Degenerate or victim? Fatten women, disease, and the moral strength of the british empire

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This essay highlights the competing narratives about fallen women during the passage and enforcement of the Contagious Diseases Acts and emphasizes the irony of Britain's attempts to fashion itself as a morally superior nation while sanctioning illicit sexual acts. One narrative about the fallen woman claims that she is a harbinger of disease and degradation who threatens to weaken Britain's imperial might, while the other claims that she is a seduced and betrayed victim of hypocritical men, and she is treated unjustly by the law. Josephine Butler's writing on these men not only serves as an example of Victorian feminist writing, but also as an example of prose that highlights the inherent hypocrisy of the imperial project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages18
JournalNineteenth Century Prose
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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