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Brotherly LoveFreemasonry and Male Friendship in Enlightenment France$
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Kenneth Loiselle

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452437

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452437.001.0001

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Confronting the Specter of Sodomy

Confronting the Specter of Sodomy

(p.81) Chapter 3 Confronting the Specter of Sodomy
Brotherly Love

Kenneth Loiselle

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the presence of women in masonic life by focusing on the so-called “adoption lodges,” periodical gatherings in which brethren invited their spouses or female kin to participate in the ritual life of Freemasonry. It begins by charting the history and contours of mixed-gender Freemasonry in Enlightenment France and goes on to discuss the proliferation of adoption lodges throughout the kingdom, the socioeconomic profile of membership, and typical lodge activities. It then considers the range of possible motivations for why men would choose to integrate women into Masonry, shedding further light on gender relations within the fraternity and the underpinnings of male friendship within this particular institutional milieu. It shows that women were introduced into Masonry via the adoption format mainly to defend Freemasons against accusations of sodomy that were frequently leveled against them by the wider French public. It argues that the introduction of female relatives into the lodge defused any potentially erotic component associated with male friendship.

Keywords:   women, adoption lodges, Freemasonry, sodomy, male friendship, Enlightenment, France, gender relations

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