By Tim Hitchcock
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Extra resources for English Sexualities, 1700–1800
In the following seven years he became involved with three different women, lost his virginity and finally MARRIAGE, COURTSHIP AND SEXUALITY 35 married. In 1709, 'somewhat intoxicated in liquor', Cannon made an attempt on a young student he was tutoring. He succeeded in putting his hand up her dress to her knees, at which point she began to resist his advances. What happened next is indicative of a very different attitude towards penetrative sex on the part of Joanna, John's new amour, than that held by Mary.
The author of the published account of these events saw the young man's fate as a result of a rash curse he had made some time earlier. After having stolen a Bible, the apprentice swore his innocence, praying that his arms and legs should fall off if he was lying. But many of his fellow villagers saw his case in a rather different light. They believed that the young man's fate was the result of his past sexual behaviour. Whoring, buggery and bestiality were all adduced as possible causes for his condition.
Their clitoris was thought to grow to the point where it could be used for penetrative sex. This belief was used to explain various cases of lesbianism. 11 *** All of these beliefs and processes were, to begin with, part of a broadly shared culture. While the nuance and detail of the model varied depending on class, region and education, the fundamentals remained largely the same. But over the course of the eighteenth century, elite understandings of reproductive biology began to change. This process of intellectual transformation has been most fully charted by Thomas Laqueur.
English Sexualities, 1700–1800 by Tim Hitchcock