Contrary to the stereotype that women who lived in the be-corseted Victorian era were complete prudes, a sex survey has shown middle-class ladies actually enjoyed sex for its own sake. (Scandalous!) The sex surveys of 45 women have lay unread for decades at Stanford University, where the researcher, Dr. Clelia Duel Mosher, worked. Her frank questionaires for women — conducted far before Alfred Kinsey‘s famous “Kinsey Reports” — reveal Victorian women enjoyed sex, wanted to have sex without fear of pregnancy, and even wished their men improved their game!According to the Telegraph newspaper, Dr. Mosher surveyed 45 women, who were likely all middle-class, between 1892 and 1920. Most of the women said they did not know much about sex before they got married and some said they learned about the “birds and the bees” from watching farm animals. However, after marriage, 35 women said they desired sex and 24 women said sexual pleasure was their reason for schtupping. Three-fourths of the women said they made love once a week.
The Victorian era was still a mighty screwed-up time period when it comes to sex, to be sure; the amount of women who were treated for “female hysteria” with a vibrator at a doctor’s office proves that. Still, the comments by this very small sample of Victorian women surveyed about sex are retro and adorable. I especially like the woman who described sex as “perfecting the spiritual union” and the one who said she and her husband slept in separate beds “to avoid temptation of too frequent intercourse.”
Some things appear to never change, though! In one questionaire, Dr. Mosher noted a not-unfamiliar wifely complaint:
“Thinks men have not been properly trained.”