The regulation of prostitution during the victorian period

It is estimated that roughly 80, women were working as prostitutes in London alone, which reveals how sex-obsessed the culture truly was. However, prostitution was legal and even encouraged in many circles, because it was believed that men needed an outlet for the sexual desires that they were forced to repress in their daily lives. It also allowed many women opportunities to earn wages that they could have never have earned otherwise. There were street vendors who assisted their husbands with their businessesfactory workers, and shop girls.

The regulation of prostitution during the victorian period

However, the period known as the Victorian era in England, from towitnessed such polarized gender roles that it can also be analyzed according to the different functions assigned to men and women, more commonly known as the ideology of separate spheres.

Women inhabited a separate, private sphere, one suitable for the so called inherent qualities of femininity: Following such principles allowed men, allegedly controlled by their mind or intellectual strength, to dominate society, to be the governing sex, given that they were viewed as rational, brave, and independent.

Women, on the other hand, were dominated by their sexuality, and were expected to fall silently into the social mold crafted by men, since they were regarded as irrational, sensitive, and dutiful. As Susan Kent observes: The majority of women did not have the option not to marry: Therefore, no matter what the women desired, most were predestined to become wives due to their economic reliance on men.

This requirement of chastity and absolute purity was not expected of men, as the potential husband had the freedom to participate in premarital and extramarital sexual relationships. Such a biased idea was one of many double standards in Victorian society, which demanded unquestionable compliance from women and none from men, since the women were thought to be controlled by their sexuality and were thus in need of regulation.

After a woman married, her rights, her property, and even her identity almost ceased to exist. By law she was under the complete and total supervision of her husband: Indeed it is understandable to see why many women saw marriage as falling little short of slavery.

One Victorian male contemporary writing in a letter to a friend described the perfect wife as nothing more than an extension of his household surroundings: Motherhood, unfortunately, in reality was not any more respected than marriage.

Such was the overall view. However, as with marriage, there were unjust requirements and unfair expectations. Firstly, motherhood was almost always separated from anything sexual.

Sex for any other reason than creating children was viewed as dirty and scandalous, quite separate from the revered sexless image of motherhood.

The regulation of prostitution during the victorian period

Purity was an expectation and a necessity in order for motherhood to be truly appreciated: This meant that mothers also had to be religious, since religion supported the view of women as free of sexual passion and gratification. For example, inAnnie Besant was denied the custody of her daughter because she had written in a magazine promoting birth control, sex for pleasure, and was an admitted atheist.

As Holmes and Nelson relate: Thus mothers were viewed by men as angelic only if they seemed to eschew sex, were meek, submissive, and conforming. Mothers, men kept in mind, were also women controlled by their emotions, and were socially accepted as long as they stayed in their sphere of submissiveness and passivity.

Therefore it seemed that despite the superficially elevated positions of wives and mothers, women were alone in a world ruled by men. This could not have been more clearly evident than when women came into contact with law: Laws designed to benefit men over women were hard to overlook.

Besides the legality of marital rape and wife-battery, the husband also had complete say in sexual intercourse. Refusal of sex was grounds for annulment of marriage Perkin The issue of adultery was also skewed to favor men. The reasoning was that wives and mothers served as moral guides to children, so adultery committed by a woman was considered perverted and unnatural.

And thus men believed that unless there was an explicit rule against it, men were free to treat women any way they wanted without any shame. Men justified their actions with their supremacy and expected women to tolerate the abuse without demur.

Kent goes on to argue that not only had men failed to protect the interests of women; they were almost incapable of it. If women were looked upon as ruled by their sexual reproductive systems in the institutions of marriage and motherhood, they could not expect any more protection or understanding from the legal system.

Prostitution, legal during the Victorian era, seemed to embody the second of the two categories of women present in Victorian society: However because wives and mothers were not truly respected, my belief is that prostitution reflected what men really considered all women to be: And indeed in Victorian England a large number of women were prostitutes: Ironically, in a society that was not open to women working outside the home, prostitution seemed to be the only profession protected by law.

To begin with, sex as a subject was not at all discussed.Prostitution is the act or practice of giving sexual pleasure and or engaging in intercourse for monetary goods.

Prostitution in the Victorian Era Women. Apr 16,  · Prostitution in the Victorian Era. The Victorian period is commonly viewed by people as an era of strict moral severity. However, this is not exactly true.

Victorians had a very powerful, if officially repressed, sexual appetite. However, it is obvious that life wasn't all rosy for the sex workers. A darker underside to Victorian Author: Gothic Tea Society. In the Victorian period itself, American actress Charlotte Cushman and French painter Rosa Bonheur were well known for their openly 'masculine' independence and demeanour.

In the fields of gender, health, medicine and sexuality, the Victorians seldom lived up to their stereotypes. The History of Prostitution Reform in the United States April Lynn Jackson University of Tennessee - Knoxville prostitution has been adopted during every period of American history.

Those working for social change did so under an array of pushed for regulation of prostitution under the. What was the place of prostitution in 19th-century society?

Judith Flanders looks at documents and publications that provide an insight into attitudes towards the profession. Judith Flanders is a historian and author who focussed on the Victorian period. Her most recent book The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London was.

How was prostitution in the UK regulated during the Victorian Era? How was prostitution in the UK regulated during the Victorian Era? so how much of a change was there between the early period, and the waning years? 10 comments; share; save; hide. report; Legal challenges The classic touchstone regarding the legal regulation of.

Historical Analysis: Women as the "the Sex" During the Victorian Era