Prostitution: the uncontrolalble Vise Essay

Prostitution The Uncontrolalble Vise Essay

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Prostitution: The Uncontrolalble Vise
“There are women who search for love, and there are those that search for money.” Today, the term woman simply denotes one’s sex. It does not define her character, ...
“There are women who search for love, and there are those that search for money.” Today, the term woman simply denotes one’s sex. It does not define her character, morals and values, or even her profession. However, this was not always the case. At the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century, during the Progressive Era, there was a drive for reform. Various social problems became targets for investigation and intervention: child labour, juvenile delinquency, corruption in city government and police departments, and prostitution. These things were newly discovered social problems ;the only differences during this period were the new assumptions, strategies, and expectations of a broad organization of activists. Progressive reform actively decided to take more of a role in regulating the social welfare of its citizens, and those private and public spheres of activity could not be disentangled. Prostitution was an issue that underscored the relationship between home life and street life, wages of ‘sin’ and low wages of women workers, double sexual standards and transmission of venereal disease. The late nineteenth century response to prostitution revealed the competing ideologies within Progressive reform activity over social justice and social control. “Most attempts to ‘deal with’ prostitution have consisted almost exclusively of more or less vigorous attempts to suppress it altogether – by forcing the closing of brothels, and by increased police activities against individual prostitutes and against those individual places, such as taverns, where prostitutes frequently solicit.” This paper seeks to prove that the reformers were unable to stamp out prostitution during the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century for a variety of factors. First, I will look at why women in the late nineteenth, and early twentieth century became prostitutes. The gender differences between sex roles will be analyzed in relation to prostitution. Finally, the various failed attempts to abolish prostitution will be discussed. “Legally [prostitution] is often defined as the hiring out of the body for sexual intercourse.” Some say that the exchange of money does not need to take place. Albert Ellis, one well-known sexologist and author would define prostitution as, “A woman or a man engaging in sexual relations for non-sexual and non-amotive considerations.” This definition would therefore include “…girls who trade their sexual favors for food, entertainment or other gifts.” Each individual may have different views as to what a prostitute is or how they feel about them. During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century reformers, for example, wanted to eradicate prostitution. It was looked at as the cause of all evil and poverty, among other things. But, it was over the place, girls supplying their bodies for the males’ high compulsion to satisfy their sexual desires. Canada’s industrial development equipped many women with outlet for their skills and energies in addition to the home and other work places. With all the improvements in transportation and communications, growth of the cities is the availability of new consumer goods provided in an age of national growth. However, with all of this came economic and social tensions. Most Canadians were concerned with the presence of certain ethnic groups, poverty in the cities and an increasing crime rate. With this new found awareness of social problems, came the belief that by identifying and classifying problems the nature of the world could be reformed to insure a moral, civilized society. There are many reasons why one would choose upon a career of prostitution. They range from quick money to language barriers (most girls were foreign born or their parents were foreign born), from curiosity to alcoholism. “Most prostitutes are believed to have started at a young age and despite much talk about ‘white slavery’, no cases were ever found of a women unwillingly detained in a brothel.” Up until about mid way through the twentieth century a large percentage of all the women engaged in prostitution were professional prostitutes, registered or widely known to be such, and often working in brothels. “ A the 1916’s Unemployment Commission had observed, working girls seemed to be unable to stick out jobs for more than a few months, and many were so frivolous and irresponsible that they were justifiably dismissed. Frustrated that they could not afford material pleasures, they were easily ‘led astray’ by persuasive gentlemen ready to pay” Looking at the root causes of why women choose to become prostitutes will show one of the reasons why reformers were unable to abolish it. Research and investigation done in the early twentieth century debated the issues of why one would become a prostitute. Prostitution was believed to be a grave social evil. Some believed that women’s wages were rather low, thus driving women to turn to prostitution. However, after “…treating hundreds of prostitutes for seven years, the mission [Toronto rescue mission director] had not found a single women who had been driven by low pay to her ‘misdeeds’”. It was then concluded that the low pay was not the solitary of primary cause of prostitution. “It was pointed out that girls who struggled to survive on 5-6$ per week managed to ‘retain their virtue’ proved, first, that it could be done and, second, that something other than poverty namely, moral weakness accounted for women’s downfall.” But how could you possibly say that women were naturally immoral when it was men that were engaging in these acts with the prostitutes. All of these reasons explain why become harlots, but, if it was not for men who pursued these women then there would be no money or demand for the victims to fall into the trap of prostitution. Physicians have always asserted the strengths of the male sex drive but have been more ambivalent in their attitudes
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