Colonial documents and works of literature from early modern Spain are rife with references to public women, whores, and prostitutes. In Profit and Passion, Nicole von Germeten offers a new history of the women who carried and resisted these labels of ill repute. The elusive, ever-changing terminology for prosecuted women voiced by kings, jurists, magistrates, inquisitors, and bishops, as well as disgruntled husbands and neighbors, foreshadows the increasing regulation, criminalization, and polarizing politics of modern global transactional sex. The author’s analysis concentrates on the words women spoke in depositions and court appearances, and how their language changed over time, pointing to a broader transformation in the history of sexuality, gender, and the ways in which courts and law enforcement processes affected women.
Nicole von Germeten is Professor of History at Oregon State University.