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Sex Expression and American Women Writers 1860–1940$
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Dale M. Bauer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832301

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887691_bauer

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The Sexualization of American Culture

The Sexualization of American Culture

(p.21) Chapter One The Sexualization of American Culture
Sex Expression and American Women Writers 1860–1940

Dale M. Bauer

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter delves into the story of three generations of U.S. women writers who wrote about sexuality from 1860 through 1940. Their story concerns women's investment in sexuality, intimacy, and “sex power” as alternatives to what much of the nineteenth century saw as individual self-expression. Refusing to sentimentalize sexuality any longer and instead claiming sexual desire as a new form of women's power, many writers adopted the rhetoric of free choice to establish their own authority in sexual matters. In doing so, these women writers first had to distinguish sexuality from its previous configuration as a racial or class inheritance or even a Lamarckian characteristic, passed down over generations through acquired traits.

Keywords:   U.S. women writers, sexuality, intimacy, sex power, individual self-expression

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