CRIM 2650 Lecture Notes - Lecture 17: Brothel, Street Prostitution, Feminist School Of Criminology

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14 Aug 2016
Prostitution, the quintessential female, crime, is often conceived of as an opportunity to reinforce
the subjugation, domination, oppression, and degradation of women, which entails the
exchange of sexual services for money. While prostitution is seen as a symbol of female
Brief Recap:
-prostitution: quintessential female crime
-prostitution remains a conceived, imagined female-dominated offense that comes with a certain
amount of stigma, which is related to the idea that prostitution is also symbolic of female
-malestream criminology assumed that female criminals were produced from uncontrolled
-prostitute epitomized the female criminal;the negative standard against which we define
feminine virtue and the characteristics we associate with good, respectable women
-doubly deviant
-in addition to being conceived as doubly deviant, they also tend to be conceived as
psychologically disturbed in some way, which could be a result of previous physical or sexual
-in the 19th century, prostitutes were believed to be psychologically disturbed as they were
suffering from nymphomania; only applied to women who violated or failed to conform to the
expectations and conventions associated with traditional femininity-passive, domestic
-it began to appear in the medical literature in the late 1800s; a time characterized by the
increasing demand in women’s rights
-this newly-established disease constructed female sexuality in a particular way, as out of
-female sexuality was considered out of control of women’s husbands as well as out of control
of male doctors
-this female sexuality was also conceived of as unnatural, as women were supposed to be
naturally far more passive in the face of male sexual desire
-for male psychiatrists working in this era, it became a sign of female delinquency
-when women became nymphomaniacs, they would become insane or prostitutes
-nymphomaniacs were driven to prostitution to fulfill their uncontrolled sexual desires
-feminists challenged this assumption of nymphomania, which is another example of the
medicalization of feminine criminality; a means to control female sexuality through psychiatry at
a time when women were increasingly becoming sexually independent
-there were multiple perspectives that make up second-wave feminism:
-second wave feminists understood prostitution in various different way
-there is a point of commonality despite overall differences between second-wave feminist
perspectives: all of feminist scholars and activists will recognize that prostitution is tied to
capitalism and would not exist if it were not for a capitalist society that treats the
bodies of the working class proletariat as these commodities that can be bought and sold
-for working class men, their bodies are bought and sold in terms of labour power, but for
working class women, who have simply fewer employment opportunities than their male
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counterparts, they may turn to prostitution to compensate for their lack of economic
opportunities in a capitalist society
-prostitution exists because of the economic and social subordination of women in a capitalist
-second argument concerns the notion that it exists in a patriarchal society: demand for men to
buy women’s bodies
-many feminist criminologists argued that patriarchy creates and legitimates the need for
prostitution because prostitution is another example of how the sexual hierarchy in a patriarchal
society is legitimated whereby men have control over and can purchase women’s bodies and
sexual services
-patriarchy established the conditions by which sexual exchanges can occur in society
Feminist Criminology in Practice:
-two observations:
1) depended on social and political context: putting feminist criminology into practices, its
consequences are all dependent on a social and political context of a particular country.
ex: in the US, with the election of politically conservative, right-wing presidents, there
was a feminist backlash in the contrast: Sweden has a strong and unified
women’s movement, which made it easy to put feminist theories into practice
2) unintended consequences of policy changes: when we do transform theory into policies,
they can have unintended consequences (of policy and legal changes), which can
negatively impact the lives of women..ex: the case of mandatory charging and arrest
policies; law-enforcement policies implemented as a response to domestic violence in
North America; it ensures that when an officer is called to respond to an incident of
domestic abuse, the officer must arrest the abuser in all cases..feminists originally
argued for mandatory arrest because they wanted to communicate the message that
male violence against women was unacceptable and should be deemed
criminal..however, the reading points out the unanticipated effects to arrest policies in
the US; 1994-2003; once these arrest policies were put into place, what occurred was
that more abused women were arrested in this time period than ever before..what was
initially put into place to protect these abused women had the unanticipated
consequence of arresting Canada, mandatory charging policies have been put
into place; laws prohibiting domestic violence..police and courts, however, have rarely
enforced these laws based on 3 beliefs:
a) when the state intervenes into these incidents of domestic abuse, families would be
b) the state should not intervene into the home or private family affairs
c) the dictate of police affairs encouraged this image of them as crime-fighters and not
-feminist activists argued for the need of mandatory charging policies to counteract the systemic
neglect of domestic violence issues; it could alleviate the pressure put on victims when
determining whether or not to pursue charges
-these policies were implemented based on the idea of moral education
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-unanticipated consequences particularly for abused immigrant women; when they report
domestic violence cases against their husbands, they are put into various precarious situations,
as she faces the risk of deportation..when they rely on them for permanent residence and
citizenship, these could negatively impact their status in Canada
-lack of access to resources and support systems for those who are not citizens
-what was wrong about these policies?
1) the assumption that all abused women were the same; there was this implicit view that
there could be this universal abused women; a notion challenged by third-wave feminists
and intersectionality..the abusive experience for immigrant women can only be
understood when analyzing the various aspects or areas of social comparison
2) this belief that these policies will have predictable outcomes: the assumption that
intentions will translate to outcomes..the effects of a policy or an exercise of power are
very different from the intentions
Case Study: Prostitution in Canada:
-criminalization of acts leading up to or associated with prostitution
-prostitution-related activities have been criminalized
-the legal framework has been derived from Victorian era:
1) since the 19th century, Canada has had laws that criminalize the keeping and
maintenance of bawdy-house (brothels)..the owner, sex workers, clients, landlord,
tenants of the bawdy-house
2) law on procuring and living on the avails of prostitution: penalize those trying to profit
from the prostitution of others..this living on the avails provision was meant to target
pimps who were living or whose source of income was mainly prostitution..this provision
has had some unintended consequences on the lives of prostitutes..if they were partially
or largely paying for their child’s university fees, thus, the child could be charged on the
living on the was presumed that if someone was routinely in the company of
known prostitutes, they were living on the avails..problematic; isolates prostitutes making
it difficult for them to surround themselves around family and friends
3) the last and newest offense (1985); made it criminal for any person in a public place to
communicate for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or obtaining sexual
services..public place: any place the public has access to or can view..communication
can be verbal, written, or non-verbal signs, which can be interpreted through different
symbols, or more overt behaviours..the terms public and communication were quite
vague..does the communication offence violate our Section 2 rights under the CCRF?
although the majority of the Supreme Court ruled that there is a breach of our freedom of
expression, the majority ruled that it was justified under Section 1 of the Charter; the
Oakes test..the tool used by the government to limit all the Charter rights that we are
entitled to..if the government can demonstrate that there is a sufficiently important
legislative objective that allows the government to pursue collective goals in the public
interest; if it exists and it is demonstrated to be sufficient, then the government can
justifiably violate our Charter rights..the communicating offence is aimed at taking
prostitution out of public view in order to eliminate all the various social nuisances that
can arise out of the display of the public sales of the prostitution reference, in
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