British sexual cultures

Clarissa Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


[T]here are areas in which the State, or the community, no longer has a role or, if it does have one, it is a role that is completely different. It is not for the State to tell people that they cannot choose a different life-style, for example in issues to do with sexuality. Companions to a national culture, such as this, rarely include any sustained discussion of sexuality, sexual cultures and sexual practices; perhaps readers are not thought to require information about a nation's private pleasures. While sexuality may be acknowledged as an important part of an individual's sense of self, its relation to the body politic or nation-state is seemingly not important enough to warrant discussion. Yet this sidelining of the sexual sphere is a part of the fiction, espoused by Tony Blair in the above quotation, that the sexual exists separate from popular culture, national identity, politics and the social more generally. Perhaps it is difficult to accept that sex is closely tied to community and questions of national identity, but that is what this chapter will attempt to say. That is not to claim that there is something that can be identified as the British sexual character although many people have tried to define it. One-time producer of British sex films, Stanley Long summed up the British and sex: 'Until the 1960s there had been such a suppression of all things sexual. I think it was a hangover from the Victorian era and this country suffered from terrible inhibitions. I think it's a national trait that we aren't very good at being erotic.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Modern British Culture
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780511780776
ISBN (Print)9780521864978
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


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