Guest Editors: Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
Quality of Work in Prostitution and Sex Work: Introduction to the Special Section
Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK
Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis King
Work Conditions and Job Mobility in the Australian Indoor Sex Industry
Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour
Too Much Suffering’: Understanding the Interplay Between Migration, Bounded Exploitation and Trafficking Through Nigerian Sex Workers’ Experiences
Precarious or Protected? Evaluating Work Quality in the Legal Sex Industry
Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain
Ambivalent Professionalisation and Autonomy in Workers’ Collective Projects: The Cases of Sex Worker Peer Educators in Germany and Sexual Assistants in Switzerland
Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and P.G. Macioti
Marhoefer, Laurie. “Degeneration, Sexual Freedom, and the Politics of the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933.” German Studies Review 34, no. 3 (2011): 529–49.
Original title of the report in German: Unterstützung des Ausstiegs aus der Prostitution – Kurzfassung des Abschlussberichtes der wissenschaftlichen Begleitung zum Bundesmodellprojekt
As this essay intends to show, to gain a fuller understanding of Nazi attitudes toward prostitution, it is vital to analyze them in the context of Weimar conflicts over prostitution reform. Recent studies on the history of prostitution in the Third Reich tend to neglect pre-1933 developments. If historians mention the topic of Weimar prostitution policy at all, it is primarily to emphasize basic continuities in this area after the Nazi takeover. Thus, Gisela Bock has argued that Weimar prostitution reforms paved the way for the sexual and economic exploitation of prostitutes under National Socialism. However, the notion of unbroken continuities between Weimar and Nazi attitudes toward venal sex is problematic for several reasons. The exclusive focus on continuity tends to obscure important differences between the two periods. Far from representing a mere prelude to the brutal persecution of prostitutes after 1933, the nationwide abolition of state-regulated prostitution in 1927 led to significant improvements in prostitutes’ civil and legal status. To acknowledge these (albeit limited) gains in prostitutes’ rights is key for the analysis of the impact that concerns about “immorality” had on the crisis of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism.
The more liberal aspects of Weimar prostitution reforms triggered a powerful right-wing backlash. In the eyes of religious conservatives, the state’s perceived failure to enforce “moral order” and cleanse the streets of prostitutes profoundly discredited Weimar democracy. Among large segments of the police, the loss of authority to control and punish streetwalkers similarly bred resentment against the democratic government. The Nazis were keenly aware of the propagandistic value of the issue of prostitution. Nazi attacks on the 1927 prostitution reform as yet another expression of Weimar’s “materialism” and “moral decay” aimed to widen the party’s appeal among the religious Right and conservative officials. During the early 1930s, the Nazis’ successful attempt to portray themselves as guardians of conventional morality intent on eliminating “vice” was key to winning them the approval and collaboration of many conservatives. We can only account fully for this dynamic, however, if we recognize some of the positive achievements of Weimar prostitution reforms. The abolition of state-regulated prostitution was one of the major successes of the 1920s movement for sexual reform, which failed to achieve other goals such as the decriminalization of abortion and homosexuality. This is why Weimar prostitution reforms became a central target of Nazi propaganda.