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Ett bidrag till heterosexualitetens historia: Kön, sexualitet och njutningsnormer i sexhandböcker 1800 - 1920
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History of Literature and History of Ideas.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
A contribution to the history of heterosexuallity : Gender, sexuality and norms of pleasure in sex manuals 1800-1920 (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines and analyses Swedish sex manuals written for the most part by doctors between 1800 and 1920. The study focuses on constructions of gender, sexuality and norms for pleasure, and investigates how these processes change over time. A fundamental question raised in the study concerns the descriptions of sexual union between the binary opposed genders and how these descriptions are subsequently connected to medical and scientific ideas during the relevant period. By specifying and drawing attention to these issues, the study makes a contribution to the history of heterosexuality. Special attention is given to sex manuals written by women and published at the turn of the century in 1900.

The construction of norms in the sex manuals becomes evident, partly through descriptions of desirable, moderate, sexual behaviour with reference to health, reason, cultural progress and the maximisation of sexual pleasure, and partly through the presentation of deterrents and counter images referring to abnormal, primitive and degenerate genders and sexualities. The construction of a European, middle class gender and sexuality ideal is made apparent in that the norms are also linked to the working class, domestic minorities and other “races”. I call the positive normatisation of heterosexual intercourse an “ideology of pleasure”.

According to descriptions in the sex manuals, the boundaries between the opposed genders are often fluid. Therefore the heterosexual union of opposed genders with binary defined sexualities becomes an unstable construction requiring constant stabilisation. During the second half of the 19th Century, when the criterion of reproduction diminished as the defining feature for reciprocal and loving sexual pleasure, the norm for heterosexual pleasure became stabilised by virtue of new arguments. These included the use of strong deterrents against same-gendered sexual activities or masturbation.

By juxtaposing the connections between deterrents and taboos against deviant genders and sexualities with descriptions of the division and heterosexual union of the two genders, this investigation makes an empirical contribution to the feminist analysis of the intersection between gender, class and ethnicity in the construction of a heterosexual norm.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Modernista , 2005. , 440 p.
Keyword [en]
Heterosexuality, homosexuality, gender, class, ethnicity, deterrents, counter images, norms, feminism, deconstruction, queer theory, post-colonial theory, sex manuals
National Category
History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-622ISBN: ISBN 91-88748OAI: diva2:196201
Public defence
2005-09-16, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2005-08-24 Created: 2005-08-24Bibliographically approved

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