Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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Start: Alphabetical Index: Speaker Index: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

First published: April 8, 2017 - Last updated: December 1, 2023


Speaker: Elissa Isenberg

Title: Victims or Vixens?

Subtitle: Sexual Harassment in the Industrial Workplace, 1870-1914

Conference: 17th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders and Sexualities: Difficult Conversations: Thinking and Talking About Women, Genders, and Sexualities Inside and Outside the Academy (June 1-4, 2017) - Online Program

Session: Protective Legislation in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century America (Chair: Julie Kay Berebitsky)

Place: Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, United States

Date: June 3, 2017

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 19th Century, 20th Century | American History: U.S. History | Types: Sexual Harassment / Sexual Violence at the Workplace


Link: -


Speaker: Speaker's Personal Website,

Abstract: »More than a century before sexual harassment was a recognized legal theory, the industrial workplace was a space of sexual coercion. As young women emerged from domesticity and entered the public sphere, the relationship between men and women became more informal than it had been in the Victorian era of chaperoned conversation. This new lifestyle was most pronounced in the workplace where women worked long hours with little supervision, often in "scanty clothing on account of the heat," and flirtation between foremen and female subordinates was rampant. Even more problematic than flirtation, though, was the alarming frequency with which harassment occurred and the apparent disregard for it in the public sphere. Despite the fact that many instances were overlooked by law enforcement and, subsequently the press, several cases stand out as sensationalized, well-documented, and truly appalling examples of workplace sexual harassment in the period between the Civil War and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. These cases arose before there were established legal remedies for sexual harassment, and, more importantly, before women achieved the right to participate fully in the public sphere. Despite implications that women's reproductive health and their ability to work were the primary reasons for protective legislation, this paper argues that the sensationalism and widespread media coverage of the cases examined make it virtually impossible for lawmakers to have been unaware of the sexual exploitation of women in the workplace.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1865-1918) | Sex and the law: Sexual harassment