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The Ploy of InstinctVictorian Sciences of Nature and Sexuality in Liberal Governance$
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Kathleen Frederickson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262519

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262519.001.0001

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Angel in the Big House

Angel in the Big House

(p.120) Four Angel in the Big House
The Ploy of Instinct

Kathleen Frederickson

Fordham University Press

In a move that reflects instinct’s position in civilization more generally, the rational citizen was sometimes the binary counterpart to the instinctive woman and sometimes a figure endowed with his own set of instincts that were different and ideally complementary to those of women. The suffragette hunger strikes tackled both of these positions simultaneously. Hunger helped define the models through which sexuating instincts—believed to occur phylogenetically later—could be shaped. As suffragettes mobilized the concept of the strike, they suggested that their instincts should be understood as forms of labor, a fact that implied a critique of the way that the sexual division of labor had become newly scripted as an instinct-based discourse of sexual difference. By reading suffrage literature by Christabel Pankhurst, Constance Lytton, and Constance Maud alongside the emerging literature on suicide, anorexia, and the birth-rate panic, the chapter investigates the mediations between the instinctive citizen and the instinctive woman.

Keywords:   Suffragettes, Hunger strikes, Gender, Anorexia, Feminism, Fasting, Evolution, Eugenics

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