Making Marriage Modern
Women's Sexuality from the Progressive Era to World War II
Reviews and Awards
"If you imagine that it took the sexual revolution of the 1960s to rumple the marriage bed, read this book—a very revealing, serious, and highly useful study of changes in thinking about sex and marriage before World War II." - Nancy F. Cott, author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation
"In this important book, Christina Simmons insightfully examines the ideas and impact of intellectuals, novelists, advice writers, reformers, and radicals who forged a new vision of marital sexuality in the early twentieth century. In so doing, she illuminates the range of views—about heterosexual companionship, sexual knowledge, and female independence—that made marriage modern in the 1920s and 1930s, and continue to shape attitudes to the present day." - Kathy Peiss, author of Hope in a Jar
"In a carefully researched and crisply written account, Simmons reconstructs debates—about sex for pleasure, privacy for couples, and equality for women—that still have relevance for us today. A smart, engaging, and important book." - Joanne Meyerowitz, author of How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States
"Challenging both the myth of Victorian repression and the notion that it took women's liberation to transform the institution of marriage, Christina Simmons traces profound changes in sexual and marital relations from the 1910s through the 1940s. She analyzes debates over intimacy, privacy, freedom, and reciprocity among reformers, intellectuals, sex radicals, educators, therapists, physicians, novelists, and playwrights. Deeply researched and lucidly argued, Making Marriage Modern changes the terrain for all future discussions of marriage in the twentieth century." - Nancy A. Hewitt, Rutgers University
"Simmons' complex interpretation of white and African American sources maps a range of competing sexual ideals. Grounded in sex advice literature, marriage manuals, and reform tracts, this book will fascinate readers and provide important perspectives on contemporary debates over sex education, reproductive rights, and the changing definition of marriage." - Estelle B. Freedman, author of No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women.