Northern Illinois University Press

Crimes of Outrage

Sex, Violence, and Victorian Working Women

Shani D'Cruze

"A sensitively nuanced analysis.... Crimes of Outrage has advanced the scholarship on working women and on sexual violence."Victorian Studies

"Useful and enlightening.... An impressively researched piece of informed and politically committed scholarship."
Left History

Based on extensive original research, Crimes of Outrage explores the uses of violence as a strategy in working people's sexual politics. Shani D'Cruze examines the nineteenth-century courtroom as a theatrical arena where the body became a functional site of power and narratives of violence competed to shape constructions of women's social and sexual identities.

Neighborhood, along with work and home, provided the spatial and social context for much recorded violence, both physical and sexual. The author places such violence within the context of courtship rituals and daily life, investigating attacks by men against women and women against each other. The legal system filtered, defined, and classified physical and sexual violence, masking some and highlighting other kinds of aggression. D'Cruze points out that women's interests in speaking out against violent crimes sometimes coincided with the court's agenda to discipline the unruly behavior of working men. However, although women used local courts to vindicate their reputations before their neighbors in the public gallery, in doing so they often compromised their respectability in the eyes of the public.

Written in a lively and accessible style, this fascinating and challenging study marks an important addition to the literature in the field. It will be welcomed by students of women's history and sociology as well as those with an interest in feminism.

(1998) 271 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-242-8
cloth $42.00

ISBN: 978-0-87580-578-8
paper $18.50

Table of Contents

1. She levelled them all three
2. An "industrious woman" and a "ruined" child
3. As agreeable as neighbors ought to be
4. A sad case of domestic infelicity
5. She did not ask for a character
6. Clipping in the clubroom
7. Previous to my being ravished
8. A sensation in court

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-242-8
cloth $42.00
ISBN: 978-0-87580-578-8
paper $18.50