These new views lead to a growing change in the status and aggressiveness of women in the nineteenth century.
Furthermore the belief that al of Victorian society was virtuous and unblemished has even come under more scrutiny. "...historians now use letters, diaries, marriage manuals, and even one survey of sexual attitudes to argue that the Victorians were in fact far less restrained.
The power of the Catholic Church meant that theological teaching was translated into dogma, and from dogma into policy and action. However, the contradictions presented by the potency of the sexual drive, the sanctity of marriage and the fear of damnation made the institution of prostitution inevitable. It became the 'lesser' or the 'necessary' evil permitted in order to safeguard more cherished institutions and to prevent men from committing graver sins. Justifications multiplied. 'If you eliminate prostitutes from society, ' declared St. Augustine, 'you disrupt everything with lust.
In the name of humanitarianism many organization tried to 'help" these women in distress, but not without a cost to the victim's themselves:
During the 1850s, prostitution became a matter of considerable public concern and new ways were devised for encouraging women to enter penitentiaries. The Midnight Meeting movement launched in 1849 by John Blackmore and Theophilus Smith offered tea and sermons to prostitutes. These meetings served as recruiting grounds for penitents who were then redirected into asylums. (Self 23)
So while the helping hand were removing prostitutes from the street, it more for society's benefit than that of the women involved. The asylums were the madhouses, "bedlams" of the day and few survived and almost no one was cured of anything. An unlike a jail sentence, their stay was determined by the doctors in charge and could be for as long as they saw fit. So, unless you had friends in higer places often the only escape was death.
Reformers not only perceived themselves as a force for tremendous good but also believed that the reform institutions they managed had contributed to a significant decline in prostitution. 83 'I think the rescue societies and those co-operating with them,...are entitled to a very large share, the largest share I may say, of the credit of these results.' 84 of course, such optimism was unrealistic. Not only did prostitution remain firmly in place but also the success rate of the institutions was not high: the majority of those who entered reform institutions did not become domestic servants. (Bartley 58)
However, not all treatments or remedies for Prostitution were as bad as that. The following is an excerpt from the London news regarding somewhat better treatment of the problem:
Magdalen Hospital, in St. George's-fields the OBJECT of this charity is the relief and reformation of wretched outcasts from society; and the principle on which it is founded, gives it a strong title to the countenance and favour of the public, and particularly of the female sex. No object can possibly be more worthy of their care, than the rescuing from the deepest woe and distress, the most miserable of their fellow creatures, leading them back from vice to virtue and happiness, reconciling the deluded and betrayed daughter to her offended mother, and restoring hundreds of unfortunate young women to industry, again to become useful members of the community.
And in fact the Magdalen movement garnered a great deal of favor and was quite beneficial to those whom were in its care. The transformation of the image of the prostitute was undergoing a reconstruction. She was "no longer the daughter of wretchedness nor the elegant penitent, but a recalcitrant sinner to be won to repentance with severity and discipline." This was the Protestant take on the situation which meant that the mind of the sinner was focused upon repercussion of sin or as it is better know, guilt.
After these reforms had been in place for a while a movement arose that it might be better instead of the finding a solution to the problem after it was caused, why not prevent the problem from arising in the first place. By the latter part of the nineteenth century prevention was becoming the more popular solution...
Largely through her efforts, it is said, Ladies' Associations for the Care and Protection of Young Girls were set up in towns and cities across England in order to prevent young women from becoming prostitutes. (Bartley 14)
In that light many institutions had been established to help eradicate, as much as possible, the problem of prostitution. There were may sootier or religious "Tracts" that were developed to combat immorality on many levels, which were one of the causes of the dilemma in the first place:
The central message was a warning that youth confronted peril and special risks in the city where, lonely and isolated, they were tempted to turn to their "malignant passions" and "sensual lusts," and begin a downward spiral toward alcoholism, prostitution, prison, and perhaps even the gallows. If youth abandoned (or did not take up) morality, sobriety, spirituality, and loyalty to parents - the message was almost always the same - their doom would be sealed; they would come to a pitiful end.
Some of the more popualr titles were: Knocking at the door: An Appeal to Youth; Counsels to a Young Man; Parental Faithfulness; the Spoiled Child; the Young Cottager; David Baldwin... The Miller's Son; the Dairyman's Daughter; and the Widow's Son.
So while the initial focus of the Victorian era was on the prostitute as being sole proprietor of her dilemma and certainly led to an even more dismal life for the woman of the street in the nineteenth. Consequently, a counter-revolution led by more enlightened women of the upper class as well as the prostitutes themselves gave rise to what eventually would become the women's liberation movement as it gained momentum throughout the century.
19 th-Century Responses to Prostitution. Prostitution in maritime London." 2007. Port cities London http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConNarrative.111/chapterId/2347/Prostitution-in-maritime-London.html
Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies, Prostitution in maritime London." 2007. Port cities London http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConNarrative.111/chapterId/2345/Prostitution-in-maritime-London.html
Prostitution, Then and Now." Women's Issues then and Now: a Feminist Overview of the Pat Two Centuries. 2002 University of Texas http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/sex_work.shtml
Barret-Ducrocq, Franaoise. Love in the Time of Victoria: Sexuality, Class, and Gender in Nineteenth-Century London. Translated by Howe, John. London: Verso, 1991.
Bartley, Paula. Prostitution: Prevention and Reform in England, 1860-1914. London: Routledge, 2000.
The London Miscellany: A Nineteenth Century Scrapbook. New York: Oxford University Press, 1938.
Rose, Sonya O.. Limited Livelihoods: Gender and Class in Nineteenth-Century England. London: Routledge, 1992
Self, Helen J. Prostitution, Women, and Misuse of the Law: The Fallen Daughters of Eve. London: Frank Cass, 2003.
Senf, Carole a. The Vampire in Nineteenth-Century English Literature. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988.
Teeter, Ruskin. "Pre-School Responses to the 19th-Century Youth Crisis." Adolescence 30, no. 118 (1995): 291-295.
Helen J. Self, Prostitution, Women, and Misuse of the Law: The Fallen Daughters of Eve (London: Frank Cass, 2003),
Sonya O.Rose, Limited Livelihoods: Gender and Class in Nineteenth-Century England (London: Routledge, 1992), 22
Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies, Prostitution in maritime London." 2007. Port cities London
19 th-Century Responses to Prostitution. Prostitution in maritime London." 2007. Port cities London
Paula Bartley, Prostitution: Prevention and Reform in England, 1860-1914 (London: Routledge, 2000), 27
Joan Perkin, Women and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century England (London: Routledge, 1989), 157
Franaoise Barret-Ducrocq, Love in the Time of Victoria: Sexuality, Class, and Gender in Nineteenth-Century London trans. John Howe, (London: Verso, 1991), 13
Prostitution, Then and Now." Women's Issues then and Now: a Feminist Overview of the Pat Two Centuries." (2002 University of Texas) http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/sex_work.shtml
The London Miscellany: A Nineteenth Century Scrapbook (New York: Oxford University Press, 1938), 171
Ruskin Teeter, "Pre-School Responses to the 19th-Century Youth Crisis,"…
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