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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: May 2015

4 - Continuities and change in sexual behaviour and attitudes since 1750

from Part I - Social developments


Global variations in sexual attitudes and practices depend to a large degree on elements such as religion, industrialisation, urbanisation, population growth and changes in technology. Religious constructions of gender and sexuality were reinforced by science, politics and law, all representing women as mentally and physically inferior to men, and homosexual men as inferior to heterosexual men. This chapter examines sex and marriage during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe, European colonies, and East Asia, and talks about prostitution and homosexuality. From the eighteenth century onwards, prostitution was seen to be an ever-growing problem that needed regulating and containing. Reactions towards prostitution were mixed, with some authorities bringing out new laws to prevent it, while others decided on a path of increased tolerance. Many young women and men lost ties with family and communities with the move to the cities and became more vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

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