The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud - Vol. 1

By Peter Gay | Go to book overview

TWO

Offensive Women and Defensive Men

MAN'S FEAR of woman is as old as time, but it was only in the bourgeois century that it became a prominent theme in popular novels and medical treatises. It engaged the attention of journalists, preachers, and politicians; it invaded men's dreams and gave them subjects for their poems and paintings. Woman's increasingly open display of her power seemed the public counterpart of that private power that men evoked, more and more anxiously, in the second half of the nineteenth century: both furnished them with formidable arguments against woman's emancipation. For most males luxuriating in dominance, a woman deserting her assigned sphere not only became something of a freak, a man-woman; she also raised uncomfortable questions about man's own role, a role defined not in isolation, but in an uneasy contest with the other sex.

Men's defensiveness in the bourgeois century was so acute because the advance of women all around them was an attempt to recover ground they had lost. In earlier centuries, women had participated in running small family shops, helped to direct craftsmen's enterprises, and played highly visible roles as midwives. Then came, gradually but irresistibly, the modem professions and large-scale manufacturing and merchandising, in which women were denied any posts of command; and the diffusion of prosperity allowed many respectable couples to exempt women from the workplace. Reminiscing at mid-century about the Boston of around I800, Harriot Hunt, America's first successful woman physician, recalled that "those were the days when women were not stigmatized for having

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The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books by Peter Gay *
  • The Bourgeois Experience - Victoria to Freud *
  • Contents *
  • Abbreviations *
  • General Introduction *
  • Orientations 3
  • One - The Strain of Definition 17
  • Two - Architects and Martyrs of Change 45
  • Education of the Senses *
  • Bourgeois Experiences, I - An Erotic Record 71
  • One - Sweet Bourgeois Communions 109
  • Two - Offensive Women and Defensive Men 169
  • Three - Pressures of Reality 226
  • Four - Learned Ignorance 278
  • Five - Carnal Knowledge 328
  • Six - Fortifications for the Self 403
  • Appendix 461
  • Bibliographical Essay 463
  • Illustrations and Sources 509
  • Acknowledgments 513
  • Index 517
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