The Double Standard
The women’s movement and supporters of the Public Places (Order) Bill had lost the battle to influence the committee’s recommendations. They had been out-manoeuvred and outwitted. The AMSH and the NCW had been true to their feminist roots and clung firmly to their opposition to the ‘double standard of morality’ which they wished to see replaced by a ‘high and equal’ standard of sexual responsibility for men and women. ‘From the 1880s onwards’, writes Lucy Bland,’…the feminist demand for a single moral standard became central to the women’s movement… Feminists sought transformed sexual relations between men and women in which women were equal and independent and men took responsibility for changing the oppressive aspects of their sexual behaviour.’1 This exalted aspiration rested upon the hope that men would change the self-seeking and advantageous habits of centuries and aspire to the values of chastity before marriage and faithfulness in wedlock, hitherto expected of middle-class women.2 Prostitution and rape had been the foundation upon which this monument to hypocrisy was erected.