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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Catching up on journal literature V

(Bless the e-reader and access to journal subscriptions that permit downloading of articles: boo to the constraints of the BL ILL system which won't enable this useful and ecologically sound way of reading articles).

Harry Cocks, 'Saucy Stories: Pornography, sexology, and the marketing of sexual knowledge in Britain, c. 1918-70' Social History, 29, 2004, pp. 465-484. Looking at issues of distribution and context and how these inflected the way seriously intended works of sexology were perceived. Perhaps doesn't give enough weight to the mid-term in this equation - the catchpenny hackwork of e.g. George Ryley Scott which mined the works of sexologists to produce popular works. Also, omits the Chesser Love without Fear case which is an interesting one, and about what should and shouldn't be in a book of reputable marital advice (I really must read the copy of the original first edition I got hold of!), and doesn't really consider the position of women and social purity in this. They were often pro sex advice - Maude Royden, as I recall, testified for Edward Charles' The Sexual Impulse and Letitia Fairfield for Love without Fear. More of a spectrum there perhaps. But it's a useful article and led me in context of these others to think about space and location and context. Also, class. I'm by no means persuaded that in UK context class is outmoded category in thinking about sexual attitudes.

Frank Mort, 'Striptease: the erotic female body and live sexual entertainment in midtwentieth London', Social History, 32, 2007, pp. 27-53. Not sure if this differs essentially from the chapter in Capital Offences, but it was useful to read in the context of these other articles, and think about space, location and specificity of situation. And things and place which (like the Windmill) are somehow an acceptable exception to normal moral policing. But not infinitely multipliable (uniqueness - e.g. the liminality of the Windmill's physical placing on the borders of Soho and legit theatreland. Interesting thought on the replacement of the street theatre of Soho prostitution after 1959 by 'private' clubs (cf also Houlbrook on the privatised bourgeois respectable homosexual of the 50s).

Matt Houlbrook, 'The Private World of Public Urinals in London, 1918-1957', The London Journal, 25, 2000, pp. 52-70; another look at place and different meanings ascribed to it, and the place of policing practices within the dynamic (bumping up arrest figures). Very useful.

James Hampshire, 'The politics of school sex education policy in England and Wales from the 1940s to the 1960s', Social History of Medicine 18, 2005, pp. 87-105. As I've written on this topic myself in a chapter published a year previously (which isn't mentioned), I was a bit underwhelmed by this - Hampshire hasn't apparently used the Cyril Bibby papers at Cambridge. Also, although I would concur that there was a significant disjunction between the medical support for sex education and apathy or worse from the educationalists, even when they expressed general sympathy with the notion, I think he goes too far in assuming that medical opinion was united and monolithic on the subject! What is useful is that he's looked at the NUT as well as the Department of Education. However, it all leads me to conclude that all the parties (before the 70s, anyway) were generally in favour of sex education, but they wanted someone else to do it, not them. I think this may be the explanation behind a lot of the conflicted tale of sex ed in the UK. Parents want teachers to do it, other people want parents to do it, etc etc.

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