Friday, June 08, 2018

Kalgoorlie: Shoes and sex workers

The Australian frontier years have left a legacy and prostitution was not illegal in many States. In WA for example it was conducted under the virtual supervision of the police force. (Frances, 1994). Kalgoorlie sex workers were restricted from shopping in the city centre after midday nor could they use local restaurants and hotels. This embargo was extended to swimming pools, cinemas and the racecourse (Cohen, 1994). The history of this bazaar behaviour was based on the growth of the urban middle class which accompanied the industrial expansion of the nineteenth century. A class of leisured wives and daughters sought to use urban space in new ways, most notably by shopping and promenading in the central business districts. (Frances, 1994). The need to restrict these spaces to respectable women came not through legislation of prostitutes but by a policy of containment. In Australia, Colonial legislation reflected the behaviour of other societies and legislated changes to clean up the streets. This was not anti prostitution per se because the need for prostitutes was socially accepted but instead it made it safe for respectable women. The attack on street culture which followed may be seen as part of a broader middle class assault on working class behaviour generally aimed at reforming those aspects of life with the demands of an ordered, industrial society (Daniels, 1984). This may have contributed to the rise of brothels to contain prostitution as well as the continuation of delineation of clothing including footwear such as thongs and high heeled shoes. Ironically sumptuary control continues with many private owners of public spaces such as pubs and shopping areas restricting access of patrons based on their feet. People of a low socio-economic type would go without shoes or wear thongs (sandals) according to stereotypes and hence are unworthy of entry. Heeled sandals also have come in for embargo, based not on health and safety, but to prevent cross dressers and sex workers from plying their trade on unsuspecting patrons.

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