The New World of Men and. Women
The men will complain of your reserve. They will assure you
that a franker behaviour would make you more amiable. But
trust me, they are not sincere when they tell you so.
John Gregory, A Father’s Legacy to his Daughters
(2nd edn, 1774), 36
In the various nations [of the world] we find men, in gradations from brutality to considerable knowledge and civilization. I know no circumstance by which this gradation may be marked with so much accuracy and justice, as the treatment of women. It may be denominated the moral thermometer.
Letters on Love, Marriage, and Adultery (1789), 37
The extreme severity with which females, who have fallen from the path of virtue, are treated [is due to] the necessity of separating them entirely from the virtuous. . . A virtuous woman ought not only to be pure in body, but in mind: she should be kept perfectly ignorant of those things.
An Address to the Guardian Society (1817), 10-11
Woman, as is well known, in a natural state – unperverted,
unseduced, and healthy – seldom, if ever, makes any of those
advances, which clearly indicate sexual desire; and for this
very plain reason that she does not feel them.
[William Andrus Allcott], The Physiology of Marriage
The revolution in attitudes towards male and female sexuality had far-reaching consequences. Though, as we have seen, the cult of seduction seemed to lay particular blame on the supposed rapacity of upper-class men, its most obvious effect in practice was to tighten the social constraints on female behaviour. Intertwined with its basic notions of gender were also complicated presumptions about class, privilege, purity, and power. Indeed, the Enlightenment reconfiguration of masculinity and femininity gave rise to some of the thorniest social and ethical questions of the modern sexual world. How culpable was anyone for their own actions? What broader forces moulded human behaviour? How ought men and women to behave?