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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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“New Social and Moral Values Will Have to Prevail”

“New Social and Moral Values Will Have to Prevail”

Negotiating Crisis and Opportunity in the First World War

(p.221) 6 “New Social and Moral Values Will Have to Prevail”
Sexual Politics and Feminist Science

Kirsten Leng

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how women sexologists diverged from their male peers in their analyses of the First World War and its effects. By focusing on the work of Grete Meisel-Hess, Henriette Fürth, Helene Stöcker, and Mathile Vaerting, it shows how they gave greater credence to women’s subjective experiences of the war and challenged their male colleagues’ attempts to blame women for the war’s so-called sexual problems, including the spread of venereal diseases, proliferation of prostitution, decline in birth rates, and “degeneration” of public morality. Most importantly, it demonstrates how women sexologists treated the war as an opportunity for rethinking and transforming sexual life. At the same time, this chapter highlights the persistence of biopolitical concerns in women’s writings—concerns only heightened by the war’s dire consequences.

Keywords:   First World War, Helene Stöcker, Grete Meisel-Hess, Mathilde Vaerting, Henriette Fürth, Degeneration, Pacifism, Biopolitics, Sexual Reform

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