The Rover

Sex and Sexuality in the Rover College

Sex and sexuality as historical constructs acquired new meanings in the Restoration, with them becoming the essential components of the economy of exchange. Situated amidst the popular libertine culture, the ideals of love, virtue and more importantly, the image of the woman was being redrawn, with her sexuality and resulting autonomy being redefined. Dithering ambiguity ruled over the question of the ownership of a woman’s body, be it a virgin or a whore. The power structures within the Restoration society were gradually changing due to the heavily influential trading economy and the transformed ‘gaze’. This essay will try to analyse how the ‘Repressive Hypothesis’, as Foucault calls it ends up inciting a discourse centred on sexuality, backed by the changes in ‘the gaze’ and thus, the resulting ethos. The libertine culture contributed much to the rise of prostitution as an active economic activity. Keeping that in mind, the essay will attempt to trace how the constructs of sex and sexuality in a trading economy, firmly enmeshed in power structures determine the identity of a woman, her sexuality and autonomy.

Sexuality in the seventeenth century constantly oscillates between free expression and forceful repression, entrenched...

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