Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition

Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition

Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition

Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American Reform Tradition

Synopsis

"Barbara M. Hobson... makes a compelling case for the reform of prostitution policy in... Uneasy Virtue. [This volume] demonstrates an effective analytical approach to understanding public policy and its impact on prostitution policy.... Uneasy Virtue proves particularly relevant today as right wing groups begin to guide discourse and influence policy around reproductive rights, sexuality and the future of gender equality. As Hobson proposes, the reform of prostitution polciy must be viewed in the broader context of the political and economic struggles to emancipate women and thereby create a more rational society."-Samuel Suchowlecky, Commentaries

Excerpt

Prostitution is a perplexing and controversial subject. Even the nature of prostitution is difficult to define—is it a sexual relationship or a work contract, private act or public commerce? Prostitution will always lead into a moral quagmire in democratic societies with capitalist economies ; it invades the terrain of intimate sexual relations yet beckons for regulation. A society's response to prostitution goes to the core of how it chooses between the rights of some persons and the protection of others. In nearly every society past and present, the state has sought to control the prostitution economy through the female prostitutes themselves. Prostitutes have been marked as outsiders by state policies of licensing or criminal penalties. They have been stigmatized through caste and status distinctions; most often they have been forced to work and reside in segregated areas of cities. Yet prostitution has been resistant to nearly all efforts to suppress it.

In this book I reveal how essentially contested prostitution policy has been over the last century and a half, and I show how the differences in approach go to the heart not only of a society's organization of class and gender but also of the state's role in regulating morals and markets. The study of prostitution becomes a two-way social and ideological mirror.

On the one side, we see a prostitution economy that expresses social and . . .

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