chapter  5
20 Pages

Making Heterosexuality

Did the intense Protestant scrutiny of sex and marriage fundamentally alter the lives of ordinary people? This is a question we have broached before in relation to Catholic teachings. Some historians, such as Eamon Duffy, have stressed the profound transformations in village life wrought by the Protestant Reformation. It destroyed a socially undifferentiated and harmonious village community life and created a more oligarchic and individualist society.6 In the realm of sex, however, the evidence is more ambiguous. Certainly there is abundant evidence that prostitution, concubinage and sexual licence flourished in early-modern Europe and America, just as it had in the West before the Reformation. A number of works have focused on the emergence of a significant 'libertine' culture in early-modern Europe, while others have highlighted the 'sexual freedom' of the American frontier.7