Informalisation and Emancipation of Lust and Love: Integration of Sexualisation and Eroticisation since the 1880s

  • Cas Wouters


In this chapter I examine changes in romantic and sexual relations of young people in relation to the emancipation of women and young people since the 1880s, a point when social codes dominating the relations between women and men, girls and boys, parents and children, changed towards greater leniency, as part of processes of informalisation. What follows is a sketch of how young people and women have successfully escaped from under the wings of parents, men, and husbands, and how this has coincided with an emancipation of their sexuality. As individuals and collectively, women and young people increasingly became sexual objects as well as sexual subjects: in processes of trial and error, they increasingly learned to cope with sexual longings, both with those of others directed towards themselves and with their own. As part of these processes, they directed themselves both to established codes and to their internalised codes about how to connect and integrate sex and love—that is, to connect sexual and relational intimacy. These codes were changing as women and young people became emancipated, thus propelling subsequent attempts at finding a more gratifying and enduring lust balance between sexual pleasure and relational fulfilment. These changes manifested themselves in subsequent spurts of sexualisation and eroticisation. This chapter sketches significant moments in these processes and ultimately raises the question ‘Where are we now?’ A tentative answer to this question is attempted as a theory about why love has become more difficult, lasting love in particular.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cas Wouters
    • 1
  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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