Regulating Passion: Sexuality and Patriarchal Rule in Massachusetts, 1700-1830

Hardcover | April 8, 2014

byKelly A. Ryan

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Sexuality was a critical factor that influenced the ways individuals experienced, learned and contested their place in early Massachusetts history. Sexual regulation and derisive sexual characterizations were tools in maintaining the wealth, race, and gender based hierarchy. In the colonialera, a reputation for sexual virtue was most easily maintained by elites, who had the means to avoid sexual regulation. They enacted public and private sexual regulation through the patriarchal household, as well as government and religious institutions. Elites designed laws, judicial and religious practices, institutions, and sermons that betrayed their sense that some groups of persons were criminal, the cause of sexual vice, and in need of supervision, while others were chaste and above reproach in their sexual behavior. Women, African Americans,Indians, and the poor often resisted the efforts of elites and established their own code of sexual conduct that combatted ideas about what constituted sexual virtue and who the proper leaders in society were. After the American Revolution elites were forced to vacate direct sexual regulation, butthey sustained a vision of themselves as leaders and superior to others. During the nineteenth century, sexual reputation grew in importance in sustaining hierarchy by solidifying the sexual identities of poor, wealthy, whites, and men and women of color. A new culture of sexual virtue emerged that was a project of the majority of individuals in society as theysegregated themselves, read literature, reported aberrant behavior to JPs, and interceded with family and friends to promote sexual morality. The standards that dictated the cultural of sexual virtue included sentimentalism, the marital monopoly on sex, and adherence to patriarchal gendered codes ofbehavior. Sexual mores remained essential to the project of differentiating between the virtue of citizens and contesting power structures.

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Sexuality was a critical factor that influenced the ways individuals experienced, learned and contested their place in early Massachusetts history. Sexual regulation and derisive sexual characterizations were tools in maintaining the wealth, race, and gender based hierarchy. In the colonialera, a reputation for sexual virtue was most e...

Kelly A. Ryan is Associate Professor of History at Indiana University Southeast.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:April 8, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199928428

ISBN - 13:9780199928422

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Patriarchy and Sexual RegulationPart One: Sexual Regulation and Patriarchy in the Late Colonial Era1. "The Slaves of Hymen": White Women and the Insistence on Marriage2. "The Passions are against You": White Men's Sexual Reputation3. Racialized Patriarchy: Indians and African Americans in the Patriarchal IdealParty Two: Challenging the Patriarchal Order4. Hardy Men and Rustic Women: The Patriarchal Language of the Imperial Crisis5. Dealing with Independence: The Patriarchal Gaze and the Crisis in Racialized Patriarchy6. Making Chaste Citizens: Sexual Regulation and Reputation in the Early Republic7. Seduced Women and Designing Men: Re-Fashioning the Sexual and Gendered Self8. Scrutinizing Sexuality: Charity and the Patriarchal GazeConclusion: "Nothing But Our Rights": Patriarchy, Sexual Regulation, and PowerAppendixNotesManuscript SourcesIndex