Death to the Corset

Topics: Victorian era, Sexual arousal, Sexual intercourse, Penis, Human sexuality, Female / Pages: 8 (1803 words) / Published: Dec 11th, 2013
The period known as the Victorian era in England, from 1837 to 1901, had gender roles that drastically defined the difference between a man and a woman. These differences were based on the theory that “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, form women’s sexual and reproductive organization”. 1 Following such principles allowed men, allegedly controlled by their mind or intellectual strength, to dominate society, to be the governing sex, given that they were viewed as rational, brave, and independent. Women, on the other hand, were dominated by their sexuality, and were expected to fall silently into the social mold crafted by men, since they were regarded as irrational, sensitive, and dutiful. Women were seen as weaker and doctors decided that women needed to wear corsets to support their weak backs. These corsets caused the waist to contract and to elongate curves on a woman, the corset acted as real and symbolic imprisonment of women.
In the early 1800s, after the French Revolution, fashionable women temporarily gave up their corsets for looser clothing that seemed to parallel new ideas of freedom in politics, but when the corset returned a few years later, it took forms that eventually led to concerns for women’s health. Two things changed. First, the corset accentuated rather than hid the woman’s natural form, producing an hourglass figure, with tight compression of the waist. Throughout the 1800s, corset forms became more and more exaggerated, women’s clothing increasingly hugged the torso, and the corset squeezed in more and more of the body to create an “ideal” female shape from shoulder to thigh. They are fabric garments that constrict the torso. Reinforced with stiffeners, they fit so



Bibliography: Braddon, Mary E., Lady Audley 's Secret, New York: Oxford. University Press, 1998.Buszek, Maria Elena Casey, Ellen Miller. " 'Other People 's Prudery ': Mary Elizabeth Braddon," in Tennessee Studies in Literature. 27, 1984 Clark, Kenneth Harding, Esther. M. Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient & Modern, Shambhala Publications, 1971 Kane, Penny Kent, Susan. Sex and Suffrage in Britain 1860-1914, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. LeMoncheck, Linda. Loose Women, Lecherous Men, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997 Marsh, Jan Rooney, Kathleen. Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object, Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2008 Word Press, History of Sexuality in Western Culture: Victorian Era, blog, http://historyofsexuality.umwblogs.org/pre-20th-century/victorian-era-2/

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