Respectability on Trial: Sex Crimes in New York City, 1900-1918 (Paperback)
Providing a front row seat at critical courtroom battles over seduction, pimping, rape, and sodomy in early twentieth-century New York City, Brian Donovan uses verbatim trial transcripts to understand the city's history during the so-called first sexual revolution. By tracing the revolutionary and repressive dimensions of this time period, Donovan reveals how conflicting ideas about sex and gender shaped the city's criminal justice system. He unearths stories of sexual violence and legal injustice that contradict the image of early twentieth-century America as a time of sexual revolution and progress. Police and courts often served the interests of the upper classes, men, and racial and ethnic majorities, but the trial transcripts included here reveal the considerable extent to which members of working-class and immigrant communities used the machinery of law enforcement for their own ends. Many previous books have fully documented and analyzed the sensational trials of turn-of-the-century New York City, but none have paid such close attention to the courtroom experiences of common city dwellers.
Brian Donovan is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Kansas and the author of White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-vice Activism, 1887-1917.