2-From the Early Brothels to the Swedish Model of prostitution law

kamadeva · · 1

Sex becoming goods

The aristocratic nature of purchased sex came to an end with the fall of the Empire, and the democratic nature of the new state formation, the republic formed on the ruins of the former constitution democratized and promoted access to affordable sex. The rise of the middle classes gave civil rights to more and more people, which also manifested itself in the easier accessibility to sex. As a direct consequence, red-light houses were once again on the rise, with prostitutes living permanently there, but the less fortunate looking for their sex clients on the street and at other social events. Thus, prostitution did not stop on the street, but infiltrated theatres, musical venues, baths and public dance halls.

The emergence of new types of brothels

In these times, Paris saw an evolutionary development of brothel as an institution. While formerly these houses were merely a closed and discreet venue for sexual services, in the Third Republic they had evolved into an adult entertaining facility with a wider range of services, including not only sexual ones but other types of services as well, with other words, brothel transformed into a special bar or cafe where men who got tired of their marriage could meet, talk, drink, and the night out did not necessarily end up having sex. The Madame played an important role in creating a welcoming atmosphere, personally supervising the guests’ feelings and, with her smooth and communicative companionship, she contributed significantly to the guests' consumption, not least to the effective promotion and boost of her sew workers. And contemporary luxury brothels provided unbelievable services beyond the wildest aspirations to the rich and perverted sex clients in an environment that is hardly unimaginable now, where all the practices of sadomacho and other perverse sexual habits could be found using state of the art techniques.

Brasseries a femmes

The so-called Brasseries a femmes turned up and begun flourishing back in the previous century was something similar to it, which is today a type of restaurant without the name ‚Äėfemmes‚Äô, where there is a constant menu with popular single dishes served on tables with white tablecloths by waiters. Contrary to the Brasseries of the present time, in Brasseries a femmes only pretty women served strong alcoholic drinks, often coming in closer contact with young guests, for whom they also offered sexual services in a secluded part of the bar[5]. The main character of the institution was consumer hospitality, and the role of pretty women or prostitutes working as waitress was the motivation for consumption, which they achieved with their friendly and attractive personality and appearance. However, not only alcoholic beverages were served but often drugs such as opium as well to further intensify consumption. Before the emergence of brasseries in service sector, sex service and drink were institutionally separated. A guest who drank in a tavern rarely found a female company, so he walked down the street or went to a nearby brothel, but this new kind of brothel solved this convenience issue by bringing the two kinds of service under the same roof[6]. The problem only arose for authorities, prostitutes and sex clients that prostitutes working at a Brasseries a femmes, unlike the ones at House of Tolerance, were not subjected to regular medical check-ups, so that sexually transmitted diseases were very common among sex workers. Another strong objection of the contemporary society was that the regulars consisted of young people whose health was seriously affected not only by beautiful but often ill women but also by strong drinks, not to mention the material bankruptcy caused by regular paid sex and frequently consumed alcoholic beverages. Most of the victims were young people, especially intellectuals and students. Despite of these, working and going to brasseries was very popular because it was not just a brothel but a nightclub, so guests didn't have to feel uncomfortable, and on the other hand, the girls could tell that they weren't really prostitutes, but special waitresses, so everyone's conscience could be a little clearer.

The opposite of this was the so-called breakfast-only hotels in Paris that originally meant a hotel without a restaurant, but was later identified as a kind of low-status brothel. Here, a small number of prostitutes acted under the supervision of a procurer, providing cheaper and simpler sexual services for simpler pleasures to lower-cost sex clients.

Cabaret, or gentlemen’s club

If a contemporary wealthy man wanted a more sophisticated, more quality service than which was available at a smoky pub (brassiere) or a small suburban brothel (maisons de tolerance or clos), then he would visit one of the downtown music-pubs (cabaret) where guests could enjoy the program of the given nightclub, not only the company of the local sex workers. The program usually consisted of a music-dance show, typically performed by young and pretty women dressed scantily, and of course, customers could even drink mostly alcoholic beverages, but in some places even dinner were available. Such places were the famous Folies Bergère and the Moulin Rouge, where a type of prostitute of ancient origin (flute girls) appeared. They were adult entertainers who did not necessarily have sex in their business profile, but other types of entertainment, such as dance, music or chat, though the cabaret was more specialized in dance and singing, and the female employees could decide themselves to work as prostitutes occasionally. Of course, there were also bar girls like in our present time, that is, prostitutes who could be invited to a drink, and they offered sex to sex clients, not only their company, if a client could afford their often very expensive sex services.

