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Advertising for...Sex?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do I even need to editorialize?

These come from a slightly later era than what I've been posting so far (1900, to be precise, but who's keeping track?), both on the same day, in fact, but ads like this date as far back as the 1860s. Don't worry, there will be more where these came from; I start with them because they're so blunt. I love that the first guy says he prefers a "stranger." Awesome. It's like casual encounters! And if you're thinking, hey, maybe he just wants someone to go to the theater with and that's all - yeah, you might be right, but probably not. As for the second man, the pseudonym "Aramis" says it all.

Historians know the Victorians weren't as repressed about sex as they wanted to be (Michel Foucault said they were obsessed with it - I'd link to some of what he had to say but, eh, this is much more entertaining). But I still think it's pretty shocking to see men who probably would have placed themselves in the middle class advertise openly for a lady friend - and "Aramis," quite possibly, for a sugar mama.

When I publish the book, I'll probably do a whole chapter about this kind of ad, but for the dissertation it'll have to be left aside. Some things you just can't get to, and I'd have to spend a lot of time working with a newspaper that's not easy to access. But trust me, I'll talk about them more here.

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Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


CheeseQuest May 27, 2009 at 8:57 AM  

You also make me wonder about the type of lady who would read these papers and respond to the ads.

Pam May 27, 2009 at 9:05 AM  

Yes, that's where things start getting complicated for me. But one of the points I am trying to make in the dissertation is that everyone was reading them (ok, not everyone, but they were very, very widely read). So there's the difference between who's using them and who's seeing them - which I don't think were necessarily the same.

Plus you'll see ads like this - or similar to - right next to ones from people looking for husbands or wives. So that's just plain bizarre.

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