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Sexual Misconduct in Puritan America
When one thinks of sex, the last thing that comes to mind were Puritans. Our assumptions about
Puritan sexual habits would suggest a very repressed sexual appetite, which is correct. However, a
combination of suppression of sexuality through religion, no outlet for sexual satisfaction and the
demographics of the Puritan colonies led to deviance from the proscribed social norms. Today, our
society seems plagued by social immorality, rising divorce rates, unwed mothers, adultery, and sex
crimes. However, these things are not just products of our own times. We must remember that the
Puritans were also normal people with desires and weakness.
In this assignment you will examine the aspects of gender relationships and sexual deviance in Puritan
New England. You are required to write a examining your choice of potential questions,
derived from the sources provided.
• 750 word minimum length (you are encouraged to exceed this)
• needs a thesis
• You must provide citations and footnotes
• Please keep your writing formal
Questions: Please choose one of the questions below to base .
• Analyze the relationship between what the law states and what the actual
punishments were? In your assessment, were the Puritans lenient in their
• What crimes were worse in Puritan society? What are the most common
• Under the law, what were the Puritan’s view on gender, in regards to
marriage and sexual deviance. Were the punishments for fornication and
adultery different for women and men?
• In regards to sexual deviance, what protections if any, existed to protect
people of lower social status. (i.e. servants, Natives, women, etc. )
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