True Love and Perfect Union: The Feminist Reform of Sex and Society

True Love and Perfect Union: The Feminist Reform of Sex and Society

True Love and Perfect Union: The Feminist Reform of Sex and Society

True Love and Perfect Union: The Feminist Reform of Sex and Society

Excerpt

This book deals with the mid-nineteenth-century feminist attempt to create a more perfect union. Often at odds with themselves, feminists struggled to forge a new, rational union between the sexes, a union based on what they often referred to as true love. They demanded that both sexes have equal symmetrical development. Many of them expanded the concept of symmetry to include the social system. Feminists rallied round the principle of no secrets, contending that both sexes needed equal access to scientific and sexual truths. They hoped that this principle would instill harmony into private life, although it often resulted in slander and gossip, a consequence feminists did not intend. Feminists championed equal educational and economic opportunities for both sexes in the public realm. Though many of them still clung to fashionable sentimental perspectives and were caught up in the excitement of a fashionable new world created by mid-century dry-goods palaces and department stores, most feminists demanded equally functional dress in public for both sexes. Many feminists were attached to the romanticism of the pre—Civil War period, but, rebelling against their own impulses, they sought to rationalize passion and to suppress private fantasy. They wanted equal . . .

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