Sexology is the scientific study of sex, which emerged in Europe in the late 19th century. A lot of old white dudes decided that they wanted to write about sex in order to understand it better and educate other people about it says Camden Town Escorts from https://charlotteaction.org/camden-town-escorts.
There’s this clichéd perception of Victorians that they were sexually repressed and really, really prude, and these sexologists were trying to eliminate their ignorance and they viewed themselves as this progressive, liberating force.
The first historians of sexology took these sexologist’s self-congratulatory tales at face value, saying that the sex manuals that these men wrote had a positive impact on people’s sexual knowledge, attitude, behavior, and identity.
But then we get to the 1970’s and historians and philosophers start to criticize these old theories. This is what we call post-modernism. Po-Mo for short, because post-modernism is great.
They said that it was impossible to understand the impact of sexology i you just accept its own evaluation of its history. Also, it turns out that the Victorians weren’t repressed at all!
The 19th century saw a decisive explosion around the topic of sex. Society had many, many different ways of talking about the topic. In politics, in biology, in psychology, in law, in birth control, in ethics, in art. So many, so many different ways and sexology is just one of these ways, but because of its association with the scientific profession, it was the most influential.
So if the Victorians were already talking about sex, then they didn’t need liberating in the first place, and what sexology actually did was it used language to take charge of sex and to control it.
And so sexology wasn’t a liberating force, it was oppressive. These post-modernist theories influenced a lot of feminist scholars in the 1980’s who argued that sexology was a misogynistic tool of the patriarchy.
In the late 19th century a lot of feminists were protesting against the double-standard, which meant that prostitutes were blamed for the spread of venereal disease, and not men, who just had natural sexual urges that needed to be satisfied.
What sexology did was it reinforced these ideas with the backing of science. It removed the subject of sex from the political arena and put it under the protection of science.
So according to sexology, and according to science, women are naturally and biologically passive, and men are naturally and biologically active. You can see why the feminists are pissed off.
But since the 1980’s these post-modernists and feminists theories have also been criticized for being too simplistic and not taking into account human agency.
No matter what we think of these sex manuals in the present day by our standards, what’s more important is how the people who read them at the time understood them.
What impacts did these sex manuals have on people’s lives? If any at all?
The main question that historians are asking now is “Are bodies and their pleasures independent “of the ways that language characterizes them, or do we require linguistic and cultural representation in order to interpret bodily experience?”
What I have just effectively given you a presentation about is a summary of the introduction to my dissertation.