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Stephen is presented as having all the qualities of chivalrous masculinity; she is the perfect manAs a woman, according to the rules of gender during this period she is an aberrationAs a result, Stephen is rejected by her mother forced to leave her beloved countryside, and to become part of a seedy urban lifeIn this extract Stephen writes a love-letter to her first serious lover Angela CrossbyAngela shows the letter to her husband who shows it to Stephens mother14
Stephens mother calls her daughter in for an interview and asks her to leave MortonStephen goes to her deceased fathers study and finally discovers what she is by reading Krafft-EbingStephen goes into voluntary exile with her very sympathetic maid PuddleStephens letter to Angela“I’m some awful mistake – Gods mistake- I don’t know if there are any more like me, I pray not for their sakes because its pure hell. But oh my dear whatever I am I just love you and love you.”(199)Anna Stephens mother talks to Stephen“I’ve felt a kind of physical repulsion a desire not to touch or be touched by you a terrible thing for a mother to feel it has often made me deeply unhappy. I’ve often felt that I was being unjust unnatural but now I know that my instinct was right; it is you who are unnatural not I...”From the 1920’s to the 1820’sHow were alternative sexualities imagined before the advent of sexology?Without named sexual identities how did people see themselves?Can we use current terms to describe lived experiences from the past?Gender and Sexuality in the Early Nineteenth CenturyMarriage: dominant relationship between men and womenSeparate Social Spheres: men and women lived separate social livesEra of Empire building and industrial RevolutionMen fully engaged in Public SphereWomen defined by Domesticity Jane Austen and Regency Society1811-1837: Regency period (same as Georgian period)Regency period best represented by the novels of Jane Austen (1775-1817)15
Austen novels capture society steeped in rules of social decorum, marriage and heterosexualityRomantic Friendships and HomosocialityBonds between women were known as romantic friendships (even married women had these bonds with other women)Not unusual for a bride to bring her female companion on her honeymoonRepresentations of female couples were very common in the visual culture of the period either representing intimate friends or sister pairingsMale vs. Female HomosexualityFemale and male homosexual practices perceived very differentlyUnder British law only male homosexuality was a crimeIn 1806 there were more executions for sodomy than for murderLesbian relations were seen as existing only outside of Britian in the colonies in less civilizes placesHomosociality vs. HomosexualityHomosociality- same sex relationships that are not of romantic or sexual natureHomosexuality- romantically or sexually attracted to people of their own genderPublic vs. PrivateMale homosexual practices available through public records: court