BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Rules of Desire: Sex in Britain, World War 1 to the Present - Cate Haste: Pimlico, pounds 10

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The Independent Culture
The first WPCs (introduced in 1914) were used as morality police, keeping tabs on 'women of bad character' while their husbands fought in the trenches. By the end of the century, as Cate Haste says in this authoritative and readable study, responsibility for sexual order had shifted from the public to the private domain (although 'bad character' can still be an issue at the Benefit Office). On the whole, Haste sees women as having done well, sexually, after the all-hanging-out 1970s and the Aids-blighted 1980s, insisting more and more on equality and even finding that 'suddenly it's safe to dress provocatively'. OK, this is a feminist tract and it's about sexual politics rather than sex. But it's a sane one.

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