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oh the guilt

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Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher

Empire And Sexuality

Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience - Ronald Hyam Only had time to browse few of the most interesting chapters.

One piece of information that particularly stuck in my mind:

The common "knowledge" is that in the Victorian era the vast majority of British women who offered sex services did so out of having no other real means to support them financially.

Not quite so it seems.

The truth - well, according to some research at least - is that most of "fallen ladies" actually plunged into prostitution voluntarily (relatively speaking of course) because it paid better (sometimes much better) as opposed to remaining as, say, a maid even in a relatively well-to-do household.

No doubt the "good folks" (who were responsible in the first place for the demand of these "ladies of the night") still considered prostitution a wretched and filthy thing to be doing, and these largely young women had to face being ostracized and being treated - particularly by various "relief" organizations I'm sure - as essentially wayward children who simply didn't know any better.

Facts rather seem to point in the direction that it was indeed a conscious choice, and particularly younger women were often tempted to view prostitution as more or less a glamorous occupation as they saw their "fallen" friends wearing smart clothes and expensive perfumes.

All of a sudden, the potential perks seemed to outweigh the less rosy realities of the job. After all, for a young and beautiful woman there was always the chance that someone will buy you expensive clothes and jewelry, take you out to dine in a fancy restaurant or catch the occasional theater show.

Hell, someone nice (again, it's a relative thing) or at least half-decent man might even take you up as their wife - or at least spoil you as their very own private mistress.

Of course for something like that to happen one surely had to possess both the looks and the demeanor to attract real "gentlemen".

Put into that equation the all too common scenario where a housemaid essentially "offered" (= was coaxed or forced) the same services as a proper prostitute (by one or more males, either by masters or servants, who lived in the same quarters or merely frequented the house in question).

Odds were high that you were basically treated as a whore anyways - then it begs the question, why not make some real money out of it if it must be so in any case?

If you were underpaid, under appreciated, sexually abused and likely going nowhere fast if in fact anywhere at all, then it was indeed actually a wiser choice to try one's luck in prostitution instead.

And it didn't necessarily have to mean going out on the streets either.

There were relatively respectable and relatively safe brothels, I'm sure. Some were actually managed by madams who most likely knew from their own experiences that in order to really run a thriving business is to treat your employees well so that they will please their clients better and make them come again (pun intended).

I'm sure there were some madams - and some masters - and of course some clients who actually helped some ladies to get out of the jam. For whatever reasons.

Just because someone works in a sex business doesn't automagically mean they don't have a heart. Now, I don't know this from a personal experience but I assume they are still humans like you and me and not some creatures from the abyss.

So, in conclusion, sometimes (even often times) the only difference between being a maid and being a "legit" prostitute was that the former was so much cheaper and likely much safer choice (= lower risk of catching venereal diseases, PLUS much smaller risk of getting caught as opposed to visiting whorehouses, let alone alleys, where someone might recognize you, try to blackmail you to keep it a secret, or simply getting arrested) - for a "gentleman", that is.

Happy, happy, joy, joy. I'd hate to be the one to point this out but I believe those same young women are worse off today because it's become a global industry with global reach with ties to organized crime, and frequently involves elements of human- and drug trafficking.

Even in the worst case Victorian scenario - which meant hustling on the streets - at least there was a chance to be your own master.

I'm sure in many parts of the world today a prostitute today can consider herself being "lucky" if she gets a penny here and penny there rather than a smack in the face (either from a client or a pimp or both).

More often than not these women are drugged into submission, they will never see their passports again, and they are discarded like a pack of empty cigarettes in the gutter if not shot to death then and there when they start to cost more to their masters than they have usable value.

Believe me, even 16th century slaves as a whole got a better treatment than these modern days' painted women and child-women do. They are less than slaves, they are (barely) living zombies.


1) Don't ever draw parallels between spoiled college kids who exchange sexual favors for the latest iShit because they are insecure attention whores who will always insist on getting what they want with beaten and drugged-up 15-year-old naive girls who were promised lucrative modeling jobs or work as an au pair in well-to-do families in some random affluent OECD-country.

2) The next time a male you know says he's heading down to Thailand or Mexico for some "down time" all by himself, there's more than a slim chance that he's unwittingly telling you the actual truth…