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Acts of DesireWomen and Sex on Stage 1800-1930$
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Sos Eltis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691357

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691357.001.0001

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Workers and Wages

Workers and Wages

Chapter:
(p.160) 5 Workers and Wages
Source:
Acts of Desire
Author(s):

Sos Eltis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691357.003.0006

This chapter argues that Mrs Warren's Profession provided a model for subsequent feminist and realist dramas which, like Shaw's play, argued that the root cause of prostitution was not women's sexual and moral weakness, but the low wages, limited employment opportunities, and poor working conditions for which society as a whole was responsible. Feminist and suffragist playwrights rewrote familiar plots and situations in order to present woman's sexual exploitation and subjection as a reflection of her economic and social position. A number of musical comedies, ‘bad-girl’ melodramas, and naturalist plays based in industrial towns, by contrast, depicted the sexual autonomy and freedom which could accompany the financial independence of the working woman.

Keywords:   shaw, prostitution, wages, realism, suffrage theatre, autonomy, desire, musical comedy, shop girl, bad girl melodrama

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