‘The Good, the Bad, and the Spicy’

Lucy Delap

in Knowing Their Place

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199572946
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728846 | DOI:
‘The Good, the Bad, and the Spicy’

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter examines the erotic appeal of domestic service. Servants were often seen as comparable to other eroticized groups of working women such as barmaids, actresses, and prostitutes. They have typically been seen as sexual victims, seduced by their employers. Drawing on pornography, literary fantasies, saucy postcards, and erotic cinema, this chapter argues that the relations of service did promote sexual vulnerability, but that the voyeurism of male and female employers was more typical than aggressive male seductions of servants. It was only later in the twentieth century that fantasies of cross-class sexual seduction became dominant, and male servants became more prominent as sexual figures. Servants themselves often directed the eroticized gaze back at their employers, and offered their own sexual accusations or voyeurism.

Keywords: sex; servants; seduction; pornography; cinema; laughter; voyeurism; fantasy

Chapter.  16535 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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