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No class, no family: Women’s resistance and the occasional structure of reproduction in Vancouver’s last brothel district, 1911-1914

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Author: Drury, Ivan
Between 1911 and 1914, as Vancouver was in the final moments of its breakneck transformation from a resource industry town to a metropolitan city, a working-class rebellion was brewing. Poor white women were part of this rebellion, although their resistance did not always take the same form as men’s strikes and demonstrations. Young white workingwomen survived their crushing poverty and resisted the pull of the “cult of domesticity” into marriage by working in “occasional prostitution,” including in the city’s largest and last brothel district. Using Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, this thesis examines the political economy of Vancouver’s state-organized sex work districts from the perspective of the workingmen who lacked wives, the capitalist industries that demanded scores of low-wage transient workers, Canada’s national project that depended on white settler families, and, most importantly, the poor white women who subsidized their starvation wages and resisted domesticity through the sex trade.
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Copyright is held by the author.
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Leier, Mark
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