Browse Exhibits (5 total)

Prostitution and Stigma Cross-Culturally: Paris, Nairobi, and California


This exhibit compares the stigmatization of indoor prostitution with that of outdoor prostitution. These two forms of prostitution carry significant (but varied) meanings with regard to stigma in that they are reflective of class lines.  To explore this comparison more deeply, I juxtapose three different cultures: Paris in the 1830s, Nairobi in the 1900s, and California in the late 1990s-early 2000s.  In doing so, I examine how the dominant attitudes affiliated with indoor and outdoor prostitution inform kinship and living structures for female prostitutes in each of these places and time periods.  The patterns and differences between these three cases demonstrate that stigma (like prostitution) varies across cultures.

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Sex Work, Regulation, and Social Class: Policing Bias at the Expense of Lower-Class Prostitutes

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This exhibit examines the intersection of policing and a prostitute's social class, comparing nineteenth-century Paris and the twenty-first century United States. From lower-class streetwalkers to upscale private escorts, the social stratification of prostitutes has influenced the likelihood of and manner in which a sex worker faces prosecution, both historically and cross-culturally. This inconsistency can be attributed to a number of different factors, including cultural stigma, relative visibility, and the agenda of law enforcement officials. 

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The Business of Sex Work


This exhibit shows how sex work is a legitimate business, from its existence in an economic market, and should therefore be decriminalized. Decriminalization would benefit both sides of the market for sex work. Along with decriminalization, laws should still exist to create safer circumstances for the women and enact better business practices for the market. 

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Stigma: An Attack on Women's Rights

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This exhibit deals with the adverse effects of the stigma sorrounding prostitution. 


Legal Brothels: Past & Present

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This exhibit looks at the experiences of brothel sex workers in legalized systems of prostitution from both mid-nineteenth century Paris and contemporary cities. Legal brothels allow the state to maintain control over the area and the workers involved in the operation.

Generally, the state tracks the employees in sex work, monitors working and living conditions, financially regulates the business, and ensures compliance to laws and regulation. Examining legal brothels in 19th century Paris and contemporary legal brothels in Nevada, Amsterdam, and Tuxtla, this exhibit parallels past and present daily life, state regulation, public perception, and clientele. The historical portrayal of brothel women is grounded in Alexandre Parent-Duchâtelet’s On Prostitution in the City of Paris, official archived police documents, personal accounts, and various other French artifacts from the period. Ethnographies, academic studies, and articles encompass our analysis of modern brothel workers.

While legalization enhances brothel sex workers’ legal status and promotes health and safety, it also permits the state to introduce regulations that exploit the industry and its workers. Additionally, brothel sex workers still face oppression and experience stigma, creating tangible disadvantages that limit their autonomy.

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