Victorian morality is a distillation of the moral views of the middle class in 19th-century Britain, the Victorian era. Victorian values emerged in all classes and reached all facets of Victorian living. The values of the period—which can be classed as religion, morality, Evangelicalism , industrial work ethic, and personal improvement—took root in Victorian morality. Current plays and all literature—including old classics like Shakespeare—were cleansed of naughtiness, or " bowdlerized ". Contemporary historians have generally come to regard the Victorian era as a time of many conflicts, such as the widespread cultivation of an outward appearance of dignity and restraint, together with serious debates about exactly how the new morality should be implemented. The international slave trade was abolished, and this ban was enforced by the Royal Navy.
Victorian sexualities - The British Library
Foucault pointed out that, far from being silenced, sex was spoken everywhere in the 19th century in a wide range of contexts including the law, medicine, religion, education. Much academic and popular work since has considered the many ways in which Victorians did experience and speak of desire. Albert really is quite charming, and so excessively handsome, such beautiful blue eyes, an exquisite nose, and such a pretty mouth with delicate moustachios and slight but very slight whiskers; a beautiful figure, broad in the shoulders and a fine waist. Gendered ideals of the sexual purity of the respectable woman, though never unchallenged, helped to enshrine a sexual double-standard. This double-standard is apparent in legislation such as the Matrimonial Causes Act of women could be divorced on the grounds of their adultery alone, while it had to be proved that men had exacerbated adultery with other offences. Similarly unequal were the notorious Contagious Diseases Acts of the s which aimed to deal with rife sexually transmitted disease in the armed forces by the forcible medical examination of women prostitutes in garrison towns.
Historical Sex: The Victorians – disease, pornography and royal sex chairs
The popular image of the Victorians is one of buttoned up social manners and table legs covered in cloths in case the menfolk became overexcited. But there was far more lurking under the surface of Victorian society than the history books would have you think. Syphilis was seemingly everywhere in the mid s — not only was it disfiguring, it could affect your mental health and also be passed down to your children and there was no cure. The Goodyear factory began producing rubber condoms in , but most were still made from animal intestine, which was prone to tearing.
What happened behind closed Victorian bedroom doors was a taboo subject. Among the uptight middle classes the prevailing attitude was that sex was necessary for reproduction but not something to be discussed in polite society — let alone enjoyed. Most brides arrived at their wedding night having not even the faintest idea about what was expected and many were simply terrified.