Gendered London



This second chapter on late Georgian London is concerned with gender relations in a society increasingly shaped by market forces. Throughout the book my analysis of London’s patriarchal culture encompasses three interconnected aspects: male fantasies about women; the constructions of femininity which both reflected women’s social situation and sought to shape it proactively; and the mobility and (in)dependence of women of the bourgeoisie. Within this framework, this chapter begins by discussing Blake. My provocative aim is to broaden historiographical discussion of gender in this period beyond its recent concentration on ‘polite’ discourses. Blake’s visions of London are important for their suggestive psychological insights into ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and, in their account of the demoralisation of semi-skilled outworkers, as a corrective to the complacency of genteel consumers. I then examine the interaction between men and women on London’s streets, arguing that, in addition to socioeconomic factors, consideration of child-rearing practices can illuminate the fantasies which influenced male behaviour. Finally, I consider the position of polite women as beneficiaries of the public culture created by commercialised leisure but as simultaneously constrained by the marriage market, by longstanding discrimination, and by ideological opposition to their unprecedented public visibility.


Marriage Market Hegemonic Masculinity Fatal Tree Autonomous Selfhood Ideological Opposition 
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© Alan David Robinson 2004

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