Chinese Prostitutes In 1900 Essay

& # 8242 ; S Essay, Research Paper

In California, between 1850 & # 8217 ; s to the Chinese Exclusion Act, most of the Chinese adult females who came to San Francisco were either slaves or indentured. They were frequently lured, kidnapped or purchased and forced to work as cocottes at the whorehouses which is run by secret society of the Tongs of San Francisco. Chinese cocottes besides were smuggled and had worked at the Chinatown whorehouses in the Comstock Mines in Nevada. Chinese cocottes were normally known as cocottes of the lowest order. & # 8220 ; Both outcast streetwalkers and Asiatic slaves stood at the border of the irregular market place, far more socially stigmatized than ordinary prostitutes. & # 8221 ;

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The demand for Chinese cocottes in California was chiefly due to the deficit of Chinese adult females and the prohibitions and tabu against sexual dealingss between Chinese work forces and White adult females. During the period of unrestricted Asiatic in-migration from 1850 to 1882, more than 100,000 Chinese work forces but merely 8,848 Chinese adult females entered the United States. The unbelievable sex ratio and the isolation of Chinese work forces from white communities generated about ideal demand conditions for harlotry, but white cocottes seldom accepted Chinese clients. The same merchandisers and members of protective associations who had arranged transitions and occupations for male sojourners leaped into the breath, providing Chinese cocottes to their ain immense net income. These secret Chinese Tongss based in San Francisco controlled Asiatic harlotry in San Francisco and in the excavation towns such as Comstock, Nevada. The Hip Yee Tong, the secret society that reportedly started the harlotry trafficking in 1852. & # 8220 ; These organisations, the tongs, shortly monopolized the control of frailty & # 8212 ; harlotry, chancing and opium. The Hip Yee Tong in 1852 was founded for the exclusive intent of importing sing-song misss ( cocottes ) . The members enriched themselves at the disbursal of the misss and their customers. & # 8221 ;

Chinese cocottes were about ever imported as apprenticed retainers or mui jai. The adult females were normally between the ages of 16 to 25. Mui jai were misss who had been sold into domestic service or labour by their hapless parents. Their proprietors were expected to supply them with nutrient and lodging and to fit them with hubby when they become of age. But some were sold by their Masterss in China for $ 70 to $ 150 and so resold in America for $ 350 to $ 1,000 or more. It was a sweeping and retail operation. Like the monetary value of ware, the monetary value of cocottes fluctuated depending upon supply and demand. During the times of war and dearth in Chines, when there was an addition in the sale of girls, monetary values dropped. Monetary values rose in the United States whenever rigorous Torahs were passed to stamp down Chinese harlotry.

An estimated 85 per centum of the Chinese adult females in San Francisco were cocottes in 1860, 71 per centum in 1870, and 21 per centum in 1880. & # 8220 ; At the clip of the Spanish-American war there were over 400 chantlike misss in the Chinese Quarter. Yet they could non maintain up with the city-wide demand for their services, much less make full the demands of the State at big. The disreputable houses, together with chancing lairs, constituted a steadfast economic base for the combat tongs. & # 8221 ;

Upon their reaching in San Francisco, these immature Chinese adult females were taken to the barracoon, which were besides known as the & # 8220 ; auction block & # 8221 ; or & # 8220 ; Queen & # 8217 ; s Room, & # 8221 ; the barracoon was closed restrained room big plenty to house 50 to one hundred adult females. In the barracoon adult females, like farm animal, were put on show for sale. They were stripped for review and sold to the highest bidder. They were forced to subscribe service contract, which merely a few of them could read the footings, and thumbprinted. The contracts normally states that for the miss was indebted to her new maestro for transition from China, which cost about $ 500 to 700 in 1860-70 & # 8217 ; s, she will function as a cocotte for four to five old ages without rewards.

