San Francisco, as did other major business centres, relied on consumer demand. In the 1840s, prostitutes were almost admired by the public due to the scarcity of women. These views were, of course, beneficial for prostitutes because it gave them some sort of social significance. Prostitutes had a competitive advantage against the men in the 1850s, but this changed in the 1870s when they became the ones who had to compete for business. Between the 1850s and 1860s, prostitution changed from an admirable occupation to merely a tolerated one. The positioning of prostitutes in society decreased drastically, because of the Victorian influence that brought change to social order in San Francisco. This drastic dislike came from the immigration of women and the change of societal values. In the forties, the demands for prostitutes were high because the lack of females compared to in the late 1800's, when supply was higher than the demand.
Everyone knows what prostitution is, no one denies its existence, but societies from the time of the Sumerians (c. 2000 B.C., the first recorded reference to prostitution) to the present have never been able to decide if prostitution is good or evil, natural or deviant, a crime, a sin, or a necessary service. Whenever the social evaluation of prostitution changed, it was not because the profession changed but because society chose to define it in a new way.
The prostitutes' decline in popularity can be traced to the influence of the Victorian immigrants. In San Francisco, this influence was especially strong between the 1850s and 1870s. Some critics have suggested that Victorians tend to preach one thing, yet practise another. The biggest culprits of this statement were the politicians who gave political speeches during the day before frequenting the brothels at night.

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