Added: June 3, 2017 – Last updated: June 3, 2017


Author: Mary Gillingham

Title: Sexual Pleasures and Dangers

Subtitle: A History of Sexual Cultures in Wellington, 1900–1920

Thesis: M.A. Thesis, Massey University

Advisors: Margaret Tennant and David Thomson

Year: 1998

Pages: iv + 169pp.

OCLC Number: 154741000 – Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 19th Century, 20th Century | Oceanian History: New Zealand History Cases: Offenders / William Denning, John Griggs, William Love, Horace Martin, Isidore Mount, William West, Brother Wibertus; Cases: Others / Stoke Orphanage Case; Cases: Victims / Beatrice A., Rubina G., William Guckert, Ernest H., William Hardwick, Bella M., Edward Matthews, Ethel McN., Thomas Owens, James Richardson, Bertie T.; Offenders: Teachers; Types: Attempted Rape, Child Sexual Abuse; Victims: Boys, Girls, Men, Students


Link: Massey Research Online: Digital Repository of the Massey University (Free Access)


Abstract: »This thesis examines sexual cultures between 1900 and 1920. It is based on court records of trials for 'sex crime' in the Wellington Supreme Court district, which covered the lower north island. Although sex crimes were an extreme manifestation of sexual practice, and court records represent only partial and constructed accounts of it, the sources can provide insight into attitudes toward sexuality in the past. In this thesis, a crime is posited as an 'extraordinary moment', capable of illuminating a variety of cultural beliefs about sexuality. Victims, their families, the accused men, criminal justice authorities and many others expressed views about codes of sexual behaviour in response to sex crimes. Combined, they form a multi-layered and, at times, contested grid of understandings about sexual mores. This thesis is focused on the reconstruction of these codes of sexual behaviour. To do this, a case study method has been employed which traces the construction of sexuality by individuals and within the courts.
The possibilities of sexual pleasure and sexual danger - autonomy and victimisation - framed the meaning attached to sexual encounters by the parties involved, and by others. Such understandings were predominantly shaped by the variables of age and gender. Very young children lacked sufficient sexual knowledge to identify a sexual encounter as either sexually pleasurable or dangerous; they labelled it a physical attack. By adolescence, girls and boys were increasingly sexually aware. For them, and for adults, sexual experiences were characterised by the possibility for sexual pleasure or danger, or a mix of the two. This potential for sexuality to be experienced as pleasure shaped observers' understandings of codes of sexual behaviour. Observers often conflated sexual maturity with consent: childhood was predominantly constructed as a time of sexual innocence and adulthood as times of sexual activity and agency. But codes of sexual behaviour were also mediated by gender. Gendered constructions of character shaped self-representations and observers' understandings of sexual mores. While the double standard of sexual morality set the backdrop for the understanding of sexual mores in the wider Wellington area during the early twentieth century, there were considerable variations in levels of acceptance of it. This thesis examines constructions of sexuality in relation to children, adolescents, and adults of both sexes.« (Source: Thesis)


  Abstract (p. ii)
  Acknowledgements (p. iii)
  List of Graphs (p. iv)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter One. The Contexts of Sex Crime (p. 22)
    Strangers (p. 23)
    Social networks (p. 38)
    Work contacts (p. 47)
    Animals (p. 50)
  Chapter Two. 'Little' Girls (p. 53)
    The indecent assault of Bella M. (p. 53)
    Analysis of the indecent assault (p. 55)
    The case in court (p. 61)
    Analysis of the case in court (p. 62)
  Chapter Three. 'Older' Girls (p. 69)
    The 'defiling' of Beatrice A. (ö. 69)
    Analysis of the sexual assault (p. 71)
    The case in court (p. 76)
    Court analysis (p. 77)
  Chapter Four. Adolescent Girls (p. 83)
    The carnal knowledge of Rubina G. (p. 84)
    Analysis (p. 85)
    The cases in court (p. 94)
    Case analysis (p. 95)
  Chapter Five. Women (p. 100)
    The attempted rape of Mrs. Ethel McN. (p. 101)
    Analysis of the attempted rape (p. 102)
    The case in court (p. 108)
    Analysis of the court case (p. 109)
  Chapter Six. Male Victims (p. 114)
    Boys (p. 115)
      The sodomy of Bertie T. (p. 116)
      Analysis of the sodomy of Bertie T. (p. 116)
      The prosecution of the case against Horace Martin (p. 119)
      Analysis (p. 120)
    Adolescent Boys (p. 124)
      The sexual assaults of Edward Matthews, Thomas Owens, William Hardwick, William Guckert, and James Richardson (p. 124)
      Analysis (p. 126)
      The trials of Brother Wibertus (p. 132)
      Analysis (p. 134)
    Adult Men (p. 138)
      The sexual encounter between Ernest H. and Isidore Mount (p. 138)
      Analysis (p. 139)
      The trial of Isidore Mount (p. 144)
      Analysis (p. 145)
  Conclusion (p. 151)
  Appendix A (p. 156)
  Appendix B (p. 158)
  Bibliography (p. 160)
    I. Primary (p. 160)
      Unpublished (p. 160)
        National Archives, Wellington (p. 160)
        National Archives, Auckland (p. 161)
        Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington (p. 161)
        Marist Brothers' Archive, Wellington (p. 161)
        Wellington City Council Archives (p. 161)
      Published (p. 162)
        Official (p. 162)
        Newspapers (p. 162)
        Books (p. 162)
        Miscellaneous (p. 163)
    2 Secondary (p. 163)
      Books (p. 163)
      Articles (p. 165)
      Theses (p. 169)

Wikipedia: History of Oceania: History of New Zealand / Colony of New Zealand, Dominion of New Zealand