chapter  Chapter VIII
10 Pages

Morality Undermined by Sexual Notions of the Importance of a Good Reputation

ByJanet Todd, Marilyn Butler, Emma Rees-Mogg

It has long since occurred to one that advice respecting behaviour, and all the various modes of preserving a good reputation, which have been so strenuously inculcated on the female world, were specious poisons, that incrusting morality eats away the substance. It was natural for women then to endeavour to preserve what once lost was lost forever, till this care swallowing up every other care, reputation for chastity, became the one thing needful to the sex. A false light distorted, for a short time, its shadow reputation; but it seldom fails to become just when the cloud is dispersed that produced the mistake in vision. Many people, undoubtedly, in several respects obtain a better reputation than, strictly speaking, they deserve; for unremitting industry will mostly reach its goal in all races. One should never, perhaps, have heard of Lucretia, had she died to preserve her chastity instead of her reputation.