"Femininity Costs, Femininity Pays: A feminist analysis of female prostitution in contemporary literature"
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This dissertation uses the contrasting suppositions of radical feminist and sexworker feminist thought to analyse the depiction of female prostitution in contemporary literature. Radical feminism presents the idea that prostitution 'degrades women and furthers the power politics of the male gender' (Bromberg, 2004). However, sex-worker feminism suggests that 'feminism must demand the rights of women to choose their sexual partner on whatever basis', and achieve the 'recasting of "whore" from a stigmatised identity to a job not wholly unlike other jobs' (Pendleton in Nagle, 1997, p.75, 78). In using the oppositional ideas of these two branches of feminism this dissertation is able to address a wide range of analysis regarding prostitution in contemporary literature. The first chapter addresses the question of whether contemporary fiction reflects the real experiences of prostitutes through comparing fiction and auto/biographical texts. The second chapter analyses the literary use of the 'good girl/bad girl' dichotomy, which addresses the way in which 'man and/or societies divide women into two binary types: virgins and whores' (Gottschall et al, no date, p.1). Both chapters address the way in which femininity and its portrayal in the texts is an essential part of prostitutes' interactions with both men and society. This is particularly addressed in the discussions on physical appearance, whore stigma, Judith Butler’s ideas of gender performance produced by socialisation and Bordo’s theory of the body as a 'text of culture' (Leitch, 2001, p.2360, 2486, 2487).
Dissertation by Emma Hutson for the BA English & Creative Writing course, submitted May 2012.
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