The luckier misss were sold to comfortable Chinese as courtesans or kept womans or to the parlour houses to function upper-class gentlemen. The lowest less-fortunate adult females were confined in cot, suites no larger than four-by-six pess, where they were forced to peddle their trade to hapless labourers, teenage male childs, crewmans, and rummies for every bit small as 25 to fifty cents. When hopelessly diseased, they were left entirely to decease in the & # 8220 ; infirmary & # 8221 ; or were discarded in the streets.

The trade was so moneymaking along with gaming and opium. The tongs invariably fought for its control. Sing-song misss were frequently kidnapped in wide daytime and & # 8220 ; hijacked from their cot under the very olfactory organs of their Masterss, in order to be rushed inland to womenless agricultural or mining town & # 8217 ; s Chinatowns and work as prostitutes. & # 8221 ; The Tong members were frequently called Hatchet adult male because of the barbarous things that they perform. The Hip Yee Tong was reportedly lacy two hundred thousand dollars from the illegal traffic between 1852 and 1873.

Violent tong wars in the 1870 & # 8217 ; s and 1880 & # 8217 ; s, sensationalized in the imperativeness, frequently began with differences over ownership of a Chines cocotte. In 1875 two tongs went to conflict after a Suey Sing Tong member was killed by a Kwong Dock Tong member over ownership of Kum Ho, a cocotte. Ten work forces were killed in the street battle before the constabulary intervened.

In those yearss, there were no worse destiny for a Chinese cocotte than to be banished to the excavation cantonments, like the Comstock Mines in Nevada, where they led lives every bit rough as they were short. In these stray rural countries, conditions were even more worse and atrocious than in urban whorehouses. Populating with their Masterss in the unintegrated Chinatowns that services mineworkers, most cocottes serve a racially assorted patronages of rude mineworkers. They were called the & # 8220 ; cocotte of the lowest order. & # 8221 ; In these excavation towns, separate Chinatowns sprang up because of racism and prejudiced metropolis regulation leting any white citizens to petition to take them. There were 20 Chinese cocottes on the Comstock in 1880, while there had been 75 in 1875. The bulk of cocottes worked in public constitutions in mining towns such as the Comstock. Whorehouses were distinguished by both category and race, and the best Chinese whorehouses in San Francisco, and likely on the Comstock every bit good, catered merely to Chinese, because Chinese work forces believed that the most corrupting thing a Chinese adult female could make was to hold sexual intercourse with a white. High-Status Asiatic adult females frequently dressed in silks and gems, as did other Chinese cocottes who catered to Whites with a gustatory sensation for the alien. By and big, nevertheless, Chinese cocottes dressed in apparent cotton and worked for fees runing from 25 to fifty cents a client.

In Comstock, & # 8220 ; Asiatic adult females were ever segregated in Chinatown and none of them lived in whorehouses besides lodging Whites. This segregation reflected the anti-Chines bias. In the system of stratification within harlotry Chinese cocottes had lower position than any other group of adult females. A few Chinese immigrated to the Comstock as free-agent cocottes or the courtesans of rich Chinese, The bulk were either indentured for approximately five old ages or were the lifetime slaves of whorehouse keepers with ties to the secret societies headquartered in San Francisco & # 8221 ;

The rough life of a Chines cocottes in the excavation towns were normally disrespected in the white communities at that place. The captivity of Chinese adult females was common cognition on the Lode, whites merely accepted. A newspaper even ran articles describing the snatch of a cocotte urged readers to handle it lightly, observing that among the Chinese adult females stealing was comparable to horse stealing among Americans. It was a serious offense against person & # 8217 ; s belongings, but non a grave discourtesy to person & # 8217 ; s individual.

