Lock up your daughters! Male activists, ‘patriotic domesticity’, and the fight against sex trafficking in England, 1880-1912

Attwood, R. 2015. Lock up your daughters! Male activists, ‘patriotic domesticity’, and the fight against sex trafficking in England, 1880-1912. Gender & History. 27 (3), pp. 611-627. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12153

TitleLock up your daughters! Male activists, ‘patriotic domesticity’, and the fight against sex trafficking in England, 1880-1912
TypeJournal article
AuthorsAttwood, R.
Abstract

In the 1880s, the phenomenon of sex trafficking entered popular consciousness in England following revelations of a trade in English minors to the licensed brothels of the near Continent. The country’s anti-trafficking movement that was formed following these revelations was a male-dominated affair. Its members called for action against sex trafficking by invoking configurations of a doctrine of social purity that played upon the need for ‘ordinary men’ to protect the nation’s daughters from sex trafficking so as to maintain the righteousness of English domesticity and, in turn, protect national interests. Its members represented themselves as archetypal ‘fathers’ who, by defending the nation’s daughters from trafficking, were preserving English domesticity, and thus both the moral fabric of society and national interests more broadly. They suggested the need for other ‘ordinary men’ to follow suit and help repel what was a profound ‘racial’ threat to national life. During the debate over the 1912 Criminal Law Amendment Bill, which was promoted as the country’s first anti-trafficking measure, these notions were reconfigured by certain male activists to criticise the groups championing the anti-trafficking cause. This article explores how Alfred Stace Dyer, William Alexander Coote and A. Neil Lyons – three men who played a central role in the debate over trafficking during key moments between 1880 and 1912 – mobilised ideas of ‘patriotic domesticity’ in their respective discourses on sex trafficking. It will examine the implications of the linkage each figure drew between ‘the man’, ‘the home’, 'race', ‘the nation’, and ‘the empire’ upon how sex trafficking was represented to the public.

KeywordsSex trafficking, anti-trafficking, Modern British History, immigration, migration, masculinity, femininity, sexual exploitation, race
JournalGender & History
Journal citation27 (3), pp. 611-627
ISSN1468-0424
Year2015
PublisherWiley
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0424.12153
Publication dates
Published28 Oct 2015

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