Rebels in Bohemia: The Radicals of the Masses, 1911-1917

By Leslie Fishbein | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 7 The New Feminism

Stereotyping by Sex

The Victorian heritage of the new radicals was particularly evident with regard to their feminism. Although most of them campaigned actively for equality between the sexes, their view of sex roles was limited by stereotypes inherited from a previous age. The Victorians viewed the female body as a limited system that provided women with only enough energy for childbearing. Physicians advocated that young women limit their activities to a quiet regimen of domestic routine that would provide moderate exercise and permit the full development of the maternal organs.1 Obviously such a view of women saw the maternal function as their transcendent purpose and designated the home as women's proper sphere. This Victorian view was reinforced for the new radicals by the writings of Sigmund Freud. From a Freudian perspective, women were hommes manqués, embittered for having been wronged from infancy, brought into the world as women instead of as men.2 They were lesser beings of a different order from men. Sexual differentiation was reflected in personality type from infancy onward; females by nature tended toward passivity and sexual repression.3

Victorian stereotypes pervaded the writings of the new radicals on the subject of women. Charles Erskine Scott Wood viewed nature as a feminine principle, benevolent, soothing, a mother to a helpless child.4 Wood viewed himself as that child, who rested his head in Nature's lap and there found ease and the succor of freedom.5 This image also occurs during Floyd Dell's psychoanalysis. Dell composed four lines of verse about a dream in which he returned to a female figure and laid his head upon her knees to weep; the woman silently drew his hands into hers "for rest and keeping." In recalling the dream Dell realized that the woman in it had been his mother, a "very illuminating" thought for a man in analysis.6 Both in Wood's poetic fancy and in Dell's dream-work women appear as maternal creatures who can bring rest and comfort to their troubled men-children.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Rebels in Bohemia: The Radicals of the Masses, 1911-1917


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 270

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?