to ponder that in both France and England the earliest surviving lesbian poems, in all their ambivalence, and some would add sexual ignorance, are by men.) I offer here one more example of sources’ and

in Spenser and Donne
David Geiringer

, they also emphasised their relative ‘innocence’ and ‘sexual ignorance’ compared to not only girls of today, but also their male and non-Catholic peers. 6 This was often a trait that they were conscious of at the time. The second section of the chapter explores how the interviewees’ gender and Catholicism intersected to shape their understanding of sexuality in adolescence. It uses Brown’s notion

in The Pope and the pill
Abstract only
Melanie Tebbutt

read either The Miner or the Daily Herald (in which Eyles also wrote).75 The Miner printed a page of letters supporting Eyles, claiming to have received only one other letter of disagreement, which was ‘couched in such libellous and abusive terms’ that it had been returned. Most focused on girls’ sexual vulnerability, several stressing how sexual ignorance aided the exploitation of girls and young women by boys and men inside and outside families.76 Others, like the ‘mother’ whose 13-year-old son had read the article and passed it on to his school mates, thanked

in Being boys
Mapping the emotional worlds of British VD patients
Anne Hanley

-specific implications that, heavily embedded within a patriarchal social order and its institutions, defined men and women's different experiences of infection. Women came up against what Marilyn Bonnell has described as ‘a critical superstructure that was attempting to define and dictate reality according to masculine epistemology’. 43 The long-standing assumption that sexual innocence was predicated on sexual ignorance meant that many women were probably unaware that their ill-health was the result of a venereal infection. We see

in Patient voices in Britain, 1840–1948