Great Sport and Merriment


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Jul 9, 2000
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Timothy Bradsoy made the following posts in the Movies folder:
Take off your ROSE colored glasses! Sexuality existed before and after 1912. It's never been static or linear.

Forms of misogyny

....Other forms of misogyny may be more subtle. Some misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories. Entire cultures may be said to be misogynist if they treat women in ways that can be seen as harmful. Examples include forcing women to tend to all domestic responsibilities, demanding silence from a woman, or beating a woman. Subscribers to one model, the mother/whore dichotomy, hold that women can only be "mothers" or "whores." Another variant is the virgin/whore dichotomy, in which women who do not adhere to a saintly standard of moral purity are considered "whores."


It seemed pretty clear to me that Rose wasn't conventional. Rose detested the formality and hypocrisy of the era and especially her mother. The official Roaring 20s were only a few years away, although it was already underway for some, and Rose was ahead of her time. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=546
For 17 she was fairly well read (how many teenagers read Freud?) albeit still very naive. She wasn't a virgin (Cal treated her like a whore and said as much) her mother basically pimped her out to Cal already...even shared connecting suites to protect her income. Pregnant Madeline Astor wasn't much older than Rose and she was involved in a scandalous affair that Rose seemed amused by. And Guggenheim had his mistress aboard. Was she rebellious?...hell yes! I'm suprised she didn't pull a Lizzie Borden with that ax. But the Upper Classes, the Kings and Queens of the Industrial Revolution had a different set of morals than the American/English Middle Classes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Sanger
He has a point. Sex wasn't invented in the 1960's and some of us just might be surprised at just how long the "Free Love" ideal has been around. (H.G. Wells was one of it's advocates!) Have fun with it, but as I said, keep it PG rated.
 

Brian Ahern

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I hope I won't seem wierd, but I have thought about which passengers we have reason to believe had sex lives either before or outside of matrimony.

Off the top of my head, there's:
Quigg Baxter-Berthe De Villiers
Ben Guggenheim-Leontine Aubart
Maybelle Thorne-George Rosenshine
Kate Phillips-Mr. Morley
Stewardess Pritchard, who had a daugther and pretended to be a widow but had apparently never been married.
Harriette Crosby (child out of wedlock)
Dorothy Gibson (affair with Jules Brulatour; and a judge - according to at least one contemporary newspaper account - deemed both parties to have been unfaithful to each other after their marriage).
Mabel Fortune (lived with Charlotte Armstrong)
 
S

sashka pozzetti

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you could add on Lady Duff Gordon, and also possibly include Mabel Francatelli.
 

Tim Brandsoy

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Plus í§a change, plus c'est la míªme chose
"the more things change, the more they remain the same!"

People then or now didn't stray too far from their class or social surroundings. Either the neighbor in the Hamptons or the gardener ;-) But the fling with the gardener didn't make the Society Page.
 
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I'm a bit surprised that this thread hasn't taken off like a runaway rocket. For all that we may percieve that people of the Victorian/Edwardian age were so prim and proper, the reality tended to be otherwise. When they got caught out, it often made for some really juicy scandalmongering in the press.
 
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Hostesses at the great English country houses (the more open-minded ones, at least) took special care to give recognised 'couples' bedrooms in close proximity to one another. Their reputations were based on their abilities to keep their guests happy!

Both the Marlborough House Set and the Souls abided by a different moral code to the middle classes - with the example set by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), this is hardly surprising. Corridor creeping was rife and young girls were often in mortal terror, not just from ghosts, but from other unwonted midnight visitors. Elinor Glyn has great fun with this in her first novel, 'The Visits of Elizabeth'.

Sometimes, things could go badly wrong for amorous gentlemen staying in unfamiliar houses. The most famous story concerned a certain roue who set out to call upon a well-known beauty in the small hours of the morning. He groped his way into what he thought was her room and then jumped into the four-poster bed, shouting 'Cock a doodle doo!' But when trembling hands had lit the candles, it transpired that he was lodged between the Bishop of Chester and his wife...
 

Brian Ahern

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Michael wrote:
"I don't think any of you will find that the extracirricular activities then were that much different from what goes on these days. They just had to be a lot more discreet about it."

I'm wouldn't put it exactly like that. It's certainly true that things were not as repressed as we think, but I still believe that most people - certainly most women - were virgins when they married and remained virgins if they didn't marry.
 

Julie Goebel

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What an interesting topic. I am half way into Stenson's bio of Lightoller and wondered what his fellow crew thought of him hanging out with a girl as much as did.
 
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>>But when trembling hands had lit the candles, it transpired that he was lodged between the Bishop of Chester and his wife...<<

Oooops! I'll bet that went over real well!
blush.gif
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Brian, I agree with you that codes of behaviour in sexual matters were very different in 1912 from what they are today.

