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Sexual Politics and Feminist ScienceWomen Sexologists in Germany, 1900-1933$
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Kirsten Leng

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781501709302

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501709302.001.0001

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The Erotics of Racial Regeneration

The Erotics of Racial Regeneration

Eugenics, Maternity, and Sexual Agency

(p.184) 5 The Erotics of Racial Regeneration
Sexual Politics and Feminist Science

Kirsten Leng

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores the attraction of racial thinking, and particularly eugenics, for women sexologists. It argues that eugenics’ appeal lay not only in its stress on women’s critical role in racial regeneration, but also in the fact that many eugenicists conceived of sexual ethics in ways similar to many of the female sexual theorists examined in this book. This chapter further demonstrates that eugenics produced more than one kind of sexual politics. Through an in-depth exploration of the work of Grete Meisel-Hess, I show how eugenics, when combined with new understandings of the female sex drive, enabled theorists like Meisel-Hess to argue that women had a right to self-determined sexual experiences, regardless of marital status; to broach a sweeping critique of sexual ethics and arrangements under capitalist patriarchy; and to demand a comprehensive range of reforms to marriage, family law, and the welfare state.

Keywords:   Grete Meisel-Hess, Eugenics, Racial hygiene, Sexual reform, Sexual ethics, Female Sexuality

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