Graham, John R.
March 1999
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;Spring99, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p47
Academic Journal
This article analyzes a prostitute rescuing initiative in Toronto, 1894-1896. The key players were Edna, a young prostitute, and the two people who attempted to "rescue" her, Elizabeth Harvie, a socially prominent member of a local charity, and Wilikim Lyon Mackenzie King, then an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto and subsequently Prime Minister of Canada. The public response to prostitution in Canada remains highly contested. Some advocate keeping prostitution at manageable levels, others would radically reduce or eliminate sex commerce, and still others fall somewhere between these positions. As several generations of scholars have argued, sexuality's social construction varies significantly over time, and can be understood using historical research methods. It provides insight into the time-bound nature of views of human sexuality in general, and of prostitution in particular, and in so doing offers a necessary corrective to any perspective that assumes that our present assumptions about either represent timeless truth. This paper demonstrates that both "personal" factors at the level of the individual, along with broader "social" factors beyond the immediate realm of the individual, need to be understood in the simple act of prostitute rescuing.


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