The Sexual Insult: Medicalized Views of Singleness during the Long Nineteenth Century

  • Andrea Mansker
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


The last chapter highlighted Ly’s concept of the self-sufficient female body, which served as the basis of her demand for women’s active participation in the civic realm. Ly’s model of agency was partly a response to the nineteenth-century understanding of female honor as rooted in a woman’s marital status, or in her sexual and familial relationship to a man. As the Ly-Massat affair and all of the gendered conflicts over honor near the turn of the century illustrate, women’s adoption of social and sexual identities outside of marriage was the crucial factor that blurred the public and private boundaries of both the codes of sociability and republican citizenship. Whether observers accepted Ly’s idea of an “honor without sex,” or whether they defended the virtuous “honest woman” from assaults on her sexual reputation, they positioned women’s marital status as the pivot around which discussions of women’s civic capacity revolved.


Religious Order Single Woman Unmarried Woman Sexual Abstinence Honor Code 
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Copyright information

© Andrea Mansker 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Mansker
    • 1
  1. 1.Sewanee: The University of the SouthUSA

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