The Rights Of Female Sexuality

1626 WordsMar 11, 20177 Pages
The Restoration Period in England began in 1660 when Charles II was restored to the throne as monarch of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Charles II rapidly did away with the strict morals that defined the Puritan Commonwealth, and his court became characterized by its licentiousness and extravagant spending. While men during the period enjoyed the libertine culture that was introduced, women continued to be restrained by boundaries that had constricted their social and sexual freedom for centuries. Aphra Behn, the first woman in England to identify as a professional writer, challenged sexual inequality by reforming the female image through literature. She addresses themes of female desire, sexuality, and homosexuality in amatory fiction…show more content…
This, however, is a product of the modesty of seventeenth-century England, during which erotica could not be overly candid and graphic. Aphra Behn’s description of a female’s unrestricted desires within the poem enables her to construct the revolutionary model of a liberated female. In contrast to “The Willing Mistress”, “The Disappointment” portrays a woman who does not acquiesce to the seduction of a male but instead displays a form of power over him by refusing. Through Cloris, the female protagonist in the poem, Aphra Behn is able to reveal the sexual power women hold over men. While Cloris conforms to a more conventional depiction of chaste femininity in the seventeenth-century, the power she exacts over Lysander, her lover, is uncommon. She conforms in that she holds “My dearer Honour, ev’n to you” (Behn, “The Disappointment” 27), refusing Lysander’s sexual advances for the sake of her purity. In spite of her refusals, Lysander persists and Cloris subsequently swoons “half dead and breathless lay” (55). While Lysander attempts to rape Cloris, she “snatches his Pow’r, yet leave him the Desire!” (80) leaving him impotent. Cloris is seemingly able to deprive Lysander of “all his pow’rful Fires” (95). Her capability to disarm Lysander of his ability to fulfill his sexual desires gives her character a sense of sexual power over men. While still a victim, Aphra Behn does not victimize her. She is not portrayed as
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