The Unmanly Fear: Extortion Before the Twentieth Century
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This essay concerns the history of extortion in American law and culture, highlighting the shift from extortion as a paradigmatically male enterprise to one inseparably associated with women. Before the nineteenth-century, extortion was figured as an assault on a victim’s consent. Since men monopolized consent, extortion unfolded as a contest between legal subjects over political manhood. After the mid-nineteenth-century, a new class of ‘respectable’ victims, openly terrified by women’s threats, made unprecedented claims for legal protection. In response, well-placed courts wrote consent out of the equation, broadening the scope of extortionous threats to unleash the familiar fin-de-siècle tide of sex scandal.
Bonica, J.S. (2013) ' The Unmanly Fear: Extortion Before the Twentieth Century', Law, Crime and History, 3(2), pp.1-29. Available at: https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/8879
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