‘The one single primary cause’: divorce, the family and heterosexual pleasure in postwar Australia

Featherstone, Lisa (2013) ‘The one single primary cause’: divorce, the family and heterosexual pleasure in postwar Australia. Journal of Australian Studies, 37 3: 349-363. doi:10.1080/14443058.2013.815256


Author Featherstone, Lisa
Title ‘The one single primary cause’: divorce, the family and heterosexual pleasure in postwar Australia
Journal name Journal of Australian Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1444-3058
1835-6419
Publication date 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/14443058.2013.815256
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 37
Issue 3
Start page 349
End page 363
Total pages 15
Place of publication Melbourne, VIC Australia
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In the late 1940s, the popular Australian journal Smith's Weekly boldly announced that “the one single primary cause” of divorce was “physical maladjustment between man and wife through ignorance of sex.” By the 1950s, the links between sex and divorce were omnipresent. Regardless of the traumas of World War II and the difficulties faced by both men and women in re-acclimatising to “normal” civilian life, rising divorce rates were commonly linked to sexual dissatisfaction within the marital bed. The new model of heterosexual pleasure demanded a certain kind of sexual life: regular, penetrative, and completed by the simultaneous orgasm. Anything else was troubling and probably unsatisfactory. Given that various sex writers suggested that at least half of all married women were sexually frustrated, the potential for divorce hence social disaster was clear. The sexual lives of citizens, then, were ripe for a raft of public commentaries—for marital sex could undermine postwar population, the nuclear family, and the very foundations of 1950s Australian citizenship. This article will explore the twin concepts of divorce and heterosex and the multiple ways sexual dissatisfaction was linked to social and sexual disorder.
Keyword Divorce
Postwar
Sexuality
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Fri, 22 Jul 2016, 15:34:32 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry