April R. Haynes

Riotous Flesh

Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-Century America

University of Chicago Press 2015

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 16, 2016 Lilian Calles Barger

April R. Haynes is an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in...

April R. Haynes is an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth- Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2015) Haynes shows how the campaign against masturbation redefined women’s sexuality and reformulated the battle for political rights. Beginning with Sylvester Graham’s “Lecture to Mothers” to reform-minded women to the black abolitionists Sarah Mapps Douglas’s sex education lectures to African American women, masturbation became a topic with both gender and racial import. After a long history of neglect, it became tied to issues of purity, virtue and self-government. Through women reformers the proscriptions against masturbation were popularized and institutionalized. Haynes sheds light on the continued attention given to masturbation in American culture and the women’s movement, demonstrating its political significance.


Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: Religion, Intellectuals and the Challenge of Human Liberation.

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