History of sex in early America


Reading: John D’Emilio and Estelle Freedman, “Cultural Diversity in the Era of Settlement” 
Discussion Questions: Use the following questions below to analyze the main ideas and themes expressed in the reading. You are not required to answer all of these questions in your response, instead you should use them as a guide to construct your analysis. The reading can be found in the “Course Readings” folder under the “Content tab” (top of D2L page). 
Q: How did European political and religious traditions, born out of the Protestant Reformation, influence ideas about sexuality and sexual relations in the North American colonies? (pg 4)
Q: The colonists established clear divisions between lust and affection: How did the promotion of sex as affection strengthen the family? Why were even husbands and wives discouraged from engaging in lustful sex? Why were informal “sexual contracts”’ important for maintaining healthy marriages? (4-5)
Q: Why were women punished more harshly than men for pre-marital or extramarital sexual relations? (pg 5)
Q: How were Native Americans sexual practices different from Europeans? Why did European settlers find these practices problematic? How did Native Americans defend their sexual practices and critique European ideas about sex, family, and sexuality? (pg 7-8) Why might a more liberal sexual environment and culture produce less sexual violence than a more strict and rigid sexual environment?
Q: How did geography and settlement areas affect sexual practices in New England and Virginia?
Guidelines and Requirements:
After thinking through the discussion questions, you should post a Main Post (2-3 paragraphs) summary analysis of the reading that addresses the discussion questions above. Your Main Post must be posted by 11:59pm (CST) on Wednesday, April 5. In addition, you should respond to the posts of 2 other classmates

Classmate’s response: 
Student name Jennie 
The ideas and ideals behind sexual relationships and the tendencies of colonists were mostly influenced by European religions. Like many religions today, it was widely acknowledged that sex outside of a marital union was wrong and discouraged. Some religions would punish those who had pre-marital sex or children out of wedlock, specifically women, by excommunicating them from the church or basically shunning them from society altogether. Women were held to a higher standard when it came to sexual relationships because remaining pure and chaste would promise the legitimacy of a man’s child to himself. While it was custom to wait until marriage to have sex, it was moderately accepted for those who were betrothed to one another to have sex with each other because the notion of a wedding would be excepted to soon follow the “engagement”. 
This reading did highlight the fact that sex was primarily used for two things during this time in history, pleasure, and child-making. It was common knowledge that women would have their husband’s children until they reached menopause in order to beat the statistics of early death (which was common at this time due to diseases) and in order to build the population of the church they belonged to and worshipped. Pleasure wasn’t exactly seen in the same way it is today. Doctors knew that sex was meant to feel good but they believed that a woman had to orgasm in order to conceive healthy children and that the act of sex with pleasure would bring couples closer together. It was not acceptable for a man and a woman to have sex solely for pleasure because the idea of raising a nuclear family was at the forefront of the minds of most of the colonists. All in all, this article expressed that sex in the early Americas was deeply rooted in sexism and misogyny against women and that sex between married couples catered towards men, children, and the church before it catered toward women. 
Student name: Elliot 
In this Era of settlement, the ideas of and behind sex and sexuality was very constrained for the settlers, though the practices that these settlers varied based on location. The Protestant settlers in the New England area framed marriage as an acceptable way in which to express ones sexual self. Sex within marriage was not only used as a way to produce children but also as a way to channel lust and prevent sexual sin (Adultery, rape, premarital sex, etc.). Though the ideas of sexual sin varied based on geographic region. Once the settlers had expanded South, which was used for more farm land, the settlement would be more spaced out. this made it harder to catch adultery and even if it was caught, it wouldn’t be punished to harshly. this had to do with population. Population and ratio of population was another reason for variance within the settler times. With less women than men, especially in the south, premarital sex and polygamy were more excepted and less harshly punished. As the ratio began become closer to one another, this lenience started to stop.
When the settlers saw the native American’s view of sex and sexuality, they were appalled. The native Americans practiced polygamy, premarital sex, they didn’t shy away from homosexuality, they led a very shameless sexual lives. To the settlers this seemed preposterous and made them feel superior to them. However, within the Native American tribes, there was less sexual violence, there was no prostitution, marriages could split easily. The lack of this violence comes from the lack of pressure put on sex in the community. One of the settlers ask one of the native Americans about the polygamy and how he would know if a child was his or not. The Native American responded by saying unlike the settlers, who love only their children, they love all children in the tribe.

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