The article deals with oral testimonies of sexual assault in domestic service in inter-war Greece and the sexual politics that assigned the blame and shame of sexual exploitation to domestic workers. It focuses on notions of women’s honour and practices of sexuality in the communities that domestic servants originated from, which provided the framework to respond to their positioning as subjects saturated with sexuality. Although European historiography on domestic service has approached sexual violence in terms of the asymmetrical relationship between master and servant, this article places sexual violence in the framework of the mistress-servant relationship as well as in the discourses of sexuality of early-twentieth century Greece. The article explores the power relations in the middle-class house and the management and administration of sexuality by women employers. It discusses psychoanalytic approaches on the position of the maid in the middle-class house and expands Foucault’s thesis on the organization of the family as a tool of political control over the working classes by analyzing an unexplored dimension of the class effects of the system of sexuality.


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pp. 283-310
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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