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"What you need, my girl, is a good cry or a good rape - either, I should think"

(46 Posts)

I came across the above sentence in a book last night and was horrified. It's Margery Allingham's 'The Fashion In Shrouds', published in 1938. Is this really how people thought in the 1930s? It's said by the hero to his sister! She laughs witheringly and says: "there's a section of your generation who talks about rape as a cure for all ills...this mania for sex-to-do-you-good is idiotic".

AIBU to be totally shocked by this? In the same book there are a number of references to niggers. Does this fall into the same category of language that was au courant in those days?

mrsfuzzy Mon 15-Oct-12 09:04:43

what a horrible thing to say! but sadly it reflects the attitude to women at the time and what is worse we all now that there are too many places in the world where women are still treated by some scummy men who think this is acceptable. thank god we've moved on in this country.

HalloweenyHerrena Mon 15-Oct-12 09:05:34


It may just be part of the devil-may-care writing style that some women chose to adopt in those days (think Nancy Mitford's casual references in her books to causing abortion by jumping off the kitchen table) but still....


Shakirasma Mon 15-Oct-12 09:07:20

We still have a considerable way to go, but it makes you realise just how far we have come in a relatively short time.

Personally, I blame Freud - didn't he start the whole thing about how everyone was suffering from so-called sexual repression?

I've come across people saying women need a good shag, or a good seeing-to, but never a good rape. sad

MorrisZapp Mon 15-Oct-12 09:08:14

Celebs are always raving on about Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, a reissued persephone book which features open anti semitism, and is cheerfully pro- domestic violence.

Loads of older 'classic' type books feature similar attitudes. They reflect the values of the era in which they were written.

imperialstateknickers Mon 15-Oct-12 09:12:26

Yes there was still a substantial amount of this mindset about in the period. But it wasn't all-pervading, plenty of authors both male and female were already writing stuff that fits in with current mores.
Never did like Margery Allingham, I'm normally a fan of the female detective novelists of the prewar period, but I couldn't finish anything of hers. Dorothy L Sayers oth I think I've read everything of hers at least three times.

HalloweenyHerrena Mon 15-Oct-12 09:23:22

I guess casual sex wasn't permissible, so if you thought an unmarried woman needed sex then the only possible option was a 'good rape'.


MrsRajeshKoothrappali Mon 15-Oct-12 09:28:10

I went out with a guy who told me that he reckoned a woman who hadn't had sex for a little while 'would quite like to be raped'.


I went straight home.

Imperial, a friend of mine lent me this because I'd just discovered Dorothy L Sayers - said it was a similar type.

Morris, I read Miss Pettigrew recently too. I've come across anti-semitism and the whole 'strong man keeping his woman in line as she swoons with delight' attitude before, but not the rape one. I thought I was fairly well read and I like Golden Age novels, but this is a new one on me.

shock MrsRajesh. So glad you went straight home!

smable Mon 15-Oct-12 09:35:03

It's possible that rape didn't mean exactly the same then as it does now, i remember my year 11 english teacher tell us about words that in the 19th century that meant something different to how we use then now.

valiumredhead Mon 15-Oct-12 09:37:17

smable you might have a point. I remember laughing with my sister when my nan used 'making love' to describe someone making eyes at someone. In the book Rebecca there is something about 'making violent love behind a tree' - which actually meant a passionate snog iirc.

Trills Mon 15-Oct-12 09:40:49

Of course everyone didn't think like that. Things written in books are often very extreme.

That said, it most likely didn't mean quite what you think it means. As Herrena says casual sex was not permissible, and women weren't supposed to want sex, or to show that they did. So the character may be thinking of a situation where the woman would say "no, I'm not that kind of girl" but actually want to have sex.

(unhelpful "no means yes" stuff going on there, a bit like Mr Collins and his "refined ladies often reject at first an offer that they mean to accept")

theodorakis Mon 15-Oct-12 09:40:56

I was sad that, recovering from my op, I settled down to 2 Jonathan Creek Christmas specials yesterday. Both made me feel uncomfortable in parts and I don't think you could show them now. One was from 1998 and the other 2001. Either society has changed or MN has made me notice things more!

I wish I could remember the many examples but Pethadine has fogged my mind.

Lancelottie Mon 15-Oct-12 09:42:17

Yes, i suspect it might have been used in the sense of 'a good shag/seeing to'.

CreepyLittleBat Mon 15-Oct-12 09:42:48

There's a reason this shit is out of print.....

.....please tell me it's out of print?!?

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 15-Oct-12 09:43:32

Rape definitely means rape back then.

And yes, yuck. That's really horrible.

I thought casual sex was actually on the up in the 30s, and it still wouldn't be any excuse to talk about a 'good rape'.

Don't most of us have grandparents who were alive then? My gran was in her teens at that point and she knew all her life that rape was appalling.

RustyBear Mon 15-Oct-12 09:44:08

I wouldn't read that as Margery Allingham approving of the opinion expressed by the young man, more that she trying to bring out into the open the attitude that she saw as prevalent.

Trills Mon 15-Oct-12 09:47:12

"Making violent love behind a tree" is sometimes not even snogging but just talking.

"She needs a good seeing to" is pretty horrible in itself TBH, it doesn't really matter what words you use.

I think yab a bit u being shocked to see this in a book, it's something that you could find in a modern book. Some people just think that way. (characters, not necessarily authors) The difference is that in a modern book the woman probably wouldn't react as if it was funny.

theodorakis Mon 15-Oct-12 09:47:26

My grandfather was seriously mentally ill in adult life as a result of rape at boarding school. His brother was gay and was outed as a "pervert" after someone found some love letters from a man in his office and he drowned himself. He was an academic and they were concerned for the safety of the students.
My grandfather used to wash his hands upward of 100 times a day. we only found out why after he died. Some of the abuse had been from women, some men.

Creepy, the copy I've got is from 1950, so it might be out of print. Quick check of Amazon reveals that some are on Kindle, though.

I think that in the 30s sex was becoming a bit more permissible. References are made to casual affairs in this book, and it's the same in Miss Pettigrew - whatshername, the blonde, she has various lovers who stay the night.

theodorakis Mon 15-Oct-12 09:47:59

They would both be about 100 today.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 15-Oct-12 09:48:31

That's awful theo. sad

Trills, I was shocked because the character is recommending it to his sister, as if it were no more of an emotional outlet than a good cry. Perhaps it was more in the sense of a good shag but even so, how many men nowadays would recommend that to their younger sisters?

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