An occassional blog dedicated to further exploring the historical context behind Downton Abbey, as well as encouraging debate over the historical context/interpretation of the programme as a whole. Beware of spoilers. Unless otherwise specified all graphics made are mine, with all screencaps coming from DowntonOnline.
(Please note, this is only from a quick Google search, but thought it relevant seeing that the rewatch of 1x03 was yesterday. If anyone has anything more to add— especially on attitudinal aspects of rape— please let me know). I’ll also post this to DA History.
Traditionally, rape as a crime in English law in that the victim was required to “prove a continued state of physical resistance”. The penalty of rape was death, as outlined in the 1828 Offenses Against the Person Act.
In the “long nineteenth century” there were very few incidences of stranger rape (though, vitally, we need to take into account issues over the actual reporting of rape in this period- many women may have not come forward). Yet rates increased in war time
“She [Prof Joanna Bourke] painstakingly describes the rape myths that have allowed perpetrators to “get away with it”, such as the 19th-century theory that you can’t rape a woman who resists (“It is impossible to sheath a sword into a vibrating scabbard,” as one 19th-century judicial textbook declared)” source
A century ago, the gaps of experience and expectations may have made forced sex a commonplace occurrence at the start of a marriage. “What takes place often amounts to nothing more or less than rape,” the psychiatrist Leopold Loewenfeld bluntly said in 1913. That he said it at all, and with that word, was the sign of a shifting awareness of the secret traumas of sexual life. Bourke argues that changing possibilities of linguistic expression are not just outward signs of what’s going on but actively shape what is thought and experienced. source
The book [Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present] launches a disciplined and chilling account of the many shocking ways that “experts” - doctors, academics, scientists, lawyers and campaigners - have “explained” not all rape, as the title suggests, but Anglo-American-Australian rape. Many such “theories” have been versions of the staggering view, endlessly rehearsed, that it is women who are really responsible for rape. For most of the 19th century it was believed that it was impossible to rape an unwilling woman - that somehow her thighs would have got in the way, or her subconscious was “willing”, whatever her voice said source
Also please see the sexuality tag for wider context.dump diving hipster