“Victorian Sexualities,” by Holly Furneaux

Wikis > “Victorian Sexualities," by Holly Furneaux


Furneaux, Holly. “Victorian Sexualities.” The British Library, The British Library, 28 Mar. 2014,


I used this article to research my presentation on sex and the city in The Savoy, Volume 2. This article explores Victorian sexuality in light of new research on gender identity in the nineteenth century by Judith Butler.

Furneaux clarifies the misconception of Victorian sexual prudence and provides context to why the general population thinks of the century as conservative. Furneaux’s answer is that sex was idealized as an enjoyable activity for men, whereas women merely withstood it. Men existed in the public sphere with agency, where women stood stagnant in the domestic sphere in an effort to reserve purity. The social contracts were reinforced and perpetuated by gender socialization at the time, and has shaped our understanding of the century’s social politics.

This article was useful in my research because it provided context regarding gender relations so that I was able to analyze the representation of gender and sex in image and text against Victorian ideologies. This article is owned by “Discovering Literature,” which is a branch of the British Library and offers access to the Library’s literary and historical collections.


By Vanessa Mainella