Two oddly related readings from Tuesday on Brazilian waxes and Open Source Boobs.*
I'll let you draw the connections.
Cohen gets one thing wrong - while Victorian women wore long dresses they hardly kept their cleavage under wraps, at least in formal wear. And even when covered they were hardly hidden. The corset may have restricted breathing and therefore kept women seemingly delicate (and non-lusty) but it also pushed the breasts up and accentuated a woman's curves. Hardly a good way to hide sexuality. Corsets did, however, create a sort of sameness to the look of all women - very narrow waist, high breasts, and wide hips (sometimes with the help of crinolines, hoops, and bustles). Victorians were neither the first nor the last to attempt to standardize beauty.
I had more to say about OPSP but The Ferret has a long update to his post that says much of it and the rest I was having a hard time articulating.
*Found by way of Whatever.