The Gilded Age is often the forgotten age of American history, a time marked by the formation of labor unions, the Chicago World’s Fair, and anarchists. Within this flyover zone of history is Anthony Comstock, a devoutly religious man who despised all things obscene and lustful. On his quest to eliminate vice from American culture Comstock played the upper class against the lower, and pit everyone against women. Claiming to be thinking only of the children, Comstock attempted to repress women back to the home and to Puritanical values. He believed women and new lax gender roles were disintegrating American society. His failure to return women to these values instead perpetuated the same rank and rancorous society, overt sexuality, and excessive materialism that he so despised. This discussion will focus on how Anthony Comstock’s passionate attempts to bring morality back to the American people ultimately meant oppressing women – and how these acts of oppression shaped our current sexual climate.



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