Chinese Prostitutes in the 1900s

Powerful Essays
Chinese Prostitutes in the 1900s

In California, between 1850’s to the Chinese Exclusion Act, most of the Chinese women who came to San Francisco were either slaves or indentured. They were often lured, kidnapped or purchased and forced to work as prostitutes at the brothels which is run by secret society of the Tongs of San Francisco. Chinese prostitutes also were smuggled and had worked at the Chinatown brothels in the Comstock Mines in Nevada. Chinese prostitutes were commonly known as prostitutes of the lowest order. “Both outcast slatterns and Asian slaves stood at the edge of the irregular marketplace, far more socially stigmatized than ordinary prostitutes.”

The demand for Chinese prostitutes in California was primarily due to the shortage of Chinese women and the prohibitions and taboo against sexual relations between Chinese men and White women. During the period of unrestricted Asian immigration from 1850 to 1882, more than 100,000 Chinese men but only 8,848 Chinese women entered the United States. The incredible sex ratio and the isolation of Chinese men from white communities generated nearly ideal demand conditions for prostitution, but white prostitutes rarely accepted Chinese customers. The same merchants and members of protective associations who had arranged passages and jobs for male sojourners leaped into the breath, supplying Chinese prostitutes to their own immense profit. These secret Chinese Tongs based in San Francisco controlled Asian prostitution in San Francisco and in the mining towns such as Comstock, Nevada. The Hip Yee Tong, the secret society that reportedly started the prostitution trafficking in 1852. “These organizations, the tongs, soon monopolized the control of vice—prosti...

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... New York, NY: Van Rees Press.

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