Eighteenth Century Utopian Brothels

Foucault studied the birth of modern prisons, asylums, hospitals and, to a lesser extent cemeteries, but as Paul B Preciado has pointed out, the eighteenth century regulation of brothels and prostitutes also played a significant part in the modelling of disciplinary practices.

In this light, I was pleased to discover that The Pornographer or Prostitution Reformed (1769) by Nicolas-Edme Rétif de la Bretonne (1734 – 1806) will be published in English next year.

‘Rétif’s forty-five articles for reforming prostitution, which were first published twenty years prior to the French Revolution, included a series of recommendations for the regulation of prostitution by a Board of Governors, who would oversee the prostitute’s health, safety, accommodations, pay, children, retirement, cultural activities and education.

Rétif established a pay scale based on the prostitutes’ appearance, age, education and availability. The male clients were not overlooked. The regulations included guidelines and penalties for men who were not clean, carried venereal diseases or were a threat to the prostitutes’.

See Paul B Preciado’s ‘Restif de la Bretonne’s State Brothel: Sperm, Sovereignty, and Debt in the Eighteenth-Century Utopian Construction of Europe ‘.