For some cocottes, self-destruction, lunacy or a violent decease proved to be the lone manner out of wretchedness. One cocotte tried to run off from her proprietor and fell in the Nevada hills. By the clip she was found, both her pess had frozen and had to be amputated, and in the terminal she courted decease by declining to take medical specialty or nutrient. In another case, a popular dance hall miss nicknamed & # 8220 ; The Yellow Doll & # 8221 ; by her supporters in Deadwood, South Dakota, was found & # 8220 ; chopped into

pieces” in 1876. In Virginia City, Nevada, six Chines cocottes committed self-destruction to get away captivity.

Most cocottes did non hold the person or corporate agencies to defy their destiny. Refusing to work merely brought on whippings and other physical anguishs. Cases were reported of cocottes trying flight with the aid of lovers, but merely a few succeeded. Because of the high value placed on cocottes, proprietors went to great disbursal to retrieve their belongings. & # 8220 ; Hiring highbinders to recover them and paying legal fees to register writs of habeas principal or condemnable charges against the adult females for expansive theft. Once the adult females were arrested, the proprietors would post the needed bond, drop the charges, and reclaim the women. & # 8221 ;

During those times, non all cocottes met these atrocious destinies, there were a few who escaped the confines of their captivity. China Annie was an exceeding instance. A cocotte belonging to a member of the Yeong Wo Company in Idaho City, she escaped to Boise to get married her lover, Ah Guan. Her proprietor charged her with expansive theft for stealing herself, and after a four-week hunt, she was apprehended and taken to tribunal. The justice, sympathetic to her cause, dismissed the instance and allowed her to return to her hubby.

Another cocotte who won her freedom, Polly Bemis, survived the harsh frontier life to go a legendary figure in her community. Born lalu Nathoy in northern China in 1853, she grew up in poorness. At an early age she was sold for two bags of seed to brigands, shipped to America as a slave, and auctioned off to a Chinese barroom keeper in an Idaho excavation cantonment. She subsequently married Charlie Bemis, who won her in a fire hook game, and the two homesteaded on 20 estates of land along the Salmon River. Twice she saved Charlie & # 8217 ; s life, and many times she nursed neighbours back to wellness. She was so good respected that when she died in 1933, members of the Grangeville City Council served as her pallbearers and the brook running through her belongings was named Polly Creek in her award.

A figure of established establishments responded to the predicament of Chinese cocottes. For many old ages the Chinese Six Companies, the regulating organic structure in Chinatown, sought to hold cocottes and their pimps deported and worked with the governments to eliminate the job. American newspapers often ran narratives about the immoralities of harlotry, but about ever in a esthesis manner, utilizing headlines such as & # 8220 ; Story of Girl Shows Workings of a Chinese Ring, & # 8221 ; & # 8220 ; Confession of a Chinese Slave Dealer, & # 8221 ; & # 8220 ; Her Back Was Burnt With Irons, & # 8221 ; and & # 8220 ; Chinese Girl Flees to the Mission From Inhuman Owner. & # 8221 ;

Presbyterian missionaries besides made in their campaign to deliver Chinese cocottes. In 1874 the Women & # 8217 ; s Occidental Board established the Presbyterian Mission Home as a safety for Chinese misss and immature adult females in San Francisco & # 8217 ; s Chinatown. The place remained in operation until 1933 when the last major anti-prostitution test took topographic point. The managers, Maragaret Culbertson and Donaldina Cameron, successfully conducted legion deliverance foraies with the aid of the constabulary, utilizing the imperativeness coverage of the foray to turn public sentiment against Chinese harlotry. Between 1874 and 1908 about one 1000 mistreated mui jai and cocottes were rescued, housed and educated at the place. Some, unaccustomed to the limitations and asceticism of the place, ran off and returned to their former position. Others chose to return to China or remain and subsequently married Chinese Christians.

