Meanwhile, others among the feminists warned of the dangers of repression. In an 1897 lecture, feminist Josephine Butler cautioned against overzealous vigilance vigilantes. Moral crusades, she suggested, had a tendens to exaggerate regressive notions of female innocence and male vice—and thus undermine the feminist claim for equality. And they were, by necessity, coercive endeavors. “Beware of ‘Purity Societies’ … ready to accept and endorse any amount of inequality in the laws, any amount of coercive and degrading treatment of their fellow creatures,” Butler warned, “in the fatuous belief that you can oblige human beings to be moral by force.” But even the Butlerites couldn’t always heed their own advice, at times falling back on coercive strategies to control the sexual behavior of young girls…

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