Whitehouse pp 173-185 | Cite as

Sex and Mary Whitehouse

  • Michael Tracey
  • David Morrison
Part of the Communications and Culture book series


Thinking about sexual behaviour has in the past two decades within our society gone through astonishing twists and turns, radically transforming publicly acclaimed values and mores. No more pertinent index of this has been the rise to fame and acclaim of the homosexual Quentin Crisp. The drama-documentary of Crisp’s life, The Naked Civil Servant, has been applauded both as a brilliant piece of television and as a tribute to a noble figure: as Crisp mutters when confronted by some hooligans, he has become ‘one of the stately homos of England’. What is particularly revealing, though, is the acceptance of Crisp as someone whose attitudes, values and behaviour were not to be held in contempt but rather to be seen as the deep emotions and passions of a person of enormous integrity and courage. Peter Prince captured the mood well in his review (December 1975) in the New Statesman:

And to Quentin Crisp himself, of course. What a satisfactory life his must seem now. From early prolonged disgrace, he has grown, as is his proud boast, into one of ‘the stately homos of England’ and has watched the culture grow too, in his direction, so that gaiety, colour, originality have become valued in a man instead of despised. And to think too how many ex-colonial governors, retired generals, and remaindered judges and statesmen and commissioners of police must have sat biting their knuckles in fury as The Naked Civil Servant unreeled. Once in palmier days they might have anticipated that one day a grateful nation would be bestowing on them the kind of affectionate, graceful tributes that they now saw being lavished on this frightful pansy. Changed, utterly changed. For them now the long years of neglect and debilitation in Surrey or Wilts, the slow descent into the unlauded grave. And for Quentin Crisp at last a place in the sun. A lovely transformation. Pure Christmas.


Satisfactory Life Sexual Behaviour Sexual Attitude Sexual Offence Moral Guidance 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    L. Trilling, ‘The Kinsey Report’, in The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (Secker & Warburg, 1951 ).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    NVALA, Report on the School Broadcasting Monitoring Project, covering Programmes Dealing with Ethical, Social and Personal Topics (Autumn 1970).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    In Malcolm Muggeridge, Tread Softly for You Tread on My Jokes (Fontana, 1972) p. 44.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    For the full text, see Mary Whitehouse, Who Does She Think She Is? (NEL, 1972) Appendix 1.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    See D. Holbrook, ‘The Destruction of the Erotic’, The Times, 26 August 1971;Google Scholar
  6. Holbrook in Lord Longford, Pornography: The Longford Report (Coronet, 1972) pp. 162–76;Google Scholar
  7. Holbrook, ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’, Guardian, 2 September 1972.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    J. Robinson, Honest to God (SCM, 1963 ).Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    J. Robinson, But That I Can’t Believe (Fontana, 1967) p. 34.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    J. Dominion, The Church and the Sexual Revolution (SCM, 1971) pp. 14–15.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    B. Brophy, The Longford Threat to Freedom ( National Secular Society, 1972 ). Precisely, Whitehouse would argue, it is not that she is just against outrage, more significantly she is against change.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Tracey and David Morrison 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Tracey
  • David Morrison

There are no affiliations available

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