The moral panics of sexuality are fluid and often tactical. At times they introduce sexuality to obscure larger, more troubling social concerns; at times they provide divergent groups with symbols around which to rally; and at times they work to separate who is on the inside (the normative, “correct," side) from those deemed to be on the outside or “deviant." Often this deviancy has as much to do with gender norms as with sexuality, as I show in the study of Katharine Bement Davis and her career at John D. Rockefeller Jr.‘s Bureau of Social Hygiene. The moral panic here centered on Davis’s publication of the first scientific sexual survey of women in the U.S. Her story illustrates how one woman used the moral panic of “white slavery” to forge a fruitful alliance only to see the moral panic of female sexuality used to undermine her in the service of tactically supporting traditional hierarchies of sex/gender.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Social Sciences