19th Century European Prostitution

475 words | 2 page(s)

A number of elements influenced prostitution in late-nineteenth-century Europe. One factor of significance was the effect of the Industrial Revolution. This was the foundation for many to leave their rural farming community going to the city in search of work. Men arrived and took the posts available in industrial work and women were most often excluded from these opportunities. From an economic standpoint, there were few jobs available to women and those that arrived in this urban environment were most often left to eke out a living. This urban setting supplied anonymity not found in a rural community, eliminating the social dictates that friends and family would hold a woman to. The economic hardship of women who could not easily find work in the new urban setting was severe, since without the support of a family, friends, or money it left few options for a woman alone.

The socio-economic levels of prostitution varied, there were the few who were in the upper classes mixing with the rich and titled. There were those who dabbled for a few years to earn money for an independent venture or to save for a future marriage, these were also among the few. The majority of prostitutes were from the working or poorer classes and their social environment would have been the poor locations, such as the waterfront, red-light district, or a place where there was public entertainment, all locations where a ‘respectable’ woman would never go.

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"19th Century European Prostitution".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

The generally accepted consensus was that prostitution as a profession was fashioned by women who had no other economic choice. However, the alternate theory of a woman who wants to save for a business or marriage is supported by the principle that during the time of the Industrial Revolution there was a significant change in the social dynamic of urban life, and women began to pursue independent means. This was considered as an option since married women at this time were completely subject to their husband’s dictates. Women’s suffrage was not just about the ability to vote it was about obtaining an independent life.

Essentially, the Industrial Revolution changed the economic and societal face of the country especially toward the end of the 19th century. Men pursued work in the new urban environment and women pursued a life of economic and social freedom, and on occasion this led to prostitution. The social, moral, and health issues were integral components of this profession to any woman who considered life as a prostitute.

  • Flanders, J. (2014, February 13). Prostitution. Retrieved June 21, 2017, from https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/prostitution
  • Kennedy-Churnac, Y.A.(2011) “The Weight of Words: Discourse, Power and the 19th Century Prostitute” (2011). CMC Senior Theses Paper 93. Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http//scholarship.claremont.edu/cmc_theses/93
  • Statistics of Prostitution. (1895). Publications of the American Statistical Association, 4 (31), 296-298. Retrieved June 21, 2017, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2967136

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now