The narrative of Wong Ah So is typical of the lives of these rescued Chinese cocottes. Born into a hapless Catonese household, she was betrothed and married to a Chinese washerman at 19 and taken to America. & # 8220 ; Even if I merely peeled murphies at that place, he told my female parent I would gain tonss of money. & # 8221 ; Upon reaching in San Francisco, Wong Ah So discovered that her hubby had lied to her and her female parent and that she had been brought to America to work as a cocotte. Seven months subsequently she met a friend of her male parent & # 8217 ; s at a feast. The friend recognized her and sought aid from the Presbyterian Mission on her behalf. She was subsequently rescued in Fresno, California, and placed in the place, where she recalled she started & # 8220 ; larning English and how to weave, and I am traveling to direct money to my female parent when I can. I can & # 8217 ; t assist but shout, but it is traveling to be better & # 8221 ; Wong Ah So & # 8217 ; s narrative terminal merrily but most of the other cocotte & # 8217 ; s did non stop rather so good. Many of them were non every bit lucky as China Annie, and Polly Bemis. Most of them were diseased and were left on the streets to decease. When no longer immature and attractive, cocottes were put to work in cot or little cells.

In 1870, Chines cocottes were a major political concern for the new metropoliss of the West. Chinese cocottes were figures for a conduit of disease and societal decay which was sensationalized in newspaper histories, magazine articles, and official enquiries into the societal hygiene of these adult females. In California, these hygiene issues were the accelerator for the protagonists of prohibition of Chinese in-migration to the United States. & # 8220 ; The first act restricting Chinese in-migration was the Page Act of 1870, which apparently prohibited & # 8220 ; Chinese, Nipponese and Mongolian adult females & # 8221 ; from being brought to or come ining the United States to & # 8220 ; prosecute in immoral or licentious activities. & # 8221 ; The Page Act, on the given of bad character and immoral intent, required all Chinese adult females who wished to come to the United States to subject to lengthy and mortifying questions of their character prior to being issued a visa in China. The Page Act efficaciously closed off the in-migration of Chinese married womans of immigrants already in the United States. But it did small to halt the illegal trade in adult females which was protected by corrupt functionaries on both sides of the Pacific. & # 8221 ;

The perceptual experience of Chiense harlotry as a widespread menace to the state & # 8217 ; s moral and physical wellbeing was greatly overdone. At the extremum of Chinese harlotry in the late 1870 & # 8217 ; s, it was reported that some 900 Chinese adult females in San Francisco worked as cocottes. The figure of Chinese adult females who worked as cocottes other than on the West Coast, nevertheless, was rather little. Although New York & # 8217 ; & # 8217 ; Chinatown gained ill fame for harlotry, opium, and gamling, it was reported that merely three of the cocottes in the one-fourth were Chinese, while the overpowering figure of cocottes who worked there were white. However, the image of the Chinese cocotte as a beginning of pollution was considered a affair of pressing concern. Chinese cocottes were said to represent a peculiar menace to the physical and moral development of immature white male childs. In San Francisco, a Public Health Committee investigated conditions in Chinatown in 1870 professed daze that boys every bit immature as 10 could afford and did on a regular basis utilize the services of the lowest degree of Chinese cocottes. In a popular environment in which theories of national civilization were freely combined with theories of sources and societal hygiene, it was asserted by some public wellness governments that Chinese cocottes were the racially particular bearers of more virulent and deathly strains of genital disease. The general tended to disregard the real property and concentrate on the sensational histories that fueled the perceptual experience of a societal crisis.


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3. Hirata, Lucie Chen. 1979. & # 8220 ; Chinese Immigrant Women in Nineteenth-Century California. & # 8221 ; In Women of America. Ed. C.R. Berkin and M.B. Norton. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.

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5. MacLeod, Alexander. 1948. Pigtails and Gold Dust. Caldwell, ID: Caxton Printers.

6. McCunn, Ruthanne Lum. 1988. Chinese American Portrayals: Person Histories 1828-1988. Vancouver, B.C. : Raincoast Books.

7. Melendy, Brett H. 1972. The Oriental Americans. New York, NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.

8. Yung, Judy. 1986. Chinese Women of America: A Pictorial History. Seattle. WA: University of Washington Press.

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