Book Reviews

Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain [Violet Fenn- Book Review]

Title: Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain

Author: Violet Fenn

Genre: Historical Nonfiction

Publisher: Pen & Sword

Publishing date: March 30, 2020

Rating: Two stars

I chose this book because I expected an interesting history lesson on a topic I wanted to learn more about. I mean, the cover is cool. The rest of the book was less than stellar to me.

There should be a warning for all of these topics included since they are just thrust upon the reader, and I know they can be hard for some people to handle: rape, child murder, child prostitution, postpartum depression and psychosis, sexual abuse, child harm, suicide, death, violence.

Violet Fenn provides a very chill introduction, saying she wanted to research about the topic of sexuality in this time period because it seems to be one we don’t talk about a lot. She doesn’t have footnotes at all, so I don’t know where some of this info comes from. She does say though that she uses internet searches a lot so you could probably just google this topic, and you would have the gist of her book.

I thought this was going to be all about sexuality and sex in Victorian Britain, but there was a chapter about what they wore. Yes, they would have been useful had it related to how they used it for sex. But it was juts like these people wear these clothes and sometimes they caught fire… omg skirts that were shorter and all of this stuff about clothes that I am not sure why it was included when it never hinted toward how it related to sexuality in the book. I was expecting like women wore the underwear with no crotch for easy sex or something. But nope. It was just like she started writing it, and she did not finish what she was trying to do in order to make her topics relate to each other.

Also, the way consent was talked about was terrible. Yeah, the age was raised to 13, but there was no discussion about the harms of this or how it was wrong. I just felt like she was like look at my sexy book. The age of consent was young, oh well. There could have been more about this topic and how it related to children being sex workers and the damage. Because when talking about sex in the time period, we should also be talking about how it can be harmful. Plus, it was creepy how she talked about the women forced to be tortured by doctors testing out dildos. It was not a fun sexy thing at all. She just made it seem like some kinky thing, and it wasn’t. This really bothered me.

I don’t know what to say about this book. It could have been good, but it was just like a poorly done research paper. If you want to know more about these topics, I am sure you can do your own google search or find better books. I thought this was going to be one of my favorite history books, but I was highly disappointed.

Thank you NetGalley and Pen and Sword for the review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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