#Victorian prostitution

by Jim Morgan

Today I read a little bit about prostitution in merry old Victorian England. Evidently during the  Victorian Era women outnumbered the men, by some estimates as much as 4% of the population. This, according to the brilliant minds of the time, led to lots of unwed women out on the streets plying their wares to the otherwise innocent male population. Some estimates indicate that London alone had as many as 8,000 working ladies. The people became very concerned over this growing menace to good and decent society and the government began passing legislation regulating prostitution, especially in regards to diseases, and various religious groups began collecting the girls off of the streets and training them to become cleaning ladies for the rich.

To give this some perspective at it’s highest population the town of Tombstone, AZ had 21,000 in population (mostly male) with 7,000 women prostitutes.

Somehow I doubt it is “surplus” of women or of men that leads to prostitution. Victorians generally held women as being of a lower class than men. To the Victorian man, women were there to cater to the men. Period. Women were not educated. They were trained to do nothing except maintain a house and raise children. “Keep ’em barefoot and pregnant!” as some dumb cracker would say.

In their stupidity, the men of the Victorian era may have opened the door for what became the suffragette and the feminist movements. The efforts of the government to protect the health and welfare of the working girls and the religious groups willingness to get their hands dirty and help the girls get the training they needed proved to a chauvinistic world that women really are more than toys for men to play with.