Awoman born in 1600 grew up being told she was the most lustful of God’s creatures. Come 1800 and the message was reversed: she was ‘naturally’ delicate and pure. No longer having lusts of her own to manage, her role was to control the ‘natural’ lust of men and thus preserve civilisation. Dogmas about sexuality had undergone remarkable change. What remained the same was female subordination.
In this ambitious and wide-ranging book, Faramerz Dabhoiwala charts what he calls ‘a history of the first sexual revolution’. He examines the religious, economic, intellectual and social pressures that provided the context for a shift in attitudes towards sexuality. The move from pre-modern to modern times was towards sexual permissiveness