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BDSM Gear

Bound to Please (Paperback)
by Leigh Summers (Author)

Bound to Please

Synopsis

From Publishers Weekly
How odd that a single article of clothing could be experienced as a sign of middle-class superiority, an emblem of eroticism, a medically necessary support garment and a device for stemming childhood masturbation. In this engaging latest book in the Dress, Body, Culture series, Summers carefully exposes the corset's dual role in Victorian culture: it kept women physically subdued, while at the same time presenting them as sexually alluring, exaggeratedly feminine objects of display. Summers, senior education officer at Australia's New England Regional Art Museum, argues that corsetry was undeniably sexy, since its physical effects mimicked the signs of sexual arousal (shortness of breath, blushing, overheating); at the same time, it was a leading cause of fainting fits, uterine failure and severe abdominal damage. By far the most original aspects of this study appear in the early chapters on corsetry for children (some as young as two years old) and expectant mothers, who were told by fashion magazines and medical experts alike that "tight-lacing" might damage fetuses or, alternately, contribute to a healthy pregnancy. Everywhere, critics decried corset-wearing for pregnant women, accusing them of causing birth defects, "race degeneration," etc. Summers also traces feminist battles against the corset's hegemony. Her arguments on the role of the female body in advertising and connections between dress reform and the struggle for women's suffrage, will already be familiar to readers interested in women's history and Victorian studies. 107 b & w photos and illus. (Oct.)Forecast: While the book's likely readership will be academic, its gorgeous cover and clever title should draw browsers' eyes.

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