Taverns, clubs, and homes: three archetypes of women who used drugs in the nineteenth and twentieth-century Lisbon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Gender-neutral and androcentric perspectives tend to conceptualize drug use among women as alterity, and as a recent and contemporary trend (Kandall 2010). However, a socio-historical analysis of the media representation of women who used drugs in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Portugal reframes and brings complexity to the contemporary discussions intersecting gender and drugs. According to Nuria Romo-Avilés, “applying a gender perspective to drug dependence means visibilizing the process of social construction that generates the social and cultural stereotypes that every society assigns to the behaviour, characteristics and values that are attributed to men and women, and that symbols, laws and regulations, institutions and social perceptions reaffirm in daily life” (Romo-Avilés, 2018). Despite the hegemonic visions that hypercentralize biological dimensions (in this case, the psychopharmacology of drugs and biological sex), drugs and gender have in common the fact that they are both socially constructed. Socio-historical analysis has uncovered gender differences in drug use patterns and contexts, the male gaze, gender double standards and the construction of moral panic and prohibitionist discourses based on the feminization of the negative consequences of drugs. In a eugenic context, drug use among women was seen as doubly transgressive, reinforcing discourses based on the binomial “good women/bad women” and, consequently, the hypersexualization of their bodies, social humiliation, and gender-based violence. This chapter explores the historical social imageries and social penalization of women who use drugs in relation to gender-related power dynamics and imbalances, through historical sources and a work on female representation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNarcotic cities
Subtitle of host publicationcounter-cartographies of drugs and spaces
EditorsMélina Germes, Luise Klaus, Stefan Höhne
PublisherJovis Publisher
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9783986120184
ISBN (Print)9783986120009
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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