Abstract and Keywords
The American Revolution took place at a time of a revolutionary loosening of the patriarchal control and marital organization of sexuality that had characterized much of colonial society, as well as a counterrevolution against it. The Revolution and the birth of a new nation coincided with a longer period of changes in intimate behavior initiated by men and women on both sides of the Atlantic. Throughout much of western Europe, sexual behavior escalated outside of marriage, and new meanings associated with sexual practices flourished. In the new United States, sexual expression presented challenges to traditional social hierarchy. Like monarchy, patriarchy came under attack in the second half of the eighteenth century as a manifestation of illegitimate and absolute power. The second sexual revolution, launched to counter the democratic initiatives of the subalterns of early American society, was marked by attempts to define legitimate sexuality and the sexual self.
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