"Lizzie Crockett did have illicit intercourse with men other than her husband" : sexuality, race, and criminality in Austin at the turn of the twentieth century
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In this report, I investigate the formation of the stereotypes about sexually ready, available, and promiscuous Black and Mexican women in the history of the U.S. Southwest or Mexican Borderlands. Specifically, I argue that dominant society created sexual stereotypes of women of color sexuality in opposition to sexual stereotypes of white women. I contend that dominant society used these stereotypes to regulate the sexuality of both women of color and white women. Furthermore, I deconstruct the assumption of white society that most women of color were prostitutes regardless of their occupation. Simply put, I ask: how was the sexuality of African American and Mexican women regulated and constructed in contrast to the sexuality of white women in the city of Austin between 1890 to 1914? I propose to illuminate the multiple layers of these stereotypes by analyzing court records and literature on prostitution. I conduct this case study in Austin because of its unique location and history at the crossroads of the South and Southwest and its "multiracial" or "triracial" populations of African Americans, Mexicans and Euro-Americans. Similarly, I focus on the changes in sexual regulation throughout the Progressive Era and use the analytical lenses of "sexuality" and "gender" because I hope to contribute to recent scholarly discussions that have complicated our understanding of sexuality in this period.