"Guarding Innocence" : age of consent, gender, and progressivism
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This paper details the reform activities of suffragists, social hygienists, and Women's Christian Temperance Union members during the Progressive Era, especially those pertaining to age of sexual consent laws. Along with age of consent, the reformers tackled related issues including prostitution and general rape law. The research presented in this paper shows the motivations of these reformers, their arguments, language, and the conflicts within and among their organizations. This paper also dives into the social, political, racial, and gender implications of these reform efforts. Through this study, these particular reformers are revealed to be dedicated to either the preservation of a moral society, the improvement of women and children's lives, or both.