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Driven largely by the unequal distribution of power, female sex workers FSW globally bear a disproportionately high burden of HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and interpersonal violence. Prior literature has identified a of multi-level factors that may serve to constrain FSWs' agency, or their ability to define and take action to realize goals. Among these are work-based violence and substance use, which are potentiated by the criminalization of sex work and structural vulnerability.


Hemphill, Katie M. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Over 20 years ago, Timothy Gilfoyle challenged historians of prostitution to explore the flow of capital between urban brothels and the formal and informal economies of the city. Katie M. Hemphill has now responded to these challenges. Here, Black and white women, often as a stopgap measure, resorted to selling sex. From this disorganized trade, brothels emerged in the s as premier sex sites favored by well-to-do men.

Brothels were deed to echo middle-class domestic spaces; they promised men not only sex but also an affective sociability centered on the parlor.

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The trend toward the establishment of brothels and professionalized sex work promoted segregation as Black women increasingly found themselves pushed into the street trade or, if remaining in the house, into the role of domestic servants.

Brothels pumped money into a broad range of urban economic activities including real estate, retailing, publishing penny press and pornographypatent medicines, and quack medical practices offering venereal disease treatment. Real estate interests, as Hemphill shows, were the conspicuous beneficiaries of the bawdyhouse trade.

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Since most madams did not have the capital to purchase houses, they were obliged to rent from landlords who could inflate rental charges for those engaged in illicit activities. To provide an inviting sexual experience for prosperous clients, madams were obliged to lay out funds for luxurious decor, fine liquors, Black domestic staff, and sex workers clothed in genteel fashions. Merchants, like landlords, also charged far above the going rate for goods and services.

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Sex workers themselves poured money into the local economy by patronizing the restaurants, cafes, and theaters where they sought clients. The Civil War ushered in such a tremendous expansion of the sex trade that the prospects for brothel prostitution appeared boundless. The problem, however, was that even though prosperous men may have profited from brothels, perhaps also enjoying the company of the residents, they did not want the bawdy houses encroaching on their own respectable neighborhoods.

Hemphill points out that although the city allowed brothels to thrive, a growing middle-class opposition argued that the houses not only posed a threat to public morality, but also to property values.

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In Hamilton v. Whitridge the courts agreed, allowing the use of an injunction to pressure brothel madams to move, not on the grounds that they engaged in immoral or illicit operations, but because, like slaughter houses and tanneries, brothels diminished the value of the neighborhood—paradigm shift in the legal landscape. But where would brothels be allowed to relocate? Throughout the s and s, police began pushing them into poorer, marginal neighborhoods that would, in time, became the home of Black residents.

The poor but respectable residents of those neighborhoods might complain, but the police and city authorities were not inclined to listen. The presence of brothels in those neighborhoods eventually re-opened brothel prostitution to Black women. By the s shifts in courting culture and urban recreation contributed to the decline of the brothel as young women began free-lancing, drifting away from parlor houses to concert saloons, beer gardens, dance halls, and amusement parks.

In these spaces the line between courting and sex work blurred.

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To survive, brothels offered niche sexual services. By anti-vice activists gained enough political traction to shut the brothels down. Commercial sex was now pushed deeper into the shadows and into Black neighborhoods. In the end, she convincingly shows how the labors of these otherwise forgotten women contributed to the development of Baltimore; at the same time we see vice pushed into African American communities.

Co-occurring threats to agency among female sex workers in baltimore, maryland

The closing of the brothels in Baltimore subjected sex workers to the vagaries of the police and the brutality of pimps. Not much has changed.

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Particularly vulnerable are those with criminal records, people of color, trans women and the undocumented. In the end, sex workers suffer collateral damage within a moralizing neoliberal order that fetishsizes the gig economy, yet forces sex workers into the shadows where they fail to gain simple justice. Jessica R. Her current research explores the long history of anti-trafficking movement from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century.

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Learn how your comment data is processed. Reviewed by Jessica R. Pliley Over 20 years ago, Timothy Gilfoyle challenged historians of prostitution to explore the flow of capital between urban brothels and the formal and informal economies of the city. Like this: Like Loading Recovery after Earthquakes: Managua, la ciudad zombie.

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The Maryland Sex Offender Registry Website is one of many important tools that families can use to protect themselves, their children, and those they care for from individuals with criminal sexual behaviors.


Introduction: Resilience represents adaptability and empowerment and can buffer against the consequences of traumatic events.


Resilience represents adaptability and empowerment and can buffer against the consequences of traumatic events.


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