Lorettes and society
Class Prostitutes and the Law
Representations in Les Miserables
Realities of Authority in Paris
Brothels and Streetwalkers
The Privileged Class: Courtesans
Defining the courtesan
Courtesans in reality
Unregistered Prostitutes and Authority
"Prostitution began around 2 A.M. around
Les Halles and the rue de Venise. This quarter was then the
area worked by the dregs of the prostitutes in the center of
the capital. They roamed around the vegetable sellers' carts,
sold themselves for fifty centimes or one franc, and 'accepted
anything, even payments in kind, cabbages, carrots, whatever
vegetables the tradesmen were selling in the nearby streets.'"
image courtesy of www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/images
we see a streetwalker being approached by a man, possibly a client.
She seems disgusted with him, telling him to "go tell your
mother that you need your nose wiped", implying that he's
not much of a man. What could have happened here for her to be
so disgusted by him and harsh towards him? Perhaps he is harassing
her. He appears to be a member of the bourgeoisie,judging from
the way he is dressed, therefore it is completely plausible that
he is looking down on her a whore with no class and no morals.
Streetwalkers often found themselves on the defense, due to the
nature of men's attacks on them.
|· The majority
of unregistered prostitutes (unlike the registered prostitutes in
worked without the help of a mistress/Madame. This is significant
because the madames brought clients to the prostitutes and saw the
first profit from the business. Streetwalkers were forced to approach
prospective clients themselves and sell themselves as a commodity
to them. The approach varied from woman to woman. "'Are you going
to make me rich?' was the usual formula for approaching a client.
Some prostitutes were not afraid to grab a man by his sleeve and
cling to him, even yelling insults at him if he refused their attentions."
in Paris were always on the lookout for these unregistered prostitutes.
Unlike the prostitutes in the brothels, the police authorities
did not have a list of which prostitutes worked which streets
or arrondissements. After regulations specifically geared towards
unregistered prostitutes were passed by the July Monarchy in 1822,
streetwalkers found themselves constantly having to evade police
authority (although, to a great extent they had been doing this
for years before the regulations were passes, given the nature
of their profession.). At any rate, streetwalkers made their living
despite the constant threat of arrest.
Undoubtedly, commissaires found themselves with their hands full,
being the local authorities who dealt specifically with prostitution,
with not only keeping the brothels in check, but also constantly
on the lookout for unregistered prostitutes.
the brothels became less and less significant as Paris grew in size.
Likewise, the unregistered street prostitutes became more spread
out, perhaps making it much more difficult for police to locate
where streetwalkers roamed the streets looking for clients. The
difference between soliciting prostitute and the lorette
was that the lorette, like the courtesan,
was a kept woman.
|It is important
to note that the streetwalker was in her profession for a reason.
This was not a desirable lifestyle choice, but rather something
women were usually forced into for any number of circumstances.
It is even more important to note that it was next to impossible
for these women to become courtesans. Women who became courtesans
usually already held jobs (usually in shops) and were looking for
financial security. "Conversations in the workshop, the example
of older women, and rivalries and jealousies soon persuaded the
young apprentice to find herself a bourgeois lover...". The
main point is that it was not rivalries and jealousy that motivated
the streetwalker, but necessity.
to find out why women became lower class prostitutes!