Sex and the Gender Revolution, Volume 1: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London

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University of Chicago Press, 1998 - Social Science - 528 pages
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A revolution in gender relations occurred in London around 1700, resulting in a sexual system that endured in many aspects until the sexual revolution of the 1960s. For the first time in European history, there emerged three genders: men, women, and a third gender of adult effeminate sodomites, or homosexuals. This third gender had radical consequences for the sexual lives of most men and women since it promoted an opposing ideal of exclusive heterosexuality.

In Sex and the Gender Revolution, Randolph Trumbach reconstructs the worlds of eighteenth-century prostitution, illegitimacy, sexual violence, and adultery. In those worlds the majority of men became heterosexuals by avoiding sodomy and sodomite behavior.

As men defined themselves more and more as heterosexuals, women generally experienced the new male heterosexuality as its victims. But women—as prostitutes, seduced servants, remarrying widows, and adulterous wives— also pursued passion. The seamy sexual underworld of extramarital behavior was central not only to the sexual lives of men and women, but to the very existence of marriage, the family, domesticity, and romantic love. London emerges as not only a geographical site but as an actor in its own right, mapping out domains where patriarchy, heterosexuality, domesticity, and female resistance take vivid form in our imaginations and senses.

As comprehensive and authoritative as it is eloquent and provocative, this book will become an indispensable study for social and cultural historians and delightful reading for anyone interested in taking a close look at sex and gender in eighteenth-century London.

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Although, the works of Randolph Trumbach are really praiseworthy, since they bring out a very important historical aspect -- a basic historical fact that the western world today, especially the 'homosexual' movement, has near totally sidelined, while propagating the lie of a hetero-homo divide between men (when the divide is actually that of 'man' and 'third gender') -- there is one thing, where Randolph is wrong.
It is not for the first time that the third genders emerged in Europe. Third genders have always been there in every human society, simply because, they are an integral biological part of the human species. They were surely there in the ancient Greek times too, as catamites and eunuchs, as much as they were in other pre-Christian European societies, (eg, the argr in Viking cultures). It's only that Christianity came down heavily upon transgenderism and destroyed the very concept of 'third gender' or a different/ feminine gender for men, from the cultural mindset of the western society. The resultant Western culture today, cannot comprehend the concept of two genders of males. Modern science -- which has taken many of the baggages of Christianity on male gender and sexuality (including its obsession with reproduction being the driving force of life, especially of males) -- followed suit, by negating human gender (masculine/feminine identity as opposed to male/female), and thus negating third genders, as a valid human trait. Indeed, the western society totally denies the biological aspect of 'gender' and claims it to be entirely a social construct.
It's just that in the early eighteenth century, the period that Trumbach is considering here, in England, the third genders started to re-emerge in the western world, from wherever they'd been hiding all these two milleniums, as the power of Christianity waned, and there was more sexual freedom -- at least for heterosexuality (and, while sexuality between 'normal' males is negated by heterosexualized societies, effeminate male sexuality for men is readily acknowledged and given space (albeit a separate space that essentially, only the feminine gender of males deserve or care for) as this serves to stigmatize love and intimacy between men for the masculine gendered males, who must embrace a heterosexual identity and lifestyle to be counted as one of the men -- which is now akin to the 'straight' identity).
In the absence of a clear cut concept of 'third gender' (and indeed of 'gender' (masculine identity/ feminine identity) existing as distinct from "outer sex" (male/ female) and forming an important part of one's gender identity), the third genders in the west, started to see themselves as males who were distinct from the masculine gendered males on account of their "sexuality for men," (which 'apparently' the other, masculine gender of males lacked), rather than their feminine gender. This misconception was fed by the fact that the masculine gendered males have always been under pressure to prove their sexuality for women, to attain social manhood and a respectable place in men's spaces. It's an absolute necessity to survive in the intense race for social manhood, that is an integral part of male peer groups, to prove one's sexual capabilities with women. Heterosexual performance has been the 'manhood' test that all boys seeking to attain manhood (as distinct from queerhood) have to go through, for several thousand years now, in most human societies. Anyone who has a need to be part of these men's spaces (because of his strong inner male identity) has to give in to this pressure to have sex with women (which is today exaggerated in the west into a full-time 'heterosexual' identity), whether or not his inner sexual needs truly desire that ... even if he is actually repulsed by the idea ... and also, the males with an inadequate male identity don't want to be part of these men's spaces, and so its actually


Extramarital Relations and Gender History
Numbers and Topography
The Prostitutes Life
Prostitution Sentimentalized
The Foul Disease
Shame and Rape
Desertion and Incompatibility
Romance and Adultery

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About the author (1998)

Elizabeth A. Kaye specializes in communications as part of her coaching and consulting practice. She has edited Requirements for Certification since the 2000-01 edition.