The eighteenth century witnessed the birth of the first recognisably modern sexual identities. This book charts the development of those identities through the examination of pornography, sexual practice, medical belief, social policy, and the cultures of homosexuality, lesbianism, and heterosexually. It concludes that the century saw a sexual revolution in which sexual practice itself changed. From a culture in which mutual masturbation and mutable sexual categories were the norm, eighteenth-century England became a society increasingly concerned to foster penetrative and procreative sexual behaviour. In the process, newly harsh divisions between men and women were created and reinforced, and new models of both femininity and masculinity were created. This book charts a series of complex interrelationships between changes in language and practice, and suggests that men were increasingly encouraged to invest their masculinity in an exclusive desire for the opposite sex, while women were pushed towards a sexual identity in which motherhood came to dominate, and in which female lust was denigrated or denied. At the same time, new homosexual and lesbian identities were likewise created and denigrated.
About the Author
Tim Hitchcock is a reader in 18th-century history at the University of Hertfordshire.