Male-authored novels written in the mid-to-late nineteenth century frequently denied female sexual desire and agency and adhered to themes of poverty and seduction. Often, male authors explicitly punished their female characters for their sexual indiscretions, typically by imposing death sentences upon them and emphasizing how surviving sex workers were spiritually irredeemable. However, the few female-authored novels from this time that address prostitution were less encumbered by this patriarchal framework and more aware of the nuances of the female sexual experience. Female authors were generally more forgiving and sympathetic to the sex workers they wrote about. They often allowed these women to achieve actual redemption in their novels and frequently condemned the callousness of middle- and upper-class society regarding the struggles many “fallen” women went through.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
"Ruined Ingénue and Redeemed Sister: Representations of the Sex Worker in Late-Nineteenth-Century American Fiction,"
Armstrong Undergraduate Journal of History: Vol. 9
, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/aujh/vol9/iss1/4