Added: August 16, 2014 – Last updated: February 21, 2015


Speaker: Brian Donovan

Title: Gender and the Legal Construction of Consent

Subtitle: Narratives of Compulsory Prostitution in New York City, 1908-1915

Conference: 100th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (August 13-16, 2005)

Place: Philadephia, Pennslyvania, United States

Date: August 15, 2005

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Types: Forced Prostitution


Link: All Academic Research (Free Access)


Speaker: Brian L. Donovan, Department of Sociology , University of Kansas

Abstract: »This paper examines stories of coerced prostitution voiced in New York City's Court of General Sessions from 1908 to 1915. During these years, the problem of "white slavery," or forced prostitution, received an unprecedented amount of attention from journalists, politicians, and anti-vice activists. Court records provide valuable information about the the gender order wherein sex crimes were perpetrated and prosecuted. Legal documents reveal competing narratives designed to resonate with prevailing sensibilities about proper masculinity and femininity. Using transcripts of compulsory prostitution trials tried in New York City, this paper interrogates the connection between the cultural production of white slavery narratives outside the courtroom and the invocation of those narratives inside the courtroom. The white slavery stories found in the reform literature provided a template for attorneys, complainants, defendants, and other legal actors to articulate and understand the practice of commercial sex. Yet, legal actors often deviated from the standard white slavery script and advanced different stories about life in early urban American. Comparing white slavery narratives with legal testimony about compulsory prostitution demonstrates the embedded relationship between the legal sphere and popular culture.« (Source: All Academic Research)

Wikipedia: Forced prostitution, Sexual slavery