Prostitution in the 19th and 20th Centuries Essays

1757 Words8 Pages
During the late 19th- and early 20th century, the nature of society forced the working class women of America to take advantage of any means to support themselves, including prostitution. Each woman had to decide herself which work option best supported her financially. During this time, women had limited options as far as work was concerned. As time went on, more and more women were forced to work, because they had no husband and no other means of building up a dowry for a husband. By 1910 the wage labor force was made up of about 20% of women as young as fourteen. The wages these women earned were unbelievably low, and at times as much as 80% lower than the wages men earned. Possible job opportunities for the women included…show more content…
Through prostitution, the women also had more independence. They had the right to control when they worked, and who their clients were. Their health was better protected as well. They weren’t running the constant health hazards that factory working provided. They could also afford clothing, their own rooms, and other luxuries. However, there were also several critical down-falls of prostitution. The higher-class society was hard on prostitutes, claiming they only worked for silly, frivolous reasons. Society began to insist more and more that respectable women have no sexual passion. Most women submitted to this belief in order to be sacrificial and withhold their virtuous reputation. Society assumed that any woman who took part in prostitution enjoyed sex. Working women were also presumed sexual simply because they were involved with the public sphere. Therefore, prostitutes were considered the downfall of women. However, there were others in society who claimed that prostitution was a “necessary evil” which must be regulated. These members thought that in order for the men to distinguish between a “good” woman, and a wretch of a woman, prostitution was necessary. Men were expected to marry respectable women. Perhaps, these members of society also thought it necessary for the entertainment of men when they were away from home on business trips. In other words, the men may have

More about Prostitution in the 19th and 20th Centuries Essays

Get Access