History of Prostitution
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According to a recent history of prostitution research paper, throughout the colonial period, communities in America were very concerned about establishing moral codes to respond to a variety of sexually illicit behaviors. A history of prostitution research paper provides documentation that several colonies passed religiously motivated laws for the purpose of condemning prostitution in order to further prevent sin. As early as 1699, New Amsterdam, Boston and Philadelphia created legislation that made night walking an offense.
During the early 1800's, with the beginnings of the industrial period emerging, the U.S. became more oriented towards capitalism, the population shifted to urban areas and over time, the family structure changed with women being needed less to help maintain the family's self sufficiency. As a previous history of prostitution research paper pointed out, eventually, as new gender role assignments were developed, the role of women and their worth were largely associated with the responsibilities of nurturers and caretakers of the home and family. These virtues, along with purity, were essential for social acceptance. As noted in many history of prostitution research papers, if a woman fell from grace for whatever reasons, her status as virtuous was not re-attainable and she was perceived as capable of committing any crime. With few options for survival, prostitution became a viable option for supporting oneself and one's children. Additionally, as explained by a history of prostitution research paper, even when women were allowed to work in factories as they began to develop across the country, working conditions and wages were so poor that prostitution remained an attractive business opportunity for many women.
During the 18th century and 19th century, as explained by Connelly, efforts to deal with prostitution were largely those that did not involve legal interventions. Primarily, what was known as whorehouse riots were used in an attempt to end this form of business. Another form of intervention that was used was based on attempts to reform those involved in prostitution. Reform organizations were largely run by women in the upper class and their focus was on recognizing prostitutes as victims of over-sexed males as well as victims of poverty. During the late 1800's, prostitution became perceived as the result of the unnatural desires of women and efforts were made to legally regulate it rather than exterminate it in order to protect women who did not possess such desires. Gradually, up until the early 1900's, attitudes shifted and reform efforts emphasized the impact of urbanization on the profession of prostitution.