Did the Industrial Revolution lead to a sexual revolution?

Issues of did the Industrial Revolution lead to a Sexual Revolution

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There were many issues regarding this topic but we wanted to highlight is, “Did the Industrial revolution lead to a sexual revolution?” Taken from the historian Edward Shorter, he argues that an increase rate of illegitimacy is caused by the employment opportunities outside the home that opened up with industrialization. This according to him will lead to the sexual emancipation of unmarried, which are the working-class women.

In many of the European countries, this period of time is where industrialization takes place. In was in 1750 and 1850 the illegitimacy rate rose around Europe. The question rose on is the change of living and working habits of unmarried women and introduce new attitudes that made them more interested in sex was due to the coming from the comings of the capitalism.

In Edward Shorter’s view, he asserts that a nineteenth century sexual revolution happened due to the capitalism revolution. Young men and women works for wages as it is because the value of self-interest and competitiveness of market economy. Thus it changes the value system of the proletarian subculture. The workers get the meaning of independency by having their own money. Most of the young women struggling to get their own personal freedom and they look at sex as one of the way to fulfil their own self-satisfaction. They only cared for their independence from family control. This causes to rise in illegitimacy rates.

Contrary to that, many factors that encourage women go to work. According to other historians, one of the factors is the focusing of the family interest rather than self-interest which strongly motivated the women to go to work. Then by the end of the period, women gradually moved to the industrial work. They were not focusing on factory work rather mainly work for domestic service, laundering, and tailoring. But from those work, they only earned little money to let them be independent. Marriage would be followed by those who those who did probably kept the traditional assumption that premarital intercourse with an intended bridegroom. But the pressures eventually loss, thus young women moved on to other work or better opportunities.

According to Shorter, the attitude of working women change as they entered the capitalist labour force and these attitudes lead them to pursue personal pleasure such as sex, which in the absence of birth control, and resulted in higher rates of illegitimacy. Therefore, they created a mechanism to control the female Emancipation, birth and fertility.

Female emancipation was originated among upper-class women in the mid-nineteenth century; it was along with the movement for emancipation of the slaves as involves women’s participation in national political life. It is valid to family history. There are changes of the status of women from young and poor women to older women of higher status in order to get emancipation. This can be seen through women’s involves in marketplace. It was a radical shift in the position of women within the family starting late in the eighteenth century.

The female emancipation can be defined as it is the general statement about the position of women within early modern European families are uncertain in the extreme because, at the same time, so many impressions of individual famous women are to be found in the literature and so little is known in a systematic, quantitative way about the cultural rules and norms of women in the popular classes. Yet one might fairly characterize the situation of most women as one of subordination. In the first place, both young men and women were the mating market customarily replaced romantic lobe in bringing young couples together. In the second place, both social ideology and the force of events conspired to make the husband supreme over the women in the household, his obligation being merely to respect her, hers, however, to serve and obey him. In most matters of sex, economics, or family authority the women was expected to do the husband’s bidding. Clearly individual exceptions existed, yet the rule seems to have been powerlessness and dependency for the women.

Thus female emancipation involves, quite simple the replacement of this subordination with independence. In the nineteenth and twelfth centuries, married women acquired for themselves first, practical leverage on household political power, and second, a family ideology stressing their own rights to sexual gratification and emotional autonomy and unmarried women became increasingly convinced of the impropriety of family and community restraints upon social and sexual relations, so that they came to ignore the strictures of both parents and community in order to gratify their own personal needs.

Therefore, women’s emancipation at the popular level means disregarding outside controls upon personal freedom of action and sexuality for the sake of individual self-fulfilment. The evidence show that movement toward female emancipation among the popular culture exist on us at the beginning of the research. There are crucial changes in the status and authority the women were under way after 1750 and that these changes were linked in some way to economic modernization. The search for evidence may be aided by considering the nature of the change in the relationship between married woman and husband as well as that between the young, unmarried woman and parental and communal authority.

There was a theme of escape from old jobs. Young women wanted when possible, to forsake domestic service for employment that would safeguard personal independence. The unpopularity of service mat is seen in the cries about shortage of rural labour that became a constant theme in social criticism from the mid-eighteenth century onward.

First consequence of capitalism for women is subculture weakened traditional moral taboos and destroyed internalized antisexual values.

Second crucial consequence of capitalism for women came in the area of personal values: an unwillingness to accept the dictates of superordinate and a new readiness to experiment with personal freedom and gratification. It quickened the interest in intercourse as an aspect of personality development and the third dimension of capitalism to which we now turn, removed many of external controls upon female sexual emancipation.

Last consequence of the capitalism would be industrial advance worked in the interest of women by modifying with wage labour the balance of power in the family. Paid employment meant that women would bring a distinct, quantifiable contribution to the family’s resources and accordingly would be entitled to a greater voice in the disposal of these resources.

As many sociologist of the family have noted, the wife’s influence within the conjugal unit is a direct function of the status she enjoys in the outside world and of the resources she is able to import form that world into the family circle. Although, capitalism entailed a quite material source of female independence and autonomy increasing vastly the leverage formerly obtained from customary dependent, unpaid “women’s worker.”

These massive shift in economic structure, culture, and individual mentalities affect either marital or non-marital fertility link between emancipation and the increase in illegitimacy seem crisp and strong; those between capitalism and marital fertility are largely artifacts. For the unmarried woman capitalism meant personal freedom, which meant in turn sexual freedom. The young women could withstand parental sanctions against her sexual and emotional independence because the modern sector promised employment, economic self-sufficiency, and if need be, migration from home to another town. Such independence meant often as we have seen a paramour and therewith, in the absence of birth control, illegitimacy.


Mitchell, H. B, & Mitchell, J. R., (2011). Clashing views in world history: The modern era to the present, New York: Mc Graw Hill.

Shorter, E. (1973). Female emancipation, birth control, and fertility in European history. The American Historical Review. 78(3), 609, Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1847657?seq=5