Added: August 6, 2016 – Last updated: August 6, 2016


Author: Robin J. Barrow

Title: Rape on the Railway

Subtitle: Women, Safety, and Moral Panic in Victorian Newspapers

Journal: Journal of Victorian Culture

Volume: 20

Issue: 3

Year: September 2015 (Published online: July 6, 2015)

Pages: 341-356

ISSN: 1355-5502 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1750-0133 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 19th Century | European History: English History | Representations: Press


Link: Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)


Author: Robin Barrow, Department of English, University of Tennessee at Knoxville –

Abstract: »In the Victorian press, the railway carriage was painted as a site of particular danger for women travelling alone. As a hybrid public and private space, the carriage placed strangers together in an intimate, quasi-domestic setting for which there were few established norms of behaviour. When male and female solo travellers found themselves confined together, it set the scene both for sexual assault and for false charges of assault, which the newspapers played upon; solo female travellers were depicted as either potential victims or potential Potiphar's wives. These representations were prominent in two moral panics that attempted to regulate women's movement. In this article, I examine accounts of sexual assault from the Lancet, The Times, the English Leader, and the People's Advocate from the 1860s and 1870s and consider newspaper reports as a source of erotic stimulation in a late-century pornographic novel, Raped on the Railway. I argue that the newspapers' fascination with sexual violence on trains, while connected to the weakened division between public and private spaces and an association of railway engines with virility, was primarily a response to fears about women's increasing freedom.« (Source: Journal of Victorian Culture )

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of England / Victorian era | Literature: English literature / Victorian literature; Erotic literature: Raped on the Railway