19th Century Prostitution

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Prostitution is a subject whom many people today have vocal opinions about if it should be legalized and is it moral? Can you imagine how people felt about prostitutes in the 19th century? Today people think the worst possible things of a woman who prostitutes herself and a less rigid view of women’s sexuality exists now almost two centuries later than there was then. In 2011 men and women can have a different view of prostitution and distinctive ways to correct the problem. Men today as they did almost 200 years ago would like to see prostitution legalized and regulated. Women still see prostitution as they did a moral issue that needs reformed. The data suggests that few things have changed when it comes to the punishment and help for prostitution.

The overwhelming reason for 19th century prostitution can be attributed to the need of survival. There are few people who would argue that jobs for women were scarce in whatever part of the country in the 1800’s. Was it superior to penalize the women who prostituted themselves or offer them ways in which they could “better” themselves? Jail time, fines, social reform was all ways society judged the working women.

Why women prostituted themselves in the 19th century I feel is important before discussing ideas of reform and punishment. “No work, no money, no home” (Hill, 1993) was a phrase used by a young prostitute in New York City. This was a common theme among the prostitutes in various parts of the United States. Poverty was not the shared belief for prostitution among the moral realm. They believed that the prostitutes were depraved and wicked. Those women had made the choice to pleasure and corrupt men because of their lack of morals (Hill, 1993).

In the ...

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...d not act as if men played a role in keeping prostitutes in business. There was no legal or moral punishment for the men who used prostitutes.

Women avoided blaming the women for the role they were cast in. They saw that men held a role in the business of prostitution. They sought ways to help the prostitutes out of the life they were in. The lack of social institutions in the Frontier was probably the result of a limited number of “respectable” residing there.

I cannot see where much has changed since the 1800’s when it comes to views on prostitution. There are still people whose opinion it is that prostitution is the completely the females fault and there are still people who place the blame on the men who use these women. However, there are still women who look at prostitution as the only way to survive. Again what have people learned from history?
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