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Clark argues that sex scandals grew out of the tension between aristocratic patronage and efficiency in government. For instance, in 1809 Mary Ann Clarke testified that she took bribes to persuade her royal lover, the army's commander-in-chief, to promote officers, buy government offices, and sway votes. Could women overcome scandals to participate in politics?
This book also explains the real reason why the glamorous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, became so controversial for campaigning in a 1784 election. Sex scandal also discredited Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the first feminists, after her death.
Why do some scandals change politics while others fizzle? Edmund Burke tried to stir up scandal about the British empire in India, but his lurid, sexual language led many to think he was insane.
A unique blend of the history of sexuality and women's history with political and constitutional history, "Scandal" opens a revealing new windowonto some of the greatest sex scandals of the past. In doing so, it allows us to more fully appreciate the sometimes shocking ways democracy has become what it is today.
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