Event Title

"A Spectacle of Vice": Sex Work and Moralism Under the Paris Commune

Presenter Information

Eliza Guinn, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 123

Start Date

4-27-2018 2:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 3:20 PM

Abtract

In order to form an intelligible image of the moralism that affected prostitutes’ lives and work before and after the Paris Commune of 1871, I will be looking closely at research on 19th century French prostitution and women in the Commune, and combine the two to form a more coherent picture of the social and political effects of prostitution and the enforcement of morality in the years leading up to and following the Commune. Studying prostitution in the context of the Paris Commune illustrates simultaneously a disruption of political and social life with the continuation of the bourgeois moralism that dominated policing of sex work in the 70 years previous, as the Commune grappled with its commitment to economic liberation and its ingrained expectations of women’s respectability. I will argue that prostitution formed a unique intersection of gender and sexuality with labor, that forced both the Commune and the era that followed to grapple with sexual and political transgressiveness in new ways.

Keywords:

sex work, Paris Commune, 19th century, prostitution

Notes

Session IV, Panel 11 - Modern | Europe
Moderator: Leonard Smith, Frederick B. Artz Professor of History

Major

History; French

Advisor(s)

Leonard Smith, History
Matthew Senior, French

Project Mentor(s)

Leonard Smith, History

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Apr 27th, 2:00 PM Apr 27th, 3:20 PM

"A Spectacle of Vice": Sex Work and Moralism Under the Paris Commune

King Building 123

In order to form an intelligible image of the moralism that affected prostitutes’ lives and work before and after the Paris Commune of 1871, I will be looking closely at research on 19th century French prostitution and women in the Commune, and combine the two to form a more coherent picture of the social and political effects of prostitution and the enforcement of morality in the years leading up to and following the Commune. Studying prostitution in the context of the Paris Commune illustrates simultaneously a disruption of political and social life with the continuation of the bourgeois moralism that dominated policing of sex work in the 70 years previous, as the Commune grappled with its commitment to economic liberation and its ingrained expectations of women’s respectability. I will argue that prostitution formed a unique intersection of gender and sexuality with labor, that forced both the Commune and the era that followed to grapple with sexual and political transgressiveness in new ways.