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Taming Passion for the Public GoodPolicing Sex in the Early Republic$
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Mark E. Kann

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814770191

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814770191.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 24 January 2020

Policing Women’s Sex Lives

Policing Women’s Sex Lives

(p.103) 5 Policing Women’s Sex Lives
Taming Passion for the Public Good

Mark E. Kann

NYU Press

This chapter examines how America's early civic leaders and public officials went about policing sex among women. Thomas Jefferson proposed different approaches for policing male and female passion and sexual behavior. He argued that both high-status males and the state should wield patriarchal authority over other men: governing males, preventing their misconduct, and punishing manifestations of it. By contrast, heads of households—husbands and fathers—would have responsibility for policing female sexuality by confining women to domesticity and ensuring their proper behavior there. This chapter first discusses the concept of marriage for women in post-Revolution America before turning to the husbands' discretionary authority to police their wives' passion and sexuality. It then considers women who had fallen from virtue and the challenges involved in policing public women, along with the punishment of disorderly women through prosecution and incarceration. It also looks at the perpetuation of patriarchy by way of the culture of domesticity to ensure public order after the American Revolution.

Keywords:   policing sex, female passion, patriarchal authority, female sexuality, women, domesticity, marriage, prosecution, incarceration, patriarchy

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