Once again, I can best comment on the doings of Society - not perhaps 'representative' of the majority of the population at this time but it is at least easier to make generalisations when looking at a relatively small group. As I suggested in my last post, the infidelities of the upper classes have passed into legend. There were very many famous liaisons, some long-standing - Mary Elcho and Arthur Balfour, Elinor Glyn and George Curzon, Violet Granby and Harry Cust, Teresa Londonderry and Harry Cust, Gladys de Grey and Harry Cust...to say nothing of the king himself, who had at least three 'official' mistresses besides numerous, more casual, partners drawn from both the aristocracy and the demi monde.

It is worth noting that all of the women I've mentioned above were MARRIED. It was generally acknowledged that debutantes were 'out of bounds' until safely wed, when they were more or less free to do as they pleased - certainly once they had produced the requisite heir and spare. The notion of 'damaged goods' was very prevalent throughout the Victorian and Edwardian Eras and a girl who got herself 'talked about' was likely to find her prospects hindered, if not scuppered entirely. We should remember that the heyday of High Victorianism had long since passed by 1912 and attitudes were perhaps a little bit (but only a LITTLE bit) more liberal than they had been twenty or thirty years previously. However, unmarried girls were still rigorously chaperoned and the restrictions placed upon them were legion; as I've mentioned in another post, Lady Diana Manners was still forbidden, in 1914, to dine alone in a restaurant or hotel with any young man. Debutantes coming out as late as 1958 recalled their own 'spectacular lack of sexual self-awareness' and I find little reason to doubt Brian's assertion that the majority of girls were married off with their virginity more or less intact.

The same restrictions were not necessarily applied to aristocratic young men, who were expected to sow a certain number of wild oats - albeit not with women of their own class. Brothels and prostitutes, from the East End doxy to the grande horizontale, abounded. And I can think of a particularly repulsive letter written by Diana Manners just before the Great War in which she crows about the exploits of one of her male contemporaries from 'the Corrupt Coterie', who had availed himself of the opportunity to seduce a parlourmaid after a lunch party. Diana termed this 'all very eighteenth century and droit de seigneur and rather nice', although I do wonder if the maid herself, had she become pregnant or contracted a venereal disease, would have agreed.

What is so unattractive about all of this is that the same standards did not apply to the lower classes - when, for example, Lord Curzon found out that one of his housemaids had been carrying on with a footman, he put 'the little slut' out on the street within the hour. J.B. Priestley explores the damaging effects of the sexual double standard in his masterful 'The Edwardians'.

When considering the middle and lower classes, it is harder to make generalisations. But I can state fairly confidently that the stigma attached to any young girl discovered having sex before marriage - still worse, having a baby out of wedlock - was absolutely immense.

Lastly, I'd observe that sex was simply NOT a part of daily or open conversation for anybody, male or female, of any age or background. Of course, there might be discussions between good friends - but these would be in hushed tones and very much behind closed doors. Discretion was obligatory. We might find this hard to believe now, when we are bombarded with images of naked flesh at every turn, but a century ago, things were hugely different. And it goes without saying that anything unorthodox - like homosexuality - was totally beyond the pale.
 

Brian Ahern

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All very well-said, Martin.

Another passenger we can add to the list is Charles Dahl, whose ET bio says he fathered a child out of wedlock. And I know that Alfred Nourney was rumored to have done so, but I don't if this has been verified.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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A couple more thoughts from me...

Harry Cust, the most legendary roue of the late Victorian Era, was known to have sired an entire nurseryful of bastards through his liaisons with various well-known Society beauties. Not for nothing was he known as 'Father of the House of Lords' by the 1920s. Even Burke and Debrett now openly acknowledge that he was the 'real' father of Lady Diana Cooper by her mother, Violet Granby (later Duchess of Rutland).

The sheer number of extra-marital affairs indulged in by the well-born could sometimes create awkward situations in company. As one cautious mother (I think Lady Moncrieffe of That Ilk) warned her debutante daughter: 'NEVER comment on a likeness...'
 
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It further occurs to me that the Lord Chamberlain exercised very rigorous control over plays produced in the UK and that he could suppress or ban any work he deemed unsavory or improper. References to sexual matters on the stage had be be very heavily veiled if indeed they were made at all. I find it hard to believe that such restrictions, in operation in the public arena, didn't impact on the attitudes of the Edwardians behind closed doors.

In fact - weren't plans for a production of 'Three Weeks' scuppered for this very reason? It is perhaps significant that the novel itself, when published in 1907, caused a sensation we'd find hard to understand today. As bodice-rippers go it is fairly tame but it continued to sell in 'Da Vinci Code' quantities right on through to the Twenties, and even beyond.
 
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