Stigmatization, Syphilis, and Prostitution: The Discursive Construction of Sex Workers, Disease, and Feeblemindedness

  • J. L. Schatz


This chapter examines how the discursive representations around syphilis and sex work interact to reproduce a whitened patriarchal discourse that ensures the worst violence goes unchecked. I argue that instead of stigmatizing the populations who are prone to diseases like syphilis, we should strive to openly accept the marginalized communities as something other than either test subjects for vaccines or problems needing to be quarantined away. In doing so, I connect the supposed moral inferiority of minorities and deviant populations to the subsequent abuses they experience at the hands of medical professionals. Ultimately, by refusing to approach Sexually Transmitted Diseases like syphilis as a problem of particular populations, delinking the disease from the individuals who contradict it is a necessary starting point to rebuild trust and truly address the problems of the disease.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. L. Schatz
    • 1
  1. 1.Binghamton UniversityBinghamtonUSA

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