Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: July 1, 2023 - Last updated: July 1, 2023


Author: Patricia Anne Simpson

Title: #MeToo

Subtitle: Prostitution and the Syntax of Sexuality around 1800

In: German #MeToo: Rape Cultures and Resistance, 1770-2020

Edited by: Elisabeth Krimmer and Patricia Anne Simpson

Place: Rochester, NY

Publisher: Boydell & Brewer

Year: 2022 (Publiehed online: October 8, 2022)

Pages: 59-80

Series: Women and Gender in German Studies 10

ISBN-13: 9781640141353 (hardcover) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781800106062 (EPUB) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781800106055 (PDF) - Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 18th Century, 19th Century | European History: German History | Prosecution: Legislation; Representations: Philosophical Texts / Immanuel Kant; Representations: Literary Texts / Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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Authors: Patricia Anne Simpson, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Nebraska-Lincoln - Humanities Commons, ResearchGate

Summary: »The #Me Too Movements assumed specific national and regional characteristics while they circulated globally. In Germany, few powerful men fell from prominence owing to allegations and proof of sexual harassment and predation. #MeToo did, however, reframe a debate about systemic sexism that revived and expanded the agenda of twentieth-century feminism. Still underexamined is the transhistorical normalization of the female body as object of a predatory, prurient gaze and the site of sexual violence as spectacle. In Sexuality, State, and Civil Society in Germany, 1700-1815 (1996), Isabel V. Hull elaborates the "sexual system" of Germany as its leaders negotiate the transition from absolutism to the modern state, with a focus on "the patterned ways in which sexual behavior is shaped and given meaning through institutions." Specifically, she marks a semantic shift in the meaning of Dirne (prostitute), a transformation from the eighteenth-century model of the innocent victim seduced by a male villain to the prostitute, indicative of a nineteenth-century revision in which the man becomes the victim of the promiscuous, sexually incontinent woman. Hull's argument underscores the exclusion of women from civil society. Though objectively true, this thesis is open to criticism, as James Van Horn Melton's intervention reveals. He notes in Hull's work the absence of women writers, salon hosts, and works about intellectual politics and practices that interrogate gendered exclusions. Moreover, as I argue, the issues of female desire and pleasure-and their regulation-elude these analyses. Indeed, there are few narratives in Western modernity that acknowledge female sexuality without relegating it to the realm of innocent purity, sanctioned and contractual reproductivity, or prostitution-that is, transactional sex, for whatever reason, subject to civic regulation. In this chapter, I examine the representation of female sexuality and its syntactical place in a range of texts that do not so much challenge Hull's analysis as capture post-Enlightenment obsessions with women as sexually active yet innocent victims. First, I examine the construction of female submissiveness and victimhood. With reference to two engravings, the Prussian legal code, and Immanuel Kant's moral justification of marriage, I explore three texts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to demonstrate how female desire around 1800 is coded as sacrificial or transactional. Finally, the displacement of seduction, prostitution, and possible violence is mapped onto distant topographies, away from the public gaze.« (Source: Cambridge Core)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Germany / 18th-century history of Germany | Law: Law of Germany / Law of Prussia | Literature: German literature / Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Philosophy: German philosophy / Immanuel Kant