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Making Marriage ModernWomen's Sexuality from the Progressive Era to World War II$
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Christina Simmons

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195064117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195064117.001.0001

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Education for Social Hygiene

Education for Social Hygiene

(p.16) 1 Education for Social Hygiene
Making Marriage Modern

Christina Simmons (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Social hygiene reform developed in the 1910s from the coalescence of the religious social purity movement and the more scientifically inclined antivenereal disease movement. Social hygienists, many of them physicians, claimed science rather than morality as the basis of their proposals. They promoted conservative sex education that sustained Victorian ideas of gender segregation and difference and idealized motherhood and marriage. Nevertheless, they challenged public reticence about sexuality because they believed prostitution and venereal disease represented so great a social threat that ignorance could no longer be tolerated. Sex education programs provided opportunity for some white women to articulate and criticize men's power and sexual freedom. African American participants promoted better sexual health for blacks and challenged racist understandings of venereal disease.

Keywords:   sex education, social hygiene, venereal disease, motherhood, African Americans

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