During a time of significant demographic, geographic, and social transition, many women in early nineteenth-century Montreal turned to prostitution and brothel-keeping to feed, clothe, protect, and house themselves and their families. Beyond Brutal Passions is a close study of the women who were accused of marketing sex, their economic and social susceptibilities, and the strategies they employed to resist authority and assert their own agency. Referencing newspapers, parish registers, census returns, coroners' reports, city directories, documents of Catholic and Protestant institutions, police books, and court records, Mary Anne Poutanen reveals how these women confronted limited alternatives and how they fought against established authority in the pursuit of their livelihoods. She details these women's lives not only as prostitutes but also as wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters who reconstructed the bonds of kinship and solidarity. An insightful history of prostitution, Beyond Brutal Passions explores the complicated relationships between women accused of prostitution and the society in which they lived and worked.
Mary Anne Poutanen teaches in the Department of History at Concordia University, in the Programme d'études sur le Québec at McGill University, and at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.
?This exhaustive, soon-to-be seminal study focuses our attention on the early nineteenth century, when the city more than doubled in size and ethnic diversity, with concomitant shifts in attitudes and approaches to prostitution. Poutanen, an intrepid soci
?This powerfully argued work significantly enriches established understandings of prostitution's history. the breadth and depth of Poutanen's research should set a benchmark for other historians of commercial sex, its practice and legal regulation. Above all, the author's sensitivity towards the historical actors involved in the trade?the women, but also the customers, the police, the judges, jurors and jail keepers?is social history at its best.” Feminist Review
"Poutanen's story of the trade involves the lives of sex workers beyond their work. [Her] careful attention to the dynamics of class, gender, and ethnicity is oriented towards a scholarly audience, but the subject matter is sure to appeal to many readers.
?Poutanen offers a history from below — a material history of the lives of women who traded sex for money. Throughout, one grasps the permeability of private and public lives. Apart from the meticulous research, a strong point of this book is, its use of