chapter  2
17 Pages

Her Appearance in Public: Sexual Danger, Urban Space and the Working Woman

WithEmma Liggins

A narrative paradigm is established in which the heroine compromises her reputation by her choice of a profession that relies on her sexual attractions, and then has to be subjected to restrictions on her mobility in the form of a suburban marriage. This chapter considers the workings of this paradigm in relation to feminist interpretations of the 'public woman' and what Maria-Teresa Chialant describes as 'the "liminal status" occupied by those women who entered public space in the 1880s and 1890s'. Woman's appearance in public, like her newly acquired shopping habits, fully embeds her in the burgeoning commercial culture, promoting what Walkowitz refers to as 'a marketable, sexualised femininity'. George Gissing's views on women's work have largely been considered in relation to his realism, his participation in debates around educated women's entry into the new professions, and in relation to theoretical readings of female urbanism.