WEIGHT: 50 kg
Services: Hand Relief, Mistress, Slave, Mistress, Foot Worship
Elisabeth Deganne is the mother of eight children, the wife of a dying husband, and the owner of a brothel house on Dorchester Street. The year is , and prostitution has given this Montreal madam enough of a steady income to feed her children and nurse her ailing husband — all from the comfort of her home. A desperate measure? And Beyond Brutal Passions does just that, delving deep into the nitty-gritty fabric of early nineteenth-century Montreal and exploring the complicated dynamic between women accused of prostitution and the society in which they lived and worked.
And indeed it did. As it turns out, Poutanen encountered just the opposite and her determined search unearthed hundreds of detailed reports — with real names — of women accused of marketing sex in early nineteenth-century Montreal.
I tried not to think of them only as victims, but as women trying to make choices about how to manage their lives. And then there were those like Deganne, the mother of eight with a dying husband, who saw prostitution as the only viable solution in rather dire circumstances.
One of the more surprising discoveries in Beyond Brutal Passions is just how integrated prostitutes were in urban Montreal, sharing public spaces, neighborhoods and streets with Montrealers from all walks of life. The relationship between prostitues and the police was particularly complex. Police authorities often turned a blind eye while women solicited clients -- and some officers frequented the brothels themselves. Sometimes, the more destitute women would be arrested during the cold winter months -- in part, to ensure that they had shelter.
When asked how their lives compare to the prostitutes of today, Poutanen says she sees many similarities. We need to have a conversation on how we can help make their work safer. Poutanen, who is also the co-author of A Meeting of the People: School Boards and Protestant Communities in Quebec, , is currently working on her next book, another exploration of women in the 19th century that will focus on the role they played in taverns and inns.