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7 - Dominance and Desire

Stephen Garton
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
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Summary

In seventeenth-century Virginia, planter and promoter Robert Beverley offered visitors a ‘brace of young Beautiful Virgins’ to wait upon these ‘happy gentlemen’ when they retired to their quarters for the night. The women offered to guests were native Americans, whom Beverley thought ‘generally beautiful’. In eighteenth-century Jamaica slave overseer Thomas Thistlewood lost few opportunities to entice and, if necessary, force local slaves to engage in sex. The outposts of European colonization presented bountiful opportunities for sex and he meticulously recorded these conquests in an extensive diary. One of the obvious attractions of the frontier was sex, particularly with ‘exotic’ men and women. Other colonists generally tolerated these ‘manly’ exploits. Planters, overseers, traders, soldiers and merchants were often in a position to insist that the slaves and indigenous people under their rule obey and serve the needs of masters.

Back in the metropolitan centres of European civilization, however, there were still opportunities for sexual conquest. One of the most famous pornographic texts of the Victorian era, My Secret Life (c. 1882) overflows with stories of Walter's ‘erotic whims’. Little excited the gentleman hero of these ‘sexual tales’ more than young virgins, especially maids and serving girls. For Walter, getting one maid to hold down a young girl while he went about his business was enough to make him ‘spend without a touch’. American poet Walt Whitman delighted in bringing home young working-class men from New York, the ‘city of orgies, walks and joys’.

Type
Chapter
Information
Histories of Sexuality
Antiquity to Sexual Revolution
, pp. 124 - 147
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2004

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