In class last week, we touched upon the concept of sexual tourism in relation to Doré’s image of the young, flower girl—
Doré’s picture of the flower girl, likely influenced by the Parisian stereotype of “loose women”, is a brief snapshot into the sex trade market that existed in Victorian London and continues to exist within Europe today. The flower girl is young and beautiful, balancing both a child and a seemingly impossibly full basket of flowers. She wears heavy, dark clothing but is situated in a lighter background and holds a basket of white flowers. It is interesting to us today that Doré depicts her as a tourist sight in “Doré’s London” however, during the Victorian period it was not uncommon to engage with prostitutes and other types of sex workers. It was often thought to be a societal valve in preserving the sanctity of marriage. In an article by Lee Bryant on “Crime and the Sex Trade,” she writes, “Prostitution certainly flourished during the Victorian period of rigid sexual morality. Victorian prostitution was connected with a double standard of morality, which was much more permissive for men than for women.”
Working women were often seen as both a threat to good, middle class men and a safety measure in preserving marriage, or rather, an outlet for their sexual frustrations.
I would like to briefly link the idea of the “working woman” and prostitution to a contemporary media portrayal of sex & the working woman as a marketing tool, whether in regards to tourism, the film industry, or consumer culture.
“Striptease” (1996) Demi Moore
Heroes (2006) TV Series, Ali Larter
The Wrestler (2008) Marisa Tomei
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/crime_sex_trade.htm –> “Crime and Sex Trade” Bryant Lee