Citation

Daughters of Joy: African American Women Prostitutes in New York City, 1900-1939

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Abstract:

Scholars have not interrogated the complex working lives of African American prostitutes during the first half of the twentieth century. Much of the historical scholarship on urban prostitution focuses on the diverse experiences of native American-born and immigrant white prostitutes, and posits that the vast majority of black female sex laborers were street-level prostitutes. Black women were involved in multiple forms of prostitution. Racial exclusion from higher paying forms of sex work coupled with constrained economic opportunities led black sporting women to fluctuate between and simultaneously use various types of sex work including street and indoor prostitution. This paper explores variation within black prostitution in New York City during the early twentieth century. It moves beyond widely accepted historical interpretations of African American women as streetwalkers, and delineates black prostitutes’ use of alternative public and private spaces to establish causal and organized sex enterprises. While some black prostitutes profited from the economic return and fluidity of street solicitation, they were keenly aware of the constraints and dangers of laboring on the streets. In an attempt to avoid or limit their street activities, some African American prostitutes plied their trade in their apartments, in furnished rooms, and in speakeasies. Alternative space was significant to the lives of black sex workers. It lessened the chance of police arrest, ensured some measure of privacy and autonomy, and allowed black prostitutes to assert new levels of dignity and control over their labor and to assume new positions within New York’s sex commerce.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435700_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Harris, Lashawn. "Daughters of Joy: African American Women Prostitutes in New York City, 1900-1939" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435700_index.html>

APA Citation:

Harris, L. "Daughters of Joy: African American Women Prostitutes in New York City, 1900-1939" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435700_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: Scholars have not interrogated the complex working lives of African American prostitutes during the first half of the twentieth century. Much of the historical scholarship on urban prostitution focuses on the diverse experiences of native American-born and immigrant white prostitutes, and posits that the vast majority of black female sex laborers were street-level prostitutes. Black women were involved in multiple forms of prostitution. Racial exclusion from higher paying forms of sex work coupled with constrained economic opportunities led black sporting women to fluctuate between and simultaneously use various types of sex work including street and indoor prostitution. This paper explores variation within black prostitution in New York City during the early twentieth century. It moves beyond widely accepted historical interpretations of African American women as streetwalkers, and delineates black prostitutes’ use of alternative public and private spaces to establish causal and organized sex enterprises. While some black prostitutes profited from the economic return and fluidity of street solicitation, they were keenly aware of the constraints and dangers of laboring on the streets. In an attempt to avoid or limit their street activities, some African American prostitutes plied their trade in their apartments, in furnished rooms, and in speakeasies. Alternative space was significant to the lives of black sex workers. It lessened the chance of police arrest, ensured some measure of privacy and autonomy, and allowed black prostitutes to assert new levels of dignity and control over their labor and to assume new positions within New York’s sex commerce.


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