In summary, prostitution was interpreted and managed differently in British colonies as compared to Britain itself. Colonialists did not care to understand how the natives interpreted their sexual acts and assumed prostitution to be inherent in their cultures. Essay Example
The History of Sexuality
4. Levine argues prostitution in the British colonies was interpreted and managed differently to prostitution in Britain itself. Why? In this essay, I discuss Levine’s argument that prostitution in the British colonies was interpreted and managed differently to prostitution in Britain itself.
In Britain the prostitution was regulated over concerns about transmission of sexual diseases, morality and religious issues, feminism and sexual liberalism (Victorian Sexualities Sl. 7, 8, 12; Walkowitz 81). As the British colonialists settled east, they did not impart the same interpretation and management of sex acts that existed in the native societies. The British colonialists believed that prostitution was part of the native culture (Levine 159). Usually, the natives living nearby colonial camps offered food, sex and companionship to the soldiers. Also, the colonialists remained indifferent to how native cultures perceived their womenfolk and sex (162). Cultures such as Indians associated their Devadasis women’s sexual rites as ordained by gods and preserved for religious and royal purposes (161-2). Although as problematic as in Britain, the colonialists considered prostitution in the east as a necessity and a convenient material on which to bring to the spotlight the greater evils and dangers of uncivilized societies (159). Colonialists also interpreted that prostitution minimized moral and physical dangers that would have emerged considering the masculine nature of colonial work and the presence of soldiers in single-sex camps (Garton 129; Levine 160).
Having considered the native societies promiscuous, colonialists instead put regulations changed perceptions of sex. They divided brothels into classes, in which first class brothels served the white clientele (161). They considered prostitution acceptable in native societies and that it could not degrade them as it did the western women (162).
In summary, prostitution was interpreted and managed differently in British colonies as compared to Britain itself. Colonialists did not care to understand how the natives interpreted their sexual acts and assumed prostitution to be inherent in their cultures.
Garton, Stephen. Histories of Sexuality: Antiquity to Sexual Revolution. London: Routledge
Levine, Philippa. ‘A Multitude of Unchaste Women: Prostitution in the British Empire’, Journal of Women’s History, 15: 4 (2004): 159-163.
Victorian Sexualities. Lecture’s Slides Week 6.
Walkowitz, Judith. ‘Male Vice and Feminist Virtue: Feminism and the Politics of Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, History Workshop, no. 13 (Spring 1982): 79-93.
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