Dance clubs and Lorettes

Prior to the "big age", when dancing party venues had not yet been established, the Paris Opera Ballet provided prostitutes for sex clients[7], although its primary purpose was to train ballerinas and carry out dance performances, and not to ensure sexual or adult entertainment. Usually girls enrolled to the institute at a very young age, often from the countryside, and had to work very hard to get long-term roles and contracts from the opera house. In the meantime, of course, they were exposed to powerful men who practically prostituted them for career advancement, just as they do nowadays with beautiful actresses for a faster career development. Because of their young age and inexperience, they were completely defenceless to sexual predators, who could easily get rid of them when the desired sexual interaction became completed. Over time, it was completely accepted that these girls, or as they were called, Lorettas, had become prostitutes for the upper class. They practically had dual careers: dancer and prostitute, gaining significant social status with the latter trade, quite interestingly. Many of the audience did not attend ballet performances just because they wanted to engage in an artistic dance performance, but in the dancers’ young bodies, and whom they visited to bid for sexual intercourse. The dance production was also so exciting because ballerinas were quite scantily dressed for the norm of the age, giving the explorers the opportunity to take pleasure in the spectacle and become excited. Of course, street prostitutes often pulled up their skirts to show off their legs or exposed their breasts to a potential sex client, yet they could not see the female body in as much complexity as that of the girls dancing in the Ballet. It is important to add that the sight of a rhythmically moving female body in itself provides more reason for sexual excitement than a prostitute loitering on the street. At that time, European societies were rather patriarchal, which is heavily criticized by the Swedes, which is why they will have their own prostitution law protecting prostituted women and sanctioning sex-buying men, because they claim that the patriarchal society is to be blamed for prostituting women, and if we think of only the often tragic story of the Lorettas, we have to say they are right somewhere.

Fight against prostitution

By the middle of the century, prostitution and sex business in France, and especially in Paris, had reached such a level that it threatened the safety of nightlife for decent women. In the evenings, especially at night, it was not at all advisable for female citizens to walk alone because they tended to be seen as prostitutes by both police and potential sex clients, no matter how they dressed, so it is no wonder that after a while there was a social demand to regulate prostitution. And the regulation of French prostitution, as already mentioned in the introduction, was of European importance, since most countries automatically adopted the practice of Paris, that is to say, the police registry of ladies, the regular medical checks of brothels, which in many cases, had the consequence that prostitutes with sexually transmitted diseases were held at the Saint-Lazare Prison Hospital. However, the strict control mainly concerned undercover prostitutes, who were ruthlessly pursued by the police. Every ideological trend at the time, e.g. socialists or anarchists had their own solution to eradicate prostitution, but of course they did not succeed because prostitution was a constant social need. This need was fueled, on the one hand, by the natural instinct of men for sexual diversity, that is sex with multiple women, and, on the other hand, by the lack of sexual education among women, which resulted in their poor practical knowledge of how sexuality worked, who usually got married and started a family early, and as a consequence, husbands turned to trained and more experienced sex workers for better sexual gratification.

The second great peak of French prostitution

Following the democratization of sex market, World War I and II marked another highlight period in the market of sexual services, with many soldiers, initially German, then English and other nationalities stationed in the country. Like during the Crusade, soldiers, whether married or not, were encouraged to use local sexual services to better concentrate on their war activities. As a result, prostitution once again flourished, with the new surge of sexually transmitted diseases, especially syphilis. Venereal diseases actually provided an excuse for soldiers not to go to the front, creating a peculiar group of prostitutes who would spread sexual diseases intentionally among soldiers, of course, for extra charge. Perhaps for the first time in the history of prostitution, the transmission of sexual diseases became a type of service on the sexual palette.

The decline of prostitution and the change of approach

After the Great Wars and the rise of prostitution, the tendency to regulate prostitution became more and more intense as a result of the untenable state of affairs, which eventually led to the declaration of brothel operation and procuring illegal in 1946, although prostitution was allowed to be pursued legally, if not organized, and thus ending the era from 1804 in the history of French prostitution. From this point on, France has switched to an abolitionist approach to prostitution, calling for the complete abolition of prostitution and sex trade, without learning from the mistake as old as mankind that prostitution cannot be eradicated. They wanted to implement the complete elimination of prostitution with the familiar tool of legal criminalization, i.e. all actors in the sex trade, prostitute, procurer, pimp and institute of brothel were subjected to criminal consequences, although emphasis was also placed on rehabilitation for former sex workers. However, in these times, a completely new attitude has begun to emerge in Sweden, which has been adopted by some Western countries, or is only influencing new efforts to regulate prostitution. From this point in the history of prostitution, France lost its role in defining prostitution.

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