chapter  9
18 Pages

Redefining Sex in Eighteenth-Century England

Some eighty or ninety years later, during a period described in Francis Place's autobiography, a very different sexual culture existed, at least among the artisanal classes of London. Place believed that most young people in the 1780s and 1790S were having penetrative sex; that lack of sexual probity in this regard was felt to be no barrier to marriage; and that both women and men considered their sexual lives essentially outside of a moral framework. While claiming that "want of chastity in girls was common," the songs and sayings he quotes leave little doubt as to the penetrative nature of the sexual activity with which he was familiar:.