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victorian prostitution

Prostitution: Victorian Vs. Modern Times

Prostitution is arguably the oldest profession in the history of human kind. It has been employed since before the time of Christ and is still very much alive today. In fact it has played a large part in women sexuality from Victorian times until now. Although outlawed in many countries today, prostitution still occurs either legally under government control or illegally under the radar. Is prostitution less risky today than it was in the 1900’s? You decide.

In Victorian times, prostitution was not a chosen profession. Actually, it was essentially forced upon young girls and women as a way to earn money to stay off the streets if they were homeless, unemployed, unmarried, orphaned or otherwise left helpless in the days when women could not own property or work any legitimately well paid jobs other than seamstresses, maids, and other low service positions. A mostly controlled profession, prostitutes usually resided in brothels underneath madams who upheld the house and gave room & board as well as food and clothing to them for working within.

Despite this profession being a last resort to many women, society still viewed the existence of prostitution as a contribution to the decline of morality and often referred to prostitutes as Magdalenes or whores. Ridiculously enough, it was also seen as a necessary evil because it was thought to be less harmful for men to engage in sex without love.

Today, prostitution still seems to be seen as a decline in morality and society as a whole, but is not so easily acceptable for men to engage with prostitutes as in the 18th century. Considered illegal in many parts of the world today, prostitution might be seen as more dangerous today than in the past due to the fact that there is little to no control over the market, the clients, nor the prostitutes themselves who often turn “tricks” to sustain a drug habit as well as the fact that STD’s are more prevalent and varying today than in the past. Prostitution today is sometimes seen as a woman’s right to control her sexuality and is more often a choice today than it was in the Victorian era.