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Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1830s-1900sThe Victorian Period$
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Alexis Easley, Clare Gill, and Beth Rodgers

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474433907

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474433907.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 01 December 2020

The Response of the Late Victorian Feminist Press to Same-Sex Desire Controversies

The Response of the Late Victorian Feminist Press to Same-Sex Desire Controversies

Chapter:
(p.542) 34 The Response of the Late Victorian Feminist Press to Same-Sex Desire Controversies
Source:
Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1830s-1900s
Author(s):

Molly Youngkin

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474433907.003.0035

Molly Youngkin’s essay investigates the heterosexism of a fin de siècle feminist newspaper, the Women’s Penny Paper (1894–99, later retitled the Women’s Herald and the Woman’s Signal), highlighting its treatment of three controversies: the Oscar Wilde trials, the death of poet Amy Levy, and the emergence of Sappho as a model of lesbian new womanhood. When the paper did address these controversies it ‘reshaped narratives about this [same-sex] desire to fit its own heterosexist agenda,’ responded in a disapproving way, or avoided a discussion of sexuality entirely (p. 543). The overall effect of this editorial bias was to pursue an ‘overarching agenda of advocating for heterosexual women’ and to reinforce social purity debates about ‘the effects of men’s sexual practices on heterosexual women and their families’ (p. 544). These feminist papers thus constructed the ‘other’ in ways that upheld restrictive conventions of race and sexuality while claiming to be vehicles of progressive thought.

Keywords:   Heterosexism, feminist newspapers, the Women’s Penny Paper, the Women’s Herald, the Woman’s Signal, Oscar Wilde, Amy Levy, Sappho, fin de siècle

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