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Type: Book chapter
Title: From rape to marriage: questions of consent in eighteenth-century Britain
Author: Barclay, K.
Citation: Interpreting sexual violence, 1660-1800, 2013 / Greenfield, A. (ed./s), Ch.3, pp.35-44
Publisher: Pickering & Chatto
Publisher Place: United Kingdom
Issue Date: 2013
Series/Report no.: The body, Gender and Culture; 14
ISBN: 9781848934399
Editor: Greenfield, A.
Statement of
Katie Barclay
Abstract: Taken from a ‘humorous’ ditty sold alongside the trial of a man for abducting an heiress, the above quotation highlights one of the seeming paradoxes of rape: that the same act of sexual intercourse can have very di erent implications depending on whether the woman involved consented. From the rather sexist perspective of the ballad singer, this paradox could be resolved if women stopped being so ‘wilful’ and subordinated themselves to male desire. e ‘humour’ of the song lay in the fact that, in the context of eighteenth-century Britain, women were expected to refuse sexual advances (at least from men who were not their husbands) and that, increasingly, their resistance to such advances was the central marker of their virtue and character, particularly for non-labouring women.2 As Simon Dickie notes in the context of portrayals of rape in eighteenth-century literature: ‘at every level of society men seem to have expected a show of resistance from any woman who was not completely abandoned’.
Rights: © Taylor & Francis 2013 © Anne Greenfield 2013
DOI: 10.4324/9781315654362
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