sexuality_in_colonial_massachusett.

May 19th, 2015
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Sexuality in Colonial MassachusettsTHE DUALITY OF WOMEN'S SEXUALITY IN SEVENTEENTH AND EIGHTEENTH CENTURY PURITAN MASSACHUSETTS Liesl Schnuck November 1, 2011 Due to the strength of their belief in and fear of God, colonial Massachusetts's society regulated women's sexuality through a paradoxical relationship: women as saints and women as sinners. Introduction In the religion-obsessed society of colonial Massachusetts, Puritan beliefs dominated contemporary views on sexuality, especially with regard to women. Although Puritan ministers understood human nature's inability to avoid sexual relations, they adamantly professed that sex must not interfere with religion. In order to create stability within their society, ministers and lawmakers turned towards the women to implement and describe sexual regulation. Women's social function was not only complex, but also difficult to define. As historian N.E.H. Hull notes, "theirs was a special place, not altogether enviable-for in this land of saints and sinners, they were viewed as both saintlier and more sinful than men." Not only did society expect and desire women to act morally, but society also feared women for their supposed tendencies to act corruptly. Carol F. Karlsen accurately differentiates between these two identities by naming these women either "handmaidens of the devil" or "handmaidens of the Lord." This distinction demonstrates the binary opposition of women's place in society that existed in the seventeenth and

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