Added: April 8, 2017 – Last updated: April 8, 2017


Speaker: Sarah Leila Moazeni

Title: A Holy Kind of Violence'

Subtitle: Rape, Consent, and Seventeenth-Century Puritan Religion

Conference: 17th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders and Sexualities (June 1-4, 2017)

Session: 1395: Colonial Consent: The State, Rape, Power, and Gender in early North America, Senegal, and France

Place: Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, United States

Date: June 2, 2017

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 17th Century | American History: U.S. History


Link: -


Speaker: Sarah Moazeni, Division of Libraries, New York University

Abstract: »This essay complicates the field's interpretation of Puritan sermons and religious tracts from the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-centuries by showing the ways in which religion gendered and justified the practical limits of sexual consent. Consent in Massachusetts was gendered and it mirrored hierarchical spiritual patterns described by ministers and reinforced in mandatory religious meetings and colonial law. Much of the literature on rape in early New England focuses on court records as proof of sexual assault and simplifies the role of Puritan religion, flattening it into a trope. I will utilize Puritan sermons, church records, and published tracts in addition to legal records to show that the culture of consent in early Massachusetts cannot be understood outside of the complex framework of religion. I argue that, by harnessing the marital sexual metaphor of the submissive and feminized soul's "glorious espousal" to Jesus Christ toward the end of the seventeenth-century, Puritan religious culture codified, reinforced, and justified men's power over women's sexual consent. This paper will build on the work of Sharon Block, Cornelia Hughes Dayton, Richard Godbeer, and Elizabeth Maddock Dillon to read beyond the field's analysis of the Puritan sexual-spiritual metaphor and prove the deep impact religious rhetoric had on sexual consent.« (Source: Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders and Sexualities website)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / Colonial history of the United States | History of the Americas: History of Massachusetts | Christianity: Puritans