The abnormal sexual act


Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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The "abnormal" sexual act was also described as a "perversion" and you could be put into jail for it (in most states you still can be). Queen Victoria, when informed of consensual acts between women, refused to believe such "abominations" (direct quote) existed.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Christa, 'homosexuality' (a word coined in the Victorian era) was not a new concept but rather a new terminology for what had been called since Biblical times 'sodomy'. In polite conversation the preferred terms were such as 'unnatural vices (or habits, or practices)'.

Getting back to Titanic, you might want to read the book Down with the Old Canoe: A cultural history of the Titanic Disaster by Steven Biel. This reviews public reaction to the event in terms of many of the 'isms' you have mentioned - notably race, class and gender issues, within the broader setting of the Edwardian system of beliefs and values. The book is rather heavy going in places, but you will find in it much food for thought.
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Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Or, as Lord Alfred Douglas described it in his 1892 poem 'Two Loves', it was 'the Love that dare not speak its name.' While not representative of the majority of community attitudes, homosexuality in certain circles (the Decadents, for example) was widely practiced. The gay community was hit with a bombshell with the 1895 conviction of Oscar Wilde for what were described as acts of 'gross indecency'. AE Housman who was, like his brother Lawrence, gay (although much more closeted about it than the remarkably 'out' Lawrence), wrote poetry about what it was to be gay in the post-Wilde era...his Oh Who is that Young Sinner can be read in this context. Poem XLIV in A Shropshire Lad (1896) was a direct response to the suicide of a young man who had discovered he was gay:

Shot? so quick, so clean an ending?
Oh that was right, lad, that was brave:
Yours was not an ill for mending,
’Twas best to take it to the grave.

Oh you had forethought, you could reason,
And saw your road and where it led,
And early wise and brave in season
Put the pistol to your head.

Oh soon, and better so than later
After long disgrace and scorn,
You shot dead the household traitor,
The soul that should not have been born.

Right you guessed the rising morrow
And scorned to tread the mire you must:
Dust ’s your wages, son of sorrow,
But men may come to worse than dust.

Souls undone, undoing others,–
Long time since the tale began.
You would not live to wrong your brothers:
Oh lad, you died as fits a man.

Now to your grave shall friend and stranger
With ruth and some with envy come:
Undishonoured, clear of danger,
Clean of guilt, pass hence and home.

Turn safe to rest, no dreams, no waking;
And here, man, here ’s the wreath I ’ve made
’Tis not a gift that ’s worth the taking,
But wear it and it will not fade.
In the merchant service it was refered to in the sort of terms Bob outlines - practices that were considered too obscene to be refered to in any but the most oblique terms. 'Bu***y' was also a common term.

In reading the correspondence of the people of that era, one is struck immediately by the free use of phrases that would be utterly unnacceptable as public utterances today - 'coons', for example, crops up in the terminology of one deck officer, completely unselfconsciously and coupled with a backhanded compliment at the men thus described.
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Hampstead, London
At just the time of 'Titanic', during his painful efforts to become free of 'isms' - including Freudianism - Freud's 'Crown Prince', Carl Jung, had memorably remarked: "Bring me 'your normal man', and I will try to cure him."
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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Since the subject has been broached....

".... 'homosexuality' (a word coined in the Victorian era) was not a new concept but rather a new terminology for what had been called since Biblical times 'sodomy'. In polite conversation the preferred terms were such as 'unnatural vices (or habits, or practices)'.

And:

"In the merchant service it was refered to in the sort of terms Bob outlines - practices that were considered too obscene to be refered to in any but the most oblique terms. 'Bu***y' was also a common term."

In the interests of exactitude, the term 'homosexuality' does not of itself connote or infer sodomy or buggery. Also I am reliably informed that, among the persuasion, intercourse per ani is a minority pursuit. It might follow that intercourse per ani is just as likely to be found in the marriage bed! Be that as it may....

It is interesting to note that UK-registered merchant ships were expressly exempted from the liberalising provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 at the joint behest of the NUS and MNAOA. This exemption endured until the advent of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994


By virtue(?) of this Act (with its founding in the European Convention on Human Rights) the Royal Navy (and the armed services in general) are now compelled to sanction both the predilection and its concomitant acts; whereas in the merchant service since the 1967 Act it seemed to be the case that the predilection went unaddressed but the concomitant acts were proscribed.

Prior to 1967 the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 prevailed. It was under this Act that Oscar Wilde was indicted.

The current position (....need I rephrase that?) is set out in the aforesaid Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, viz.:

Extension of Sexual Offences Act 1967 to the armed forces and merchant navy.

146.–(1) Section 1(5) of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 (homosexual acts in the armed forces) is repealed.

(2) [This section refers to Scottish issues only]

(3) Section 2 of the [1967 c. 60.] Sexual Offences Act 1967 (homosexual acts on merchant ships) is repealed.

(4) Nothing contained in this section shall prevent a homosexual act (with or without other acts or circumstances) from constituting a ground for discharging a member of Her Majesty's armed forces from the service or dismissing a member of the crew of a United Kingdom merchant ship from his ship or, in the case of a member of Her Majesty's armed forces, where the act occurs in conjunction with other acts or circumstances, from constituting an offence under the [1955 c. 18.] Army Act 1955, the [1955 c. 19.] Air Force Act 1955 or the [1957 c. 53.] Naval Discipline Act 1957.

Expressions used in this subsection and any enactment repealed by this section have the same meaning in this subsection as in that enactment.


Note that the above does not purport to be a complete or definitive exposition of the law.

Noel
 
Jul 9, 2004
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^ Well, it seems everyone else has taken care of that subject.

Christa, Basically vices then were very much like the vices we have today, two books I have, "The Masque Torn Off" and "Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls" (1883 and 1911, respectively) are two good sources for what the Edwardian Period and Victorian Period crusaded against... though "The Masque Torn Off" would not, as I would think, a good representation of the ideology of 1883, as it's a bit extreme. And the 1911 book against prostitution is a little paranoid, "Don't go to theatrical agencies, they'll turn you into a prostitute, don't go to photography studios, they'll make you a prostitute, don't talk to well-dressed women asking about material, they'll eventually make you into a prostitute."

It's almost like that. It's so paranoid it's ridiculous.

Drugs were as much a problem then, as they are today. Back then though, or I should say before the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906, various "Patent Medicines" contained narcotics. Opium was the 19th century's marijuana - but if you have an opium addict in your characters, be very careful how you write that person. (That is, if this is in a story you're writing.) I made a character in my Normandie based story an opium addict. I realized it was a bit late for such a vice, but I went on. It turned out I dropped that element of his character because he always ended up sulking whenever he was in a scene - too heavy-handed and a bit annoying. lol.

But, as far as vices go for that period... It was pretty much the same then as it is today.
 

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