chapter  3
20 Pages

Surveillance of dangerous liaisons through notions of sex and money 1

WithMarlene Spanger

Taken from a historical point of view, this chapter investigates how the scope of and the meaning ascribed to ‘the prostitute’ derived from the way in which the state regulates prostitution in different times. The empirical examples are taken from the 1930s to the 1950s focusing on the vice squad and medical authorities’ control of young women defined as prostitutes. ‘Public women’, ‘loose women’ and ‘prostitutes’ are all definitions that derive from the way in which authorities have problematised and governed women who were considered dangerous due to their sexual liaisons with different men. This chapter scrutinises how different constellations of sex, femininity and payment (be it money, gifts or material goods) were ascribed different meanings by the authorities in the twentieth century in Denmark. Similar examples can be identified in European history. Inspired by Michel Foucault’s theorisation of governmentality and power, and Viviana Zelizer’s idea of the link between sex and money this chapter demonstrates how the authorities’ definition of ‘the prostitute’ served as power mechanisms of the state in governing femininity, which had consequences for not just women who sold sexual services, but for women in general.